10 things to do on the Northumberland coast holiday cottages

10 things to do on the Northumberland coast

Julie Smith 02 March 2020

The spectacular Northumberland coastline is an area that’s so lovely it has been deemed an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. You’ll find wide swathes of sandy beaches, nature reserves that are home to a variety of birds and wildlife, pretty seaside villages with traditional tearooms and a smattering of historic castles. It’s the perfect setting for a short break or holiday and there’s lots to do whether you choose to travel with family, your other half or with a four-legged friend in tow. Read on to discover our favourite ten things to do on the Northumberland coast or click the button below to browse our collection of coastal cottages.

Skip to:

  1. Go for beach walks
  2. Water sports
  3. Dramatic castles
  4. Farne Islands
  5. Enjoy seafood
  6. Pretty villages
  7. Wildlife
  8. Real-life Hogwarts
  9. Walk a coastal path
  10. Tea at Howick Hall

1. Go for walkies on the beach with the dog

The Northumberland coastline is one of the most dog-friendly places around and four-legged friends are welcome at nearly all of the region’s beaches. Here are some of our favourite Northumberland beaches which are dog-friendly all year round:

Embleton Beach

Embleton Beach

This wide sandy beach at Embleton is framed by the ruins of Dunstanburgh Castle. It’s a clean, peaceful bay that’s a safe choice for families and perfect for doggies who like to dip their paws in the sea.

Alnmouth Beach

Alnmouth Beach

Alnmouth has a lovely curved beach that can be a real suntrap in the summer months. It’s a popular choice with dog walkers so your canine companion can make some new furry friends and there is lots of choice for refreshments with an assortment of tea rooms, cafes and pubs all nearby. 

More dog-friendly beaches in Northumberland:

  • Cresswell Beach, Cresswell
  • Amble Links Beach, Amble
  • Blyth South Beach, Blyth

For more ways to keep doggies happy during your visit take a look at our dog-friendly guide to Northumberland, or our guide to the best beaches in Northumberland

2. Try some watersports

The beaches and bays of the Northumberland coast make a great choice for a range of water sports including windsurfing, paddleboarding and kitesurfing.

Surfing and paddleboarding: Northside Surf School teaches surfing and stand-up paddleboarding at a variety of beaches along the coast while KA Adventure Sports offers kitesurfing at Beadnell Bay, Bamburgh and Budle Bay.

Sailing: Beadnell is a top choice for sailing (it has its own sailing club) and is the only point along the Northumberland coast that’s suitable for jet-skis.

Sea kayaking: There are a variety of access points on the coast including Craster, Alnmouth and Amble though it should only be attempted by experienced kayakers. Beginners can take lessons on the gentler Coquet Estuary from the Coquet Shorebase Trust.

Snorkelling and diving: This can be done around the Farne Islands with specialist boat trips available.

3. Explore a dramatic castle

Northumberland is filled with castles - in fact, it has more than any other county in England! There are romantic ruins, imposing fortresses and fully restored medieval forts. Many of Northumberland’s castles are located near the coast so it’s well worth seeking them out during your visit. 

Dunstanburgh Castle

Dunstanburgh Castle

The large ruins sit imposingly on the stretch of Northumberland coastline between Embleton and Craster. The scenic walk from Craster to Dunstanburgh Castle is one of the most popular Northumberland routes to try and you can explore the ruins of this twin-towered keep that was a key battlement in the War of the Roses. The extensive grounds are great for games and there is a playground to keep younger family members happy.

Admission: Adult price is £5.70 or free to English Heritage or National Trust members.  

Dog-friendly: Yes, dogs on leads are permitted at Dunstanburgh Castle.

Bamburgh Castle

Bamburgh Castle

Bamburgh Castle is one of the largest inhabited castles in the country and there’s lots to see and do inside its majestic stone walls. Once the royal seat of the Kings of Northumbria, the castle looks out over miles of beautiful beaches and has plenty of stories to tell.

Delve into the castle’s history in the fascinating on-site museum and discover thousands of precious artefacts within 14 restored rooms. A large square keep dates back to the 12th century and is the oldest surviving part of Bamburgh Castle. Today, it houses an armoury full of weapons from past battles.

Admission: Adult price is £11.25 and family admission is £28.

Dog-friendly: Dogs are allowed in the grounds of Bamburgh Castle.    

Warkworth Castle and Hermitage

Warkworth Castle in Northumberland

Located in the pretty village of Warkworth, this impressive castle was once home to the Percy family and is famous for its spectacular cross-shaped keep which is great for going exploring.

There are often activities taking place in the grounds of Warkworth Castle including medieval reenactments and children’s storytelling.

After looking around the castle (including the beautifully restored Duke’s Rooms) you can take a boat trip across the River Coquet to the Hermitage, a peaceful building that was once a private chapel for the Earl of Northumberland. 

Admission: Adult price is £7.20 or free to English Heritage members.

Dog-friendly: Dogs on leads are welcome at Warkworth Castle

Tynemouth Castle and Priory

Tynemouth Castle and Priory - Northumberland Castles

The large Tynemouth Priory and Castle looks out over the North Sea from its location on the headland. The site includes an interactive exhibition that charts the history of Tynemouth and a restored gun battery that was built to defend the Tyne in both World Wars.

Admission: Adult price is £6.30 or free to English Heritage members.

Dog-friendly: Dogs on leads are permitted in the grounds of Tynemouth Castle.

Discover more mighty fortresses with our guide to Northumberland castles.

4. Take a trip to the Farne Islands

Farne Islands Northumberland

No visit to the Northumbrian coast is complete without taking a boat trip to the beautiful Farne Islands. The islands are located off the coast of Seahouses and are home to puffins, seals and seabirds at various times of the year.

Landings can be made on several of the Farne Islands including Inner Farne which is a haven for nesting seabirds, and Longstone Island which is home to Grace Darling’s famous lighthouse.

Seals on the Farne Islands

There are a choice of regular boat trips to the Farne Island from the harbour at Seahouses and most of them are dog-friendly (although dogs won’t be allowed on the islands because of nesting birds).

Find out more about visiting the Farne Islands.

5. Enjoy fresh Northumberland seafood

Many of the towns and villages on the Northumberland coast have traditional fishing harbours so you can pick up some deliciously fresh seafood - whether you want to cook it yourself at a Northumberland holiday cottage or have it expertly prepared for you at a local restaurant.

Northumberland seafood - Craster kipper

Take it home

  • The Northumberland Seafood Centre, Amble (NE65 0FD): pick up a catch of the day for your supper with crabs, lobsters and oysters amongst the delicacies on offer. 
  • L Robson & Sons, Craster ( NE66 3TR): enjoy a traditional ‘Craster Kipper’ - they have been smoking the famous fish here for more than 130 years.
  • Swallow Fish, Seahouses (NE68 7RB): smoked fish, shellfish and fresh fish are all on offer here.

Dine out 

  • Riley’s Fish Shack, Tynemouth (NE30 4BY): a portable bar and grill that’s located on the beach, renowned for beautifully cooked seafood. Michel Roux recently named Riley’s Fish Shack as his favourite seafood restaurant!
  • The Potted Lobster, Bamburgh (NE69 7BS): serves traditional Lindisfarne oysters and lobster in a variety of ways.
  • Sea & Soil, Amble (NE65 0DQ): a bistro-style restaurant with regularly changing specials like braised octopus and kimchi cod on the menu.
  • Harbour View, Seaton Sluice (NE26 4DR): known for its large (and very tasty) portions of fish and chips - you can choose to eat in or takeaway. 

6. Call in at some pretty coastal towns and villages

The Northumberland coast is filled with pretty towns and villages where you can browse independent shops, enjoy a stroll along the beach, then stop for a cuppa (or a pint if you prefer). Play at penny arcades and tuck into fish and chips at traditional Northumberland seaside towns or watch the colourful sailing boats come and go at picturesque fishing villages clustered around sandy coves. Here are a few of our favourite Northumberland coastal towns:


Alnmouth - pretty Northumberland village

Alnmouth is well known for its painted coastal cottages that add a cheerful vibe to this pretty Northumberland village. It’s also home to the tiny Ferryman’s Hut which is a bite-sized museum with a great selection of old photos.


Bamburgh - pretty Northumberland village

Bamburgh is one of the most popular spots on the Northumbrian coast - the town is set against a backdrop of white sandy beaches and framed by the beautiful Bamburgh Castle. There’s also an array of cafes and restaurants to visit and green spaces where you can sit with a picnic and watch the world go by. 


Warkworth - pretty Northumberland village

Warkworth is a historic Northumberland village with a quaint main street that’s filled with artisan shops, traditional tea rooms and village pubs. You can take a circular stroll along the River Coquet which loops around Warkworth, pay a visit to the village’s medieval castle then get rowed across the river to Warkworth’s ancient Hermitage. 


Seahouses - pretty Northumberland village

Seahouses is an idyllic village with a colourful fishing harbour where you can observe local marine life including dolphins. You can also hop aboard a boat trip from here to the Farne Islands, home to puffins, a colony of seals and spectacular scenery.


Embleton - pretty Northumberland village

Embleton is the perfect place to relax and unwind on a Northumberland holiday with a golden sandy beach which seemingly stretches for miles – its shallow waters are perfect for children to paddle. This charming village also boats extraordinary views of Dunstanburgh Castle and is a great place to sample some tasty local kippers!

7. Spot wildlife at a coastal nature reserve

Seabirds on Northumberland Coast

Northumberland is a fabulous place to spot nature. The Farne Islands and Coquet Island are both well-known as the home to thousands of seabirds but there are also coastal nature reserves that you don’t have to reach by boat.

Hauxley Wildlife Discovery Centre is next to the beach at Druridge Bay and up to 140 species of birds can be spotted here each year. The wildlife haven includes walking trails, nature-rich ponds and hides to observe the birdlife. Children will have fun completing a rubbing disc trail and there’s a play area to keep them happy too.

Seals in Northumberland

The nearby Druridge Pools is an area of wetland that attracts wading birds, wildfowl and birds of prey - particularly in the winter months. The pools and deep lake here are also a great place to spot otters.

Lindisfarne is just off the coast of Berwick-upon-Tweed and can be reached via a tidal causeway. The sand dunes, saltmarsh and mudflats at Lindisfarne are home to a large nature reserve which attracts an array of wildlife including birds, geese and wildfowl. 

Dolphins in Northumberland

5 creatures to spot on Northumberland’s coast:

  • Dolphins – bottlenose dolphins, white-beaked dolphins and harbour porpoises can be spotted around Dunstanburgh Castle, Cullernose Point and Emmanuel Head on Holy Island
  • Grey seals – often seen in Seahouses harbour or basking on the rocks of offshore islands
  • Minke whales – best spotted around the Northumberland coast when the sea is calm
  • Puffins – around 37,000 pairs can be glimpsed on the Farne Islands
  • Long Nanny terns – during the summer these can be observed nesting at Beadnell Bay

Our guide to the Farne Islands highlights some of the wildlife you might encounter during your visit. 

8. Pay a visit to the real-life Hogwarts

Alnwick Castle or Hogwarts?

Alnwick Castle is around 5 miles from Alnmouth beach and a visit is a must for Harry Potter fans - the castle was featured as Hogwarts in both the Philosopher’s Stone and Chamber of Secrets films. Recognisable filming locations include the Outer Bailey where Harry first learned to fly a broomstick and the Lion Arch which led towards Hagrid’s cabin and the Forbidden Forest.

Highlights for the kids: You can follow in Harry Potter’s footsteps and take a flying lesson in the grounds of Alnwick Castle (or Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry as you may prefer to call it).   

Location: Alnwick

Opening times: Open seasonally 10am – 5.30pm

Prices: Start from adult £18.50, concession £15, child (5-16yrs) £9.75, family £50.50, children under 4 free

Explore our guide to Alnwick Castle for more information or check out our holiday cottages in and around Alnwick to stay nearby. 

9. Take a walk along the Northumberland Coast Path

Northumberland Coast Path

The Northumberland Coast Path stretches all the way from Cresswell in the south to Berwick-upon-Tweed in the north and covers sandy beaches, rocky headlands and secluded coves. It’s 62 miles in total but you can walk as much or as little of it as you want with popular sections including Warkworth to Alnmouth and Craster to Embleton Bay. 

The trail is well signposted with blue waymarks along the way - if you do decide to walk the whole of the Northumberland coastal path it’s recommended to split into six stages and tackle one per day.  

Beaches and castles on the coast path

There are a couple of good circular Northumberland coast walks to and from Craster that include sections on the Northumberland Coast Path - one that takes in Howick Hall and one that takes in Dunstanburgh Castle.

Find out more about the Northumberland Coast Path.

10. Drink an Earl Grey tea at Howick Hall

Howick Hall

Howick Hall is a Northumberland stately home by the coast which features beautiful gardens, woodland walks and an arboretum which covers 65 acres with 11,000 trees. Howick Hall is the ancestral home of the Earl Grey and the famous tea is named after the 2nd Earl - Charles Grey who was a British Prime Minister in the 1830s. 

Earl Grey tea was specially blended for Charles and you can enjoy a cup at The Earl Grey Tea House at Howick Hall. 

For more lovely places to enjoy some tea and cake, have a read of our guide to the top 5 afternoon tea spots in Northumberland.

Plan your getaway to the Northumberland Coast

If this has whetted your appetite for a short break to the Northumberland Coast we have a range of holiday cottages available in locations like Alnwick, Bamburgh, Beadnell, Craster and Seahouses.

Getaway to the Northumberland Coast
Cooper's Cove in Northumberland


For even more Northumberland Coast places to visit, take a look at our guide to the best beaches in Northumberland and start planning your perfect coastal getaway.

Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing, please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.

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