Ask a Local: Where to Visit in Alnwick
When you want to know where to go... you ask a local
Check out the Tourist Trail
Alnwick is steeped in history, attracting visitors from across the country and beyond. However, that doesn’t mean that the historic attractions aren’t a hit with the locals too… Whilst I don’t tour Alnwick Castle every weekend, it is worth keeping an eye out for their events, particularly big screen movie nights, outdoor theatre events and concerts – an unbelievable setting!
I often go for a walk in The Alnwick Garden for an hour of peace and quiet as well as for some gardening inspiration. My friends and I all have annual passes and they are very well loved! A trip to Barter Books is a glorious use of your time on a rainy Sunday, when you can really experience the romance of a secondhand book shop.
Whilst Alnwick lies in beautiful countryside, not many people know of how many wonderful walks there are in the town itself. Hulne Park is my absolutely favourite; it is predominantly on footpaths with routes varying in length (it is worth noting that cyclists and dogs are not permitted).
The food scene in Alnwick has seriously upped its game in recent years; as a town it really showcases the best of the local produce.
If you’re like me and often fancy indulging in some seriously artisan patisserie, then Sweet Solstice is a must visit. Their cinnamon bun is a firm favourite Friday (and Saturday) treat. Mackenna’s at the Alnwick Playhouse serves the best coffee in town and has an excellent brunch menu, particularly their truffle mushrooms on toast (*chefs kiss*). Salts Deli is a new and welcome addition to the high street; their lunch options are impeccable with Ottolenghi-style salads and gourmet sandwiches. Grannies Tea Room is also a lunch time hit with various take out options as well as a wide range of local cheese, meats and chutneys – perfect for a picnic.
When it comes to evening meals, you cannot go wrong with Café Tirreno for simple but delicious Italian food. If tapas and sharing plates are your thing, then you must visit the Pig in Muck. It is very small so I would recommend booking. I may be biased, but Carlos is arguably the best fish and chip shop in North Northumberland. In recent years they have introduced an ice cream counter but you can also stop at The Alnwick Ice Cream Parlour for delicious gelato and sorbet.
It is great to see so many independent makers and retailers popping up in Alnwick, particularly on The Cobbles as well as Narrowgate.
Robinsons is an independent department store offering a selection of womenswear, accessories, homeware and gifts – they have also just opened a coffee shop in their courtyard. Further along the cobbles is Jobsons of Alnwick, and in addition to their equestrian section, they stock some of the finest country clothing brands including Barbour and Dubarry.
Wander down Narrowgate and make sure to check out Brightwater Gallery (it is one of my favourite places in the North East to pick up contemporary art) and the Accidental Book Shop (a new addition) has become our family’s go to for our next read. Marilyn and Melrose is a small but beautiful lifestyle store – I can’t walk past without seeing something I need in their window! Also on Narrowgate, Ruby Tuesday is a treasure trove of quirky gifts and stylish homewares, and well worth taking some time to browse.
If antiques are more your thing, then you must visit the Beehive as well as Alnwick Vintage and Antiques for an excellent curation of art, interiors and collectables.
Their Northumbrian-inspired fragrances are featured in some of the best hotels and restaurants in the North East, but Notes of Northumberland create their scents from their workshop and store in the centre of Alnwick. It’s fascinating to see the team at work whilst experiencing their range of products. Bamburgh Sunrise is my favourite but I highly recommend that you visit them and discover all that they have to offer.
The Turnbull family have been operating as a traditional butchery since 1880. Their business has evolved as it has been passed through the generations, and their latest venture, Turnbull’s Northumbrian Food Hall, is an absolute must visit. Their range of local produce is second to none, and most recently they have introduced ‘The Loft’, a homeware hall on the first floor. Don’t forgot to also visit their town centre butchery on Market Street.