Attractions in Sunderland

From leafy city-centre parks, sprawling countryside estates, medieval churches and refurbished lighthouses and sporting bastions, Sunderland is alive with sights. Here are our picks of what to see around the city.

Historic buildings

With buildings that vividly recount the city’s history ranging from 19th century lighthouses, churches that date back to the 7th century and castles that have withstood the Norman Conquest, Sunderland’s architecture and historic buildings tell many a tale.

We’ve compiled our favourites in our guide just for historic buildings in Sunderland.

Historic buildings


From giant chess boards to model boating lakes and tennis courts to brand new adventure playgrounds, Sunderland’s parklife is well worth shouting about.

At just under two miles long, Barnes Park is the largest of Sunderland’s inner-city parks and has plenty to offer. From kid- and toddler-friendly play areas to bowling greens, duck pond, sensory garden, tennis courts and a small but functional café, the site is perfect for families, dog-walkers, fitness fans or those looking to take a bit of air. And it’s handily located a mile away from our City Centre hotel.

Another city centre area of greenery is Mowbray Park. With over 800,000 visitors a year, it’s one of the most popular in the region and is home to several statues and memorials. The park was restored at the turn of the century, with the lake and bandstand undergoing dramatic redevelopments, and a large adventure playground with an Alice Through The Looking Glass theme built, including a giant chess and draughts board. Voted Britain’s best park in 2008, it borders the Sunderland Museum, Winter Gardens & Library making it a perfect stop-off point.

Although there’s no grass or trees, Keel Square in High Street West is a great place to take a break in the heart of Sunderland. Named in honour of the city’s shipbuilding past, the square has a series of playful water jets that get illuminated at night, and are great fun on a warm sunny day for kids and families. In winter, it hosts the city’s ice rink and Christmas market, making it one of the city’s main focal points.

Home to summer street festivals, tennis courts, table tennis, football pitches a café and several sculptures, Thompson Park in the Fulwell area might be one of the smaller open spaces in the city, but it certainly packs a lot in.

Herrington Country Park might be the furthest park from town, but it’s just an eight-minute drive from our Sunderland A19/A1231 hotel. One of the largest parks for miles, it boasts the usual array of playgrounds and walking trails as well as more diverse activities including a skate park, model boat sailing lake and a Nordic walking trail. The site has also hosted some huge events and concerts including the Radio 1 Big Weekend with the Foo Fighters, the National Cross Country Championships and the 2012 Olympic Torch Celebration. And should the views start to wear off, there are several sculptures and works of art dotted around the park.


From one of the biggest football stadiums in the country to a greyhound stadium where the action happens off the track in the bars and restaurants just as much as it does on the course, we’ve rounded up everything you need to know in our Sunderland stadium guide.


Looking for a hotel in Sunderland?

Our Sunderland hotels are ideally situated for exploring the city and the coastline - and also taking in the cultural scene, including  the National Glass Centre and Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art.