Make a list of Europe’s most attractive destinations and I’m sure that England would struggle to make the top 5. I mean, let’s face it — England is known for its unpredictable weather. But, if you are looking for a travel destination that is culturally rich, safe and without any language barrier, then look no further than England. Or more specifically, Newcastle upon Tyne.
The northeast English city used to be an industrial hub in the 20th century. Today, it has flourished as a cultural centre for the arts and science. Newcastle is surrounded by natural beauty and rich architectural heritage. To top it all off, it is also a food lover’s paradise. Here are 15 must-see locations in Newcastle!
Buy a painting – Biscuit Factory
Contrary to how the place is named, the Biscuit Factory is actually an art gallery. Formerly a biscuit manufacturing warehouse (hence the name), the Biscuit Factory provides a platform for local emerging artists to showcase their works.
The colourful paintings and crafts on display are guaranteed to engage people of all ages. You can even purchase an artwork that catches your eye. The gallery serves as a marketplace for artists and visitors.
If you’re feeling peckish after soaking in the arts, The Factory Kitchen serves delectable brunch offerings that are sure to satisfy your tummy. Recommended dishes on the menu include Eggs Benedict and Avocado Toast.
Newcastle travellers needn’t worry about admission fees as entry to the Biscuit Factory is free. The gallery is open 7 days a week from 10am to 5pm.
Worship in style – Newcastle Cathedral
From Roman to Postmodernism, buildings in Newcastle are famous for their architectural styles. Located right in the heart of the city, the Newcastle Cathedral stands out like a shining star with its English Gothic exterior. The grand structure’s interior is also a sight to behold.
For those who wish to partake in communion, church services are held every Sunday mornings. Worship in splendour as you listen to hymns played by an organ and sung by the Cathedral Choir. If you are of different faith, organ recitals happen every Monday at 1pm. Revel in 40 minutes of music that comprises of organ and vocal solos.
Recitals are free at the point of entry. However, it is advisable to give a small donation as a form of appreciation.
Learn about Newcastle’s history – The Discovery Museum
Ever wondered how Newcastle has transformed into a cultural city since its industrial days less than a century ago? The Discovery Museum has all the answers. Delve into Newcastle’s rich history through three floors of exhibitions that focuses on the Northeast’s storied past.
The museum is free to enter, which makes it worthwhile given the tons of exhibits on display. The cultural centre is also conducive for children as there is an interactive play area located at the second floor.
Newcastle’s Discovery Museum is open every day from 10am to 4pm. The museum opens a little later at 11am on weekends though, so plan your visit accordingly!
Unveil your artistic side – Laing Art Gallery
Yet another arts-related destination. It comes as little surprise since Newcastle is truly a city celebrated for its colourful history and rich culture. Laing Art Gallery, or more simply “The Laing”, houses an extensive collection of sculpture and art. Its regularly changing events and exhibitions truly brings the best of traditional and contemporary art to its visitors. What’s more, if you’re an art buff, be sure to catch the curator and artist talks that the art gallery organises on a daily basis.
The Laing is also a great place to buy souvenirs for your loved ones back home. The Laing shop, which is conveniently located at the ground floor, is stocked with artsy posters, gift cards and ornaments which are sure to delight recipients.
Opening times range from 10am to 4:30pm and the Laing Art Gallery is closed every Sundays.
Enjoy some authentic English cuisine – Grey Street
Should a stroll through town be the main priority for the day, we suggest walking down Grey Street. The building architectures on display alone is worth the walk. But if that’s not enough, there’s also no shortage of restaurants offering authentic local cuisine. Furthermore, alcohol in Newcastle is more reasonably priced as compared to most parts of England, so be sure to take the opportunity to visit the nearest bar for a mug of pale ale.
If you are driving, do note that there are limited parking spaces available. The nearest of which is a multi-storey carpark at the end of Grey Street towards Dean Street.
As Grey Street is part of Grainger Town, the heartbeat of Newcastle, there are plenty of hotels available in this area. Among the abundant choices, Maldron Hotel Newcastle and Sleeperz Hotel Newcastle are the standout options.
Sit a 4D motion ride – Life Science Centre
Situated in a science village at the centre of Newcastle, the Life Science Centre is home to the biggest planetarium in the North of England. With award-winning exhibitions on display, you’re sure to learn something new and remain engaged for the entire visit.
There is even a 4D Motion Ride that is sure to thrill everyone in the family. However, children who are 1.2m and below are required to be accompanied by an adult. So parents need to ensure that they stay close to their little ones. Tickets can be purchased in a family bundle (2 adults + 2 children), which adds up to £34. For individuals, an adult and child ticket can be bought for £15 and £8 respectively.
Newcastle’s Life Science Centre is open seven days a week, from 10am to 6pm.
Partake in the fine arts – Theatre Royal
What better way to immerse yourself in Newcastle’s rich cultural heritage than to catch a show at Theatre Royal! With an ever-changing roster of upcoming events in the form of plays and musicals, it is safe to say that you’ll find something you enjoy.
Fun fact: The Theatre Royal was built in 1837 and has a neoclassical architectural style. The theatre can seat 1250 people over four levels. For those looking to book tickets, it is advisable that you look at the seating plan available online.
Tickets can be purchased online through the theatre’s official website, over the phone or in person at the box office. The box office is located at the theatre venue itself and opens open 9am to 8pm, Mondays to Saturdays.
Enjoy some beer by the river – The Quayside
We all enjoy a cold beer by the river. And we know most of you out there do too. Lucky for us, Newcastle is rife with pubs that offer the perfect conditions to cracking a cold one in a relaxed environment. Pitcher and Piano is a good option as the bar is located next to the Millennium Bridge and provides spectacular views of the Tyne Bridge and River Tyne.
There is also no shortage of good restaurants around the area. The Quayside is home to Newcastle’s most decorated restaurant, House of Tides, which holds a Michelin star. Select between two menus, both of which offers world-class selection of dishes that are sure to delight your tastebuds.
After a hearty meal, take a walk across the Gateshead Millennium Bridge, which links the Quayside with Gateshead’s arts quarter.
Admire the medieval architecture of the past – Newcastle Castle
What’s a trip to England without visiting a castle? Newcastle’s very own medieval castle has its roots dated back to the 11th century when the Normans conquered England. Robert Curthose, son of William the Conquerer, built the first tower that remains on site today. Beyond marvelling at the ancient architecture of the English castle, this iconic destination is steeped in history spanning more than 1800 years.
Today, visitors can explore the ancient towers such as the Castle Keep and secret passageways where prominent historical figures once walked. There are guided tours available 7 days a week or guests can just explore the castle at their own pace.
Tickets are only available for purchase at Newcastle Castle’s Black Gate reception. Admission is priced at £7.50 for adults and £4.50 for children 15 years and under. If you’re planning a visit to Newcastle Castle, do note that the place opens at 10am and last entry is at 4:15pm.
See dinosaur fossils – Great North Museum: Hancock
A museum of natural history and ancient civilisations, the Great North Museum: Hancock houses a wide collection of fossils, artefacts and wildlife that tells the story of Northeast England as well as the rest of the world.
With three floors worth of events and exhibits, you’re guaranteed to be enthralled by the experience and discover something new. The Living Planet gallery, occupying the first and second floor, takes visitors on a journey through wildlife and their habitats. There are even live animal enclosures and aquariums too!
Besides that, the ground floor also contains an impressive fossil event display, showing how Earth and its inhabitants have evolved throughout the years. The exhibition’s highlight has to be the T. Rex replica skeleton that has left many visitors awestruck throughout the years.
Great North Museum: Hancock opening times range from 10am to 5pm and they are open daily. As with many tourist destinations in Newcastle, entry is free, although donations are most welcome.
Reconnect with nature – Jesmond Dene Park
If you fancy a stroll in the good ol’ English countryside, then Jesmond Dene Park has everything for you to live that experience. Granted that it is a public park in the middle of the city, Desmond Dene Park is the best place in Newcastle to enjoy a walk with nature.
Enjoy the relaxing sights and sounds of the streams and waterfalls that surround the area. Animal lovers can also take the chance to visit Pet’s Corner, open from 10am to 4pm. The petting zoo is free to enter and is home to alpacas among many other adorable animals. A cute sight to behold!
Join the Toon Army – St. James’ Park
It’s no secret that Geordies are die-hard football fans. Come match day, the Toon Army will never fail to be out in full force at St. James’ Park to support the local football club, Newcastle United. Capable of holding 52,500 spectators, St. James’ Park has one of the largest capacity for an English sporting arena.
Newcastle United fans can enjoy the experience of a lifetime as they cheer for their team live. For those who aren’t acclimatised to large crowds, guided stadium tours are also available. Enjoy a classic stadium tour of the Premier League club for just £15!
If you are planning to catch the tube to a game, the nearest station is Central Station. From there, it is only a 15 minute walk to the stadium grounds.
Walk in and out of Newcastle – The Tyne Bridge
A through arch bridge over the River Tyne, the Tyne Bridge is an iconic symbol of Newcastle today. The 400m-long bridge was built during the 1920s to link Newcastle with the neighbouring Gateshead.
This bridge serves as one of the entry points into the city and serves as a wonderful photo opportunity should you be planning a road trip across North England. You can also view the Sage Gateshead from the Tyne Bridge, the former being a concert venue.
Travel through the tunnel of time – Victoria Tunnel
The Victoria Tunnel is a significant landmark in Newcastle’s history as an industrial city. Since its inception in the 19th century, it was used to deliver coal from the mainland to the loading docks during the Industrial Revolution. In the time of WW2, the venue was used as a bomb shelter.
Today, the fully preserved tunnel has become a hugely popular tourist destination with guided tours almost always fully booked. Hence, if you are looking to visit this historic location, which we highly recommend that you do, it is essential that you pre-book your tickets first. Tickets can be bought from the official website or through telephone. Admission fees are £8 for adults and £4 for children, which is a steal if you ask us!
Find the best bargains – Grainger Market
I always look forward to visiting marketplaces during my travels. In Newcastle, Grainger Market would be my go-to bazaar. This vibrant covered market is home to hundreds of stalls that provide a wide range of goods and services, from grocers, bakeries, butcheries to crafts shop, jewellers and florists.
This is a great place to kickstart your souvenir shopping with dozens of shops selling artistic trinkets here. Love to snack? There are also plenty of food stalls to delight your tastebuds!
Grainger Market’s opening times start as early as 6:30am and closes at 5:30pm. Early risers out there will certainly benefit from their habit as they get to enjoy the freshest produce!
Newcastle upon Tyne is truly an amazing place to visit if you are looking to travel off the beaten path. As a city that has come a long way from its industrial past, this vibrant cultural hub deserves more exposure, especially for tourists wanting to travel to Europe for the very first time. So what are you waiting for? See you in Newcastle!