You'd be hard-pressed to find a town of just 250,000 people that's livelier than Newcastle! Once a shipbuilding city, Newcastle's persona is definitely not one of a sooty industrial town. These days, diverse Newcastle's current claim to fame is its nightlife, but the dynamic daytime activities are pretty unmissable in their own right. Close to the city are many more wonders to discover, with Newcastle the perfect starting point to discover the picturesque Northumberland coast. Still, it's the city itself that has all of England abuzz. From its bars, nightclubs and restaurants to its art and music scene, there's nothing quite like downing a pint of Newcastle Brown Ale with the famously friendly Geordie locals.
Most visitors arrive at Newcastle by train. To get your bearings of Newcastle when you step outside the station, start by wandering along The Quayside and admiring the seven bridges that join Newcastle with neighbouring Gateshead. From there, head to Grey Street and check out some of Newcastle's heritage at The Theatre Royal and Grey Monument. On a typically rainy day, The Discovery Museum provides an interesting insight into Newcastle's industrial past as well as a respite from the cold, while the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art is where you can see witness innovative future planning. If there's a patch of the blue in the sky, grab the bus from Eldon Square Station and take in the region's most iconic monument, The Angel of the North sculpture, designed by celebrated artist Anthony Gormley.
Dining and wining (or beering, rather) is very much a part of Geordie culture. Newcastle is home to numerous entertainment districts including Quayside, Bigg Market, Central Station, Times Square and The Gate. Despite the city's sheer volume of bars and restaurants, new venues continue to pop up each day. Having said that, some of the classic places for a night out on “the toon” include Digital in Times Square, Tiger Tiger and Tup Tup Palace. For something more laid back, head to either Ouseburn or Jesmond, while Stowell Street is the city's China Town and is the place to find an alternative to the ubiquitous pub grub.
Where to Stay
Between Newcastle and Gateshead lie an impressive range of hotels for you to choose from, with everything from stylish boutique hotels to budget chain hotels on offer. Chain hotels including Travelodge, Novotel and Best Western all provide clean and comfortable stays with locations close to the city's heart, while the Junction Hotel is a pick of the independent mid-range options with a selection of individually decorated rooms. For something extra special, head slightly north of the city and you'll find the Desmond Jene Hotel. Boasting 40 contemporary rooms, the country manor-esque hotel is also home to an award-winning restaurant for complete indulgence.
Known as “Oxford Street of the North”, Northumberland Street is often the first port of call for shopping in Newcastle. A more unique alternative is Grainger Market, built in the 19th Century. Once the largest indoor market in Europe, Gainger Market still shows plenty of signs of its Victorian past and tempts shoppers with a large number of independent and boutique businesses. If shopping centres are more your style, you're in for a treat. The Metro Centre is the largest of all of them in Europe and houses almost every brand you can think of, including Marks and Spencer, Debenhams and House of Fraser.
Newcastle Like a Local
Newcastle's most famous export is of-course Newcastle Brown Ale, also known as 'Broon' or 'Dog' by the locals. After 80 years of history, Newcastle Brown Ale is no longer brewed on Tyneside, which has made way for local brewers Mordue, Wylam and Big Lamp to proudly fly the Geordie flag. One good place to sample an impressive array of the best local craft beers while enjoying the stunning view of the Tyne is The Free Trade Inn.