Insider Newcastle - what to see and do, where to eat and shop
Newcastle will get under your skin. Its people are friendly, its history fascinating. You’ll find industrial grit and glitzy regeneration. Marvel at iconic, world-famous landmarks and cavernous, huge shopping centres.
You’ll enjoy a proper night out in its swanky bars, and maybe learn to speak a bit of Geordie.
Howay, man – what are you waiting for? Jump right in with our guide to the best attractions, shops and restaurants.
Need inspiration? What to see
As Geordie as Newcastle Brown Ale and loved by local folk, the Angel of the North is a truly magnificent sculpture – as tall as 4 double decker buses, in fact.
Designed by Sir Antony Gormley to celebrate the history of coal mining in the North East, it’s recognised all over the world.
Find it just off the A1 in Gateshead. You get a pretty amazing view from the train on the East Coast Main Line too!
- Did you know? Newcastle fans draped a massive Alan Shearer shirt over the sculpture before the 1998 FA Cup final.
A wander down to the Tyne Bridge is another essential to tick off. Yawning across the Tyne, this hulking steel structure connects Newcastle and Gateshead and symbolises the city’s industrial past.
It’s such a local landmark it was used in the closing scene of Our Friends in the North – a seminal ‘90s drama (we’re showing our age).
Fun facts about the Tyne Bridge:
- Remind you of another bridge Down Under? It was built by the guys behind Sydney Harbour Bridge
- 52,000 people sweat their way across it in tight Lycra each year during the Great North Run
Geordie folk know how to let their hair down. Nights out are the stuff of legend. And if you want to get on the toon like the locals, here are a few areas to visit:
- Quayside. Sip early-evening drinks in the sun along the river Tyne then take things inside after dark to get your groove on while Newcastle’s famous skyline twinkles in the distance.
- The Diamond Strip. Great for celeb-spotting. Geordie Shore cast members and Newcastle footballers hang out at these ultra-sleek, smart dress-only bars. Don’t rock up in your old school Adidas.
Feeling hungry? Where to eat
An intimate dinner: Ramp up the romance by rounding off a moonlit riverside stroll with a dinner that’s ‘just so’. Think crisp white tablecloths, subtle waiting staff and classic bistro food. Café 21 has all this and more. Forget fads and pretensions, this is unfussy food that will have your date swooning.
A light lunch: Find coffee that sings almost as well as the folk artists that ply their trade at Blake’s. It’s a bit hipster – there’s something of the Bob Dylan/Greenwich Village coffee shop feel about it. But the coffee’s good, the sandwiches lip-smacking and the jacket spuds buckle under the weight of their lovely fillings. Soothe your tired legs with coffee, fingerpicking folkies and free papers.
International: Geordie folk love their curries, and the area is known for its great curry houses. Sachins is a favourite of local legend Alan Shearer – he even has a signature dish. Its vibrant Punjabi flavours will slap your senses into life.
Try the delicious, crispy whole wheat pastries topped with chickpeas, yoghurt, tamarind sauce and mint chutney, followed by murgh tariwala – diced chicken cooked in Punjabi spices.
Street food: Craft beer and street food are hip up north as well as down south. Find the perfect blend of both at Boiler Shop Steamer. Expect fish and chips redefined at Hip Hop Chip Shop. And pizza made in a wood-fired oven in the back of an old Citroen van at Pizzette.
Retail therapy – where to shop
High Street heaven
Love spending Saturday afternoon in John Lewis? Find that and other department stores like Debenhams and stacks of other shops. At Eldon Square.
Like your shopping centres big? Find one of Europe’s largest at Intu Metrocentre. Next, H&M, Oasis and Topshop are among the high street faves to peruse. There’s a huge House of Fraser too.
Vintage shops, one-off boutiques and homewares
Hipsters (and those who describe themselves as anything but) will love the combination of cool independent shops and gorgeous, quite spectacular architecture at High Bridge Quarter.
Think arcing, cobbled streets, Georgian buildings and achingly-hip shops.
1 shop to check out:
- Attica: Vintage paradise, totally. Mine for the kind of treasures you see supermodels rocking at Glastonbury. Clothes aside, kit out your home like a scene from Mad Men with the retro homeware.
Label lovers - designer shopping
Fenwick: As much of a Geordie landmark as the Tyne Bridge. Fenwick has been plying its trade in the city since 1882. Expect labels like Paul Smith, Barbour, Vivienne Westwood, Hobbs and Gant sprawled across 5 floors of retail heaven.
End: Stone cold cool. End has everything for the style-savvy man about town. Exclusive Swedish denim, rare reissued Adidas trainers, Mad Men-style Mackintosh raincoats. Think APC, Nudie Jeans, Levi’s Vintage and stacks more too-cool-for-school labels.
The ‘Toon’ is turning rainbow-coloured between 17 and 19 July as Newcastle Pride returns for its 8th year. And there’s plenty going on. Dance until you drop at Town Moor, where musical acts will be taking to the stage across all 3 days. Pull on your brightest togs and join the 7,000+ people parading through the city centre on Saturday at noon, or join the line-up of elite athletes and drag queens taking part in the Northern Frontrunners LGBT 5k race on the Friday.
Want to know more about what’s going on? Check out the Northern Pride website.
Cook House: Ever eaten dinner in an old shipping container? Now you can – after a deep clean and chic redesign, of course. The menu changes regularly, but past dishes have included potted pheasant with pickles and toast, and ham hock and Gruyere tart.
The world’s smallest M&S: Grainger Market is home to the unique Marks & Spencer original penny bazaar, which opened in 1895.
Can you find it on this map?
Enjoy your trip to Newcastle.