From fine dining restaurants to some of the best beaches in New South Wales; Newcastle has everything you need for a weekend getaway.

If you’re looking for a small town in New South Wales that encourages relaxing, eating and beach hopping; Newcastle in New South Wales is a definite must for your next coastal getaway.

Found at almost the halfway point of Sydney to Port Macquarie, Newcastle is great for Australians in search of a weekend coastal getaway that still feels like the city. So, pack your bags and read on through for the best things to do in Newcastle with our weekend travel guide!

How far is Newcastle from Sydney?

Passing The Entrance and Lake Macquarie, Newcastle is approximately a two-hour drive north out of Sydney’s CBD – the perfect weekend roadtrip destination!

The Best Restaurants in Newcastle, NSW:

Although this coastal city has plenty to offer, if you’re looking for a starting point of some of the best restaurants, bars and cafes in Newcastle, Darby Street has plenty of eateries regardless of the occasion.

Coco Monde Chocolateria

If you’re after a fine dining experience in Newcastle, Coco Monde Chocolateria is for you. Boasting a passion for food and top-quality service, Coco Monde likes to ensure that everything is made on site – from the ice-cream to the marshmallows. While they are certainly gifted when it comes to desserts, their savoury meals are equally as delicious. One of the best restaurants in Newcastle, Coco Monde Chocolateria is perfect for groups or couples and the cosy atmosphere will have you forgetting the time, no matter the weather.

Coco Monde Chocolateria | 80 Darby St, Cooks Hill, NSW 2300

Café Fresh

Opening their doors each day at 8am, Café Fresh should be your go-to destination for an all-day breakfast in Newcastle. Much like your standard cafe fare, Café Fresh has a lengthy list of hot and cold drinks on offer that sits beside new and exciting treats to try. If you’re unsure on what to order, we’d recommend the Banana Bread with Maple Butter that is great at anytime of the day – especially as an afternoon pick-me-up. When you’re done, wander through Charlestown Square for a spot of shopping.

Café Fresh | Charlestown Square, 30 Pearson St, Charlestown, NSW 2290


Scratchleys is considered one of the best fine dining restaurants in Newcastle. Found on Newcastle’s Hunter River foreshore and floating on top of the water, Scratchleys’ room is filled with light as the windows stretch floor to ceiling – creating front-row views of the majestic sparkling water regardless of where you sit. If you don’t feel like dining in-doors, you can order takeaway or ice cream from their window and sit on the tables or grass nearby.

Scratchleys | 200 Wharf Rd, Newcastle, NSW 2300

The Best Places to Drink in Newcastle, NSW:

The Blind Monk

Beer lovers of Australia, meet The Blind Monk – a craft beer pub in Newcastle! With 15 beers and ciders on tap at any given time, there’s sure to be one you love. The Blind Monk also has a delectable food menu to eat your way through with a Gourmet Beef Burger ($24), Polenta Bites ($14) and a Smoked Whole Chicken ($60) taking centre-stage. Be sure to also pop on over on a Tuesday with their $1.00 dumplings special.

The Blind Monk | 76 Beaumont St, Hamilton, NSW 2303

The Koutetsu

The Koutetsu in Newcastle serves signature cocktails as well as beer, wine, cider and snacks in their dark and equally intriguing orange-light-lit bar. Both the physical space and their menu has been lovingly made using recycled materials to create most of the bar and furnishings. This building has had many lives, and you should make sure you catch this current incarnation as it’s not one to miss.

The Koutetsu | 555 Hunter St, Newcastle West, NSW 2302

The Best Things to Do in Newcastle, NSW:

Blackbird Corner

This quirky little boutique is home to gifts made by independent artists sourced from Newcastle and all around Australia. From earrings and pins, to t-shirts and kids books, there will be something for everyone, and you’ll probably have trouble picking just a few things! Shopping here also supports both a local business and small artists, so you can be sure your support is welcomed.

Blackbird Corner | 74 Darby St, Cooks Hill, NSW 2300

Cooks Hill Books & Records

While you’re visiting this end of Darby Street in Newcastle, why not pop into Cooks Hill Books & Records next door? Operating since 1985, their collection of second-hand books is incredible. Whether you’re looking for something specific or just wanting to browse, you’re likely to find something that catches your eye.

Cooks Hill Books & Records | 72 Darby St, Cooks Hill, NSW 2300

The Best Beaches in Newcastle

It wouldn’t be a trip to Newcastle without a visit to the beach. If you’re sticking to the inner circle of Newcastle, make sure to visit Nobbys Beach and walk down the Newcastle Breakwall to the lighthouse. If beach sport is your thing, there are volleyball nets and plenty of space for beach soccer. Otherwise, you could also visit the Bar Beach/Merewether Beach stretch, grab a bite to eat at the Merewether Surfhouse and have a dip in the Merewether Ocean Baths. Regardless, each beach is surrounded by rocks and greenery, and is only a short walk to cafe’s, parking or your next adventure.

King Edward Park – Rose Garden – Bogey Hole

If the weather is clear and you’re up for a nice afternoon stroll, King Edward Park is a picturesque location that is frequently used for photographers, weddings and events, and is full of beautiful little spots to stop and chat in. The rotunda is a main feature of the park, in a clearing surrounded by incredibly tall trees. A nice picnic lunch in the park is a great way to spend the afternoon with friends, and if you can grab a spot in the rotunda or in the tree-shade, you’re in for a relaxing afternoon.

If you follow the path down from the main park, you can find yourself at the Rose Garden. Especially in spring and summer, vibrant flower beds pop out from the bright green grass, and you can spend hours strolling through the small garden, with a few photo opportunities on the way.

After a flowery photoshoot, it’s only a short walk down to the Bogey Hole, a swimming pool cut out of a rock platform by convicts for Mayor James Morisset between 1819-1823. Although it’s not an ideal spot in cold or windy weather, when the sun is shining it’s a beautiful sight. The area is occasionally fenced off for safety (especially around storms), but you can still get a good look without ducking through the fence and wandering down the steep steps.

The Best Place to Stay in Newcastle, NSW:

Novotel Newcastle Beach

Located in the heart of Newcastle, Novotel Newcastle Beach is surrounded by a variety of restaurants and is just a short walk from Newcastle Beach. With a variety of rooms available, Novotel Newcastle Beach also features room service which is perfect for breakfast in bed, as well as a  restaurant and fitness centre on site.

Novotel Newcastle Beach | 5 King St, Newcastle NSW 2300

Ready to explore more of New South Wales’ Central Coast? Be sure to add these 6 must-visit destinations on your road trip list in New South Wales. Otherwise, for some more getaway inspiration, these 10 towns around Australia have been titled as a must-visit in 2021.

We acknowledge the traditional owners of the land mentioned in our article, the people of the Awabakal Nation, and we recognise their continuing connection to land, waters and culture. We pay our respects to their elders past, present and emerging.

Feature image: Merewether Baths Newcastle. Photographed by Richard A Stanley. Image supplied via Destination NSW.
This article was first published on July 29 2018. It was updated and edited by Hunter and Bligh on April 13 2021.