There are so many amazing things to do in Northumberland that don't cost a penny. With incredible forests and coasts, beautiful gardens, the second largest Dark Sky Park in Europe, as well as historical sites and Hadrian’s Wall to discover. There are so many hidden gems, with something around every corner, from family-friendly days out to the perfect routes for cycling enthusiasts. All you need is to know where to look for a fantastic, budget day out in Northumberland. From free attractions to visit on a bank holiday weekend to activities that cost less than £10 per person, use our guide for your next budget break, as well as our summer events guide to discover what’s on.
Explore Northumberland's beaches
A Northumberland beach trip is one of the best ways to spend a free day out in Northumberland. Northumberland’s breathtaking coastline is a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), so you can expect nothing less than pristine beaches perfect for a family day out, picnic, sunbathe or sea dip (if you’re brave). Quiet bays, the Northumberland Coast Path and incredible castles are all there to admire, from the tranquil beach at Druridge Bay to the coastal walks and imposing castle at Warkworth.
Discover Bamburgh's hidden gems
is a firm favourite for Northumberland visitors, but did you know about the fantastic RNLI Grace Darling Museum
that is tucked away just one street behind the picturesque high street? Entry is completely free and the museum commemorates the life of Victorian Britain’s greatest heroine, who risked her life to rescue nine survivors from the wrecked SS Forfarshire on 7 September 1838. Inside you can find stories about Grace’s life in the lighthouse and the events that led to her becoming a heroine through her letters, family portraits and the famous coble used in the rescue. If you’re looking for things to do with the kids in Northumberland
, make sure to combine a visit to their museum with a trip to Bamburgh Beach, where you can get a spectacular view of Bamburgh Castle
A day out in Alnwick
is a must-do when you visit Northumberland, and can make for a cheap family day out. Take a virtual tour of this cobbled market town with The Escape Key’s Magic Bottles Adventure
. Inspired by the cursed bottles that hang in the window of The Dirty Bottles pub in Alnwick and, with a touch of witchcraft and wizardry, you will use your skills to solve clues and win ingredients for the spell to put the curse back in the bottle and save the town. The tasks are varied, from logic problems and numerical challenges to word based and visual puzzles, as well as selfie challenges, and it costs less than £10 per person (based on a group of four). You can admire amazing Alnwick Castle
en-route, and pop into Barter Books (free entry) to browse through their secondhand book selection, enjoy the warmth of the roaring fireplace and grab a bite to eat or drink
Discover ancient history
is one of the most spectacular remaining ancient structures in the world, and Northumberland holds the longest stretch of it. The best part is, it is completely free to pull on your hiking boots and explore the length of Hadrian’s Wall, admiring outstanding views of the National Park landscape as you do so. There are a number of car parks available depending on which section of the wall you would like to explore, and if you are travelling car-free you can take the AD122 bus service
in the summer which stops at all of the main sites along the wall. There are also attractions, forts
you can visit if you would like to learn more about Northumberland’s history that cost £10 per person or less, including Vindolanda
, The Roman Army Museum
and the iconic Sycamore Gap
Walk all over The Lady of the North
, otherwise known as The Lady of the North, is a fantastic, free spot to spend the day in Northumberland. The site is the world's largest human landform sculpture and this landmark feature resembles a woman who is carved out of the landscape, rising around 34m high and 400m in length. This country park is free to access, dogs are welcome (but must be kept on leads) and the site boasts magnificent views across the Northumberland countryside. There is also a Visitor Centre and small café open daily from 10:00 to 17:00. Visitors can enjoy a woodland walk, wildlife interpretation boards, a bird-feeding station and various events throughout the year.
Wander around Ford and Etal
Ford and Etal
is an incredibly picturesque, quirky hidden treasure in Northumberland and is completely open to the public. Step back in time and stroll along the quintessentially British, old-fashioned streets, browse the Pre-Raphaelite paintings in Lady Waterford Hall
, and explore the grounds of Etal Castle
. Then, pick a picturesque spot to enjoy your pre-packed picnic, or enjoy a bite to eat in the Lavender Tea Rooms. Be sure to visit Heatherslaw Corn Mill
and browse the gift shop for locally sourced sweet treats and souvenirs, and have a tour of the fascinating corn mill for a small cost. Make sure to check opening times ahead of visiting, as many of Ford and Etal’s attractions close during the winter months.
Do some independent stargazing
Northumberland’s Dark Sky Discovery Sites are designated sites that have been awarded special status due to the outstanding quality of their dark skies. Positioned beneath the Northumberland Dark Sky Park
, the second largest Dark Sky Park in Europe, they are completely free to access and offer a breathtaking evening of solitary stargazing. All you need to do is wrap up warm, turn off your headlights when you arrive and enjoy the awe-inspiring view of a gold-tier rated dark sky, where you can see thousands of stars, the Milky Way, and the Andromeda Galaxy (2.5 million light years away) with the naked eye. The whole of Northumberland National Park
and most of Kielder Water & Forest Park
make up our International Dark Sky Park.
Walks and hikes
are a great way to spend a free day out in Northumberland’s amazing landscapes, and wandering to a waterfall
is a magical experience to enjoy as a family without spending a penny. Linhope Spout, Hareshaw Linn, Harthope Linn and Hindhope Linn are just a few examples of Northumberland’s stunning waterfalls that can be reached on foot, with amazing scenery to admire along the way. With varying levels of difficulty, length and terrain, be sure to do your research prior to your adventure by looking on specific walking route websites, such as Northumberland National Park.
The journey across the causeway to Northumberland’s tidal island is an experience in itself. Make sure to check the tide times
before you visit to make sure it’s safe to cross, then drive along the incredible causeway and admire the views as you go. You will feel like you are heading into the world’s best-kept secret, and once you arrive on the island you can enjoy breathtaking sea views, a beautiful beach, a spectacular view of Lindisfarne Castle
and free samples of Lindisfarne Mead from St Aidan’s Winery. If you do want to visit some of the island’s attractions, explore Lindisfarne Priory
for less than £10 per adult and less than £5 per child, or head into Lindisfarne Castle for similar pricing.
Now you are set to discover Northumberland and enjoy a budget friendly day out without compromising on experience, enjoyment or adventure, whether you are looking to spend a relaxing
day at the coast, have fun with the family
, or soak up some history
Author: Jenni Meikle