Offbeat city break in Newcastle

Offbeat city break in Newcastle

24 March 2023

In need of a getaway that gets all your senses stirring?

Come discover Newcastle and enjoy a city break full of offbeat adventures and eclectic experiences that combine the best of coast and city living…  

Curious travellers need look no further: 

Day 1

Pick your partner in crime and head for the heart of the city to check into QT Newcastle, the city's newest 5-star hotel, offering boutique luxury housed within a 100+ year-old, heritage-listed building.

There'll be time to take in the sweeping views of the harbour from your hotel room later; for now, drop off your bags and grab a quick bite from one of the local cafes at your doorstep (we suggest One Penny Black or Mister Sister Coffee) to refuel you for an afternoon of exploring.

It's time to stretch your legs and get your bearings in this beautiful city by joining a walking tour with Newcastle Afoot. You'll be in expert hands with tour guide Becky as she takes you through the eclectic streets of Newcastle, uncovering hidden historic sites, colourful street art and stunning architecture on a journey through Newcastle's past, present and future.  

Hear fascinating stories from Aboriginal culture, and convict and industrial history, right through to what makes modern Newcastle tick. The passion is palpable – you'll feel like an honorary Novocastrian by tour's end. 

Now that you've got the lay of the land, enjoy a scenic stroll back to QT (perhaps grabbing an ice cream from cult favourite Monella Gelato on your way) – time for an outfit change before you head out for the evening. 

It's dinner and a show for you tonight – what better way to begin your getaway? Stroll 10 minutes into the Civic Precinct or jump on the light rail (conveniently located right outside your hotel) and journey one stop to reach your destination.

For dinner, the Roundhouse, positioned on the rooftop of one of Newcastle's most iconic buildings (Crystalbrook Kingsley) and offering 360-degree views of Newcastle's harbour, coastline and beyond. Delight in a menu of distinctly modern Australian cuisine where ingredients fresh from the earth and sea are celebrated. Pick your pair from the extensive wine list showcasing the best of the region's offering, take in the view and savour the moment.

Insider tip: Stop for a pre-dinner drink at Rombergs rooftop bar before your reservation at Roundhouse. Try the signature Garreembee for a deliciously delightful taste of cocktail craftsmanship, complete with a bubble – be sure to snap a pic for insta before it pops!

After wining and dining, wander over to the heritage-listed Civic Theatre for your show – be sure to take a moment to admire the theatre's stunning baroque interior, and soak up the 1920s art-deco atmosphere.

Bonus tip: The Civic Theatre has a full year-round calendar of shows and plays, be sure to look ahead and plan your trip to Newcastle based on your interests.

What's on at Civic Theatre

Day 2

Start your day off right with a hearty breakfast – Jana Restaurant at your hotel has a great menu to choose from, or if you feel like a little wander, Momo Wholefood is just a block away – an old bank turned light and bright café, they offer a delicious vegetarian menu packed full of wholesome ingredients and flavours.

This morning, explore even more of the city with the crew from Newy Rides as they take you on a bike tour through Newcastle's best loved (and hidden) sights.  Beginning at Nobbys Beach, you'll glide past the iconic lighthouse and break wall onto the harbour foreshore, the city on one side and the water on the other, before delving into some of Newcastle's lesser known (but just as loved) suburbs.

Discover the cool harbourside suburb of Carrington and learn about its blue-collar history and burgeoning after dark scene from your guide Ben, as your tour winds its way to Newcastle institution Earp Distilling Co. The Earp family, who have operated businesses in Newcastle since the late 19th century, today operate this swanky gin distillery and bar in a repurposed tile warehouse space – it's time to sample some of the city's finest gin!

Insider tip: Fancy yourself a gin connoisseur? Earp also offer gin blending classes where you can create your very own gin! Book ahead to take part in one of these classes and walk away with a truly unique memento of your time in Newcastle. 

After all that bike riding, the afternoon calls for a cool down – grab your swimmers and towels and head to Merewether Ocean Baths, the largest ocean baths in the Southern Hemisphere. Enjoy a refreshing saltwater swim and breathe in the sea air as you admire the stunning vistas of Merewether, Dixon Park and Bar Beach from the water.

If you're feeling peckish, stop in for late lunch or afternoon snack at Merewether Surfhouse – snag a spot on the balcony for an unrivalled view of the coastline (a particularly magical spot for a sunset if you time it right).

Head back to the QT to rinse off the sand and refresh for the evening. Tonight, the harbourside precinct of Honeysuckle awaits.

For dinner, Âpé Yakitori Bar is a must. The newest endeavour by the talented team behind award-winning Japanese restaurants Nagisa and Susuru, Âpé offers unbeatable waterfront views to enjoy as you sit down to traditional Japanese yakitori cooked over charcoal flames. Pair your meal with a whisky or cocktail of your choosing and savour the flavours that come to life.

The night doesn't have to end here – an endless selection of colourful, charismatic bars are at your disposal. Why not bar hop and experience the electric energy of Honeysuckle's nightlife?

Right beside Âpé you'll find the retro MoneyPenny decked out with colourful lanterns that match the colourful vibes inside; or one bar over, you'll find the Landing Bar and Kitchen with its casual chic setup and creative cocktail list with a twist. Wander along the waterfront and find the playful Honeysuckle Social, or venture across to the Honeysuckle Hotel and catch some live music while you enjoy a drink on the mezzanine.

Day 3

This morning, embark on an adventure with Coast XP as you take to the water. Seeing Newcastle from the waves is truly something else – take in the stunning coastline and be sure to keep an eye out for pods of resident dolphins, whales, seabirds and other marine life as you enjoy your voyage and learn about the sea terrain from your knowledgeable crew.

Back on land, it's a short walk along the foreshore to Signal Box for a unique lunchtime setting. Serving up modern-Australian cuisine out of a historic working railway signal box, you'll appreciate the minimalist steel and concrete design elements that pay homage to the restaurant's industrial past. A true foodie find, your only dilemma will be deciding what to pick off the carefully crafted menu (though if you're after a suggestion, the spanner crab and king prawn linguine is always a winner)!

Embrace more of Newcastle's great outdoors as you continue your afternoon with an exploration of Glenrock State Conservation Area. Just a 10-minute drive from the CBD, you'll find the last surviving pocket of coastal rainforest in the region as well as a considerable portion of what remains of Newcastle's physical Aboriginal heritage.

It's choose your own adventure when it comes to how you explore this natural wonderland. Fancy a more tranquil forest stroll? The Burwood Trail is for you. After something a bit more challenging? Go the popular 5km return Yuelarbah Trail and be rewarded as your trek leads you by two gorgeous waterfalls, as well as stunning views over Glenrock Lagoon. 

Or if sweeping vistas are your goal, you might want to try Hickson Street Lookout – a short walk through the bush will see you reach this stunning outlook with panoramic sea views of Burwood Beach. For those daring enough, take the stairs from the lookout down to the beach for a frolic in the waves – just prepare yourself for the climb back up!

Insider tip: Hickson Street Lookout also doubles as a paragliding pad, so you may get to witness a spectacular aerial show from some local paragliders! If you're visiting during whale-watching season (June to November) be sure to bring a long your binoculars too and keep your eyes peeled on the water! To make an evening of it, pack a picnic and settle in for one of the most spectacular sunsets you'll ever see.

Your final night in Newcastle will be one to remember. Back at your hotel, dress to impress for an evening on the town. Before heading out, head upstairs – time for a pre-dinner drink at the QT Rooftop Bar. Enjoy the unrivalled views of the inner harbour from the balcony, and cheers to a fantastic few days in Newcastle.

For dinner tonight, it's casual fine dining at Flotilla in Wickham. Experience an artistic and thoughtful set menu that changes with the seasons and marvel at the makers at work as the skilled chefs create your meals in the open kitchen. You'll understand why Flotilla was awarded a hat from the Good Food Guide 2023 after tasting the immaculately balanced flavours of Flotilla's dishes for yourself.

Fancy a nightcap before returning to the QT? You'll pass a number of celebrated options as you head back towards your hotel.

Venture to the Rogue Scholar and catch some live music in this brewpub with beer at its heart and music at its soul, then if the vibe feels right, hop next door to Jams Karaoke & Bar and live out your lead singer fantasy (or just enjoy a drink and the dancefloor if that's more your style).

After a different kind of atmosphere? Stop by the Koutetsu on Hunter Street, a dimly lit Japanese inspired speakeasy offering bespoke cocktails in a dark and moody setting. Or hit up Coal and Cedar, a prohibition style bar concealed behind a barbershop – password required upon entry.

Day 4

Your final morning in Newcastle calls for something memorable. By now you know the lay of the land, so it's time to take yourselves on the beloved Bathers Way walk stretching all the way from Nobbys Headland to Merewether Beach.

This stunning 12km return trail is a true jewel in the crown of Newcastle, with eye popping vistas across the sparkling Pacific Ocean every step of the way. As you approach the downhill to Bar Beach, you'll reach the iconic Anzac Memorial Walk – one of Newcastle's most popular attractions, and with good reason. Built in 2015 to commemorate the ANZACs, the walkway is adorned with the steel silhouettes of soldiers, as well as the names of almost 11,000 Hunter Valley men and women who enlisted to serve during World War I. With stunning viewing platforms from which to gaze at the 360-degree views of the city, the coastline and the ocean, this is sure to leave a lasting impression of your time in Newcastle.

Insider tip: Don't miss the iconic Bogey (indigenous word for bathe) Hole, hand hewn out of rock by convicts, this incredible ocean pool lies at the foot of the eastern cliff face in King Edward Park along the Bathers Way.

All that walking will have worked up an appetite – time to make your way to Darby Street, a famed Newcastle hub of tastes and treats where it's all about brunch and boutique shopping. With countless colourful cafes offering specialty coffee and leafy courtyards, you can't go wrong no matter where you land (but again, if you're after suggestions we're happy to oblige – Autumn Rooms and Three Monkeys each have their own unique flair and flavour and are sure to leave you fully satiated).

Hunger satisfied, take your time strolling the colourful street and perusing the quirky boutiques that have made Darby Street their home – a treasure trove of artisan crafts, fashion and homewares are waiting to be discovered. Grab a memento to take home as a marker of your time in Newcastle.

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.