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Often voted the friendliest city in England, Newcastle makes the perfect city break whether you want a super shopping experience, a river cruise, exciting nightlife or to explore the tales of Northern heritage.
Sitting on the banks of the River Tyne, Newcastle is a city big enough to have everything you could possibly need, but also small enough to feel personal and homely. From days spent exploring museums to evenings overlooking the picturesque Quayside, this vibrant city is simply brimming with options. Thousands of people visit Newcastle for its vibrant nightlife, welcoming locals and impressive architecture as well as those who come to study and work here to experience this amazing city.
A holiday to Newcastle upon Tyne is the perfect way to get acquainted with the North East’s history, indulge in local dishes and immerse yourself in the area’s culture. Whether you plan to give the kids a sample of city life or whisk the other half away on a romantic break, there is plenty to keep you occupied in Newcastle. It’s great for a day trip too!
Here are 8 things you simply cannot miss....
Take a river cruise along the Tyne
Take a river cruise up to where the river meets the North Sea, taking in the rich history and scenery of this most famous of areas. Go for a walk along the Quayside and admire the seven bridges spanning the River Tyne between Newcastle and Gateshead. You will see the fabulous, curved glass 'Sage' building which is a concert venue and education centre, and 'The Baltic Flour Mill' - now a contemporary art gallery with a great restaurant for views from high over the Quayside.
Fun facts about the Tyne
- The River Tyne is crossed more than 20 times by a variety of different bridges and tunnels.
- There is a famous bridge that crosses it called the "Tyne Bridge". Another bridge that crosses it is the Millennium Bridge.
- The River Tyne is believed to be around 30 million years old.
Swot up on some history at the castle
Discover the ancient history of the city by visiting Newcastle Castle – the Norman keep, and the Black Gate offer interesting exhibits, and the 360-degree commanding views from the keep’s rooftop are the best in town. Looking down on the bustling streets of Newcastle, you’d never know that deep underground lies Victoria Tunnel, an extraordinary coal-wagon thoroughfare built between 1839 and 1842 and used as an air-raid shelter during WWII.
Highlight: Two-hour tours take you through a section of the atmospheric tunnel, which snakes its way below the city for two and a half miles – we advise booking ahead as numbers are limited.
Prices: This is a family-friendly attraction which is open 7 days a week. Prices range from £8.50 for adults, £5 for children and £24 for a family.
Location: Castle Garth, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 1RQ
Reach the end of Hadrian's Wall at Segedunum Roman Fort
At the eastern end of Hadrian’s Wall, 5 miles east of Newcastle, lies the Roman fort at Segedunum, the most completely excavated fort on Hadrian’s Wall. Here, you can explore a reconstructed Roman bathhouse, a museum offering a fascinating insight into life during Roman times and climb the 35-metre-high tower for spectacular views.
Location: Buddle Street, Wallsend, Tyne & Wear NE28 6HR
Facilities: There is an on-site gift shop, café and toilet facilities also. It is a three-minute walk from Wallsend Metro Station but there is also free parking available at the venue.
Visit the Angel of the North
This is a contemporary sculpture designed by Antony Gormley, completed in 1998. It is a steel sculpture of an angel, 20 metres tall with wings measuring 54 metres across. It is now a giant landmark, welcoming visitors to the great North East, just ten minutes away in Gateshead. In 2016, the beautiful Angel of North statue was decreed an official ‘English Icon’ by the government.
- The steel giant was commissioned in 1994 and completed in February 1998 at a cost of £800,000, much of which was provided by the National Lottery.
- Gormley's design, according to the artist himself, symbolises the transition from the industrial to the information age and stands proudly as a beacon of hope for the future of the region.
- Its site was chosen as a memorial to the coal miners who worked hard to bring prosperity and wealth to the North East in the 19th and 20th centuries.
Catch an atmospheric football match
Arguably the city's biggest attraction, St James' Park, home to Newcastle United, regularly hosts premier league fixtures and is a great day out for any football fan. The stadium also hosts other sports throughout the year, including rugby, so if football's not your thing, there's still something for everyone to enjoy.
- Newcastle United was formed in 1892 after the two rival clubs Newcastle West End and Newcastle East End grouped together.
- This ground holds 52,000 people and is one of the biggest in England.
- Newcastle have won four League Titles – 1904-05, 1906-07, 1908-09, 1926-27.
Travel back in time at the Beamish Museum
Beamish is the best open-air museum in the world which tells the story of life in North East England during the 1820s, 1900s and 1940s. It was the vision of Dr Frank Atkinson, the museum’s founder and first director. He wanted the new museum to “illustrate vividly” the way of life of “ordinary people” and bring the region’s history alive. This is a spectacular day out for anyone who comes to visit Beamish. On its 300 acres estate it uses a mixture of translocated, original and replica buildings, a large collection of artefacts, working vehicles and equipment, as well as livestock and costumed interpreters. There is something to see around every corner and lots to experience.
- Beamish Tramway: Opened in 1973, this tram serves to re-create the experience and atmosphere of tramway operation of an earlier generation, whilst providing an essential means of transport for visitors around the site. Look out for the replica Edwardian motor buses, and trolley buses and motor buses too!
- Tea Rooms, 1900s Town: If you’re in The 1900s Town, stop off at the Tea Rooms where you’ll find a range of delicious hot and cold meals, using local ingredients where possible, along with mouth-watering cakes, scones, snacks and drinks.
- The 1940s Town: The farmhouse and cottages of the 1940s Farm represent everyday domestic life, featuring objects from the era, ranging from a wireless (radio) to ration books. You may hear 1940s music or news broadcasts and smell cooking, using wartime rations.
Find relaxation at Gibside - an 18th-century estate
The National Trust's award-winning Gibside 18th-century estate is another fun family day out in Newcastle and incredibly beautiful. It is one of the few surviving 18th-century designed landscapes and was fashioned with two things in mind; spectacular views and ‘wow’ moments. It offers visitors a glimpse into the past and the life of its heiress Mary Eleanor Bowes.
This is a place you can all escape the hustle and bustle of modern life and explore 600 acres of gardens, woodland and countryside. You will discover Derwent Valley views, winding paths and refreshing open spaces which offer the freshest of air. Tranquil walks and sunny picnics are a lovely way to while away the time at Gibside.
Dogs are welcome here and they will love all the open space to run about in, but it is asked they are kept on a lead and you clean up after them. They are also welcome at the seating areas and café!
Become a bookworm at the Lit and Phil Library
Formally known as the Literary and Philosophical Society of Newcastle upon Tyne, is the largest independent library outside London and it houses more than 170,000 books! Established in 1825 on Westgate Road, just yards from Central Station, it became a hub of learning and enlightenment long before the city’s universities existed and today continue to inspire minds, stimulate imaginations and confer a wealth of knowledge to young and old alike.
This is not just any library; many come to admire its impressive structure, historic form and calming atmosphere. As well as having one of the largest book collections in the world, it houses an enormous music collection too – the largest in north England – attracting a wide variety of people with different interests.
An interesting programme of events:
- Celebrity author evenings
- Theatre and storytelling
- Poetry reading
- Bookbinding classes
- Creative writing classes
This is a venue for everyone and anyone to delve into a world of books, music and mystery.
As well as attractions within the city, you can go further afield to discover more...
Newcastle is also fantastic because it is only 20 minutes from the coast which features magnificent beaches at Tynemouth, Whitley Bay, Monkseaton and South Shields, to name a few. If you travel 20 minutes in the other direction you will find Europe’s largest indoor shopping mall, the Metrocentre, a shopaholic's heaven with hundreds of stores, a food court, and even an iMAX cinema. For more ideas on beaches, why not check out our guide to the best beaches in Northumberland?
Stay in a self-catering cottage in Newcastle
Have we inspired you to visit Newcastle in Northumberland? With miles of unspoilt coastline and beautiful countryside ready to be explored, the Newcastle area promises to leave visitors wanting more. So, from large homes to luxury properties, our self-catering accommodation in Newcastle offers something for everyone.