Things to do in the North East

Polly Checkland Harding

Industrial heritage, medieval architecture, stunning landscapes and world-class culture: the North East of England has it all. Stretching along the North Sea coast, the area encompasses Northumberland in the north, with the cities of Newcastle, Sunderland and Durham dotted beneath. Newcastle is the unofficial capital, a vibrant, historic and cultural city on the banks of the River Tyne. Here, medieval buildings signal the city’s military and mercantile standing in the middle ages, including the castle after which it was named. Today, Newcastle is a creative destination, the centre filled with outstanding Georgian architecture, internationally significant art galleries and renowned theatres.

Dominated by its cathedral and castle, Durham also boasts medieval streets – alongside a rich mining heritage and contemporary cultural attractions that include the recently renovated Assembly Rooms Theatre. The Bowes Museum at Barnard Castle is a combination of the above, marrying art, fashion and design with a truly magnificent historic building. Over in Sunderland, industrial heritage sits shoulder to shoulder with modern art: home to the National Glass Centre, the city has seen its 1907 fire station transformed into an arts hub and restaurant, with the Sunderland Museum, Library and Winter Garden charting the area’s long and varied history.

Read on to discover more of the best things to do in the North East.

Discover our top picks

Sutapa Biswas: Lumen at BALTIC, Gateshead
Exhibitions 26 June 2021–20 March 2022, FREE

Sutapa Biswas: Lumen at BALTIC, Gateshead

Sutapa Biswas’ major solo show explores the artist’s role in illuminating the imperialist structures that still exist within British society.

Sir Antony Gormley: Field for the British Isles at Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art, Sunderland
Exhibitions 24 July–25 September 2021, FREE

Sir Antony Gormley: Field for the British Isles at Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art, Sunderland

A 40,000 strong army descends on Sunderland; catch Sir Antony Gormley’s iconic Field for the British Isles at Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art.

North East District Guides

Walks in Sunderland

Walks in Sunderland

A cultivated array of walks and cultural spaces to visit, with nods to local history, sporting events, landmarks and heritage.

Walks in Durham

Walks in Durham

A curated guide on where to walk in Durham, featuring riverside routes, easy ambles, sought-out hikes and marked cultural stopping points.

Walks in Newcastle

Walks in Newcastle

A guide to the most attractive, rewarding and beautiful walks in central Newcastle and the landscape beyond.

Sunderland

Things to do in Sunderland

A guide catering to the rich experiences on offer in Sunderland, from fine-dining and brunch spots to historic properties and museums.

Durham

Things to do in Durham

A selection of attractions, restaurants, cafes and hot-spots on offer in the historic and aesthetic scenery of County Durham.

Newcastle Castle

Things to do in Newcastle

Newcastle is the capital of England’s North East, a vibrant historic and cultural city on the banks of the River Tyne.