Tyne and Wear

A proud seafront city, Sunderland boasts sandy beaches and a buzzing riverfront, abundant culture and heritage, plus one of England’s best airshows.

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Sunderland is an energetic seaside city straddling the River Wear in northeast England. Explore its revitalised harbour, twin beach resorts and lively marina and you’ll quickly discover why the local ‘Mackem’ population is so proud of its city. Home to a quirky mix of attractions, Sunderland claims ties with the first US president, can boast of a long and glorious glass-making and ship-building heritage and holds a rip-roaring air show each summer.

Sandy beach resorts

The city’s picturesque coastline is home to lovely cliff parks, breezy promenades, a pier and a bustling marina. Best of all though, are the two golden-sand beaches of Seaburn and Roker, complete with cafes, bars and typical seaside entertainments.

The seafront is also the place to be in late July, when one of Europe’s largest free air shows roars into action overhead. Sunderland International Airshow amazes the crowds with high-altitude acrobatics, classic aeroplanes and battle re-enactments as well as plenty of fun down at ground level.

The revitalised riverbanks

Sunderland’s other waterfront, along the River Wear, has been lavished with regenerative projects and boasts attractive waterside paths and parks. Don’t miss the fabulous Riverside Sculpture Trail, dotted with intriguing artworks that reflect the city’s past and future.  

On the north bank is the exquisite little Church of St Peter, built in 674AD and home to some of the oldest stained glass in England. It’s a short stroll from here to the National Glass Centre and its glistening treasures, which track the local glass-making industry back by 1,400 years. See contemporary glass artists at work, or book ahead and have a go at glassblowing yourself.

The city’s heart

Venture away from the water and you’ll find plenty more to explore, including restaurants, nightlife and excellent shopping.

Be sure to stop by the glitzy old Sunderland Empire Theatre to browse its packed programme of theatre, music and comedy. Take a backstage tour for tales of ghostly goings on and decades of showbiz gossip about such legendary performers as The Beatles and Charlie Chaplin.

Countryside excursions

Stray a few miles west of Sunderland and you’ll come to historic Washington, home to one of northeast England’s most curious manor houses. Washington Old Hall is the atmospheric ancestral home of the first US leader, President George Washington, notable for its quirky traditions and family memorabilia.

Also nearby and visible for miles around is the iconic Penshaw Monument. A 19th-century mock Greek temple, it boasts a secret staircase and hilltop location with sweeping views over rolling green parkland.

A fantastic way to get back into Sunderland is to join the epic coast-to-coast cycle route, the C2C, which passes through this area. Ride through lovely countryside and urban scenes, past the city’s beloved football stadium and along the Riverside Sculpture Trail to Roker Beach, where you can celebrate your trip to Sunderland with a well-deserved drink on the shorefront.

For more local tourist information:

SSeaburn Beach © See it Do it Sunderland
PPenshaw Monument. © See it Do it Sunderland

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