The best towns and villages to visit on the Northumberland coast

Coastal

Posted by Hannah on 6th November 2020

Northumberland coast at Howick

With just under 40 miles of stunning coastline to explore, Northumberland is a great place to get away for a holiday by the sea. Many of its coastal spots are lesser-known than other places across the UK, meaning often it’s very quiet and you may even get to enjoy some of the scenery all to yourself.

From castles to nature reserves, there's a wealth of places to go and things to do all along the Northumberland Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, hidden in the delightful towns and villages on its shores. Head to historic Alnmouth, explore beautiful Bamburgh or wander the cobbled streets of Seahouses on your adventures to this remote and extraordinary corner of the UK. 

Northumberland has a number of charming towns and villages to base your holiday from, each with something different to offer. You’ll find everything you need here to truly make the most of your break, from a variety of attractions to beautiful beaches, great places to eat and many of our Northumberland cottages. Here's our pick of the best places to visit in Northumberland.

All Northumberland cottages


Berwick-upon-Tweed: best for history

The most northerly town in England, Berwick-upon-Tweed offers plenty of coastal scenery close by, with a number of beaches including Berwick-upon-Tweed beach, Fisherman’s Haven and Cocklawburn Beach. Berwick-upon-Tweed Beach leads on to the Berwickshire Coastal Path, which you can follow over the border to Scotland.

Its proximity to Scotland means that it is also steeped in history relating to the border wars that took place between England and Scotland for hundreds of years. Away from the coast, there’s Berwick Castle, the Elizabethan Walls and much more which stand today as a testament to this history.

Head to the Berwick-upon-Tweed Barracks and Main Guard to soak up the history, hop aboard a Berwick Boat Trip to see the local marine life for yourself, or visit The Maltings performing arts centre for an evening out during your holiday to Berwick-upon-Tweed. 

Highlights

Berwick-upon-Tweed cottages


Bamburgh: best for unforgettable views

Located within the Northumberland Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Bamburgh’s coast is ruggedly beautiful, with Bamburgh beach being a beautiful place to take a dip in the sea. Backed by sweeping sand dunes, this lovely beach not only attracts swimmers and sunbathers, but also surfers, dog walkers and horse riders too.

Bamburgh also has a spectacular castle of its own, which sits on a rocky outcrop overlooking the beach and the surrounding coastline, which only adds to the impressiveness of this gorgeous part of Northumberland.

An epic fortress with over 200 years of history to experience, this mighty castle is a stunning place to visit while you take in the coastal panoramas. It towers 150 feet above the shore, so you can gaze down on the world from the atop the walls of this Northumberland treasure. 

Highlights

Bamburgh cottages


Seahouses: best for wildlife

Seahouses is an attractive fishing village, and a place where you can sit back and watch the fishing boats pass in and out of the harbour. Backed by sand dunes, Seahouses enjoys two beautiful beaches to the north and south, with the north being the most popular – an enormous expanse of golden sands, backed by views towards Bamburgh Castle.

It’s also well-known for being the gateway to the Farne Islands, one of the UK’s most important birdlife havens. They’re home to a variety of birds, including puffins, guillemots and terns, as well as colonies of Atlantic grey seals.

Ensure you take a boat trip to the Farne Islands to see the unique and impressive range of wildlife that make the most of this coastal habitat, or stride out on a seaside walk to see what you can spot flitting about overhead or playing in the waters of Northumberland's coast. 

Highlights

    • Farne Islands - As we mentioned above, you can take a boat trip out to the Farne Islands to get up close and personal with the resident wildlife. 
    • Slate Hall Riding Centre - Enjoy a beach ride along the stunning coastline with this riding school. 
    • Seahouses Beach - Dog-friendly and family-friendly, this golden stretch of beach is a total crowd-pleaser. 

Seahouses cottages


Beadnell: best for water sports

Set at the end of a glorious stretch of sandy beach, Beadnell has become well-established as a water sports destination. With the village harbour found to the north of Beadnell Bay, the beach then stretches on for miles, backed by sand dunes, offering plenty of space for all kinds of activities.

The waves offer decent swells, making it popular with surfers and bodyboarders, while on the sand the wide and long beach is perfect for kitesurfing and windsurfing. From the harbour, jet skis can be launched, and there is also a sailing club which has been established for 40 years.

Take a dip in the water and enjoy a sea swim or grab the board and catch a wave at this water sports' haven. When you're done, there are a couple of delightful cafes where you can sip a much-needed warming mug of cocoa. 

Highlights

    • Anstead Dunes Nature Reserve - A beautiful coastal reserve with a diversity of flora and fauna. Great for a walk. 
    • Beadnell Beach - This horseshoe-shaped bay forms a natural sheltered harbour, perfect for a family day out. 
    • The Craster Arms - A 16th-century pub with a designated dog-friendly area. 

Beadnell cottages


Craster: best for walks

Although the village of Craster lacks a beach, it’s home to a stunning rocky coastline which sets the scene for a number of spectacular walks. One of the best-loved routes follows a stretch of the Northumberland Coast Path towards the nearby ruins of Dunstanburgh Castle. From here you can continue onwards along Embleton Bay for as long as you like.

Another popular walk is a circular route which takes you south past some of the county’s most breathtaking coastline to Howick Hall and Gardens, where you can take a break from the coastal views to soak up the vibrant sights of the landscaped gardens.

There are many quaint country lanes leading inland too if you fancy an adventure into rural Northumberland during your seaside holiday. Make sure you pack the walking boots for some breathtaking rambles across the wild and beautiful Northumberland landscape. 

Highlights

    • Dunstanburgh Castle - A majestic castle ruin with incredible coastal views from the headland.
    • Howick Hall & Gardens - The ancestral seat of the Earls Grey, who the famous tea is named after.
    • L. Robson and Sons - Experience a true taste of Northumberland with a visit to this traditional smokehouse.

Craster cottages


Alnmouth: best for sandy beaches

With its colourful cottages overlooking the coast, Alnmouth is a picturesque village which resembles something from a postcard. It’s a great place to base yourself for a coastal holiday, not least because it has a variety of eateries, shops and amenities, but also because of the fabulous sandy beaches it has to offer.

Almouth’s main beach provides plenty of space for everyone to enjoy its seaside delights, thanks to its generous stretch of golden sand. Another beach can be found just south of the estuary – it’s not as easy to access, but much more secluded, and you’ll share the beach with just a few others who are also in on the secret.

Build sandcastles and picnic on these sandy shores, or collect shells and curious keepsakes washed up on Northumberland's beautiful shoreline on a beach day out - great for families, friends or couples discovering this region together. 

Highlights

Alnmouth cottages


Amble: best for harbourside living

Located on a headland at the mouth of the River Coquet, Amble is a thriving coastal town with excellent surrounding views of the Northumbrian coastline. As it’s still a successful fishing town, much of life in Amble revolves around this industry. There’s the chance to take a chartered fishing boat out to sea, or if you’d rather just sample the catches, they can all be found at the Northumberland Seafood Centre, home to markets, stalls, cooking demonstrations and more.

Harbourside you’ll also find the Harbour Village, a lovely development home to 15 retailers, selling everything from local food and drink to handmade crafts and jewellery.

Browse for special mementoes and gifts for loved ones in these independently-owned boutiques before stopping at a cafe by the harbour where you can share lunch over views of a sparkling sea. 

Highlights

    • Warkworth Castle & Hermitage - Towering above the River Coquet, this 12th-century castle is great for some family fun.
    • Northside Surf - Based in Amble, this Northumberland surf school offers an action-packed way to take in the incredible coastline.
    • Harbour Village - Visit the 15 'retail pods' for a special gift or sample some locally caught seafood. 

Amble cottages


Newbiggin-by-the-Sea: best for a classic seaside holiday

Newbiggin-by-the-Sea is found in the south-east of the county and is home to Northumberland’s longest promenade, where nature lovers flock to during the autumn and the spring to watch the migratory birds. The village seafront has undergone renovation, and now all are free to enjoy the golden sands, which were once eroding, as well as the impressive sculpture by Sean Henry, The Couple.

Now the village is enjoying a new lease of life, and while it still remains a largely quiet place, there are a growing number of shops, places to eat and events to enjoy, as well as the Newbiggin Maritime Centre and the UK’s oldest operational lifeboat station.

A perfect family-friendly town to head to, with something for everyone to enjoy, you'll get to experience a fun-packed getaway to this coastal destination. Bucket and spade days turn into nights of stargazing from the shores at this beauty spot. 

Highlights

Newbiggin-by-the-Sea cottages


Map of the best towns and villages to visit on the Northumberland coast


Need more inspiration?

We know Northumberland inside out and we've got the best advice on where to go and what to do, whether you're a family (with or without a canine companion), group of friends or a couple seeking a romantic escape. Check out these guides for even more Northumberland holiday ideas:

Whether you're looking for tranquil walks along golden sands, fancy exploring historical attractions or you're seeking a family day out by the seaside, the Northumberland coast is the ideal year-round destination. Our Northumberland coastal cottages are the perfect base for making memories with your loved ones in a truly special setting.

Northumberland coastal cottages

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.