Northumberland: the North East’s answer to Cornwall holiday cottages

Northumberland: the North East’s answer to Cornwall

Jemima Kirkwood 21 October 2021

Cornwall topped the travel bucket list for staycations in 2021 with 84% of Brits considering the coastal county for their next staycation.* This got us thinking: what does Cornwall have that Northumberland doesn’t? 

It turns out, not a lot! Northumberland has just as many beautiful places to visit, historical buildings to admire, white sand beaches to play on and a wonderful array of attractions to book.

Bamburgh was even voted ‘seaside destination of the year’ in May 2021 in a Which? survey! Celebrated for its diverse range of attractions and its great value for money, we think that goes for most of the county.

We looked at what Cornwall has to offer and found Northumberland comparisons to fly our own flag as the best place to staycation in 2022!

Read on to see Northumberland’s answer to some of the biggest and most famous attractions in Cornwall…

1. Howick Hall Gardens vs Eden Project

Cornwall: The Eden Project in Cornwall is an immersive experience where you can bask amongst acres of plants, flowers and trees whilst walking through indoor and outdoor gardens. 

Here you will find the largest rainforest in captivity, over 20 plant-based exhibits, numerous interactive exhibitions and outdoor activities. It houses species in different sections from all over the globe, from Africa to South East Asia - an educational wonder!

  • Opening times: 9.30am - 6pm, 7 days a week
  • Prices: Adult - £32.50, child - £10.00

Left: Howick Hall in Northumberland, Right: The Eden Project in Cornwall

Northumberland: Although a lot smaller, Howick Hall Gardens in Northumberland is the answer to the Eden Project. Plan a visit if you want to surround yourself with plants, flowers and nature for the day. 

Established in 1920 by the 5th Earl Grey and his wife, the garden was nurtured to grow in an organic and natural style, which is a strategy maintained to this very day. The woodland garden is the highlight of the exhibit, where spring bulbs grow and flourish to create amazing bright patches of colour. The borders and rockery, wild bog and woodland walks all contribute to the natural haven that you will find here.

The Arboretum (tree garden) has been growing from seed since 1985 and covers 65 acres - you can explore all of it! Trees from all over the world can be found here, where the seeds have been brought back during collection expeditions and planted in our soil. Take a walk through them and discover all sorts of species from North America to Japan! 

  • Opening times: 10.30am - 4pm, 7 days a week
  • Prices: Adult - £7.00, children go free

Bonus: Howick Hall Gardens is smaller than the Eden Project therefore there will be fewer people visiting at the same time, and it is a lot cheaper too!

2. Lindisfarne Castle vs St Michael's Mount

Cornwall: St Michael’s Mount is an ancient and glorious castle set on its own island off the coast of Cornwall. Still a family home, it is part of the National Trust and opens its doors to visitors, welcoming you in to explore the grand rooms and the beautiful gardens. There is a cobbled causeway over to the island and castle, which can be accessed by foot and gives you a sense of adventure as you cross the ocean. There is an island village which comprises ancient cobbled streets, some on quite steep inclines up to the castle. There are lots of areas to explore and some perfect spots for picnics!

  • Opening times: 9.30am - 5pm, Sunday to Friday
  • Prices (castle and garden): Adult - £24, children - £13, under 5’s go free

Left: Lindisfarne Castle in Northumberland, Right: St Michaels Mount in Cornwall

Northumberland: The holy island of Lindisfarne is set off the east coast of Northumberland and is thought to be the holiest site of Anglo Saxon England. This is also a castle set on a mound, on an island reached by a causeway! The times you can cross are determined by the tide as at certain times of day the crossing is completely under the water. On the island, you will find a picturesque historic village, Lindisfarne castle set on a mount, an ancient priory, and a scenic harbour. Walking around the village you will come across artisan eateries, welcoming pubs and even a museum where you can learn all about the history and then browse in the gift shop. It is a beautiful place to spend the day.

It is free to get onto the island, but there is a car park where you can leave your car as the main island village is pedestrian only.

  • Opening times: 10am - 5pm, Monday to Sunday
  • Prices (castle and gardens): Adult - £9.00, children - £4.50

Bonus: There is a bit more to see and do on Lindisfarne including the ancient priory, the Grace Darling Museum and the historic harbour, offering more variety for a day trip. Prices are cheaper for adults, children and families, too.

3. Berwick upon Tweed vs Land's End Landmark

Cornwall: Land's End is the most south-westerly part of the United Kingdom and is a legendary Cornish destination. It has been famous since ancient Greek times when it was referred to as ‘Belerion’, meaning ‘Place of the sun’ or ‘The shining land.’ Here you will find the famous signpost marking distances to New York in America (3,147 miles) and John O’Groats in Scotland (874 miles) amongst other destinations. This is a popular photo spot for those who have travelled the distance between Land's End and John O’Groats, whether that be running, walking or cycling! The coastal landscape here is tremendous and is an attraction in itself, and with there being a holiday park here with various attractions it can be a fun day out for all. You can enjoy everything from cliff walks and boat trips to castles and history!

  • Opening times (attractions): 10am - 5pm, Monday - Sunday
  • Prices (the experience ticket): Adult - £15, child - £10

Left: Berwick upon Tweed in Northumberland, Right: Lands End in Cornwall

Northumberland: Berwick upon Tweed is iconic for being the northernmost town in England, and whilst it doesn’t mark the top of the UK like Land's End marks the south-western point, it still marks the top of England, settled 2.5 miles south of the Anglo-Scottish border. It is a beautiful Elizabethan town with winding cobbled streets, ruined castle remains and a turbulent history. The ancient prison cells are worth a visit, and the town walls will impress with their heroic structure. Berwick upon Tweed is a great starting point for exploring the Northumberland coastline with its beautiful beaches and harbour towns.

Bonus: Berwick upon Tweed has its own train station so you can arrive straight into the centre of the town and explore from there. The nearest train station to Land's End is in Penzance, 9 miles away.

4. Bamburgh Castle vs Tintagel Castle

Cornwall: Set high on Cornwall’s rugged coastline sits Tintagel Castle, a 13th-century castle which is now in ruins. Sitting on its own island, it can be reached by a footbridge located at the top of a steep path climb, an adventurous and rewarding walk. You will be able to discover all the medieval buildings which surround the castle as well as the Great Hall within the heart of Tintagel itself. This was the stronghold for many early medieval leaders and is said to be the place where King Arthur was conceived! There is an island walled garden and a beach below the castle which offers a great spot for a picnic - you will also find a cafe here for a bite to eat.

  • Opening times: 10am - 6pm, Monday to Sunday
  • Prices: Adult - £15, child - £9.40, under 5’s go free

Left: Bamburgh Castle in Northumberland, Right: Tintagel Castle in Cornwall

Northumberland: Northumberland’s answer to Tintagel Castle has to be Bamburgh Castle, an impressive inhabited castle set 150 feet above the magnificent Bamburgh beach. Dating over 1,400 years, this castle has stood through history, holding all of its stories within its walls. Like Tintagel, it has a fascinating history of battles and rulers, and it was the first castle in the world to fall to gunpowder in the War of the Roses. Inside you can explore 14 stately rooms housing historic artefacts, treasures, armoury and weapons.Surrounding the castle there are lovely picnic spots, and being set right on the beach you can follow your visit with a dip in the sea.

  • Opening times: 10am - 5pm, Monday to Sunday
  • Prices: Adult - £12, child - £6.15, under 4’s go free

Bonus: The castle sits right next to the charming village of Bamburgh, where you can explore the village and get a bite to eat. There is a car park which is for both the castle and the beach, making both really accessible. Prices are cheaper than Tintagel too.

5. Vindolanda Roman village vs The Minack Theatre

Cornwall: The Minack Theatre in Cornwall is a famous open-air theatre perched on the Cornish cliffs, offering an amazing place to visit and experience all sorts of shows and events. Built in the 1930’s by a woman called Rowena Cade, this is a theatre like no other, with glorious gardens surrounding it and views out over Porthcurno Bay and the sea beyond. The theatre auditorium, backstage walkway and gardens are all open to the public, and you can learn all about its history and how it was created with interactive exhibitions and shows.

  • Opening times: 10am - 6pm, Monday to Sunday
  • Prices: Adult - £10, child - £5.00

Left: Vindolanda Ruins in Northumberland, Right: Minack Theatre in Cornwall

Northumberland: Northumberland can offer up impressive structures too - a lot of which historically were built by the Romans. The Vindolanda Roman fort ruin sits along Hadrian’s Wall on the Stanegate Road, the first Roman frontier in the north. It is a site of archaeology with its nine uncovered forts and communities, all carefully preserved so we can understand what life was like back then. Some of the buildings include officers' residences, village houses and workshops, temples, and a pre-Hadrianic bathhouse. Just fascinating!

There is a museum on site that has interactive exhibitions and informative displays which all help you learn and understand the life that the Romans lived here. You will come across a rare collection of wooden artefacts which are over 2,000 years old!

  • Opening times: 10am - 5pm, Monday - Sunday
  • PricesAdult - £8.30, child - £4.75

Bonus: This is an attraction that is open all year round and can be a full-day visit if that is what you are looking for. 

6. Bamburgh Beach vs Fistral Beach

Cornwall: Known as one of the world's top surfing destinations, Fistral beach is the go-to beach for surfers all over the world. All the UK surf competitions are held here, where the waves regularly reach heights of 6 - 8 feet. This is not just a beach for experienced surfers though, it can be enjoyed by everyone at any age, beginners or well-versed. Many come to just enjoy a day on the beach too! There are takeaways and coffee shops if sandy picnics are not your thing! Dogs are welcome.

Prices: £12 for a day of parking

Left: Bamburgh Beach in Northumberland, Right: Fistral Beach in Cornwall

Northumberland: Whilst Northumberland doesn’t hold any titles for having a world-class surfing beach, it gets its fair shares of windy weather and waves from the south and east. Northumberland has many beaches to boast about, but we think the best one for surfing is Bamburgh Beach. With a long stretch of sand, there are plenty of places to catch some waves, with the middle section getting the biggest churns. With a nice gradual slope into the sea, it is easy to get in and out of so you can practise for hours. Also a loved beach by families and dog walkers, Bamburgh never fails to impress. Dogs are welcome.

Prices: £2 for a day of parking near the castle

Bonus: It is a lot cheaper, in general, to spend a day on the beach in Northumberland, meaning there is more budget for ice cream!

If you want to discover more good surfing beaches, make sure you check out our guide to the best surf spots in Northumberland

7. Wallington House Garden Estate vs The Lost Gardens of Heligan

Cornwall: 30 years ago, no one knew about the Lost Gardens of Heligan, lost since WW1 and overgrown with brambles and shrubs, but now the gardens have been brought back to life and are among some of the finest gardens in the UK. Full of romance and nostalgia, this restored area of plants, garden and nature is a lovely place to come for those looking to be at one with nature. Beautiful throughout the seasons, you are guaranteed a unique experience and a lovely day out discovering different sections including a jungle area and walled gardens.

  • Opening times: 10am - 6pm, Monday - Sunday
  • Prices: Adult - £17.50, child - £8.50

Left: Wallington Garden Estate in Northumberland, Right: The Lost Gardens of Heligan in Cornwall

Northumberland: Within the grounds of Wallington House, nestled in the woods, lies a magical walled garden. Once beloved by Lady Mary Trevelyan, the former lady of the house, it remains today, beautifully kept and tended. Potter down the stone staircase after entering through Neptune’s Gate and soak up the tranquil atmosphere that surrounds you. Admire pretty flower borders, the Mary Pool with lily pads and newts, and the Edwardian conservatory which is full of beautiful scented flowers and plants.You can explore the surrounding woodland, parkland and farmland, and also enter the house and explore the stately rooms open to the public.

  • Opening times: 10am - 5pm, Monday - Sunday
  • Prices: Adult - £16.50, child - £8.30

Bonus: At Wallington House you can make it a full day out with a house tour and then a leg stretch around the beautiful grounds. It is again cheaper than a day at the Lost Gardens.

8. Craster vs Mevagissey

Cornwall: Mevagissey is a historic harbour village on the coast of Cornwall, on the southern riviera coast, dating back to 1313. Named after two Irish saints, St Meva and St Issey, it is well known for its ideal seaside location and all the interesting attractions close by. Pretty houses are set in lines overlooking the ocean and harbour, and there are lots of quiet places to sit and watch the boats come in and out, whether that be in a traditional pub, or perched on the harbour wall. It has a fascinating history of boat building and smuggling and is an interesting one to potter around whilst checking out the shops and eateries along the way.

Left: Craster in Northumberland, Right: Megavissey in Cornwall

Northumberland: Our answer to Megavissey in Cornwall is the idyllic fishing village of Craster. Lying just 8 miles from Alnwick, this small harbour village is most famous for its smoked kippers - popular with the Royal Family, we’ve heard. Exploring ruins, admiring castles, spotting seabirds and marine life, enjoying coastal walks, discovering caves and browsing arts and crafts are all things you can do here whilst breathing in the fresh sea air and admiring the view.

Bonus: Craster also has a beach which Megavissey does not. It is directly next to the main street of Craster and couldn't be easier to get too. It is also dog-friendly so your four legged friend can enjoy it too.

9. The Farne Islands vs Lizard Point

Cornwall: An amazing Jurassic peninsula located in the most southerly part of Cornwall, Lizard Point is an impressive site that has seen many shipwrecks throughout history and is still one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world. Lizard Point is rich in wildlife, geology and charm, and whilst here you can enjoy white sand beaches and clear turquoise sea. Famous for its serpentine stone, geologists are fascinated by the dark green rock. There is also a lighthouse here which has been standing since 1751.

Left: Farne Islands in Northumberland, Right: Lizard Point in Cornwall

Northumberland: Home to one of the most impressive seabird colonies in England, the Farne Islands, set off the coast of Northumberland, are a sight to behold. Reached by boat, you can get up close and personal with over 23 seabird species, and in the height of the season you will come across over 43,000 pairs of puffin. This is also one of the most important grey seal pupping sites where over 2,000 pups are born every autumn! There are around 28 small islands here covered in wildlife - a birdwatcher's dream. There are also two working lighthouses on the Farne Islands.

Bonus: You can book a guided boat trip from the village of Seahouses which will take you to the islands where you can discover everything for yourself.

10. Aln Valley Steam Railway vs Bodmin & Wenford Steam Railway

Cornwall: Journey back in time to the '50s on the Bodmin and Wenford Railway - a 13-mile round trip through the idyllic Cornish countryside. It runs from Bodmin Parkway through to Boscarne Junction and you can travel by steam train or the Auto Train - take your pick! There are two rides to take, which is recommended as you can see a nice variety of landscape to admire and it makes a full day of it. Suitable for all ages, there is so much to see along the way, and the on-train buffet room can provide nice snacks and refreshments to enjoy with great views.

  • Opening times: Various dates and journey times are listed on their website
  • Prices: Adult - £17.00, child - £9.00, dog - £1.00

Left: Aln Valley Railway in Northumberland, Right: Bodmind Moor Railway in Cornwall

Northumberland: The Aln Valley Railway recreates the rail link between Northumberland’s much-loved village of Alnwick and the coastal village of Alnmouth. This was closed back in 1967, but thanks to a project run by volunteers, you can now travel the short 1.5 miles by steam train in restored carriages from the 1950s! The journey takes you through countryside and along the coast, offering up splendid views and a look over the county's beautiful landscape. There is a museum, engine shed and displays of rolling stock all to be enjoyed, and the Lionheart cafe is open for teas, coffees and light lunches.

  • Opening times: Various dates and journey times are listed on their website
  • Prices: Adult - £4.00, child - £2.00

Bonus: A day on a train in Northumberland works out a lot cheaper for all with it being £13.00 less to enjoy a day out as an adult! The museum and engine shed offer more to look at and rather than just a train trip it could become a full day excursion, with a tasty meal in between.

More Northumberland alternatives to popular Cornwall attractions

  • St Ives in Cornwall vs Seahouses in Northumberland
  • Bodmin Moor in Cornwall vs The Cheviots in Northumberland
  • Gwithian Towans in Cornwall vs Druridge Bay in Northumberland
  • Cornish Seal Sanctuary in Cornwall vs The Farne Islands in Northumberland
  • Tate St Ives in Cornwall vs Woodhorn Museum in Northumberland

What else we found...

How easy is it to travel to Cornwall and Northumberland from London?

It is 10 minutes shorter to fly from London to Newcastle (Northumberland) than it is to travel from London to Newquay Airport (Cornwall).

It is 2 hours shorter to travel by train from London to Berwick on Tweed (the furthest point in Northumberland) than it is to travel from London to Penzance (the furthest point in Cornwall).

A return journey by train from London to Northumberland costs £84, which is around £40 cheaper than travelling from London to Cornwall by train.

Did you know it is much cheaper to book a holiday cottage in Northumberland too? 

Looking ahead at summer prices through July and August 2022, we have found that it is far cheaper to stay in Northumberland than it is to stay in coastal Cornwall, whether you are travelling as a couple, family or group of friends.

It is, on average, around £300 cheaper to stay in a cottage for 2 in Northumberland. Here are some of our favourites:

On average, it is £800 cheaper to stay in a family cottage sleeping 6 in Northumberland. Here are some to keep in mind:

It is, on average, £800 cheaper to book a large house sleeping 10+ in Northumberland. Here are some great places for your group to stay:

Browse our full collection of holiday cottages in Northumberland and get your plans in place for 2022 holidays. 

*Data collected by holidaycottages.co.uk which powers Cottages in Northumberland. You can find the full data set and more information here.

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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