Uncover some of Newcastle’s best parks, eateries and swimming spots that the locals have been keeping quiet – until now.
Newcastle is a colourful city that’s anything but ordinary. While perhaps best known for its surf breaks and stunning beaches, there’s so much more to this vibrant New South Wales city, just two hours north of Sydney. And we’re here with some of the best-kept secret spots in Newcastle NSW – while it might be Australia’s second oldest city, it’s never felt as vibrant as it does now.
Discover a coastal wonderland to reinvigorate your senses with its fervent atmosphere, creative and artisanal culture and food offerings to tantalize your taste buds. Rather than check-in and put your feet up, have your perceptions challenged and go exploring. After all, Newcastle is a city that rewards curiosity
1. Glenrock State Conservation Area
You don’t have to go far to discover the great outdoors in Newcastle – Glenrock State Conservation Area is only five kilometres away from the city and easily accessible via bike, car or on foot. A coastal rainforest, Glenrock is incredibly biodiverse, home to diverse vegetation and plenty of wildlife, including gliders, bandicoots, and echidnas.
Cyclists will love spending a morning at Glenrock, with kilometres of mountain bike trails for beginners through to advanced riders. There are also plenty of invigorating walking tracks (you may find yourself sharing with horseback riders!) and dramatic coastal views to be enjoyed.
Explore the beautiful Glenrock State Conservation Area (Image: City of Newcastle)
2. Coal and Cedar
A whisky speakeasy in Newcastle? Say no more. Coal and Cedar, on Hunter Street, is one of the coolest cocktail bars in town. There’s no signage or doorbell — you’ll need to text a special code to a number on the wall and a host will welcome you in.
Getting in is half the fun, of course, but the other half is the phenomenal whiskeys and cocktails you’ll find inside. Matched with moody vibes, exposed brick, and impressive bartenders, this small bar delivers big time. Awarded Best Regional Bar in Australia (2016), you can also book a cocktail master class and learn tips from the pros — plus you’ll get to sample some delightful tipples along the way.
And if you want to look your best before happy hour, pop over to The Lincoln Room Barbers, the hip barber shop next door, for a clean shave that will have you ready for a night on the town.
Feel like part of the in crowd at Coal & Ceder. (Image: Destination NSW)
3. The Bogey Hole
Nobbys and Merewether might be some of the area’s most popular beaches, but you haven’t experienced Newcastle’s swimming scene if you haven’t been to the Bogey Hole. Named after the Dharawal word meaning to bathe, it’s a heritage-listed ocean pool with an unusual backstory — the pool was chiselled out of the rock by convicts in 1819 for the use of Major James Morisset, former Commandant of Newcastle.
Reopening in 2016 after extensive repairs, the pool is still in use, but access is no longer limited to the British elite — this popular coastal sea bath is free and open to the public, attracting keen swimmers each day. Best viewed from above (access from King Edward Park) this hand-hewn swimming hole is equally impressive when it’s being smashed by pounding waves or when the sea is languid and calm.
Even if you’re not feeling up for a swim, the Bogey Hole is still worth a visit, its silhouette cutting a dramatic shape out of the rugged sandstone cliffs. Explore the Newcastle coastline, including the Bogey Hole, as part of the Bathers Way Walk.
Dive into the hand-hewn Bogey swimming hole. (Image: DNSW)
4. The Koutetsu Bar
A chic cocktail bar specialising in Australian gins and Japanese whiskeys, the Koutetsu Bar doesn’t just dabble in spirits – they were named one of the Top 12 Best Gin Bars in the 2022 Bartender Magazine Australian Bar Awards.
This dimly lit speakeasy never cuts corners, delighting guests with hand-cut ice cubes and dark, moody vibes just made for deep conversation and romance. Hot tip – Koutetsu do a mean Negroni happy hour Wed-Fri, so plan to pop in for a perfectly crafted aperitif before your dinner reservation.
Head to this chic and moody cocktail bar.
5. Âpé Yakitori Bar
Where once parmigiana at the corner pub was the height of culinary sophistication, Newcastle’s food scene has undergone a metamorphosis. A visit to Âpé Yakitori Bar (sister restaurant to enduring favourite Nagisa next door) is solid proof of this. Showcasing the region’s best produce, cooked over charcoal, you can dine harbourside or take a seat at the yakitori grill. For an extra-special treat, settle in for Âpé’s epic degustation menu paired with wine, Japanese whisky or sakes.
If you’re looking for more to whet your appetite, head to Flotilla for an unforgettable lazy Sunday lunch, leaning into the refined yet casual approach to dining.
Discover Newcastle’s food scene metamorphosis at Âpé Yakitori Bar.
6. Treetops Adventure at Minmi
Set within the tranquil Blue Gum Regional Park, Treetops Adventure at Minmi is always a winner with families looking for thrills, whether for adventurous kids or adults that are along for the ride.
With over 20 zip lines, plus tree ropes courses and aerial walks, this is the perfect outdoor activity for anyone looking to soar above the treeline or immerse into nature, with the guidance of qualified instructors.
Zip over 20 lines at Treetops Adventure.
7. Thermidor Oyster Bar & Brasserie
No one does oysters like Thermidor Oyster Bar & Brasserie, a new eatery serving premium seafood, grilled over Australian ironbark for flavour, with a focus on sourcing local ingredients. Natural oysters, half shell scallops, grilled Thermidor lobster, topped off with a Bombe Alaska — foodies will love not just the flavours, but the chic ambience and curated wine list, designed to perfectly complement the menu.
Or, if you’re looking for cheerful and casual dinner options for the family, you can’t beat Antojitos or Newy Burger Co.
Treat yourself at Thermidor Oyster Bar & Brasserie.
8. Mr. Sister Coffee
Contemporary and bright, Mr. Sister Coffee opened in 2021 in the East End Village and quickly became a local favourite. The stylish minimalist design is just made for Insta photos, but more importantly, the coffees here are always a winner, crafted from the highest-quality beans by passionate baristas.
Pop in for an almond flat white, the perfect place to slow down and start the day with intent, savouring the aromas of roasted beans and fresh croissants.
Enjoy beautiful surrounds and great coffee at Mr. Sister Coffee.
9. Outdoor Art Gallery
Newcastle’s street art scene has transformed the city into an outdoor art gallery, from eclectic Hamilton to the harbourside precinct of Honeysuckle, and from the beaches back to Bolton Street.
Don’t miss a moment of it by downloading a map from the Big Picture Fest, or sign up for a tour with Newcastle Afoot. Discover a tattooed girl holding a rose, a vintage-inspired seaside scene and a wedding altar with a twist.
Check out Newcastle’s street art scene. (Image: DNSW)
To uncover your own Newcastle favourites, head to visitnewcastle.com.au.