North East England cities like Newcastle upon Tyne (or just Newcastle) is well-known for its stag dos and cheap booze catered for university students but there is more to the city than just a university town. Newcastle is a good starting point for exploration of North East countryside and Scotland. In this post, we explore things to do and attractions in Newcastle and its adjacent town, Gateshead.
Newcastle International Airport is located about 6 miles from the city centre. If you are travelling alone or with a partner, the metro station (commuter train station) is connected to the airport and the metro provides a cheap way of getting into the city centre. If you are travelling as a family, there is a taxi rank in front of the airport.
In terms of accommodation, we have stayed at the following hotels:
- Sandman Signature Hotel (about GBP 100 for a deluxe twin room without breakfast). It is conveniently located next to St James Park and features modern clean rooms.
- The Caledonian Hotel (about GBP 80 for a double room with breakfast). Located right in the heart of Jesmond (an upscale neighbourhood with boutiques and cafes), the hotel is generally clean though the rooms are a bit dated.
- Crowne Plaza Newcastle – Stephenson Quarter (about GBP 100 for a standard room with breakfast). A good option for travellers with clean rooms and relatively modern decor – 5-10 mins walk to the city centre. Apparently this is the go-to hotel for visiting sportspersons (e.g. footballers, rubgy players, etc) competing in sporting events in Newcastle – we met some of them while staying at this hotel.
For tourists merely stopping by Newcastle for a day trip, there is a Half Day Tour of Newcastle operated by Viator which might be a good option to consider.
1. St James' Park
St James‘ Park is the home of the Premier League club Newcastle United FC. It is conveniently located next to the Sandman Signature Hotel and Chinatown.
2. Tyne Bridge
Tyne Bridge is an iconic bridge which links Newcastle and Gateshead over the River Tyne. It was built by the same team (Dorman Long and Co. of Middlesbrough) that later went to construct the Sydney Harbour Bridge in Sydney, Australia.
3. Newcastle City Centre (Northumberland Street)
Northumberland Street is Newcastle’s High Street located right in the city centre. Newcastle’s well-known department stores Fenwick as well as Eldon Square have entrances located along Northumberland Street. There are plenty of buskers and local traders plying their trades along the busy street.
4. Grey's Monument & Grey Street
Grey’s Monument column (134 ft) was named after Earl Grey, a former Prime Minister from 1830 to 1834. The monument is a famous landmark which is located at the end of Grey Street, recognised as one of the most Instagrammed streets in the UK. The street is well-known for its exquisite Georgian architecture and the Theatre Royal is located along the street. If you are interested in learning more about the monument and the surrounding area, Viator offers a History Tour (USD 53) which might be of interest.
5. Newcastle University
6. Grainger Market
8. Central Arcade
Newcastle’s Central Arcade boasts elegant architecture in a building that houses upscale retailers as well as a Deli. It features unique tilework, stained glass and mosaic flooring which make for good Instagram backdrop.
9. Life Science Centre
The Life Science Centre in Newcastle is one of the biggest science centres in the UK and located just a short walk from the Central Station. There is a big planetarium in the Centre and visitors can look forward to its outdoor ice rink during Christmas seasons.
Gateshead is a town which is connected to Newcastle via Tyne Bridge. It makes for a good day trip from Newcastle due to its well-known landmarks such as Angel of the North and Sage Gateshead.
1. Angel of the North
Angel of the North is one of the most famous UK landmarks and certainly worth a visit (even though it is not well-known outside England). It stands at a height of 20 m and believed to be the biggest angel sculpture in the world. It is located at about 4 miles from the Tyne Bridge along the A167.
2. Gateshead / Newcastle Quayside
Visitors to Newcastle / Gateshead should not miss the Quayside area as it is a great place for sightseeing. It provides a good vantage point for views of the Tyne Bridge, the modern Gateshead Millennium Bridge and Sage Gateshead. There are plenty of cafes, restaurants and pubs on both sides including the popular By The River Brew Co and Pitcher & Piano. Tourists can also visit the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art beside the Millennium Bridge to view the latest exhibitions. On Sundays, vendors gather on the Newcastle side (Quayside Market) to sell trinkets, clothes, crafts and street food.
3. Saltwell Park
Saltwell Park is a Victorian Park located just 2 miles south of the Tyne Bridge. It is a large swath of area that features gardens, sports facilities, lake, education centre, maze and a prominent Gothic mansion. Every winter, the park is turned into a winter wonderland with sculptures, installations, performances and interactive works.
Metrocentre is claimed to be Europe’s largest indoor mall-style shopping centres. It is located next to the A1 in Gateshead and features more than 300 shops shops spread over 5 “sections” differentiated by colours.