Things to do in Newcastle upon Tyne
From unique bars and restaurants to bustling parks and windswept sands – Newcastle and its reaches has a whole lot to offer for a minibreak in the UK. It is only three hours by direct train from London, with a lovely, scenic journey along the coast. Once there, you needn’t worry about a car as you can get to most places on the Metro. Newcastle International Airport also has daily flights to and from most airports across the UK.
Where to stay
The Vermont Hotel
With views over the River Tyne, this huge, handsome hotel places you right in the heart of the historic city centre and its action. It’s right next to the medieval Castle Keep, which is what remains of the ‘New Castle’, a fortress built in the 12th century. You’re also less than ten minutes’ walk from the railway station and Grey Street, an elegant Georgian street lined with cafés and restaurants.
Jesmond Dene House
This boutique country house hotel is just a hop and a skip (well, a 15-minute drive) from Newcastle’s centre, but you could be in the middle of the countryside. Surrounded by gorgeous grounds, this grand country mansion is a good option if you’re after mor eof a relaxing break. The à la carte menu at the restaurant boasts seasonal and locally sourced ingredients, and feels a real treat. Even if you’re not staying here, pay a visit for afternoon tea.
If you’re after a bit of pampering during your stay, try City Retreat – an award-winning salon in the heart of the city. It has a good range of treatments, facials to pretty manicures.
Where to drink
This popular cocktail bar in bustling Tynemouth has also just opened in the city centre. So, whether you fancy an evening by the sea or you’re spending a night in town, it’s worth putting one of these venues on your list. Try the 5 Shades of Grey cocktail with Earl Grey-infused gin, rosemary, nettle and rose.
Where to eat
Riley’s Fish Shack, Tynemouth
Counting top food critic Jay Rayner (of The Guardian) among its fans, this shack serving up fresh, locally caught seafood is on King Edward’s Bay in Tynemouth. Just half an hour on the Metro or by car from the city centre, you could almost be on a beach abroad – only a few degrees cooler. It’s the ideal place to while away a warm evening, drink in hand when the days get longer – but you may face a wait in the summer months as word is starting to spread about this gem.
The Broad Chare, Quayside
This is both a proper pub, great for a Scotch egg, and an impressive restaurant. Tucked away off Newcastle’s glamorous Quayside, it’s a favourite with locals. The combination of hearty-but-clever food (roast hake with chickpeas, samphire and squid gets the thumps up) that is locally sourced and enjoyed in a friendly environment makes it a winner.
A little slice of Italy in the North East, this family-run Italian is one of the best places to tuck into fresh antipasto or a bowl of pasta. Unpretentious and friendly, the food doesn’t disappoint on taste or price. Most of those who eat here are locals and regulars – always a good sign.
Where to shop
A popular shopping stop-off, this branch of Fenwick has everything you’d want in a high-quality department store. what really sets it apart, though, is the wine department. After a huge refurb a few years ago, the Wine Room is something to behold. Have a browse and you’re sure to leave with an interesting bottle of something you’ve never heard of. There’s always someone knowledgeable on hand to talk you through what’s on offer, and there’s a good range of organic and biodynamic wines. An Enomatic wine dispenser means you can try before you buy. Next door is Fuego, a Mediterranean wine bar and restaurant serving hand-stretch pizzas and tapas.
What to do
Once at the heart of the local Industrial Revolution, the Ouseburn Valley, on the outskirts of the city, is now one of its coolest corners. Home to a thriving scene of musicians and artists, there is also a growing number of bars, cafés and galleries. Pop into The Kiln, a café-come-ceramics-workshop, full of beautiful pottery, fresh food and good coffee. For a livelier drink, try music venue The Cluny Kitchen.
The Biscuit Factory
A visit to The Biscuit Factory, a Newcastle institution, is a must if you’re visiting the city and are in the mood for some culture and art. Its great exhibitions showcase a selection of painting, sculpture, ceramics and jewellery. There are also creative workshops held throughout the year such as printing and calligraphy. Its bustling café, The Factory Kitchen, is located on the top floor, and has some of the most amazing views over the River Tyne and bustling Quayside area. Its walls are lined with work by contemporary artists.
Seven Stories, The National Centre for Children’s Books
If you’re looking for family entertainment, then this wonderful place is worth a trip to explore the magical world of children’s books. There are always fabulous exhibitions on, as well as an impressive archive of children’s literature from throughout the years.
The Angel of the North
This sculpture is a truly iconic symbol of the north. Designed by internationally-renowned sculptor Antony Gormley OBE, it’s well worth a visit. It’s just a 15-minute drive from Newcastle city centre in nearby Gateshead.
Where to walk
For a day by the seaside, you don’t have to go very far here! One of the gems of the North East is no doubt this award-winning mile-long stretch of sandy beach. With its clean waters and powerful waves, it attracts surfers from around the country, and even has a surf school. On a sunny day, the beach comes alive with families and friends, building sandcastles, eating ice creams and swimming. Even if you don’t fancy braving the nippy North Sea, its hard, golden sand is perfect for a leisurely walk or energetic run. STop in at one of the two beach cafés, Crusoe’s and The View, at either end of teh beach, for a coffee and cake.
This pocket of green, near Newcastle Centre, feels a million miles from the bustlin urban city. Enjoy a stroll and picnic surrounded by birdsong, myriad trees and children playing. Its pets’ corner is home to alpacas, pot-bellied pigs, goats, rabbits and colourful birds, all of which prove very popular with younger visitors.
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