Things To Do In Alnwick

Alnwick is a traditional market town in Northumberland, known for its large castle that still inhabits the Duke & Duchess of Northumberland as it has done for centuries, a beautiful public garden, and a town centre with independent shops, local food and drink and unique places to stay.. A visit here won’t leave you disappointed, so here are some suggestions for things to do in Alnwick, Northumberland.

Alnwick Castle

Alnwick Castle is the crown jewel of the town, sitting overlooking the countryside and going back nearly a thousand years, it has been the home of the Percy Family. The Duke & Duchess of Northumberland who still reside here, although they aren’t there year round. 

The castle and grounds are open for visitors of the public when the family aren’t in residence, and you can get guided tours or just visit on your own. Entry is ticketed, and make sure you get one as they maintain a level of capacity. Visit the Barbican gate, the castle walls, the state rooms and the grounds at your leisure. 

The staff are really knowledgeable and will happily talk you through some of the facts and history of the place, and there are various displays and information points to give you explanations of what you’re viewing.

Also known as an iconic filming location, Alnwick Castle was a set for the first two Harry Potter films, a Downton Abbey Christmas special episode and even the Transformers. You’ll find a gift shop filled with Harry Potter treasures, a courtyard with various food options, and all sorts of interactive activities like Archery, medieval games and the dragon encounter.

For more information on Alnwick Castle including how to book your tickets and plan your visit, see the official Alnwick Castle website here.

Alnwick Garden

Another hugely popular visitor attraction in Alnwick is Alnwick Garden, developed and brought to life from the idea of the Duchess of Northumberland. There’s something for everyone, and has a huge welcoming water fountain in the entrance.

One of the most popular and hard to secure entry times of year for the Alnwick Garden is in spring for the cherry blossoms that attract so many, complete with 50 swinging seats to sit and enjoy the gardens in peace. There are many other aspects to the gardens such as the Rose or Ornamental Garden, the Pond and the Bamboo labyrinth. 

They often have additional seasonal events such as the light show in winter for Christmas, and special events for kids in summer, Mother’s Day and so on. Adventure Golf in the Forgotten Garden will entertain the kids too, or if you’re a gardener yourself there’s plenty of shops and greenhouses to explore. 

For something to eat there are a number of dining options at Alnwick Garden, such as the popular Treehouse, the Pavilion Cafe or the Potting Shed.

See more on the Alnwick Garden including a full map of everything you can experience on the Alnwick Garden website.

Barter Books Second Hand Bookshop

Barter Books is a must visit, as one of the biggest second hand bookshops in the UK and with a lot more to offer than just reading material. They do take in and ‘barter’ your old books, there’s more information on this on their website, but they also have food and coffee in their cafe, an ice cream parlour, a model railway on display and some pretty cosy spots to sit and enjoy while you’re there.

They are dog friendly, and have open fires that you can sit and enjoy. Being an old train station the place is full of character, and there are literary and poetry quotes on display too. There’s a room for kids to keep them entertained if you’re browsing, and all sorts of works on display to have a look at. 

See more of Barter Books online or on instagram

Have a Harry Potter Themed Alnwick Visit

Harry Potter fans will love a visit to Alnwick, and one of the best things you can do is the Lundgren Tour of Harry Potter filming locations. The tour takes you to each filming spot at Alnwick Castle and talks you through some of the background and reasoning of each one. The tour also includes a broomstick flying lesson in the same spot where Harry learned Quidditch. 

The Alnwick Castle gift shop is one of the best places for Harry Potter fans, with a whole range of gifts and memorabilia, as well as sweets like chocolate frogs and Bertie Botts every flavour beans.

See my full review of the Lundgren Harry Potter tour here.

If this isn’t enough you could even stay at Hallow & Crux in the centre of Alnwick, which has four unique Harry Potter themed bedrooms that are done out fantastically. Stay in the Common Room, the Dumbledorm, the Maurauders or the Chamber.

Read my full review of Hallow & Crux here. 

Alnwick Sights To See

Alnwick may not be a big town but there are a few things to see while you’re there in addition to the Castle and Alnwick Garden. Opposite Hallow & Crux you’ll see the Henry Hotspur statue, which is of Alnwick’s famous knight Henry Percy, but he was nicknamed ‘Hotspur’ due to his speed in battle. The plaque beside him tells his story.

Bondgate tower gate is one of the first things you’re likely to come across in Alnwick, part of the 15th Century stone walls that were built by the Earl of Northumberland in defence of the town. 

The Tenantry Tower is a column on the edge of the town that you can walk up to, with a big lion on the top which is the symbol of the Percy Family. It’s a nice little walk with the dog up to it if nothing else.

The Dirty Bottles pub is a centuries old pub that has a historical legend behind its name. In one of the windows are old dirty bottles that haven’t been touched for years. The legend goes that the old innkeeper dropped dead after touching them, and his widow left them there since as they’re cursed. See them still there today, before enjoying a pint or cocktail in the pub as it is today too. 

Alnwick Market Square 

Alnwick market place in the centre of the town is a cobbled square that hosts the town market every Thursday and Sunday. Shop local goods, food, produce and gifts from the stalls that fill the square. 

There are also a number of independent shops, boutiques, bars and cafes to enjoy here – stop by the Pig in Muck for a drink and if the weathers good you can sit on one of their tables right in the market square. 

Alnwick townPIN IT

Shop Local in Alnwick

The three main streets of Alnwick include Bondgate, Marketplace and Fenkle Street, and they’re filled with local independent shops, bakeries and such like. Turnbulls is an award winning butchers that’s been there for years, only dealing with Northumberland meat, there’s also Trotters Bakery, and both get rave reviews from the locals. 

Alnwick ice cream parlour is a cute little shop on Narrowgate, and you’ll find many more galleries, antique shops and more down these side streets filled with old fashioned character too. Pay Notes of Northumberland a visit for beautiful locally inspired homeware and decor, fragrances and more.

Lastly for the biggest collection of North East spirits such as gin, vodka, rum and local ales visit A Taste of Northumbria on the corner of the market square. They have so much choice and they’ll happily let you have some tasters if you’re struggling to choose.

Eat at Alnwick Treehouse

I’ve mentioned a few places to eat and drink including Dirty Bottles and the Pig in Muck, but one of the most popular dining options is Alnwick Treehouse. A huge treehouse restaurant decorated to match inside, the food is well thought of especially for Sunday lunch. Make sure you book though as it is sometimes used as a wedding venue and is very popular. 

Book a table for Alnwick Treehouse on their website here

Bailiffgate Museum & Gallery

The Bailiffgate Museum is in what used to be an old church in the centre of Alnwick, and it shares the history, artefacts and story of thousands of years of Alnwick and the local area. Being so far North this was a sight of a lot of conflict between England and Scotland, which you can see by the Alnwick Castle defenses, but you can learn more in this free museum.

Find out more on the Bailiffgate Museum here.

A base for the rest of Northumberland

As well as all these things to do in Alnwick to keep you interested and enjoy a fun packed, it’s also a great location from which to enjoy the rest of Northumberland particularly the coast. Visit nearby towns of Alnmouth with its beautiful beach, Warkworth for the river walk and castle, or go further north to Craster and Dunstanburgh for that beautiful stretch of coastline and great seafood at the Jolly Fisherman. 

Other posts you might like:

A Harry Potter themed stay at Hallow & Crux

Harry Potter Filming Location tour of Alnwick Castle

The walk from Craster to Dunstanburgh Castle

Places to eat on the Northumberland Coast

Unique glamping and shepherd hut stays in Northumberland 

The best Spa Days in Northumberland 

Things to do in Seahouses

Things to do in Amble & Warkworth – from the locals

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