North East England staycation guide: essential sights in Northumberland, Durham, Newcastle and Sunderland

A view of scenic Durham (Photo: Shutterstock)A view of scenic Durham (Photo: Shutterstock)
A view of scenic Durham (Photo: Shutterstock)

You will never be short of stunning sights and unforgettable days out in the North East.

There’s the world famous Hadrian’s Wall, Roman Britain’s biggest building project, that still dominates the county’s landscape almost 2,000 years after it was constructed, Holy Island of Lindisfarne off the Northumberland coast, Cheviot Hills, Kielder Water and the region’s many castles.

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Northumberland’s countryside is home to not just pretty landscapes, but settings that are perfect for outdoor activities, offering everything from walking and cycling to fishing and wildlife watching. Delightful gardens can be found at Howick Gardens and Arboretum as well as Cragside Estate.

The county also has a famed food culture, known for its organic produce, fresh seafood, outstanding restaurants and locally brewed tipples.

Bamburgh Castle on the Northumberland coastline (Photo: Shutterstock)Bamburgh Castle on the Northumberland coastline (Photo: Shutterstock)
Bamburgh Castle on the Northumberland coastline (Photo: Shutterstock)

Head to Craster to sample smoked kippers, served with hunks of buttered brown bread, or shell out on Lindisfarne oysters, a delicacy at eateries throughout the region.


Neighbouring Durham has a host of exciting attractions for a great day out, from award-winning museums to medieval castles, friendly family attractions to magnificent natural wonders.

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In Durham City you can experience the region’s history and heritage as you marvel at awe-inspiring Durham Cathedral and Castle UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Get hands-on with history at England’s largest open air museum in the Vale of Durham as you explore, when open, Beamish – The Living Museum of the North.

For a taste of the outdoors head to the Durham Dales where you’ll find Hamsterley Forest, popular with mountain bikers, keen cyclists, walkers and families alike.

After a busy day exploring the county’s heritage, enjoy picnic areas nearby as well as farmers’ markets and farm shops, or simply treat yourself with afternoon tea in Durham.

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Newcastle and Gateshead

United by seven iconic bridges across a bustling Quayside, Newcastle and Gateshead form a single, diverse and vibrant visitor destination in the North East.

Get ready to be charmed by the famous Geordie spirit in a city bursting with thriving nightlife, award-winning restaurant scene, top-notch attractions and museums.

The famous Tyne BridgeThe famous Tyne Bridge
The famous Tyne Bridge

Go sightseeing to find iconic landmarks including Angel of the North and Newcastle Castle, from which the city got its name, as well as National Trust’s Gibside and Wallington and English Heritage’s Belsay Hall, Castle and Gardens.


Sunderland is a welcoming city that offers wide sandy beaches and acres of green spaces plus a host of cultural attractions.

Discover the city’s fascinating history all in one place at Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens, once open, including the most famous object of all – Wallace the Lion.