England

What to Know Before You Visit Alnwick, England

Never heard of Alnwick? No worries! It’s a beautiful little village in Northumberland, near the northeast coast of England. You may not recognize the name, but you will probably recognize its castle from the likes of Harry Potter, Transformers, Downton Abbey, Robin Hood, and more movies and TV shows! If you find yourself wanting to visit Hogwarts, here are a few things to know before you go!

Terminology

It’s important to say the town’s name correctly. Not that anyone seemed to mind when we mispronounced it, but no one wants to sound like an ignorant foreigner, am I right?

  • Alnwick: Pronounced “An-ick”; the “L” and “W” are both silent! This was very difficult for me, as my name is Whitney, and I really wanted to pronounce that “W”!
  • Alnmouth: Interestingly, this one is pronounced “Allen-mith”! This is where we got off the train and took a cab to Alnwick.
  • Bondgate: This is the medieval city gate.
  • Bondgate Within: This refers to homes, businesses, and locations inside the Bondgate.
  • Bondgate Without: This refers to all things outside of the Bondgate.
Bondgate Tower, taken from “without” and looking toward “within”.

Getting There and Getting Around

There are a few ways to get to Alnwick, so take your pick!

  • Driving: If you’re already driving around the English countryside, this method of transportation is the obvious winner. There are several things to see and do within a short drive of Alnwick, such as Lindisfarne, Dunstanburgh Castle, and Howick Hall Gardens, which are best visited with a car.
  • Train and Taxi: We took the train from Glasgow, Scotland, to Alnmouth Station, then caught a taxi from there into town. That particular train took two hours, and the taxi was just a 10-15 minute drive. There is not a train station in or any nearer to Alnwick, unfortunately. Pro tip: Taxis are scarce on Sundays, so book in advance if you can!
  • On Foot: Once you get to Alnwick, your feet are the best way to see the town! It’s very walkable, and if you need directions, the people are friendly and helpful. There are so many fun things to see and experience around the village!
Please meet Harry Hotspur, upon whom I stumbled while out for my morning run!

Places of Note

Alnwick boasts many unique attractions, so don’t miss out on the best of the best!

Alnwick Castle

Whether you know it as Hogwarts, Brancaster Castle, or another fictional location, you very well may find yourself in Alnwick to visit its famous castle. Fun fact: Duke and Duchess of Northumberland still live here! Your visit should definitely include a tour of the Castle and grounds, a visit to the lovely Castle Gardens, and a guided tour of the notorious Poison Gardens!

No joke. You’re not even allowed in without a tour guide!
Pro Tip: Go Early to get Photos with No People in Them

I went for my morning run in the 5:00am hour (love that early morning sunshine in the summers!), and I got beautiful shots all over the village and made it look like there was no one else there!

I chose to take advantage of full sunlight at 5:30am and had Alwick Castle all to myself!
Barter Books

In many ways I wish this was still an active train station… but in most ways, I’m so glad this second-hand bookstore in a former train station exists! It’s one of the largest bookstores in the British Isles, and you could easily lose track of time in here. Between the rare books, toy trains running overhead, original “Keep Calm and Carry On” poster, cafe, and comfy seating, I wish we had budgeted for a whole day to spend here!

Did someone say “Maps”?
Read on: Unique Things about Alnwick
The White Swan Hotel

This is in fact the whole reason my brother and I put Alnwick on our list of places to visit: the Olympic Restaurant at the White Swan Hotel. Everyone knows about the Titanic, which tragically sank on its maiden voyage. What people tend to forget is that she had a sister ship: Olympic! They were built at the same time, used the same plan, and boasted similar finishings. When the Olympic was taken out of service in 1935, her furnishing were sold before the rest of her was sent off for scrap.

Olympic Restaurant at the White Swan

To make a long story short, the First-class lounge, a staircase, and a revolving door all ended up at the historic White Swan Hotel! The First-class lounge is now their main dining room, and it’s beautiful! I love how historic items can be given new life, and this is a wonderful way for it to live on.

Fine dining!
Read on: Dining at the Olympic Restaurant

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