England’s ancient capital of Northumberland is in strong supply of some of the country’s most historic sites, including the densest population of castles anywhere in the country. It also boasts an abundance of magnificent natural landscapes, from rolling, pastoral hillsides, to dense forests and lengthy coastlines.

The list of things to see and do in Northumberland is seemingly endless, so we’ve taken it upon ourselves to compile a list of our top 10 places to visit in Northumberland, making sure you get to see all of the region’s best bits.

1. Alnwick

Not to be biased but yes we have put our native town top of the list. This sleepy English town offers quintessential village charm. Wander the cobblestone paths, sauntering in and out of independent shops and cafés. Thursdays and Saturdays see the town infused with energy as the traditional market arrives in the main square. Indulge in artisanal food and drinks before perusing local handicrafts.

Of course, there’s also the 900-year-old Alnwick Castle, which was originally built to protect England from Scottish invasions and border clans. It’s now the second largest inhabited castle in England and was used a filming location for Downtown Abbey and Harry Potter.

The Alnwick Gardens, located close to the castle, became the project of the Duchess of Northumberland and are multi-award winning. The innovative attraction is far more than your average garden, offering conceptual landscaping designs and an array of activities.

2. Kielder Water & Observatory

Image by CountrymanMagazine from Pixabay.

Hidden among the rich foliage of Kielder Forest, Kielder Water is the largest man-made lake in Northern Europe, so it’s not surprising it made it to second place on our favourite places in Northumberland.

This vast expanse of tranquil waters is perfect for a picnic pit stop, or for spotting some of the local wildlife, including red squirrels, deer and more. There are three visitor centres in Kielder, ensuring you get everything you can out of your stay.

As if Kielder wasn’t impressive enough, it also boasts the third largest protected dark sky reserve in the world, the Northumberland International Dark Sky Park. Camping in Kielder is a must for some serious star-gazing, or check out the observatory and take a look at the galaxy through the impressive telescope. The observatory hosts regular events, so make sure to check out their schedule.

3. The Holy Island of Lindisfarne

Image by David Mark from Pixabay.

Residing just off Northumberland’s coastline, Lindisfarne, or Holy Island, is only accessible when the tide dictates. Steeped in history, the island is home to the 12th century Lindisfarne Priory, as well as a 16th century castle that sits impressively at the summit of a grassy crag.

These spectacular structures are not the islands only attraction, there’s also a charming village where you can pick up local trinkets or a slice of homemade cake. It’s the perfect daytrip, with plenty to do and see for all ages. Just make sure to check the tide times so you don’t get caught out!

4. Hadrian’s Wall

Image by David Mark from Pixabay.

One of the defining relics of Northumberland’s Roman heritage, Hadrian’s Wall was built by an astounding 15,000 men, stretching from coast to coast with a total length of almost 80 miles.

Learn everything there is to know about this World Heritage Site at Chesters Roman Fort & Museum or Housteads Roman Fort & Museum, both of which are in Northumberland. Just make sure you see it for yourself with a walk along the wall through some of northern England’s best countryside. There are countless walking trails along Hadrian’s Wall you can pick up, or embark on your own adventure.

5. Northumberland Coast

Image by Robert Armstrong from Pixabay.

As if ancient edifices, protected dark skies and atmospheric, medieval islands weren’t enough, Northumberland also offers visitors 40 miles of picturesque coastline. Two of Northumberland’s National Nature Reserves can be found on this striking stretch of northern beaches.

The coast is also peppered with quaint fishing towns like Newton-by-the-Sea and Amble. Pick up some of the country’s best fish and chips in Seahouses or get your walking boots on and stroll down the Northumberland Coast Path, a 62 mile route that connects Cresswell all the way to Berwick-upon-Tweed. It’s also where you’ll find incredible National Trust sites like Dunstanburgh Castle.

6. Northumberland National Park

Image by poppydonut from Pixabay.

This spectacular national park is a haven for nature lovers who can enjoy walks of every difficulty and terrain, wandering through meadows of heather, round beautiful bodies of water or climbing a number of steep peaks. Some beautifully unique spots can be found in Northumberland National Park, including Sycamore Gap.

Check out the National Landscape Discovery Centre which will teach adults and kids alike all about the natural and cultural heritage of the region.

7. Cragside

Image by Michaela Wenzler from Pixabay.

The ideal attraction for a daytrip in Northumberland, Cragside is a stunning mock Tudor residence set amongst beautiful grounds that extend over 1,000 acres. This National Trust attraction was built in the late Victorian period for Lord and Lady Armstrong and offers visitors an insight into contemporary Victorian domestic life, as well as an array of gorgeous walks.

8. Bamburgh Castle

Image by Jonathan Cannon from Pixabay.

This outstanding fortress on Northumberland’s coast is a Grade I listed building that tells endless tales of myth, magic and legends. The 1400-year-old castle’s interior is just as awe-inspiring as its exterior, with stately apartments, historic artwork and even a museum. Its easterly location also makes it an unbeatable spot for a sunrise, if you’re an early bird, that is!

9. The Cheviot

“Snowy Cheviot” by johndal is licensed for use under CC BY-SA 2.0.

The Cheviot is Northumberland National Park’s highest peak, reaching 815 metres. The landscape is incredibly varied, from tranquil meadows to peat bogs, amongst which you will find the remains of a WWII B-17 bomber, making it an interesting as well as a beautiful climb.

Views from the top are unmissable, with many claiming on a clear day they can see as far as Edinburgh and the Lake District, though you’ll have to confirm that for yourself. Make sure to keep an eye out for Wild Cheviot Goats, too!

10. Hexham

“Hexham Abbey South East Aisle” by Richard Penn is licensed for use under CC BY 2.0.

Hexham encapsulates everything there is to love about an English market town and is a favourite among Northumberland’s tourists. The meandering streets take you round charming local establishments, leading you to the town’s centuries-old Abbey and 14th century Old Gaol.

Head to Hexham on a Tuesday or Saturday to experience to the authentic town market. There are also a number of galleries to visit, which pay tribute to the region’s often unnoted arts scene.

These are our top 10 things to do in Northumberland, but there’s an endless list of adventures and attractions waiting for you one of England’s most interesting regions. Start exploring and book your tickets to visit Alnwick Castle online today — you’ll save 10% when you book online!