Northumberland spans the north east coast of England and is a haven for scenic surroundings and wonderful wildlife. As well as idyllic coastal villages, historic artefacts and beautiful beaches, there is a wealth of attractions and places to visit that will keep you busy for weeks.
Here are 5 things we think you should see when staying in Northumberland. Our self-catering cottages will be the perfect base for your explorations.
Take in the historic wonder that is Alnwick Castle and Gardens
Alnwick Castle is the historic castle that brought ‘Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry’ to life! Scotland’s most famous fictional character, Harry Potter, has been one of the main reasons why thousands of people travel to Northumberland every year with the intention of visiting this magical castle. You can walk in the courtyard where Harry took his broomstick flying lessons, and even arrange a lesson for yourself!
Still inhabited, Alnwick Castle is a family home to the Percy family, but welcomes visitors in to learn about its fascinating history and enjoy the beautiful gardens that surround it, perfect for walks, playing and picnics. You can enjoy archery, medieval craft demonstrations and seasonal events which you can keep an eye on their ‘what’s on’ page.
With education at the forefront of their workshops and tour plans, children can learn all about the castle, how it was built, what certain parts were used for and also the history of its people including Harry Hotspur, one of the most famous knights who ever lived in England! Plan a visit to Alnwick Castle, and book ahead to get on tours, workshops, and broomstick lessons! You can read about the castle in more detail in our helpful guide to Alnwick Castle.
Take a relaxed visit to Lindisfarne, The Holy Island
You cannot leave the county of Northumberland without a visit to Lindisfarne - one of the most beautiful and characterful islands off England’s coast. Reached by a causeway that is revealed at low tide twice daily, you can drive or walk over to the island and spend the day exploring all there is to see on it. The little village of Lindisfarne has nice places to stop for a bit to eat, including a couple of pubs and a number of small independent cafes. The museum is open to anyone and here you can pick up a souvenir or local hand-made crafts to remind you of your visit.
For historical sights, make your way to Lindisfarne Castle; you can’t miss it with its impressive silhouette against the ocean horizon. It was built in 1550 and has seen plenty of battles and Viking raids in its time. Nowadays, it has a much more peaceful life being part of the National Trust, with its doors open to the public to have a look inside. Lindisfarne Priory sits west of the castle on the edge of the village, and here you can admire ancient stonework and take a walk around the peaceful graveyard. Not far from the Holy Island are the Farne Islands, a collection of islands that are home to over 100,000 seabirds including puffins! Arrange a boat trip and make the most of your time on Lindisfarne.
Read all about the islands in more depth with our guide to Lindisfarne. And if you are a keen birdwatcher, our guide to the Farne Islands shares all the species of birds you can find here.
Discover the craftwork of Roman soldiers and visit Hadrian’s Wall
This impressive 73-mile Roman wall runs from coast to coast, between Wallsend and Bowness-on-Solway. Some bits of the wall are more intact than others, and many of the fort ruins can still be seen today and make for great days out with the kids. Along the wall, there are many preserved ruin sites so you can go and find out about the Romans and their way of life, why they built the wall and how they did it.
Here are some of Hadrian’s Wall Roman highlights:
- Segedunum Roman fort. This fort was home to 600 soldiers and was built to guard to eastern end of the wall. Location: NE28 6HR
- Corbridge Roman Town. This is an old garrison town where you can see remains of an old granary, markets, and workshops. Location: NE45 5NT
- Chesters Roman Fort. This is a brilliant example of what a Roman bath would have been like. Location: NE46 4EU
- Housesteads Roman Fort. Deemed a more significant fort along the length of the wall, this one has been preserved beautifully with lots to see. Location: NE47 6NN
For more details on the different parts of Hadrian's Wall to discover, read our helpful guide which features more spots, Roman towns, and villages and also some holiday cottages you can stay in when in Northumberland.
Adventure along the Northumberland Coast Path
For those of you who like getting out next to the ocean, breathing in the fresh sea air and spending time on golden sandy beaches, then the Northumberland Coast Path is a place you want to be. This route offers up some of the finest coastal walking in Europe and stretches for around 62 miles from Cresswell in the south to Berwick upon Tweed in the north.
You will discover wide sandy coves, lovely big grassy sand dunes, a great variety of wildlife and habitats, and you will also pass through two National Nature Reserves. Northumberland is well known for its seasonal seabird colonies, and many keen birdwatchers come here to tick sightings off their lists! Bamburgh Castle, Warkworth Castle and Dunstanburgh Castle are all set along this route so if you are into your history, you will love seeing them along the way. Many people spend their holiday walking the whole length, whilst others choose one or two spots to spend proper time in, relaxing and enjoying the seaside setting. View our self-catering cottages in these different locations along Northumberland’s coast:
Bamburgh cottages – Seahouses cottages – Alnmouth cottages – Amble cottages
For more inspiration on where to go and what to do, take a read of our guide to Northumberland’s coast and for advice on where to spend a day at the beach, read our guide to the best beaches in Northumberland.
Get into the wilderness and take in Kielder Forest
Kielder Forest is one big adventure playground which attracts thousands of people every year to take on all sorts of outdoor activities. It covers 250 square miles and there is a man-made lake which is the largest one in Europe – perfect for kayaking, canoeing, fishing, water sports and wild swimming (if you don’t mind getting cold!) Cycling, walking, running, horse riding and nature spotting are amongst many of the activities you can get up to here.
Red squirrels, ospreys, deer and otters all call Kielder home and with a bit of patience you might be able to see them all. If you are holidaying with the dog, this couldn’t be a better place to be. There are so many walking routes that you can take them on, including some impressive waterfall walks where they can take a chilly dip to refresh before turning back. Families will love the area too, with many companies offering activities and trails to keep them entertained.
For more ideas on how to spend time here, read our guide which shares 6 reasons why you should visit Kielder Forest.
There are so many more amazing things to see throughout Northumberland and this is just a small handful of our favourites. Don’t forget, Northumberland has its own National Park too where there are lots of options for adventures. Northumberland is also home to a number of Dark Sky sites as well as Kielder Forest being a designated Dark Sky zone – the largest in Europe! So, turn off the phones, get into the night and spot everything from Orion’s Belt to the Milky Way!
We hope you have enjoyed this guide and if we have inspired you to come and visit Northumberland, keep our self-catering holiday cottages in mind. We have everything from small cosy boltholes for two to large family holiday homes which welcome the dog as well. View our full collection today and plan ahead for the holiday of a lifetime.
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.