When I used to think of the British city Newcastle mostly soccer and rainy weather came to mind, but how wrong was I about this buzzing European city in the north east of England, near Scotland! After my latest city trip to Newcastle upon Tyne, with Gateshead across the river, I completely understand why Newcastle Gateshead was pronounced ‘hipster capital of the northeast’ by Lonely Planet! With its rejuvenated quaysides, thriving cultural scene, multitude of unique restaurants, cafés and shops, gorgeous riverside views and many bridges, I found out that gastronomy, entertainment, culture, history and heritage are combined perfectly in this city.
We had so much fun during our 3 day visit that I just had to share my favourites and must do’s with you, to make sure you don’t miss out on anything.
But the trip itself to Newcastle can be a pleasure already! Of course you can fly there, but as I live in Holland we chose to take our own car on the boat with DFDS Seaways overnight instead, which was very convenient and this small cruise was already half the fun!
1. Get there by DFDS Seaways boat cruise
In about 15 hours the convenient cruise boats of DFDS Seaways will take you to Newcastle, while enjoying all the entertainment, fun and attractions aboard. The ship offers abundant options to relax on deck and enjoy a gorgeous sunset, but also plenty of big windows inside to marvel over the endless views of the wide waters gliding by.
With oceans of onboard activities you don’t have to get bored on your way to Newcastle. We really enjoyed our dinner at Explorers Steakhouse, as 1 of the many restaurant options, with direct sea views and excellent steaks. Finished off with gorgeous sunset views from the Skybar and drinks with live music in the Columbus Club.
Next to that you can also shop till you drop in the Sea Shop, enjoy the latest movies at the Cinema or try your luck at the ship’s Casino, before a relaxing night’s sleep in your comfortable cabin with sea views.
For more information about their cruises and bookings you can go to: DFDS Seaways website
After arriving at 9 am in the morning we immediately drove to Newcastle upon Tyne’s city centre in only 30 minutes to explore this exciting city!
2. Walk around historic Newcastle upon Tyne
The old city centre consists of cobble stoned streets with beautiful Georgian architecture all around, many unique independent stores, restaurants, a diversity of shopping malls and historic Grainger Town.
We walked around here with our private Green badge guide who could tell us all about the history of this unique city as a real local and guided us past the historic sights. The historic heart of the city includes the ancient Castle Keep and the Cathedral Church of St Nicholas, one of the most beautiful and historic buildings in Newcastle, whose spire has dominated Newcastle’s skyline as a prominent landmark on the River Tyne for over 500 years.
Around the city many remainders of the old city wall can be found with a multitude of churches and unique buildings all around. I can highly recommend a walk around Grey street, voted finest street in the UK, with its wide set up and beautiful sandstone buildings.
Nearby you can find the Cloth Market with the Old George, the oldest pub in Newcastle, which is very photogenic as well! I adored this area with its historic outlook and beautiful quaint shops in small flower filled alleyways.
3. Immerse yourself in the city’s cultural and art offering
You can spend a whole day immersing yourself further in Newcastle Gateshead’s culture and heritage by visiting several of the many museums, arts and cultural venues that both sides of the river have to offer. Here are a few suggestions:
The Discovery Museum showcases all about life in Newcastle and Tyneside.
The Great North Museum features a scale model of the UNESCO World Heritage Site Hadrian’s Wall, natural history exhibits, mummies and a Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton.
The Life Science Centre has hands-on displays, interactive games and demonstrations in the science area.
Housed in a landmark industrial building on the Gateshead side of the river the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art is the biggest gallery in the world of contemporary visual art.
4. Explore the Quayside at day and night
The area around the river called the Quayside is buzzing with hip restaurants and cafés with direct views upon the award winning Gateshead Millennium Bridge and 6 of the other bridges that connect thriving Newcastle Quayside with the cultural Gateshead Quays across the river.
Next to historic buildings turned into cafés you will also find many modern venues and a multitude of terraces here. Further along the south bank on the Gateshead sided the Sage Gateshead dominates the view with its futuristic design. Used both as a live music venue and a centre for music education, with 3 theaters and the best acoustics in town.
5. Dine and drink the night away
There are a multitude of restaurant options in Newcastle for everyone and Newcastle Gateshead’s nightlife even won awards with a big offering from traditional pubs, glamorous bars to contemporary nightclubs, here below some of my favourites.
History and heritage is found everywhere in Newcastle Gateshead, but a meal in a 13th century medieval friary is certainly unique at:
This restaurant is recognised by food critics across the UK, having been awarded ‘Best restaurant in Newcastle’ by The Observer and Metro Newspaper. The dining room itself was built in 1239, and originally part of the former monastery of the Blackfriar Monks.
Pleased to Meet You
A stylish gin bar and restaurant in one of Newcastle’s most historic buildings, offering over 50 types of gin next to a multitude of beers and cocktails.
The city’s most talked about venue at the moment. Its inventive décor has a definite Wow factor, and with its top quality cocktails and eclectic food menu it’s a favourite for tourists and hipsters alike.
The Herb Garden
One of the latest hipster restaurants of Newcastle with excellent organic food and the best pizza’s in town, prepared in their very own stonebake pizza oven.
6. Shop till you drop
Next to fine dining and clubbing, Newcastle is certainly the place to be for shopping as well! As I am generally not a mall shopper I preferred the historic outlook and original shops in the Central Arcade Mall. This unique building dates back from 1837 and the architectural details inside are a marvel already.
But the original Fenwick department store has a unique history as well and can be found in the heart of the city with entrances within Eldon Square and on Northumberland Street.
I you do like malls, UK’s largest city centre mall Eldon Square is the place to be, while Gateshead’s Metrocentre is Europe’s largest shopping centre.
7. Go bridge hunting
Newcastle is unique for many things but the fact that it has 7 different bridges makes it really amazing! The city was built around the river Tyne where the city’s commerce originated and bridges were highly needed for business connections.
A stroll along the banks of the river while taking in the impressive sight of the various bridges connecting Newcastle upon Tyne and Gateshead is a real pleasure.
Each of them have different functions and are unique, 3 of which even the first bridge types in their kind.
The Gateshead Millennium Bridge for example is the world’s first and only tilting bridge. Often referred to as the winking bridge, it tilts to let river traffic pass beneath and goes up to form an arch which looks very much like the opening and closing of a giant eyelid.
8. Cycle around the city
We were blessed with sunny weather and had so much fun cycling along the banks of the river Tyne up and down Newcastle and its surrounding countryside. We rented our bikes at the Cycle Hub, a bike friendly independent café at the end of Newcastle’s quayside with quick links to cycle paths along the river.
You can follow cycle path 72 leading you past the banks of the river Tyne around Hadrian’s Way into the country side. You can also cross the river to cycle back via the Gateshead side with great views towards Newcastle upon Tyne!
Explore the coast line and the Northumberland country side
Venturing out the city centre towards the stunning North East coastline in Tynemouth is highly recommended as well. Explore the beautiful beaches and picturesque coastal towns, but it’s also a great starting point to explore the Roman remains of Hadrian’s wall. More about this in my next blog.
Until then enjoy some more pictures of beautiful Newcastle Gateshead:
I hope I was able to inspire you to visit this unique European city as well. I found the people here really friendly and laid-back, the city is not that crowded, yet buzzing, it’s less than 3 hours by train from London, 1.30 hours from Edinburgh Scotland and can easily be reached by plane or boat from several countries.
For more pictures of this thriving city, its surroundings and daily inspiration make sure to follow me on social media as well:
If you’re planning to visit north east England and need more tips feel free to contact me by mail at:
And to book a cruise to Newcastle from Holland go to: DFDS Seaways Dutch website
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