Northumberland is blessed with a glorious coastline speckled with fishing ports, market towns and white sand beaches as well as a national park with the clearest skies for miles around.
This county of England is a popular spot for tourists to visit as it suits a diverse range of interests and offers a wide variety of activities and attractions. Along with that, it welcomes visitors whole-heartedly to explore the area as much as they please and as it is home to some of the oldest towns and villages in the world, it’s no wonder these idyllic traditional villages pose interest for those who are keen to delve into the culture of Northumberland.
Named ‘Britain’s Best Coastal Destination’ in a Which? survey for the third year in a row, Bamburgh is one of the most well-loved villages in Northumberland thanks to its famous castle and beautiful beach. Celebrated for its beaches, tourists attractions, value for money and jaw dropping scenery, Bamburgh made its way to the top.
But is Bamburgh the prettiest village by the sea in Northumberland? Well that is up to you! Here is a list of what we consider to be the 10 prettiest and best villages by the sea in Northumberland...
Seahouses is best known as the gateway to the Farne Islands but there is more to this Northumberland village than simply seabirds and puffins. The bustling harbour at Seahouses is full of colour and there’s a good selection of shops, cafes and restaurants to browse. You’ll find an assortment of boat trips if you fancy taking to the sea (where you may well spot otters and dolphins) and a couple of good fish and chip shops where you can sample the fisherman’s freshly caught wares.
Nearest wilderness attraction: Seahouses Beach - The extensive area of gently sloping, sandy beach stretching north of the harbour is backed by low, grassy dunes and features a number of rocky outcrops. Perfect for dog walks and days on the beach.
Our top pick: Grab a seat in the beer garden at the Bamburgh Castle Inn and make the most of the views out to the Farne Islands. Location: NE68 7SQ | 01665 720283
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For more inspiration read our guide to 8 of the best Seahouses cottages.
Craster is nestled under the dramatic ruins of Dunstanburgh Castle and the shoreline walk to this National Trust site is absolutely gorgeous. The harbour at Craster is very picturesque and there are some great foodie choices in the village including The Jolly Fisherman pub which looks out over the sea. The village attracts a variety of seabirds that you can spot in and around the harbour and you can’t pay a visit to Craster without sampling a traditional Craster Kipper. This local delicacy has been smoked in the same way for more than 130 years.
Nearest wilderness attraction: Craster Beach - A very small, sandy beach lies within the harbour of Craster and there are rock and shingle beaches to either side. Walking along the shoreline, it is sometimes possible to spot seals, eider ducks and a variety of waders and other birds. Embleton Beach is about 2 miles away if you want something a little bigger.
Our top pick: Call into the Mick Oxley Gallery and browse arts and crafts that have been inspired by the stunning Craster coastline. Location: NE66 3TR | 01665 571082
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With a pretty main street that’s filled with independent shops and the River Coquet looping around the village, Warkworth is a honeypot Northumberland spot that’s always a popular choice with visitors. Warkworth Castle, the ancestral home of the Percy family, is known for its cross-shaped keep and looks out over the village from a lovely hilltop position. Explore the well-preserved towers then take an idyllic trip across the river to the nearby Hermitage - this medieval building was carved out of rock and is only accessible by boat.
Nearest wilderness attraction: Warkworth Beach – a superb long sandy beach with lots of lovely sand dunes offering spots for picnics and safe play. There is a nice walk from the car park to the beach which is great for games of hide and seek. This is a great day out.
Our top pick: Take a gentle stroll along the River Coquet then hire a paddle boat to take to the water. To round off the perfect day, head to village pub The Masons Arms for a pint (or two).
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Seaton Sluice is another Northumberland village with a rich history. The village was formerly known as Hartley Pans because of the salt-pans which were used to harvest salt here for generations. Being located close to the historic Seaton Delaval House, the name Seaton Sluice was taken on more recently, with 'Seaton' meaning a settlement by the sea, and 'Delaval' after the family who owned the house. Visitors today will be drawn to the beach at Seaton Sluice with its golden sands and far-stretching views along the coastline - perfect whatever the weather. St Mary’s Lighthouse is a pretty attraction too, this bright white building stands out of the sea and is a great spot from which to watch the seals basking on the rocks.
Seaton Sluice lies between Whitley Bay and Blyth at the mouth of the Seaton Burn, a small river originating in the Northumberland countryside to the south of the national park.
Nearest wilderness attraction: Hollywell Dene is a fantastic area of ancient woodland with the Seaton Burn running through it. You’ll find a number of native species here including bluebells, wood anemones, herons and nuthatches. It’s one of the most peaceful woodlands in Northumberland.
Our top pick: Pay a visit to Seaton Delaval Hall, one of the many national trust properties in Northumberland and soaked in colourful history. It has enchanting gardens to explore, as well as a Playdium and a church. Location: NE26 4QR
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Alnmouth is a picture-postcard pretty Northumberland village featuring colourful cottages, the historic St Cuthbert’s Cross and a golden sandy beach that’s perfect for building sandcastles - especially on a sunny day. Alnmouth is home to England’s oldest golf course if you fancy teeing off for a round of 18 and there’s a great selection of places to eat and drink including Beaches restaurant which is a top choice for local fish and seafood.
Nearest wilderness attraction: Alnmouth Beach - The Alnmouth salt marsh and dunes are protected as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and are the natural habitat for a variety of plants so it’s well worth going exploring - you may well spot some wading birds along the way.
Our top pick: Pay a visit to England’s smallest museum, The Ferryman’s Hut to learn more about the history of Alnmouth. Location: NE66 2SD
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Berwick-upon-Tweed is technically a town rather than a village, but it’s certainly pretty so we wanted to include it on our list! You’ll find a myriad of alleyways and hidden courtyards here as well as all the features you know and love from the Northumberland coastline, including sand dunes and medieval ruins. It’s the most Northerly town in England and home to the romantic River Tweed with its three iconic bridges. You’ll find no end to the cosy cafes and historic attractions here, and there are plenty of activities for the whole family, from rock pooling at Cocklawburn beach to a round of golf at one of the local courses.
Nearest wilderness attraction: Head North towards Eyemouth and St Abb's Head, two spots known for their seabird colonies and dramatic cliff landscapes.
Our top pick: Follow the Lowry Trail which traces the footsteps of famous artist L.S. Lowry. He enjoyed many holidays in the area and is thought to have created over 30 works whilst here. The trail takes you past the Elizabethan Walls and through Berwick town before crossing into Tweedmouth and Spittal. Along the route you’ll find depictions of some of Lowry’s famous work. More information on the route and what you’ll encounter on the way can be found on the Berwick Preservation trust’s website.
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Budle Bay is a popular destination for bird watchers, but being so close to Bamburgh, and with Berwick-upon-Tweed also just a short distance north, it's also a great spot to stop at as you journey along the Northumberland coast. As a large bay it offers beautiful golden sands as well as a number of wildlife rich habitats including dunes, marshes and the rocky cliffs which are home to a number of interesting seabirds. With a number of cafes and restaurants around the area, including an artisan pizzeria, there’s plenty to keep you going if you plan a day of hiking or surfing in the bay!
Nearest wilderness attraction: Holy Island can only be accessed when the tide recedes from the causeway, making it one of the most dramatic spots in Northumberland and truly exposed to the elements. On the island you’ll find an ancient priory as well as more modern amenities including a locally famous coffee house and roastery.
Our top pick: Make a pitstop at The Potted Lobster on the way to Bamburgh for an exquisite menu of locally caught seafood.
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Beautiful Beadnell is best known for a wide swathe of sandy beach that’s sheltered by large sand dunes - the pretty bay is a top pick for a range of water sports including windsurfing and paddleboarding. You’ll find charming cottages, historic lime kilns, a 13th-century village chapel and a good choice of pubs, cafes and restaurants to call in for refreshments. The Craster Arms is particularly good and a sun-trap beer garden.
In the summer months, Beadnell Bay is home to pairs of nesting arctic terns and there are special viewing points where you can watch these rare protected birds.
Nearest wilderness attraction: Beadnell Bay is a wide, sandy beach in a horseshoe-shape just south of the village of Beadnell. The glorious golden sand curves around the bay, forming a natural harbour. To the rear of the beach are grassy sand dunes and fields beyond.
Our top pick: Get a surfing lesson from Northside Surf School and take advantage of the great waves here.
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Newbiggin-by-the-Sea is the perhaps the best village on the list for photography enthusiasts. Known for its spectacular sunrises and sunsets, as well as the intriguing sculpture of a couple out at sea, Newbiggin-by-the-sea has a lot of beauty to offer visitors. The beach here is very peaceful and as a result the area is home to abundant marine wildlife who enjoy the sleepy, undisturbed atmosphere. That doesn’t mean there isn’t lots to see and do here though, you’ll enjoy endless beach days observing the wildlife and learning about the area’s history in the village maritime museum.
Nearest wilderness attraction: Church Point is the headland at Newbiggin-by-the-sea and is perfect for birdwatching. Depending on the time of year you can see shearwaters, warblers and the rare Northern Mockingbird from this spot.
Our top pick: The Woodhorn Museum was once the largest pit village in the world but now the former colliery is a museum welcoming visitors to learn all about the area’s mining past, as well as hosting seasonal picnics and car show events.
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Bamburgh is best known for its famous castle that looks out over the village from atop a beachside crag. The largest inhabited castle in the country, Bamburgh is filled with historic treasures and tales of daring-do from a dramatic and turbulent past.
The other main draw of Bamburgh is a wide expanse of unspoilt sandy beach which is sheltered by sand dunes and stretches out for miles. The waves here make Bamburgh a top pick for surfing but it’s also great for walking, playing or simply relaxing on a deck chair.
Nearest wilderness attraction: Bamburgh has its own beach (as mentioned above) which is a beautiful big stretch of sand and ocean. The neighbouring town of Seahouses is in easy reach too for a taste of harbour life. Read more about Bamburgh here.
Our top pick: Take a walk along the beach to Bamburgh lighthouse. The rocks around here feature a white painted stag and are a prime spot for rock pooling.
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Plan your visit to Northumberland
Have you been inspired to visit Northumberland and seek out some of the region’s prettiest villages? Whether you prefer coast, country or a bit of both during a short break or holiday, we have a selection of cottages in some of the loveliest locations around.
Dogs are always very welcome in Northumberland’s towns and villages so four-legged friends can come along too. Browse our range of dog-friendly holiday cottages and read our guide to dog-friendly Northumberland to find out more.
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.