Lively, energetic Newcastle is a city full of personality, presented with an unmistakable Geordie twist. If you're eager to get busy and get active in the North East, your reward is a surprising mix of medieval gems, industrial heritage landmarks, attractive natural features and decidedly 21st-century good times. Plan your trip to Tyneside with our definitive guide to the best things to do in Newcastle.
Discover the Quayside and Awe-Inspiring Tyne Bridge
Both a symbol of the industrial past, and of today's warm and welcoming city of culture, the Tyne Bridge is the archetypal Newcastle icon. Its dramatic steel arches form the centrepiece the bustling Quayside, where you can browse the shops and Sunday market, dine in a trendy restaurant and savour a glass of wine overlooking the water. Check out the historic Guildhall and Sandhill's 17th-century merchants houses while you're here, and also take a stroll across the titling Gateshead Millennium Bridge for the best views of the north bank and river crossings.
Travel Back in Time at the Castle, City Walls and Cathedrals
Newcastle's history predates its more obvious coal and shipbuilding connections - it first developed as a northern defensive outpost. The dingy chambers and passages of the Norman-era 'new' castle (see?) are a must-see if you're into history, as are the West Walls, an open-access stretch of original city fortifications in Chinatown. The city's Gothic cathedral is worth a look too - you'll spot the unusual lantern spire on St Nicholas' 60m (196ft) tower from miles away.
Eat in Britain's Oldest Dining Room at Blackfriars
Singin' Hinnies, Pan Haggerty, Saveloy Dip, Pease Pudding... Newcastle's list of curious local dishes is both long and tasty. You can sample Geordie cuisine at its finest at Blackfriars restaurant, reputedly home to the UK's oldest dining room. Eating in the former refectory of a Grade I-listed friary is an oddly atmospheric experience, complete with stained glass windows, carved stone and wooden panels. Make sure to book well in advance.
Ride a Bicycle to Find Newcastle's Green Treasures
For something more energetic, hire a bike from the Quayside and follow Newcastle's cycle routes in search of parks and natural attractions. Head to Jesmond Dene, a lush wooded dell linking South Gosforth with Jesmond Vale, to visit the Old Mill water wheel, then continue west for great views of the Newcastle skyline from the open Town Moor. Pedal past the pretty lake in Leazes Park and call in at the Grade I-listed Grey's Monument as you make your way back to base.
Hit the Town on the Glitzy Diamond Strip
Newcastle's nightlife scene is bold, extravagant and increasingly notorious. Forget flat caps and Newkie Brown; today it's all about the 'Diamond Strip' of Collingwood Street, home to footballers, reality TV stars and Instagram wannabes. Osborne Road has a string of bars and clubs, while the Gate complex provides everything a stag or hen do requires under one roof. Whether that's a reason to go or to steer clear is entirely up to you. There are more refined options, of course - notably the swanky pubs on the Quayside cobbles and riverside, and the restaurants of Chinatown.
Ride the Metro with a Tyneside Day Ticket
You'll never be stuck for things to do in Newcastle city centre, but it's still worth exploring further afield. The much-loved Tyne and Wear Metro has 60 stops across the city, its suburbs and neighbouring towns; buy a Day Ticket for maximum flexibility and value for money. Top options include a short trip across the river to see Gateshead's fabulous Angel of the North sculpture, and a coastal dart to Tynemouth, where you'll find a castle, priory and the pretty Long Sands Beach.
Watch the Toon at St James' Park
Matchdays at St James' Park, the home of Newcastle United FC, provide an awesome spectacle - and that's even before the teams take to the park. With over 50,000 supporters crammed into the ground, many decked out in the black and white stripes of the Magpies, you'll experience a noisy, partisan atmosphere. If you can't get hold of tickets, a stadium or rooftop tour is a decent consolation prize.
Go Shopping on the Northumberland Street Cobbles
Newcastle has some great shopping options, with trendy Northumberland Street the essential port of call. This pedestrianised retail hub - which runs from Haymarket to Monument - is home to an impressive selection of major high street chains, interspersed with pubs, restaurants and smaller independents. This is where you'll find Fenwick's, Newcastle's flagship department store since the 1880s, and on most days a colourful assortment of street entertainers.
Head Deep Underground in Victoria Tunnel
Newcastle's quirkiest heritage attraction lies deep under the city - the murky, mysterious Victoria Tunnel. The 2.5-mile-long (4km) coal wagonway, running from Town Moor to the Tyne, was built in the early 19th century to link Leazes Main colliery with the riverbank jetties. It lay abandoned for almost a century before serving as a WWII air raid shelter, and then returned to darkness until guided tours began in 2006. There are visiting slots throughout the week, but you do need to book ahead.
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