A creative, urban city by the beach

Vibrant Newcastle, just two hours’ drive north of Sydney, is the Hunter region’s leading city. Once known as the 'steel city', thanks to the former BHP steelworks, Newcastle has metamorphosed into a buzzing beachside city with a fantastic food scene.

It's the perfect place for creative types. The festival calendar here includes the Newcastle Jazz Festival, This Is Not Art Festival, Electrofringe and the National Young Writers’ Festival. Add to that some major street art and a thriving music scene and you really get a feel for Newcastle’s spirit and inspiration.

It’s family-friendly too, with stunning pools and three distinctly different beaches here, from Nobbys in the north to Merewether in the south. They're linked by Bathers Way, a spectacular three-hour coastal walk, so there's something to get you out and active, too.

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Things to do: Newcastle

  • Dive into ocean baths

    Architecturally breathtaking, the Art Deco-style Newcastle Ocean Baths is one of the city’s most enduring historical landmarks, dating back more than a century. This saltwater bathing complex is not just a magnificent place to swim, it has also long served as an open-air studio backdrop for photographers and a magnet for Art Deco aficionados. And it really is a magnificent place to swim! The Mereweather Ocean Baths are also well worth diving into.

    Image credit: Destination NSW

  • Humpback whale breaching off coast of Australia. Image: Nico Faramaz/shutterstock.com

    Go whale watching

    From late May to early November each year, the Newcastle coastline welcomes thousands of humpback whales as they undertake their annual migration from the Antarctic Southern Ocean to the warmer waters off Hervey Bay, Queensland. An estimated 20,000 humpbacks make their way along the beautiful coastline here and are best spotted from Birubi Point, Bar Beach Cliff, King Edward Park or Redhead Beach. There are also a number of whale watching cruises operating in the area. Get out into the water to spot whales, pods of dolphins, seals, sea birds – the whole crew!

  • Four people descending stairs on Newcastle Memorial Walk, with beaches and Newcastle city in background. Image credit: Destination NSW

    Stroll the Newcastle Memorial Walk and Bathers Way

    The Newcastle Memorial Walk, built with tonnes of local steel, is a cliff-top bridge, decorated in steel cut-outs of soldiers, engraved with the names of many locals who fought in WWI. (It opened in 2015 – the 100th anniversary of the ANZAC landing in Gallipoli.) This memorial walk then connects via a stairway to Bathers Way, a 6km coastal walk from Nobbys Beach to Merewether Beach. The views are spectacular, and the path is lit after dark so you can take in the views 24 hours a day.

    Image credit: Destination NSW

  • Two people walking towards the entrance of Newcastle Art Gallery. Image credit: Destination NSW

    Get to the Newcastle Art Gallery

    Newcastle is a real art town, so head to the Newcastle Art Gallery opens in new window and get absorbed in one of the best public collections in the country. There are almost 7000 pieces in the gallery, with an emphasis on Australian artists. They have a great calendar of events as well as hands-on activities for kids that are often free. There’s the Art Cart program on the weekends, school holiday workshops and children’s art trails. The gallery is in one of Newcastle’s major dining precincts, so you can make a visit a truly delicious day out.

    Image credit: Destination NSW

  • Patrons enjoying food and drink indoors at Parry Street Garage in Newcastle West. Image credit: Destination NSW

    Explore the food scene

    Newcastle has a thriving cafe scene as well as award-winning restaurants, boutique bars and distilleries, and sensational local produce. If you’re short on time but big on appetite, book an experience with Underground Epicureans. These walking food tours showcase the backstory of Newcastle dining and where it’s at right now. Discover creative cafes, hidden bars, local soul food and the passionate artisans shaping the flavour of Newcastle. There’s also a self-guided tour of the East End, the oldest neighbourhood, with stops at four favourite eateries.

    Image credit: Destination NSW

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Airport information

Newcastle Airport (NTL)

Distance to city centre 27km

Taxi You'll find the taxi rank adjacent to the departures end of the terminal. A taxi ride into central Newcastle costs around AUD $60-70 and takes about 30 minutes.

Rideshare There’s a designated pick-up area in the public pick-up zone in front of the arrivals end of the terminal.

Bus Port Stephens Coaches route 130 runs several times a day to Newcastle Bus Terminal, taking around 40 minutes. Hunter Valley Buses route 136 runs approximately once an hour Monday to Friday to Stockton Wharf, taking around 30 minutes. Bus fares are around AUD $5.

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When to go

Newcastle boasts a subtropical oceanic climate: summers are warm and winters are generally mild. Rainfall is heaviest in late autumn and early winter. This is truly a year-round destination, plus or minus a layer of clothing.

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Getting around

Newcastle’s public transport system, Newcastle Transport, consists of a comprehensive bus and light-rail network around the city and suburbs, and ferry services between Stockton Wharf and Newcastle Wharf.

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