Living only a short drive from the lovely market town of Alnwick in Northumberland certainly has its benefits, and if you’re in the North East for a short break, or just looking for a day out, Alnwick is always worth a visit. I’ve decided to compile a short list of things for you to do in the centre of Alnwick, making sure you don’t miss out on any of the best bits the town has to offer!
1) Visit The Alnwick Garden
Ever walked through a garden full of plants that could potentially kill you? Me neither. Well, that is until I visited The Alnwick Garden’s Poison Garden! The guided tour of the Poison Garden is one of the many great things about this place, where the gardens and attractions change with the seasons. It is a place full of beauty, tricks of light and interesting sights and sounds – it is a fantastic sensory experience. It is also home to The Treehouse, a restaurant, café and wedding venue set amongst the treetops. Its log fire, swinging walkways and twinkling fairy lights have been marvelled by many. Alongside this, the fact that the restaurant featured on Michel Roux Jr’s ‘Hidden Restaurants’ TV programme has ensured The Treehouse has been firmly stamped on the UK’s map of unique restaurants. Not only is the food superb but this cosy and romantic restaurant is a feast for the eyes – book well in advance to avoid missing out!
2) Explore Alnwick Castle
If you’re planning on visiting The Alnwick Garden, I’d say it’s well worth purchasing a combined ticket and walking along to Alnwick Castle too! Home to the Duke of Northumberland and his family and renowned for it’s links to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry (Harry Potter fans need to check out the broomstick training!), Downton Abbey, Transformers and Blackadder amongst other productions, Alnwick Castle is a great place to visit. It is as splendid on the inside as it is on the outside; as a self-confessed history buff I’ve visited my fair share of castles, but the interior of Alnwick Castle amazed even me. The exhibitions are as informative as they are beautiful, and you get a real insight into the lives of the Duke of Northumberland, his ancestors and the people who have worked at the castle over the years.
3) Stroll Around Alnwick Markets
Every Saturday, the Market Place in Alnwick town centre is flooded with market stalls and traders, offering the best local produce and the best of local businesses. You’ll find everything from Northumberland cheese to vintage clothes at Alnwick Markets, and being right in the heart of the town it’s hard to miss. Not around on a Saturday? Make sure you can make it to the Farmers’ Market which is held on the last Friday of every month. The Market Place is also home to some lovely cafés and eateries such as Melvyn’s café – a great place to sit and watch the world go by and tuck into a homecooked meal or a yummy cake. Head over to the website to see which traders are attending these fab, traditional markets.
4) Pull Your Own Pint at The Dirty Bottles Inn, Taproom and Smokehouse
In a building thought to originate in the 1600s, cursed by an innkeeper who suddenly dropped dead whilst interfering with the bottles in the window, now lies The Dirty Bottles Inn, Taproom and Smokehouse! ‘Thi Dorty Bottles’ (so the website tells us local Alnwick residents call it) has a lovely bar and roof terrace, which were absolutely packed and I wasn’t surprised when I heard the barman say that they’d had to turn away many people on opening night! Although I only managed to enjoy a pint of Alnwick Amber Ale on the roof terrace and didn’t get a chance to go through to the restaurant, it looked like a really cool concept! Each table has technology installed so you can pull your own pint at the table – coupled with some tasty smokehouse food and a trendy twist on a historical building, it’s somewhere I’d definitely return to and would recommend to anyone visiting Alnwick.
5) Get Lost in the Magic of Barter Books
For those of you who have ever heard of the Danish concept of ‘hygge’ (if you haven’t, check out ‘The Little Book of Hygge’ by Mike Wiking), Barter Books is the epitome of hygge! The amount of comfort you can get from sitting with a good book and a cup of tea by an open fire, surrounded by thousands of other books is really quite astonishing. This is what Barter Books provides! Situated in an old railway station, it’s a place not just for people searching for books, but for people searching for somewhere peaceful and homely. Barter Books is one of my favourite places of all time.
6) Enjoy Fish and Chips at Carlo’s
The family-run Carlo’s Fish and Chip Shop near to the Market Place in Alnwick is an award-winning fish and chip shop and restaurant that prides itself on its use of only wild fish, and it’s family recipe for light batter. I enjoyed some really lovely fish, chips and tartare sauce there and after seeing another couple with some delicious looking mushy peas, we certainly had food envy! The staff were very friendly and accommodating and the food was just what we needed to line us up for a fantastic day exploring the bustling, beautiful town of Alnwick.