At one end it’s a little beach town where surfers have long blond hair and live by the water. Then at the other, it’s a sleepy town where you’ll never have to wait too long for your morning caffeine hit.
In our latest Destination Guide, we’ve scouted around Newcastle to bring you the best it has to offer.
Bank Corner Café
Tucked into a nook behind the railway, this café has a serious amount of charm, and more importantly, great coffee.
Leather seats line one wall, facing the baristas, almost like a café in Europe. Granola, gluten-free toast with grilled bananas, almonds, and ricotta, or even avocado on rye toast and lemon, are prefect breakfast and lunch options. Head out the back to the gorgeous courtyard when the weather allows.
BEST FOR: coffee and people watching.
Bank Corner Cafe, 744 Hunter Street, Newcastle, New South Wales
One Black Penny
Along one of the main drags, Hunter Street, these guys are serious about their coffee. Try a regular blend, or perhaps a cold pressed served over ice. The exposed brick and dark woods finish can make you think you’ve slipped down a lane in Melbourne. They even have multiple smashed avocado options, making the whereabouts even more confusing. It’s in Newcastle, we promise.
BEST FOR: Consistently great coffee
One Black Penny, 220 Hunter Street Newcastle
Found in a huge corner building, this gorgeous space offers wholesome foods that are as tasty as they are good for you. Think sweet potato, lentil, and chia seed burgers, or salads bursting with haloumi, poached eggs, avocado, and tomatoes. Soul Foods even have organic wines and beer, for an evening tipple. The wait staff must eat a lot of wholefoods, they seem like the happiest people in Newcastle.
BEST FOR: Tucker to make you feel virtuous, and full.
Soul Foods, 227 Hunter Street, Newcastle
On the waterfront, this bustling space is filled with a wait list, by 6pm on a Saturday night. Fresh sushi and sashimi goes perfectly with a bottle of Laurent Perrier. The waitstaff are also very knowledgeable and we must say, charming.
BEST FOR: Sushi, Champagne, and a waterside experience.
Nagisa, 1 Honeysuckle Dr, Newcastle
The Edwards is the product of a musician, an interior designer, and a barista creating a restaurant. The light and open industrial space in Newcastle West offers breakfast, lunch, dinner, and drinks. The all day menu stocks burgers, salads, and pastas with a range of mains as well. A one of everything kind of menu focusing on that all day eating and drinking vibe. It’s a place you can really settle in to, especially if you get a spot near the windows.
BEST FOR: a cosy all day affair.
The Edwards 148 Parry Street, Newcastle West
Reserve Wine Bar
What used to be an old bank is now a wine bar that is elegant, warm, and inviting. Stop for a beautiful drop of wine by the glass with freshly toasted nuts and olives, or stay the whole night with a serious wine list and nibbles, mains, and cheese. The wines by the glass might even be in theme – Aussie Wine Month for example. We think Newcastle is very lucky to have this gem. We might even be a bit jealous.
BEST FOR: great wine, and an elegant evening.
Reserve Wine Bar, 102 Hunter Street, Newcastle
Coal & Cedar
A dark, moody, and underground speakeasy comes to Newcastle with the team at Coal & Cedar. A New York-styled venue, it has a lot of exposed brick and a sneaky entry (enter through an unmarked library door). It’s not surprising that this team has earned their small bar stripes at the likes of Sticky Bar, and The Corridor in Sydney. Grab a 40-year-old whisky and an antipasto platter, and settle in.
BEST FOR: cocktails and an underground vibe.
Coal & Cedar, Hunter Street, Newcastle
Craft beers have a good home in Newcastle. With 21 beers and ciders on tap, and good snacking foods, this large homely space is perfect for an afternoon session. The food menu offers up snacking options like a tapas board and spicy buffalo wings, as well as a pizza menu, your pub staples, salads, and larger mains. The changing beers on tap can include Bridge Road Brewers India Saison, Stone & Wood Pacific Ale, and the Mountain Goat Hightail Ale. Cheers to that.
BEST FOR: craft beer.
Grain Store, 64-66 Scott Street, Newcastle East
The Hunter Valley
Sneak away for the day into the Hunter Valley, just an hour out of town. You’ll be overwhelmed with choice of wineries, restaurants, cheese shops, and chocolate shops. It’s a tough job, but someone has to do it. Enzo Café is the perfect lunch spot, where rustic Italian cuisine is served up in a Tuscany inspired courtyard, just moments from the wineries. Tyrrell’s winery and Scarborough Wine Co are a must visit. To finish the afternoon, a cheese platter is a must. Head to the Hunter Valley Cheese Factory for a cheese platter, and buy a bottle of wine from McGuigan Wines to enjoy in the joint courtyard. Clever thinkers.
BEST FOR: Wine, obviously.
There are some great walks in Newcastle, to help balance out all the cheese, wine, and cakes you’ll be eating. The Heritage Walk takes you past the Sea baths and a number of the town’s features, including Customs House, the Convict Lumber Yard, Fort Scratchley, Newcastle Ocean Baths and Beach, Christ Church Cathedral, and several historic convict-era buildings. If you turn the other way, you’ll head on The Bathers Way beach walk which we must warn you; ends in a massive hill of stairs.
BEST FOR: exploring and getting the heart pumping.
A little out into the ‘burbs of Newcastle, this industrial looking bakery and café is doing wonderful things. Breads, tarts, and treats of all sorts will tempt you. The tart made of blueberries, dark chocolate, and marmalade is a creation from the heavens. Sweet, tart, buttery, and balanced perfectly. We would eat one everyday if distance and cholesterol levels allowed.
BEST FOR: the tarts, oh the tarts.
Baked Uprising, 21-25 Downie Street Maryville
The Letter Q
Again, this one is a little drive from the main streets, but if you’re a fan of the humble macaron, it’s a must. With a whole range of flavours, these guys serve up perfectly crispy, chewy, sweet, and tasty bite sized treats. The cherry, coconut, and chocolate macaron is a Cherry Ripe in a mouthful, while the dark chocolate salted caramel is filled with both chocolate ganache and salted caramel. Need we say more?
BEST FOR: macarons.
The Letter Q, 47 Joslin St Kotara, Newcastle
Quality Hotel NOAH’S On the Beach
This is a nice home base for exploring the whole of Newcastle. With beach views, you’re a stone’s throw from the water and only minutes from some of the town’s best bars and restaurants. With rooms starting at less under $200 a night, it’s a good one for those on a budget.
BEST FOR: The hip pocket and views.
Quality Hotel Cnr Shortland Esp & Zaara Street, Newcastle
Novotel Newcastle Beach
This sleek 4.5 star hotel is again perfectly located for exploring the city, and the beautiful beaches. Just down stairs (not inside the restaurant, but very close) is a great nightspot Bar Petite for those nights you don’t want to stray too far.
BEST FOR: the location.
Novotel, 5 King Street, Newcastle
If you’re looking for more of a cook yourself, self-contained type venue, the Everton apartments are a great choice. They’re spacious and light, and a perfect place to rest and recuperate for another night out exploring the town.
BEST FOR: having your own space.
Everton Apartments, 155 Everton Street, Hamilton