Luxe long weekend away in Newcastle
Looking for a long weekend away in NSW where you can feel the coastal breeze in your hair, feel alive on a bushwalk moments from the city, sip late night cocktails in hidden bars, see world-class street art and devour some of the best food and coffee in the country? ….All within a couple of hours drive from home?
Newcastle is where you'll find yourself reveling in all of the above across 4 days, and 3 nights. Read on for your ultimate luxe long weekend away best for couples and small groups.
Day 1 - Walking tour and rooftop cocktails with a view
Grab your friends or your main squeeze, flip on the ‘out of office’ and your go-to true crime podcast, and set your navigation to Newcastle. Or as the locals know it, Newy.
Drop your bags at Crystalbrook Kingsley in the heart of the CBD, your home for the next 4 days. As the City’s first 5 star hotel with a focus on architectural design, sustainable luxury and locally sourced produce, it really doesn’t matter which way your room faces (park or harbour) because it’s got the wow-factor from start to finish.
Image courtesy of Crystalbrook
Assuming you’re ready for brunch, head across the road to Darby Street, where you’ll find spacious cafes with leafy courtyards through to hole-in-the-wall coffee haunts. Whether it’s nitro-coffee, bullet-coffee, long black or an oat latte (or a sneaky mimosa or Bloody Mary), venues like The Autumn Rooms, Wil & Sons and the iconic Goldbergs Café have plenty of options to fuel you up for the adventures ahead.
Insider tip: Time your visit with the ever-popular Olive Tree Markets (monthly) in Civic Park. Bursting with boutique, locally crafted and quirky products (and snacks) it really is a must-do.
After brunch, get your bearings by joining a walking tour with local expert Becky Kiil from Newcastle Afoot. Explore the eclectic streets between the harbour and the sea, discover world-class large-scale murals, see the city’s architectural delights and meet some of the best makers and traders along the way. This is no ordinary walking tour – the guides really know their Newcastle and deliver curated content with such knowledge and passion that you'll be tempted to book in for another!
It’s been a busy day, but it’s not over yet. Head back and check-in at the hotel to freshen up before heading to the top level to enjoy a cocktail or two with a view at Rombergs Bar, followed by dinner at their restaurant Roundhouse. It’s here that you’ll be reminded of Crystalbrook’s focus on local produce and sustainable luxury. They strongly believe in utilising responsibly grown food with chefs working in partnership with artisans, farmers and fisherman to present gorgeous dishes that celebrate the beauty of the ingredients, fresh from the earth and sea.
Insider tip: Crystalbrook Kingsley is located next to Civic Theatre Newcastle so take a look at upcoming shows and book your trip to coincide with events like the Comedy Festival and New Annual, or any one of the many shows that grace the stage of this stunning 1920s art-deco theatre.
Day 2 - Boating, boutique shopping and fine dining
Wake to the sounds of the ship horns coming into Newcastle harbour – it’s your own ‘welcome to Newcastle’ from us.
Grab a coffee from Ms Marys on the ground-floor café of the hotel or head across the road to Honeysuckle and enjoy it with a view before embarking on a morning cruising adventure with CoastXP. Best known for their whale watching adventures, be sure to also keep an eye out for dolphins, seals, sea birds as you explore the hidden gems of our coastline.
Insider tip: regardless of the season of your visit, CoastXP operates tours year-round. Tours depart at 9am, 11:30am and 2pm daily (weather permitting).
CoastXp by Nobby's Lighthouse
With your feet firmly planted back on land, enjoy a short walk along the foreshore to Signal Box Restaurant for lunch. Housed in a historic working railway signal box that operated until the Newcastle heavy rail line closed in 2014, the 1930’s heritage building has a new lease on life with it’s stylish steel and concrete dining pavilion offering a nod to the site’s industrial past. Day or night, they serve the most delicious dishes influenced by their waterside location. Spanner crab linguine, anyone?
Spend the afternoon meandering Newcastle East and enjoy boutique shops like Studio Melt, Honest Paper and Alie Jane Travel Accessories in the Mall. While you’re there check out some of the best small bars in the city like Uptowns, Saints Gin Bar, The Well Bar and Blue Kahunas.
Prefer to stay active this afternoon? Book an 'Essentials x Burbs' cycling tour with Newy Rides. Featured on Tourism Australia's 'Hot List' in 2021, get ready to live like a local, meet the locals and become friends with your host, Ben Ogden.
Insider tip: check out the schedule at The Station to enjoy events like vegan food markets, live music, art markets and more. Another piece of rail heritage, The Station is now a vibrant community space just a few steps from Signal Box.
Tonight, we've got a few options for dinner. If you're up for something a little bit fancy, Subo is a hatted restaurant that is sure to delight your senses. If you're up for something equally as delicious but a bit more casual, just a bit further into Newcastle East you'll find Newcastle institution, Scotties. Tuck into their sensational seafood dishes inside the restaurant, or get your meal to go – you can have a mini picnic on their lawn and bask in the twinkle lights or stroll across the road to Newcastle Beach and enjoy it with a view of the sunset over the beach.
Why not make it an early dinner so you have time to book into a Decked Out workshop at Mitch Revs Gallery? Let your inner-artist run wild as you paint a skate deck with the guidance of a local professional artist. Another great memento of your trip to Newcastle!
Insider tip: did you know that Newcastle has a Light Rail network? The 2.7 km route extends from Newcastle Interchange to Newcastle Beach and has a stop at 'Civic' right outside Kingsley. It's a great way to get around for today's itinerary – just tap on and off with your Opal card.
Day 3 - Nature trails, sea views and your own personalised gin
It’s day three and you’re only just reaching for the car keys...Newcastle really is a compact and accessible city! You won’t be in the car long though. About ten minutes in fact as you find yourself at Glenrock State Conservation Area ready to take on the Yuelarbah Walking track.
This popular track is pedestrian only and about 5km return. Commencing from the Yuelarbah Trail car park, access is via the raised boardwalk near the information board. The picturesque track leads you through wet gullies and coastal rainforest. On the way to Glenrock Beach you’ll pass two waterfalls and Leichhardt’s lookout which offers excellent views over Glenrock Lagoon.
As the forest gives way to bush scrub, round the last few corners where you’ll end up at the Lagoon itself with the beach a short walk beyond. Standing on this beach, you’d never know that world known and local hot-spot Merewether Beach is just around the next headland, or that the CBD and suburbia is a short drive away.
Insider tip: if the tide is low, you can walk to Glenrock Beach and the bush via Merewether Beach. Make sure you check and understand tidal movements before choosing this option.
After your walk, jump back in the car and head to Merewether Beach, home to international surfing festival Surfest where sandy hair rules and shoes are optional. On this popular promenade you’ll find Merewether Surfhouse with its open deck overlooking the beach and baths and a delicious restaurant lunch menu.
Insider tip: Merewether Ocean Baths, at the southern end of Merewether Beach are a stunning spot to capture sunrise photography in Newcastle. They're also the go-to for morning lap swimming, a post hike cool-off and wave-free swimming. Be sure to pack your swimmers and camera!
This afternoon it’s time for a change of pace and to head back to school, gin school that is! The two-hour spirit making class run by head distillers at Earp Distilling Co. takes you through the history and originals of gin and of Earp Distilling, before jumping into the process of making your very own gin! Choose from over 100 botanicals, distil your own gin, taste it, name it, bottle it and take it home for later. Could you get a better memento of your trip to Newcastle?
Insider tip: Earp Distilling Co often partners with other local businesses and brewers to create special one-off events so keep an eye on their socials and website.
Earp Distilling Co. Gin Masterclass
It must be nearly dinner time, right? Finish your day with a delicious dinner at Flotilla in Wickham. Owned by Silverchair bassist, Chris Joannu, this restaurant serves up a three-course meal for just under $100 pp and is worth every dollar. The open-style kitchen makes you feel part of the family, or if the weather is good enjoy your meal al fresco.
Insider tip: Got some after-dinner energy? Walk from Flotilla to recently renovated Newcastle Cruising Yacht Club for after dinner drinks. The view of the yachts, harbour and Port offer a different perspective to this coastal city and are sure to impress.
Day 4 - Walking off a weekend of indulgence
Don’t leave Newcastle just yet, we’ve saved some of the best for last!
After breakfast, put on your walking shoes and head for the Bathers Way. A stunning 6km walking path that hugs the coastline from Nobbys Headland to Merewether Ocean Baths. The walk offers a journey of hills and descents, with plenty of opportunities to stop for a selfie, a snack or a sit-down.
Newcastle ANZAC Memorial Walk on Bathers Way
Insider tip: The ANZAC Walk is the highlight of the Bathers Way. The 450m steel structure was opened in 2015 to commemorate the ANZACs. Most of the ANZAC Walk is accessible and boasts views all the way to Port Stephens and the Hunter Valley as well as the Newcastle Coastline. How many ships can you count on the horizon? (This game is more fun than it sounds and trust us when we say you don't need to be a kid to enjoy it!)
Car snacks for the drive home? You can't leave Newcastle without stopping in at Cake Boi in Hamilton. Owned and operated by ex MasterChef contestant, Reece Hignell, this sweet-treat haven is fast becoming a not-so-hidden-gem. Teaming with locals and visitors alike the vanilla slice, lemon cakes, cookies, tarts and coffee will give you that sugar hit you need to get you home.
Cake Boi Reece Hignell
Insider tip: speaking of sweet treats, if you're not in a rush to get home on day four, why not book into a beehive tour at Urban Humm. Just around the corner in Mayfield, join Anna and Kelly to learn about beekeeping and honey production, meet the Queen and taste some locally produced honey.
Well that was a big few days…There's still so much more to see in Newcastle and this has only just scratched the surface.
What about the Island Triathlon in March, Surfest, Newcastle Food Month and Dîner en Blanc in April, Newcastle Music Festival in July and August, New Annual in September, Big Picture Street Art Festival in October. What about learning to sail on Newcastle Harbour or learning to surf at Nobbys Beach, mountain biking in Glenrock State Conservation Area, the exhibitions at Newcastle Museum, the vintage shops in Islington, the sunset picnic at the Obelisk or Hickson Street Lookout?
Mountain biking in Glenrock State Conservation Area
Insider tip: now you've stayed at Crystalbrook Kingsley, check out QT Hotel on your next visit. Opening April 2022 this five star hotel in the CBD is bringing to life the heritage-listed, 113-year-old David Jones building in Hunter Street Mall. The property will feature 104 guest rooms and suites, public areas as well as private spaces.