7 Best Things to Do on Holy Island, Northumberland

Situated in the very north of the county of Northumberland, Holy Island has been a popular tourist spot for many years. Your visit will be dictated by the tide times, so we’ve put together this helpful guide of the best things to do on Holy Island to help make the most of your visit. 

7 Best Things To Do On Holy Island, Northumberland

It’s easy to see why the Holy Island of Lindisfarne becomes a bucket list destination for those visiting Northumberland. Home to the Lindisfarne Priory and the restored Lindisfarne Castle, Holy Island is accessible via a tidal causeway. In fact, it’s vital that visitors check tide times before they visit; it is only safe to cross when the tide is out. 

During your visit, you can also expect to find the beautiful Gertrude Jekyll gardens, taste the mead of St Aiden’s Winery and be rewarded with breathtaking views along the Northumberland coastline. 

The island is steeped in history. In 635 AD, Saint Aidan came from Iona and chose to found his monastery on the island of Lindisfarne. From here the Christian message flourished throughout the world. The famous Lindisfarne Gospels, a unique illuminated Latin manuscript of the gospels of Mark, Luke and John, can be found in the heritage centre (an electronic copy of the book). 

The Lindisfarne Gospels have long been acclaimed as the most spectacular manuscript to survive from Anglo-Saxon England. Another reason why Holy Island is a unique and wonderful place to visit. 

There is parking on Holy Island and even occasional buses that run from local towns on the mainland. 

Now we have whet your appetite for exploring more of Holy Island, let’s find out what there is to do on the island and how to plan your visit. 

7 Best Things to Do on Holy Island, Northumberland

The best of the attractions on Holy Island

1. Visit the Lindisfarne Centre

Marked as being the ideal starting point for your visit to the Holy Island of Lindisfarne, the Lindisfarne Centre is open daily from mid-March to the end of October. 

The centre is located near the start of the village on Marygate. You can use the postcode TD15 2SD, but we recommend parking in the main car park and walking into the village from here. That way you can’t miss the Lindisfarne Centre as you set off to explore the rest of the island (parking charges apply).

You can see interactive displays on the history and heritage of Lindisfarne, packed with plenty of children’s games and activities. Learn how the monks produced the world famous Lindisfarne Gospels and see a copy of this national treasure. 

You can even listen and learn from islanders about community life and the island’s special natural history.

Prices for the museum:

  • Adults: £4
  • Concession: £3.50
  • Children (5-15): £2
  • Under 5s: Free
  • Family (2 adults & 2+ children): £10

2. See Lindisfarne Priory

A visit to Lindisfarne Priory is a must for those wishing to soak up the history and religion of the island. 

Lindisfarne Priory, Northumberland

The ruins of the Priory on Holy Island date from the early 12th century. Lindisfarne Priory is where Christianity was spread throughout the north east of England. The most spectacular aspect of the Priory ruins is the ‘Rainbow Arch’, which is located after you enter through the west doorway.  You can buy Lindisfarne Priory tickets from the visitor centre on the right hand side, before you get to the Priory gate.

Today, the site is managed by English Heritage. Free to members, and non-members pay £7.90 for entry. This includes access to a small museum which you’ll find on your way to the Priory ruins. 

Lindisfarne Priory is open 7 days a week from 10am to 6pm from February until the end of September. Opening hours are reduced during October with the centre and Priory closing at 5pm and from November until the end of January it is only open at weekends from 10am until 4pm.

READ MORE: What to Do in Seahouses for a Great Day Out

3. Go to Lindisfarne Castle (a National Trust site)

Said to be one of the most iconic landmarks in the UK, Lindisfarne Castle was converted by architect Sir Edwin Lutyens into a private holiday home for Edward Hudson, founder of Country Life magazine. 

Lindisfarne Castle, Holy Island, Northumberland, England

The castle is now owned by the National Trust. It is free for members to visit, and for non-members the cost is £8.50 for an adult and £4.25 for a child ticket. 

Parking for the castle is in the main visitor car park at the entrance to the village. Access to the castle is by a short walk from the village. The entranceway up to the castle is very steep and once inside the castle pushchairs are not allowed. 

Outside of the castle you can wander through the stunningly beautiful summer-flower garden. The garden was designed by Gertrude Jekyll for Lutyens in 1911. You can visit the gardens for free without having to buy tickets to the castle. To reach it, pass the stiles that lead to the castle, and then turn left.

4. Enjoy the many walks on Holy Island

Many visitors to Holy Island like to head towards the Priory and castle – fitting in a quick coffee stop – picking up a souvenir then racing back to the car before the tide starts to come in. 

But what they are missing is the many pathways and hidden beaches the island has to offer. All you have to do is find the right walkways and lose yourself in the sand dunes whilst witnessing the abundance of wildlife the island has to offer. 

Holy Island, Northumberland, England

You can explore the different walking routes on Holy Island to find the one which best suits your party’s needs. All of the routes suggested are circular, meaning you get to see as much of the island as possible. 

This is a great guide to walking the famous Pilgram’s Way, whilst being mindful of tide times. 

To really make the most of your time on Holy Island, you may wish to book into a self catering cottage, so you can spend more than one day exploring the island. With so many walks and hidden gems to discover, this may be the best option for you without having to worry about tide times. Explore accommodation options on Holy Island. 

5. Sample the Lindisfarne Mead

You may have already heard of the iconic Lindisfarne Mead. Born on Holy Island, the mead is made on the island from fermented white grapes, honey, herbs, and water from a well on the island. This delicious mead has been commercially sold here since 1962. There is also the option to purchase alcoholic fortified wine, beers and rum. 

St Aidan’s Winery shop is found behind the Village Hall on Priory Lane and it’s a great place to test some of the produce of the island.  There’s a large shop here with local products. Here you’ll find perfect gifts for foodies from biscuits and jams to local beers and wines.  

6. Explore the causeway

One of the most exciting parts about visiting Holy Island is actually the drive across. As well as stunning scenery, there is something quite thrilling about driving across a stretch of road that will shortly be covered by the incoming tide. 

Holy Island causeway, Northumberland

The causeway is about 3 miles in length, of which the first mile is through the sea and then it snakes along the island. When the tide is out, it is just like a normal road, though the crossing is beautiful and sometimes eerie. It will take you approximately ten minutes to drive across the causeway. 

There are a couple of different parking spots along the causeway, which make for perfect picnic locations if you are looking for somewhere to get away from the busy tourist areas. Make sure you park in the proper designated parking areas and avoid the grass verges, where rising tides can catch you unaware.  

Beware of walking on the mud flats. When the tide is out, the mud flats stretch for miles and it can be misleading just how far out you have walked. 


7. Try out the bird watching hotspots

For all bird watching enthusiasts, Holy Island is said to be one of the best places for this activity in Northumberland. 

While the island does become busy during the tourist season, there are plenty of quieter spots you can escape to for a peaceful bird watching experience. 


If you are looking for a great bird watching spot, why not try ‘The Lough‘? The Lough can be found beyond Lindisfarne Castle and before Emmanuel Head and its famous stone pyramid.  

A new hide has recently been provided to replace a long-standing, familiar hide that was damaged in a storm. The new hide provides stunning views of the Lough all year round. A good selection of wildfowl can be found on the freshwater all year round.

Things to do on Holy Island

Hopefully you’ve been pleasantly surprised at how many things there are to do on Holy Island. The first thing to do when planning your day out here is to check the tide times and plan around that. Make a list of the walks you would like to do, and spend some time researching the local menus to find your favourite place to eat. 

With so much to see and do, we recommend setting aside a whole day to spend on Holy Island, as you soak up the jewel of Northumberland. 

Quick List: 7 Best Things To Do On Holy Island, Northumberland

  1. Visit the Lindisfarne Centre
  2. See Lindisfarne Priory
  3. Go to Lindisfarne Castle (a National Trust site)
  4. Enjoy the many walks on Holy Island
  5. Sample the Lindisfarne Mead
  6. Explore the causeway
  7. Try out the bird watching hotspots

Beth Wardell

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