Berwick Upon Tweed first caught my eye as I swept past it on the London North East Railway. I was on a trip between Edinburgh and London with no time to stop.
The dramatic rocky coast, picturesque lighthouse, and magnificent stone aqueduct over the river Tweed definitely piqued my interest. But is Berwick Upon Tweed worth visiting? Yes! I had an amazing time there and only scratched the surface of things to do in Berwick Upon Tweed. I’ve even created a little interactive map so it’s easy for you to track down all the hidden gems!
Let’s dive in…
Looking back at the town from the River Tweed.
I decided to check it out and I’m so glad I did. Berwick Upon Tweed an easy day trip from Edinburgh, Newcastle, York, or any other city on the UK’s East Coast. It’s also ideal for car-free travelers. The town is easily accessible by train. Once you’re there you can quickly get to the city center and even many surrounding attractions on foot.
Now that you’ve reached the city enter, this jewel box of a town puts the charm offensive into overdrive.
My Interactive Berwick Upon Tweed Map
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Why You’ve Got to Go to Berwick Upon Tweed
Berwick Upon Tweed really has something for every type of traveler. Whether your cup of tea is spending an afternoon poking around in bookshops, checking out art galleries, or getting swept away to a magnificent castle on a tidal island.
Berwick Upon Tweed is packed with restaurants, from cute cafes to traditional pubs to upscale bistros. It’s also a mecca for history buffs. Berwick’s status as a fortified town between the contested border between Scotland and England made it a hotbed for centuries of conflict.
So what does a perfect day trip to Berwick Upon Tweed look like? Let me show you…
Getting to Berwick Upon Tweed
View from the train platform
Berwick Upon Tweed is a 52-minute train ride from Waverly Station in Edinburgh. The town also about 47 minutes from Newcastle, with around 67 trains a day. If you’re interested in visiting Lindisfarne Castle , bus 477 which takes you there pulls up right in front of the park entrance. Be sure to check the tide/bus timetables if you’re interested in visiting. ( I’ll have more on how to make the most of your trip to Holy Island later!)
Where to Stay
I chose to do a day trip to Berwick Upon Tweed, but there’s enough to explore here that you could easily extend it into a long weekend. Berwick Upon Tweed has a variety of cozy hotels and guest houses at many different price points.
1. Start With a Stroll in Castle Vale & Coronation Parks
Once you’re off the train, you’re going to want to stretch those legs. Why not start by taking a stroll in Castle Vale and Coronation Parks, which are mere steps from the main station? These beautifully manicured parks feature a lily pond, a sculpture trail, and plenty of benches to sit on as you enjoy a dramatic view of the Royal Border Bridge. When I visited it was bursting into bloom with spring’s first daffodils and lilies.
If you fancy it, continue your stroll to the riverside walk along the Tweed? There you’ll be treated to views of both the town and the river. You can easily loop your way into the center of town from the river walk. The parks have plentiful signs to point you to where you want to go.
2. Walk The Berwick Upon Tweed Castle Ramparts
Can’t get enough of a panoramic view? Head on up to the Berwick Upon Tweed Castle and Ramparts. Once a vital fortification protecting Berwick Upon Tweed from invaders, it’s now an ideal place to take in a panoramic view of the city.
3. Take a Boat Tour on the River Tweed
The Royal Boarder Bridge
Perhaps the best way to soak in a view of the town is from the water. A Berwick boat tour will let you cruise past all of the town’s historic sites. You could also catch a glimpse of wildlife such as herons, seals, and dolphins!
For maximum vibes consider booking a sunset cruise.
4. Visit Berwick Upon Tweed Lighthouse
I know I’m a sucker for lighthouses… but people… just look at Berwick Lighthouse! Accessible along a stone pier, grab a coffee or an ice cream and take a stroll out there.
Nautical vibes activated! So freaking scenic!
5. Browse the Indie Bookstores
Whether you prefer new or second-hand, the bookstores in Berwick Upon Tweed do not disappoint. You could spend an entire day happily browsing this bibliophile’s paradise.
Need some inspiration?
Here’s my mini bookstore-crawl itinerary of Berwick Upon Tweed’s cutest indie bookshops:
The first bookshop you’ll hit on your way from the Berwick Upon Tweed train station to the town center is Berrydin Books. A used lover’s paradise, they have an extensive collection of Putnam Editions. I picked up a copy of one of my childhood faves, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.
Now head down West Street toward the river and pop into Interesting Books and Zines. This is without a doubt one of the most well-curated and designed book and zine shops I’ve ever been to. The sleek, minimalist aesthetic is as inspiring as the reading material.
Top off your mini tour by heading downhill and swinging a left onto Bridge Street and Check Out Berwick Upon Tweed’s most Instagram-Worthy bookstore, Slightly Foxed. This is a vintage book lover’s paradise, full of first edition and rare and hard-to-find classics as well as more standard second-hand paperback fare.
Curl up on a leather couch in their back room with it’s beautifully painted domed ceiling, or browse their collection of vintage movie posters.
6. Visit One of Berwick Upon Tweed’s Restaurants or Cafes
By now you’ve likely worked up an appetite. Don’t worry, Berwick Upon Tweed’s restaurants have you covered. There’s a surprising variety of eateries here from cozy hole-in-the-wall diners to upscale bistros. Here’s a smattering of my faves:
The Corner House cafe has some of Berwick Upon Tweed’s best vegan and gluten-free options in a cute, eclectic environment. The Vegan and gluten-free cake I had was called, ‘Snow White’s Poison Apple,’ and it was truly to die for. This cafe is dog friendly too!
Northern Soul Kitchen is a hole-in-the-wall serving up comfort food with a mission to prevent food waste in Berwick.
Mule on Rouge is a cozy wee hideaway serving upscale comfort food and brunch, with lots of vegan and veggie options!
Repas 7 has a chai latte to die for! But why stop there? Go ahead and sample the baked goods and savories and kick back in their colorful and cozy dining room.
Looking for elevated pub grub? The Riverside Cafe is your go-to.
7. Vintage Shopping & Galleries in Berwick
Berwick Upon Tweed has a plethora of art galleries and boutiques featuring unique handmade goods. They’ve also got some top-notch thrift stores.
Here are a few that caught my eye…
The Field House offers crafts, paintings, and textiles inspired by the beauty of Northumberland’s landscape.
If handmade gifts and home goods are more your thing, stop by Serendipity Artisans. This artist cooperative is a great place to find a trinket to bring home to somebody special.
Are you a second-hand treasure hunter like me? Why not go play at the Little Vintage Shop? This adorable antique shop on Berwick’s Bridge Street is chock full of vintage furniture, typewriters, bicycles, and other curiosities to make your own.
8. Chat Up a Berwick Upon Tweed Local
The locals in Berwick Upon Tweed are incredibly friendly and welcoming. It’s true, people in Berwick really ooze that Northern warmth and hospitality that people in this part of the UK are known for. No cold and distant London vibes here, mate. I genuinely felt welcome here which is a huge plus for any solo traveler in my book.
9. Visit the Berwick Museum & Art Gallery
The Berwick Museum really has it all, from exhibits dating back to the middle ages to innovative contemporary art exhibitions. And did I mention cannons!? Then why not check it out while you visit the Berwick Barracks? They’re in the same area.
Looking to fall in love with Scotland? Check out my post on 10 Ideas for an Amazing road trip to Scotland’s Isle of Skye!
10. Explore Holy Island
The experience you’ve all been waiting for!
Lindisfarne Castle is a stunning 16th-century castle located off the coast of Berwick on Holy Island.
And get this… you can only get there at low tide!
Yep, when the tide comes up the road is fully covered by the sea, leaving the castle and the village of Lindisfarne totally cut off from the mainland.
The castle itself has extensive and well-manicured gardens and grounds. But it doesn’t stop there, Holy Island is also home to Lindisfarne Priory, a medieval ruin boasting ornate stonework.
Getting to Holy Island
There’s no question you have to visit… but how do you get there?
Well, some get there the same way pilgrims have for centuries, by walking across the tidal flats when the tide is out. Others drive. I personally took the public bus, which conveniently leaves from right in front of the train station.
It takes about 30 minutes one way to get there. The bus timetable is timed with the tides to make sure you check the tide and crossing times before you go.
I ended up only having about ten minutes on the Island because I didn’t plan ahead and I ended up hopping on the last bus of the day.
Beleive it or not, I still got a lot out of my visit…
Was Holy Island Worth The Trip?
As it turns out, this was just another opportunity to embrace the unexpected. No, I didn’t get the full Lindisfarne Castle experience. The good news is, I did get to chat with the world’s friendliest bus driver, and capture some gorgeous snaps of the castle. In addition to this, Holy Island is an easy day trip from Edinburgh, so I may very well be back on of these days!
Protip: Make sure you leave enough time to explore the village of Lindisfarne too! It has several cafes and small shops, even a post office. There’s a thriving independent community of people who live out there, perfectly content to be cut off from the mainland at high tide.
Don’t want to rely on the whims of the tides? Our friends at Viator have you covered with a full day tour of Holy Island, Alnwick Castle and the Kingdom of Northumbira.
I hope you enjoyed, my perfectly imperfect solo travel adventure to Berwick Upon Tweed! I’m glad I took the time to get off the train and explore, and I will definitely go back for a longer visit someday.
Which hidden gems are you just dying to explore?
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