Things to do in Newcastle

Alexander Iles

Newcastle is the capital of England’s North East, a vibrant historic and cultural city on the banks of the River Tyne. Rising up from the river, fine medieval buildings – including the castle which give the city its name – attest to the city’s military and mercantile importance in the middle ages. Further up the bank is the Georgian city centre, one of the best examples of this type of architecture in the United Kingdom. And of course, the nineteenth-century industrial legacy is clear to see, with artefacts of the old coal and shipbuilding industry lying side-by-side with the vital railways that spread out in all directions. A diversity of museums in the city centre tell the story of this iconic city, from Newcastle’s Castle, through to the Great North Museum and the Discovery Museum.

No matter where you go in the city, you can be certain of a friendly face and maybe even hear a whey aye. The northern character of community, friendliness and openness is strong in Newcastle, and visitors comment on how total strangers will strike up a conversation in the street. Although Newcastle has a fantastic history, stretching back to the Romans and the grand stretch of Hadrian’s Wall nearby, the modern city is not stuck in the past.

While the city is known for its nightlife and has regularly been voted one of the best cities in Europe for a night out, there is more to “the toon” than the unforgettable social scene. The food and drink in the city centre are exceptional, with high-end Michelin-starred British restaurants, shipping container food markets, and world-class international food and fusion restaurants, all within ten minutes’ walk of Grey’s Monument, the central meeting point of the city. If you are on the go, you’ll never be far from a Greggs, which was founded in Gosforth just to the north of the city. The now national chain will always be on hand for warming take-away goodness and of course the controversial vegan sausage roll.

Guests will not struggle to find a place to stay in Newcastle, as there is a range of options to suit all budgets, from stylish apartment hotels and the growing Airbnb market to classic luxury hotels. For those who love the outdoors, Newcastle-upon-Tyne makes a fantastic base camp, being close to both the north-east coast and Northumberland National Park, which are named as Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Then there’s the imposing and grand Bamburgh Castle, with its beautiful beach below (famous for filming scenes of popular Netflix series The Last Kingdom) and also the little-known beauty of the North Pennines and Weardale in County Durham.

Discover our top picks

Sutapa Biswas: Lumen at BALTIC, Gateshead
Exhibitions 8 May–31 October 2021, 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.

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