Canny Mint: Free Things to Do in Newcastle
“It’s got a buzzing nightlife (think Quayside), a vibrant cultural scene (think Sage Gateshead and the Laing Art Gallery), and historical attractions aplenty (think the castle). Without a doubt, Newcastle is one of the UK’s best destinations for a city break – and you don’t have to spend a penny to have a great time there either. Read on for our pick of free things to do in Newcastle upon Tyne.
Jesmond Dene is a community-maintained park that runs along both sides of the River Ouse between Jesmond and South Gosforth. This beautiful park is a peaceful haven just 15 minutes by bus from the Haymarket in Newcastle city centre.
Step under the canopy and into the Dene’s wooded areas and you’ll feel like you’ve walked into a secret forest. Stroll by the river and find the park’s waterfalls, or take a picnic and sprawl on the meadows. All for free.
The BALTIC, set on the Gateshead side of the River Tyne, is a stunning gallery that showcases all sorts of contemporary art.
Free to enter, it hosts a wide range of exhibitions throughout the year, so do check its schedule to see what’s on when you visit. Cornelia Parker, Harland Miller and Fiona Crisps have all exhibited there. There’s also café and shop, but, of course, you’ll have to part with money if you want to treat yourself to a cup of tea or a gift!
Newcastle has many impressive buildings and feats of engineering to see – and ‘the seven bridges of the Tyne’ are some of the finest examples of that. Pretty in their own right, each offers a unique perspective of the city.
They include the famous Tyne Bridge and the Swing Bridge, which are side-by-side and easy to spot on a short walk from the city centre; the comparatively newer Gateshead Millennium Bridge, which is close to BALTIC; the King Edward VII Bridge; the Queen Elizabeth II Metro Bridge; and the immense and historically important High Level Bridge.
Newcastle is famous for its industrial history, but there’s a lot more to the city than iron and coal. The Discovery Museum is a free-to-enter learning centre packed with exhibits that detail the rich local history of the Newcastle and Gateshead areas.
Learn about the technological developments and scientific discoveries that took place in Newcastle, and the advances in engineering that couldn’t have taken place anywhere else.
Did you forget that Newcastle has a castle? Walk the ramparts and see how the city was protected from invaders by a “new” keep – built in the 13th century. How very modern!
Follow in the footsteps of ancient Geordies and step inside the fortress to discover more about life in the Norman times. For £5 you can also visit an “Alternative History” talk, to learn more about Newcastle’s history from an interesting and often gory perspective.
The streets of Newcastle are a haven of artistic expression. Local graffiti artists have been adding colour to the industrial brick walls and railways arches of the city for years, and now they have become as important to Newcastle as its historic monuments.
Take a look at the Newcastle Graffiti twitter account to see where some of the best examples around the city are, or head to the Shieldfield, Ouseburn and Heaton neighbourhoods to spot some bright and bold murals.
Ouseburn Farm is a community farm in the centre of the city. Meet and feed the farm’s pigs, sheep, goats and chickens, and chat to the volunteers who help out here every day about how important the farm is to them.
Stroll around the ponds and woodlands, or enjoy the beautiful orchard and kitchen gardens. If you’ve got a few pennies in your pocket, you can also head to the farm’s cafe for some homemade sweet and savoury treats made from food grown and raised in the garden.
Just a short walk from the quayside you’ll find All Saints Church, formerly a medieval church and now an architectural marvel. Legend has it that a Roman temple used to stand on the site. The church was rebuilt in the 1900s by an esteemed local architect in an unusual oval shape.
The church is undergoing essential restoration work that has saved it from falling into disrepair, so pop by for a visit and go for a walk in the All Saints churchyard for a real sense of Newcastle’s past.
Visiting Newcastle on a shoestring budget? Browse our hotels in Newcastle and find a room that suits your budget.“
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