Things to do in Northumberland

Our most recommended things to do in Northumberland

Hadrian's Wall & Roman Britain 1-Day Tour from Edinburgh

1. Hadrian's Wall & Roman Britain 1-Day Tour from Edinburgh

Travel south from Edinburgh on the old Roman Dere Street that linked the supply ports in the south of England with the ancient city of York. Then go north past Hadrian’s Wall to the Roman settlements in Central Scotland. Your first stop on this tour will be in the border town of Jedburgh, a historic burgh that lies only 12 miles north of the Scotland-England border. Here you have time to take a short walk through the narrow streets that lead to the remains of the Augustinian Abbey, which has been a great symbol of power during its 900 year history. Continuing south you make a brief stop at scenic Carter Bar on the edge of the Cheviot Hills. This crossing point between Scotland and England runs close to the ancient Roman road and has formed the border between the 2 countries for the past 700 years. The tour continues through the magnificent forests of Northumberland National Park before turning west towards the remains of Hadrian’s Wall. Follow the road taking you along the south side of the wall, stopping at Steel Rigg where you come face-to-face with large sections of the wall’s remains. Take time to walk along the wall and experience the isolation that Roman foot soldiers would have experienced as they guarded their empire from the barbarians to the north. You continue your journey west along the wall towards the village of Lanercost, the western gateway to Hadrian’s Wall. After pausing for lunch you travel a short distance to Birdoswald, one of the best preserved of the 16 Roman forts along the length of Hadrian’s Wall. Enjoy time to explore this fascinating site and further sections of the wall before you turn north for the return journey. Traveling through the Galloway hills, stop in the Victorian spa town of Moffat before continuing through the Southern Uplands and Scottish Borders, and returning to Edinburgh.

From Edinburgh: Holy Island, Alnwick Castle & Northumbria

2. From Edinburgh: Holy Island, Alnwick Castle & Northumbria

Take the scenic coastal route south into the Medieval Kingdom of Northumbria in North-East England; visit the Holy Island of Lindisfarne, once the most important center of religious learning in the British Isles. Explore the medieval market town of Alnwick and its stunning castle - where scenes from ‘Harry Potter’ and ‘Downton Abbey’ were filmed. Our first stop is Holy Island, connected to the mainland by a causeway that leads into the quaint island village of Lindisfarne, where there are stunning views of Lindisfarne Castle* (dating back to 1550). Spend time wandering through the ruins of its Priory* where the magnificent Lindisfarne Gospels were produced, sample some of the world-famous Lindisfarne ‘Mead’ brewed by Monks on the island, and enjoy the tranquility for which the island is renowned. We continue south passing Bamburgh, ‘Ancient Capital of Northumbria,’ then on to the bustling market town of Alnwick, whose greatest building is the medieval Alnwick Castle*. Enjoy time in the town center or visit the castle complex where there is something for everyone. Home of the Percy Family for over 700 years, Alnwick Castle is considered one of the finest castles in England and is proudly known as “The Windsor of the North”. Visitors can step into the unexpected in the spectacular Alnwick Garden* with its Grand Cascade fountain and Poison Gardens. The castle grounds were also used in the TV series Downton Abbey and the Harry Potter films. In the mid-afternoon, we begin the drive north to cross the River Tweed and back into Scotland at the historic border town of Coldstream. If time permits during this journey there may be a stop at Flodden Field, one of the best-preserved battlefields in Northern Europe and scene of the infamous battle of 1513, which ended in victory for the English and the death of James IV, King of Scots.

Alnwick: Self-Guided Walking Tour with Audio Guide

3. Alnwick: Self-Guided Walking Tour with Audio Guide

Explore the beauty of Alnwick, a quaint Northumbrian town on a self-guided audio walking tour. Put on your headphones and stroll through the streets of the Alnwick at your own pace. Download the MP3 audio tour combined with a fully detailed map of the area and start your adventure with your audio device as your guide. The culturally rich audio tour will take you on a journey through a place rich in history. Walk through the old cobbled stone paths of the town and see the marketplace, community gathering place, and the fine stone buildings. Learn about the past of Alnwick and discover how it evolved into the vibrant and beautiful market town of today. Visit the most popular attractions of the town like the old Market Cross, the Alnwick Garden, a famous castle, a quaint market, historical buildings, and a beautiful cozy bookstore. Enjoy a hassle-free audio tour of one of England’s iconic market towns.

Rosslyn Chapel and Hadrian's Wall Small Group Day Tour

4. Rosslyn Chapel and Hadrian's Wall Small Group Day Tour

Visit intriguing Rosslyn Chapel, explore the town of Melrose, journey to the Scottish Borders, and see Hadrian’s Wall on this full-day tour from Edinburgh. Rosslyn Chapel has always been mysterious, and has achieved worldwide fame since the publication of The Da Vinci Code. This beautiful and highly ornate 15th-century chapel has long been the subject of speculation about its origins and the meanings of its famous stone carvings. Visit the charming town of Melrose for lunch, then cross the ancient Scotland/England border at Carter Bar. Follow in the footsteps of feuding clans and families, known as Border Reivers, who fought a series of violent raids here until the end of the 16th century. Then visit one of the world's most important Roman monuments: Hadrian’s Wall. Travel to Housesteads Fort (National Trust) in Northumberland National Park, the best preserved Roman fort along Hadrian’s Wall. Enjoy a free nature walk along one of the most dramatic and photographed stretches of the wall. Upon returning to Edinburgh, stop in the Border market town of Jedburgh to stretch your legs and take photos of the famous abbey.

Alnwick Castle and Scottish Borders Tour from Edinburgh

5. Alnwick Castle and Scottish Borders Tour from Edinburgh

On this 9.5-hour excursion from Edinburgh you’ll visit the picturesque town of Coldsream and the inspiring Bamburgh Castle. But it’s Alnwick Castle that’s the main destination of the day. It’s been a key filming location for Harry Potter and Downton Abbey and is a historic location in its own right. You will leave Edinburgh in the morning and head east to the Scottish Borders. Enjoy the views of gently rolling hills and dramatic coastlines along the way.  The first stop is the beautiful coastal town of Bamburgh. Take a stroll to the stunning beach and view the picturesque 5th-century Bamburgh Castle sitting on a natural throne of volcanic dolerite. In the afternoon you’ll visit Alnwick Castle. Admire the large stately rooms and the stunning architecture or learn a little about all the popular films and TV shows filmed at the site, including Harry Potter. After spending time in Alnwick, you will return over the border and into Scotland.  The final stop is Coldstream's border town, which lies on the north side of the River Tweed. Hear about the turbulent past of this charming town before your journey ends in Edinburgh in the early evening.

From Edinburgh: Alnwick Garden Magical Christmas Light Trail

6. From Edinburgh: Alnwick Garden Magical Christmas Light Trail

Treat yourself to something special this holiday season in the Edinburgh area. Head off from Edinburgh to discover the Alnwick Garden's Christmas Light Trail. Enjoy free time to explore the grounds and take photos, grab food and drinks, and walk around. After a short break in Berwick-Upon-Tweed, continue towards The Alnwick Garden, reaching it just in time for the sun to set and the light show to really begin. Your tickets for this are included in the price of the tour, meaning you won’t have to pay any extra admission fees. The Alnwick Garden really goes all out for the Light Trail, and what is normally filled with beautiful flowers during the year becomes a magical Christmas escape, full of lights and projections across every inch of the gardens. Ideal for a romantic hand-held stroll under the fairy lights, or a family outing before the big day arrives. There might even be some mistletoe somewhere in there if you are looking for a Christmas date idea. After about 2 hours of exploring the garden and enjoying the beautiful light trail, getting some selfies under all the lights, and grabbing some festive food and drink from the vendors available there, head back to Edinburgh. Following the same route back, see how many houses you can see with all their decorations out and lit up. After another short break in Berwick-Upon-Tweed, arrive back in Edinburgh in the evening, where you could even keep the festivities going.

Newcastle: Castle Entry Ticket

7. Newcastle: Castle Entry Ticket

Discover an imposing Norman fortress in the center of Newcastle upon Tyne, a rugged reminder of northern England's turbulent history. This was no baron's stately home. Newcastle Castle is a grim reminder of royal authority where armies gathered and criminals were imprisoned and executed. It is where the story of Newcastle began and the reason the city got its name. During your visit, enjoy the most commanding views over the city of Newcastle and the River Tyne. See Newcastle's most historic buildings, the Castle Keep and its 13th-century gatehouse the Black Gate, which were once part of a much larger fortress. Marvel at how much of Newcastle Castle has remained intact despite its tumultuous history. Today, you can explore the ancient passageways and chambers where kings walked and villains were imprisoned. Find the marks left by the inhabitants through the ages and learn the fascinating story of the Castle Garth community that grew up around the ruins. The two buildings that remain were cut off from each other by the Victorian railways of the 19th century — an unfortunate side effect of the North East's trailblazing role in the Industrial Revolution. Exhibits guide visitors through the Castle's history over the years: from settlement in Roman times, to medieval stronghold, to use as a modern day museum and everything in between.

Hadrian's Wall: 2-Hour Guided Tour

8. Hadrian's Wall: 2-Hour Guided Tour

Feel Roman history come to life as you discover just what Britain was like under the Caesars on this 2-hour tour of Hadrian's Wall. Explore this breathtaking UNESCO World Heritage Site with a local guide dressed in an authentic costume of the era, and discover hidden archaeological gems. Hear your guide weave a narrative from both sides of the wall — the tales of the natives and the stories told by the occupying forces — and walk along the iconic central section of Hadrian's Wall. See a milecastle (a rectangular fortification) and one of the best sections of the Vallum defensive ditch. Throughout your tour, admire the magnificent backdrop of the Northumberland National Park, and enjoy some of the best views across the rugged moorland vistas.

Hadrian's Wall: 4-Hour Guided Tour

9. Hadrian's Wall: 4-Hour Guided Tour

Walk along the iconic central section of Hadrian’s Wall, followed by a visit to one of the best-preserved Roman Forts in Britain. Discover the unique stories of the Roman museums and archaeological sites in Northumberland on this 4-hour walking tour. As your guide explains the history of each site, they will also weave in the importance of the surrounding landscape to reveal what makes each place so special. Soak up the atmosphere and enjoy the stunning views across Northumberland National Park and Hadrian’s Wall.

From Edinburg: Viking Coast & Alnwick Castle Day Tour

10. From Edinburg: Viking Coast & Alnwick Castle Day Tour

Follow the sweeping coastline of the North Sea on a scenic drive towards the historic border town of Berwick-on-Tweed. Cross the ancient Scotland/England border into Northumberland and visit Lindisfarne, or Holy Island, a tidal island settled by Irish monks from Scotland circa AD 635. From here the Christian message spread throughout the north of England. In 793 a fierce Viking invasion heralded the beginning of the Viking Age. Take a short walk through an area of outstanding natural beauty to 16th century Lindisfarne Castle, and visit the Priory where the Lindisfarne Gospels were created and enjoy the spectacular views of Bamburgh Castle and the Farne Islands. You may also wish to buy some delicious souvenir Lindisfarne Mead from St Aidan’s Winery. Arrive back at Alnwick Castle at lunchtime after a short drive. This magical place (the 'Windsor of the North') is one of Europe’s finest castles and has been at the center of key historical events – from bloodthirsty battles between the Scots and the English to the intrigues of the Guy Fawkes plot. Alnwick Castle's sumptuous setting and exquisite architecture has famously been used as a film location for ‘Downton Abbey’, 'Harry Potter' (Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry), 'Robin Hood Prince of Thieves', 'Elizabeth' and 'Blackadder'. Enjoy ‘Harry Spotter Tours’ and revisit some of your favorite scenes. Go with costumed guides on a historical and magical tour. Be sure to check the events board on entry to make the most of your time. With fun and interactive activities for children, you'll have 2.5 hours to fully appreciate and enjoy the castle. The tour returns north via the beautiful Border country and, subject to timing, may also visit the East Lothian coast to the south of Edinburgh.

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Other Sightseeing Options in Northumberland

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What people are saying about Northumberland

Overall rating

4.6 / 5

based on 1,020 reviews

I really enjoyed this tour. I visited a Hadrian's wall - a great experience. We could walk for a while next to the wall. I wish here more time because we didn't see an iconic tree (saw it just from far). Then we were in a fort Vindolanda. For me it was stunning moment. Very nice preserved Roman fort with a museum. During driving our tour guide talk about history, nature or culture. But I wish little bit more time just for me in a silence.

Our driver cum guide, Nestor, an enthusiastic biological scientist, kept us regaled throughout the day, informing us of a vast array of interesting aspects about Scotland, the sights we visited and kept all of us engaged with his interactivity, ready willingness to answer questions and quiz us on interesting facts.

Really good visit well worth the money. Very interesting learnt a lot. Views from top of castle breath taking

It was a great experience. Guide knew all the answers he was just great.

Good amount of time at each stop, Paul is very personable & fun