Newcastle: A city with real northern soul

Step off the train at Newcastle and into the hustle-bustle of this historic, vibrant city. World-class venues, iconic landmarks, and fantastic shopping await you - and the locals really know how to let their hair down too. 

Here’s our guide to some of the best places for sightseeing, eating, drinking and shopping in Newcastle…

Things to see and do in Newcastle

The iconic Tyne Bridge is a true symbol of Newcastle, referencing the city’s industrial past and linking it to Gateshead. Its distinctive design is instantly recognisable, and was built by the same firm behind Sydney Harbour Bridge.

Head down to the Quayside for a close-up view of this magnificent structure.
Fun facts about the Tyne Bridge:

  • It was the world’s longest single span bridge when opened in October 1928
  • 52,000 people run across it each year during the Great North Run
  • The bridge’s towers were originally designed as warehouses – however these were never completed

Another landmark you must find time to see is the Angel of the North. Antony Gormley’s iconic, world-famous sculpture dominates the skyline by the A1 in Gateshead. Get up close and marvel at its 200 tonnes of rust-coloured steel.

It’s as tall as four double decker buses, and its wings are wider than a jumbo jet. Stand back and breathe it all in, set against the brooding northern sky.

How to visit the Angel 

The Life Science Centre will take you on a fascinating journey of discovery to find out where we came from and where we’re going. It’s a great place to take the kids, particularly on cold, rainy days.

Fun things to do at this museum:

  • Get your skates on at the outdoor ice rink (until 22 February)
  • Brave the stomach-churning 4D Motion Ride
  • Sit back in comfy reclining chairs at the planetarium to learn all about the solar system

Prefer something more arty? Check out the Baltic – a contemporary art gallery housed in a former flour mill on the south banks of the Tyne. Browse constantly changing collections of thought-provoking conceptual art, and find time to wonder about the building’s previous life on Newcastle’s industrial waterfront.

Shopping in Newcastle

Newcastle is a shopper’s dream, with the perfect blend of high street favourites, stylish boutiques and specialist stores.

Here are a few highlights:

Eldon Square: Love the high street? Here you can shop ‘til you drop, with more than 140 stores to peruse. John Lewis, Debenhams and Fenwick department stores are all here.

High Bridge Quarter: This cobbled area is adorned with trendy boutiques, music shops and eateries, such as Freefall, Union and Eric. At End clothing you can find hipster denim brand Edwin alongside proper wax jackets from Barbour.

Grainger Market: This vibrant market housed in a Grade I-listed building is a good enough reason alone to visit Newcastle. It has more than 100 shops selling everything from artisan foods and delicacies to handmade cards and jewellery. Stop by French Oven for a loaf of locally-made bread – the bakery was named the best in England and Wales at the Food Awards 2014. Sourdough, Granary and white loaves line up with slow-roasted garlic focaccia and other speciality breads. Yum.

Metrocentre: Love shops? Metrocentre is Europe’s biggest shopping centre. Spend a day wandering this cavernous retail heaven for everything from Topshop to TK Maxx and All Saints to Argos. When you’re done, enjoy a pizza and at Pizza Express, chicken at Nando’s or some noodles at Wagamama. There’s an IMAX cinema with a huge screen, luxury seats and a Ben & Jerry’s ice cream stand. 

Food and drink in Newcastle

There’s plenty to tickle the tastebuds in Newcastle, whether you’re after cheap eats, a cosy pub vibe or posh nosh.

An intimate dinner. The Six, at the top of the Baltic, has stunning panoramic views of the city – and great tasting food to boot. Why not try braised ox cheeks with horseradish mash, or how about ginger parkin and plum custard to finish? During the day, the Baltic Kitchen serves breakfast, lunches and snacks.

Good pub grub. If it’s comforting pub grub you’re after, head to the Broad Chare. Its list of bar snacks includes Scotch eggs and hand-raised pork pies as well as more adventurous offerings such as crispy pigs’ ears. Kedgeree soup and mutton masala will warm the cockles on a cold winter’s day.

An unpretentious spot for in-the-know foodies. This proper old-school Italian café lets the food do the talking. Expect the kind of grub served in the backstreets of Rome - thin-based pizzas loaded with ingredients like sun-dried tomato, olives and ham and steaming bowls of pasta. The interior of Sapori Cafe may leave a little to be desired, but the food has transformed this spot into a local institution. A firm favourite on TripAdvisor.

A night on the toon. Newcastle’s nightlife is legendary, so be sure to check out one or two of the city’s many swanky bars if you get chance. Near the station is Tokyo, where you can enjoy a classic Tom Collins or more quirky bacon-infused bourbon on the rooftop terrace. All the cool kids hang out on the ‘Diamond Strip’, which runs between the station and Swan House. There you’ll find bars such as Revolution, Perdu and Florita’s.

Hidden Newcastle

Here are three places in Newcastle you might not be aware of...

The Great North Museum: Hancock: This museum on Barras Bridge houses one of the largest collections of natural world exhibits in the UK, including a life-sized replica of a Tyrannosaurus Rex, a large-scale interactive model of Hadrian’s Wall and authentic Egyptian mummies.

Seven Stories: Who was your favourite author as a child? Which books do your own kids love? All the family will enjoy Seven Stories, the National Centre for Children’s Books, which is located just outside the city in the Ouseburn Valley. The likes of Roald Dahl, Enid Blyton and Jacqueline Wilson are all celebrated here.

Flip: Newcastle’s longest established vintage store, Flip opened its doors back in 1978. This Westgate Road store sells imported American goods, so if you’re looking for a pair of affordable Levi 501s or a baseball jacket, this is the place to be.

Enjoy your trip to Newcastle.