The big trip

A weekend in Newcastle upon Tyne

Everything you need to know for a city break in the north east party ‘Toon’

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Why you should visit Newcastle

Newcastle upon Tyne, commonly known as Newcastle, has developed into a “prominent” city in terms of “technical innovation and culture”, said ArrivalGuides. A  “wonderful” holiday location with great shopping hot-spots, Newcastle, on the north bank of the River Tyne, and Gateshead, on the south, are united by seven bridges across a “spectacular” riverside. This forms a “single, diverse and extremely vibrant visitor destination”.

Renowned throughout Britain for its “thumping” nightlife, this “fiercely independent” city in north east England harbours a “spirited mix of heritage and urban sophistication”, said Lonely Planet. It has excellent art galleries, a magnificent concert hall, boutique hotels, some exceptional restaurants and, “of course”, interesting bars. 

With its walkable centre and many “iconic” landmarks, Newcastle is “photogenic”, said Katie Gatens in The Times. “If you don’t fall in love with the architecture, history or culture, chances are you’ll fall for the residents. Geordies are the friendliest people in the country (that’s a fact).”

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Newcastle Castle and the railway viaduct built directly beside it

Newcastle Castle and the railway viaduct built directly beside it

TravellingLight/Alamy Stock Photo

Top attractions: things to see and do

Newcastle Castle 

“Not that new anymore”, said Bryony Hatherley on Culture Trip, this medieval structure is what gives Newcastle its name. The castle is open to visitors from Thursdays to Mondays, but from 26 May to 6 June it will be open every day.

Cross the Tyne bridges

The bridge that “most symbolises the city’s identity” is the Tyne Bridge, said Bryan Dearsley on PlanetWare. When it was opened in 1928 it was “at that time the largest arch of any bridge in the world”. Crossing the Tyne on foot or on a bike via the “spectacular” Gateshead Millennium Bridge, is one of the top free things to do for visitors. Opened in 2001, it connects Newcastle’s “revitalised” Quayside area with the “trendy arts quarter” of Gateshead.

A night on the ‘Toon’ 

“The Geordie Nation” know how to let their hair down and have a good time like few others, said Nooruddean Choudry on Joe. A night on the “Toon” should definitely be on any weekend itinerary.

The Diamond Strip is up there with Newcastle’s “most glamourous party quarters”, said Hotels.com. It's right in the “beating heart of the city”, the venues are “slick and upmarket”, but also “rowdy and wild” once the night takes hold. Other party hot-spots to hit include Bigg Market, which is home to some of Newcastle’s largest clubs and mainstream bars; the Quayside, which offers “sleek” venues right on the River Tyne; and Dean Street, “a must-visit for beer aficionados”. 

The Quayside 

This is the “place to go” for pubs, clubs and restaurants, said Bryony Hatherley on Culture Trip. Now a modernised hub of arts, music and culture, “check out the Quayside market on Sundays and the area’s party atmosphere on Saturday nights”.

Sage Gateshead 

This iconic concert venue by the river “looks like a giant, shiny slug (in a good way)”, said Time Out. “Like the Sydney Opera House”, it’s worth visiting even if you’re not actually there for the music. 

Galleries and museums 

While its arts scene is often overlooked in favour of bigger cities, Newcastle is actually home to a “thriving community of galleries”, said Helen Armitage on Culture Trip. The Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art is “one of northern England’s premier galleries” while The Biscuit Factory is the “biggest commercial art, craft and design gallery in the UK”. Smaller, independent galleries include The Outsiders and System Gallery.

The Discovery Museum, a science and local history museum, is an “educational and fun place for all the family”, said Time Out. “Not to mention the awe-inducing 35-metre steam turbine ship that greets you as you arrive.” At the Great North Museum: Hancock “you can learn about everything from polar exploration to space travel”. 

Angel of the North

If you’re visiting by car, take a detour off the A1 to visit the Angel of the North, said David Whitley on the i news site. Just south of Newcastle in Gateshead, it’s “well worth the extra journey time”. Antony Gormley’s masterwork “looks wonderful from the road, but the curves and detailing up close offer a new perspective”. 

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INNSiDE Newcastle hotel on the Quayside

INNSiDE Newcastle hotel on the Quayside

Washington Imaging/Alamy Stock Photo

Hotels and accommodation: where to stay 

INNSiDE Newcastle, a large, modern hotel on the Quayside, “leads the way in how to blend corporate with leisure”, said The Telegraph. It was given an 8/10 expert rating along with other highly-regarded hotels such as Jesmond Dene House, Hotel du Vin & Bistro Newcastle, The Townhouse Hotel, and The Cumberland Arms. 

In her round-up of the “slickest stays on Geordie shore”, The Independent’s Katie Gatens picks out Hotel Indigo for being the best hotel “in the heart of the action” while the Hilton Newcastle Gateshead is “best for river views”.

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The Strawberry Pub is a favourite for Newcastle United fans

The Strawberry is a favourite pub for Newcastle United fans

Action Images via Reuters/Lee Smith

Restaurants, pubs and a ‘bottle of dog’: where to eat and drink 

Restaurants 

House of Tides is Newcastle’s only Michelin-starred restaurant. This “characterful Grade I listed merchant’s house” sits on the historic quayside and offers “accomplished, creative dishes”. Two restaurants – Route and Broad Chare – have been awarded Michelin’s Bib Gourmand

Pubs 

From boozers to late bars, there are some great venues in Newcastle to grab a pint, said ChronicleLive. “The city has it all.” According to TripAdvisor, Boulevard Show Bar took top spot on its best pubs and bars list. “Glamour rules at this cabaret club.” “Historic boozer” Crown Posada, “little gem of a pub” The Gosforth Hotel, and “traditional pub” The Strawberry also make the list. Located next to St James’s Park, The Strawberry has for decades been the “spiritual home” of Newcastle United fans who flock there for a matchday pint, said ChronicleLive

Order ‘a bottle of dog’ 

Newcastle Brown is the “drink of choice” in pubs all over town, said Katie Gatens in The Times. “Ask for ‘a bottle of dog’ and the barman will know what you mean.” The phrase “bottle of dog” was derived from the phrase “I’m going to walk the dog” – a euphemism for “I’m going to the pub”, said ChronicleLive.

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Newcastle Central Station and Metro

Newcastle Central Station and Metro

Robert Cole/Alamy Stock Photo

Transport: how to get there

Trains and Metro

Grade I-listed Newcastle Central Station is about a ten-minute walk from the city centre. Situated on Neville Street close to the River Tyne, Newcastle Central is mainly served by LNER, CrossCountry, TransPennine Express and Northern trains. The Tyne and Wear Metro is made up of overground and underground stations across Newcastle, Sunderland, Gateshead, and the coast. 

Flights 

Newcastle International Airport serves more than 80 destinations worldwide. With a Metro station at the airport, it takes around 25 minutes by train to Haymarket, Monument or Central Station in Newcastle city centre. 

Ferries 

For ferry passengers from mainland Europe, DFDS operates an overnight crossing between Amsterdam and Newcastle seven days a week. 

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Craster kipper is a local speciality

Craster kipper is a local speciality

Zoonar GmbH/Alamy Stock Photo

What the locals say

If you only eat one thing during your time in Newcastle, make it a Craster kipper, said Daniel Stables in National Geographic. This smoked herring is the “jewel in the crown” of Northumbrian cuisine, hauled in from the North Sea and cured in the town of Craster on the Northumberland coast. “It makes for a world-class way to take breakfast.”

Are you planning to stay longer than a weekend? Then venture out to one of the many “picturesque coastal villages” of Northumberland, such as Warkworth, Bamburgh, Amble and Seahouses, said Katie Gatens in The Times. All have “excellent beaches” and are within easy driving distance of the city. 

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