It amazes me that Northumberland is so undiscovered. This county in the northeast corner of England has everything from iconic castles to stunning coastline, yet few people seem to know about it. I’ve spent a lot of time here over the last few years, and now I’m back on a secret mission (all will be revealed on my Instagram feed in May). I’m visiting some of my favorite spots, and today I bring you my 3-day itinerary for Northumberland’s North Sea coast.
3-Day Itinerary for Northumberland
There’s enough to see and do in Northumberland to fill more than a handful of days. I’ve written about 9 highlights of the county, and have explored more of it since (yep, I finally got to Cragside). But Alnwick, Berwick-upon-Tweed, and Bamburgh Castle are some of the best bits, so they’re perfect places to put on a 3-day travel itinerary.
Day 1: Alnwick and Alnmouth
My trip begins in Alnwick, home to one of England’s most famous castles. I visited Alnwick Castle for the 10-year anniversary of the A Lady in London blog, soaking up the grounds and Italian Renaissance-style State Rooms while marveling at the fact that everything from Harry Potter to Downton Abbey has been filmed here.
Now that I’m back, I’m excited to discover the rest of the town. Alnwick is more than just the castle, and the pretty streets, stone buildings, and unique shops warrant a visit in their own right.
I start in the town center, where I have breakfast at The Cookie Jar hotel in Alnwick.
This place is nothing short of gorgeous. Rich blue interiors and stylish decor win me over, as does the room in the former chapel. I want to move in.
But I have other places to see. One is Alnwick’s famous bookshop, Barter Books. Housed in the old train station, this quirky store is a book lover’s paradise. Wooden shelves parade down the aisle while neon lights shine overhead. A fireplace offers a cozy place to sit, and there’s even a toy train running above the front room. Add to that a cafe and a sign welcoming dogs, and it’s my own personal heaven.
After browsing the books, I have lunch in a treehouse. The Treehouse Restaurant is on the grounds of Alnwick Castle, and being here feels every bit as magical as if I were in a Harry Potter film. Branches make up the backs of chairs and benches, and raised walkways entice me to stroll around the tree line.
But this blog post is about a 3-day itinerary for Northumberland’s North Sea coast, so I can’t stay inland forever, even if it is magical. Hopping in the car, I pop over to Alnmouth to get my fix of sunshine and sea air. The beach stretches north and south as far as I can see, and the surf plays with the shore as the sun mingles with the clouds.
Day 2: Berwick-upon-Tweed
Continuing up the coast, the next stop on my itinerary is Berwick-upon-Tweed. I’m here a lot, so it feels like a homecoming. This fortified town on the Northumberland coast has a host of bridges, a lighthouse, and lots of charming side streets. It’s also a stop on the east coast main line, so it’s easy to access by train from London.
I start my visit by doing what I always do: walking the walls. There are great views of the water from here, and the houses along the way greet me with colorful doors. I walk out to the lighthouse, dodging wind and spray from waves, then head back into town for lunch.
I find a cafe on West Street, where cobblestones and bunting join forces to form a delightful scene. The lanes around here are some of my favorites in Berwick, and I wander down them after I’m done eating.
At the end of the day, I head across the River Tweed for views back into town. The beaches here rival the one in Alnmouth in size and beauty, and I love watching the trains go by from the sand.
Day 3: Bamburgh Castle
The final destination on my 3-day itinerary for Northumberland’s North Sea coast is Bamburgh Castle. This hilltop fortress is incredible to see up close. Rising out of the rock, it dominates the village and provides a stunning focal point from below.
I tour the inside of the castle, taking in the impressive King’s Hall and billiard room, then soak up the views from the ramparts.
Descending to the beach, I head for the tide pools and watch the waves crash against the Farne Islands off the coast. All the while, the castle looms in the distance.
But like Alnwick, there’s more to Bamburgh than the castle. The village is full of stone cottages, flower-filled greens, and good restaurants. I have lunch at The Potted Lobster, where a grilled half lobster takes me to a better, butter-ier place. When I’m finished, I wash it down with strawberry ice cream from a nearby shop.
Gluttony accomplished, I wave good-bye to Bamburgh and make my way home to London. There are plenty of other places I would have liked to add to my itinerary—Craster, to name a beautiful one. But given Northumberland is so undiscovered, I’m sure there are more secret spots I don’t even know about. Which is why I hope to be back soon to find them.
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