Newcastle is the city of seven bridges and the party capital of North England. This bustling city has been voted as the third best nightlife destination in Europe. It has its historic Grainger Town, an amazing waterfront, a Chinatown, a medieval castle and above all, Hadrian’s Wall Path – a UNESCO World Heritage site – runs through this city. Not only that, some of the best beaches in the country are also not too far from Newcastle. The local accent, Geordie is believed to be the sweetest of the British accents and so are the people.
Plus, If you are a fit runner, you can participate in the Great North Run – the largest half marathon in the world which takes place here in September every year. With so many things to do and see, you could easily spend a few days (even a week) in Newcastle.
We whizzed past this city so many times living in Edinburgh and to be honest, always underrated this city. And then, when we finally visited, we were utterly surprised and realised how wrong we were. The irony is Newcastle is now one of our favourite cities in the UK. Here is our guide to 30 amazing things to do in this bustling city:
🇬🇧 30 Best Things to do in Newcastle, England
1. Tyne Bridge - an Icon of Newcastle
Built in 1928, Tyne Bridge is the most famous of all the bridges over River Tyne. This Green arch shaped bridge is sort of a symbol of Newcastle which connects this city with its neighbouring town, Gateshead. The structure is simply fantabulous! This iconic bridge is also believed to be the inspiration for Sydney Harbour Bridge in Australia which was built using the same design.
This Grade II listed bridge is home to about 700 pairs of black-legged Kittiwakes. From the footpath over the bridge, you would get a spectacular view of the other bridges over Rive Tyne and the Quayside.
2. Newcastle Castle - a medieval fort at the heart of the city
Newcastle Castle is certainly one of the top tourist attractions in the city. The current remains of this Norman fortress were built in the 12th century on the site of a motte and bailey castle, called New Castle – after which the city is named. Visit the castle, explore the Black Gate and the Keep (dungeon) and meet the intriguing characters of the past.
Plus, you would get a breath-taking panoramic cityscape from the top of the castle. Entrance fees to the Castle is £8.75 for adults. They host a range of events like film nights, theatres, musical performances which you can enjoy within the walls of this historic castle.
3. Gateshead Millennium Bridge
The newest of all the bridges in Newcastle, Gateshead Millennium Bridge is a tilting bridge for pedestrians and cyclists. Opened to the public in 2001, this arch shaped engineering marvel is the world’s first tilting bridge. The bridge rotates about 40 degree to allow the river traffics to pass under it. The whole tilting time is about 4 and half minutes. That’s really an interesting event. Check out the Gateshead Council website for the tilting schedules.
4. Angel of the North, Gateshead
Located just about 6.5 miles from the city centre, Angel of the North is one of the iconic things that represent North East England. This impressive 65 ft angel of steel has been welcoming visitors to the Newcastle and Gateshead spreading its wings since 1998. This is possibly the largest angel structure in the world. If you are coming here by public transport, take the Bus Angel 21 from Eldon Square.
5. Newcastle Quayside
Quayside is definitely one of the top tourist attractions in Newcastle. This vibrant stretch on the bank of the River Tyne always bustles with restaurants and pubs. Take a ramble along the quayside and enjoy stunning views of the Seven Bridges. At the end of the Quayside, lies the Free Trade Inn. A great spot to grab a pint and enjoy a breath-taking view of all the bridges.
If you are visiting Newcastle at weekends, come to the Quayside market on Sunday morning for some tasty treats from many different cuisines. Plus, there are plenty of stalls selling antique crafts, local produces, second-hand books, even telling fortunes. You will certainly be amused.
6. Beamish, the Living Museum of the North
Located halfway between Newcastle and Durham, Beamish is a 350 acre open-air museum where you can time travel to the Victorian and Edwardian eras of North East England. It’s like you are in the set of a period drama. Hop on to the vintage bus (free service – included in the ticket) and explore different sections of the museum. You can also shop and taste many nostalgias of the past like Victorian lemonade, Rowntree’s chocolates, bakeries made with Edwardian recipes. Truly a gem of North East England, this Living Museum of the North is a perfect package of entertainment and education for all ages.
Beamish is just about 20 minutes’ drive from Newcastle. There are frequent public bus services as well from the city centre. Entry to the museum is £19.50 per adult which includes your yearly pass. You can visit the museum as many times as you want in a year without paying anything extra.
7. Grainger Town - Historic Heart of Newcastle
Grainger Town lies at the nucleus of Newcastle. It’s named after Richard Grainger who is credited to have reshaped this city in neoclassical style in the 19th century. Most of the buildings in the Grainger Town are now of historical importance.
Take a ramble along the Grey Street – considered the centrepiece of the Grainger town and admire the grand facades of Theatre Royal, Grainger Market and Grey’s Monument.
8. Grey’s Monument
Located at the head of Grey Street, Grey’s Monument is one of top landmarks in Newcastle. This 134 ft column was built to commemorate Charles Grey, a British Prime minister from the nearby village, Howick. He led the nation from 1830 to 1834 and during his tenure, the Great Reform Act of 1832 was passed which revolutionised Britain’s electoral system. Also, the famous Earl Grey Tea was named after him.
You can climb up to the top of this monument which dominates the city skyline. The ticket price is £5 per adult.
9. High Level Bridge
Oldest of the seven bridges on River Tyne in Newcastle, High Level Bridge was built in mid-19th century. This Grade I listed bridge has double-deck structure – the upper one is for the trains and the lower one is for the one-way traffic to the Gateshead.
The arches and suspensions on the sheltered footpath are quite photogenic. Plus, you would get some of the best views of the seven bridges as you walk over this bridge from one end to the other.
10. Tynemouth Priory and Castle
Located at Tynemouth, about 10 miles northeast of Newcastle, Tynemouth Priory and Castle is one of the top tourist attractions in North East England. Visit the ruins of the 7th-century priory and discover the riveting history of Viking raids. The historic castle was one of the largest fortifications of medieval England. Not only the history, you would also get a stunning open view of the North Sea and the coastline.
If you are coming here by public transport, take the Yellow Line metro from Newcastle and it would take about 35 minutes. Entrance fees to the Priory and Castle is £7.60 per adults. After visiting the caste, if you are hungry, pop into the Riley’s Fish Shack, a deckchair fish bar on the King’s Edwards Bay at the foot of the castle.
11. Longsands Beach - A perfect Beach Destination near Newcastle
After visiting the Tynemouth Priory and castle, if you fancy a dip in the North Sea, head towards the nearby Longsands Beach. This award-winning beach of gold sand is a great spot to soak up the sun and enjoy a swim. It’s one of the best beaches of the northeast coast of England and extremely popular with the locals and surfers. Here, you can sign up for surfing lessons as well if you are into water sports.
12. Whitley Bay Beach & St Mary’s Lighthouse
Whitley Bay Beach is another award-winning beach near Newcastle. stretching from Whitley Bay to St Mary’s Lighthouse – a Victorian lighthouse that can be accessed via a causeway. This 2-mile-long dog-friendly beach is a great spot for a beach day out. The cornerstone of Whitley Bay is the Spanish City, a white dome-shaped leisure centre.
Whitley Bay has recently been voted as one of the coolest places to live in the UK. So, if you are planning to relocate to the North East, this is the place for you.
13. Tynemouth Market
Tynemouth Metro station is home to a bustling market on Saturday and Sunday every week. This Victorian style building hosts over 150 stalls offering an array of artisan crafts, vintage clothes, jewellery, locally sourced produces and many more eye-catching items. A great place to bag some bargains and enjoy yummy street foods.
14. Newcastle cathedral
The Cathedral Church of St Nicholas is one of the most historic landmarks in Newcastle. The current church was rebuilt in the mid-14th century after the original parish church was destroyed by fire in early 13th century. This lantern-spired church is named after St Nicholas, the patron saint of the sailors.
Pop into this church and enjoy its beautiful interiors adorned with finest stained glasses most notably a roundel of the Madonna feeding the Christ Child.
15. BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art
Located on the south bank of River Tyne, BALTIC Centre for contemporary Art is a totally one of the top attractions in Newcastle. This former flour mill hosts a great range of interesting exhibits all through the year and they are free to explore. Plus, from the Viewing box at Level 5, the view over to the Quayside and the Millennium bridge is absolutely breath taking. They have a rooftop restaurant as well at Level 6 to enjoy a nice meal with the view.
16. Great North Museum: Hancock
The Great North Museum: Hancock is one of the must-see attractions in Newcastle. A short walk from Haymarket Bus Station, this museum has a vast collection of artifacts spanning across natural history, archaeology and world cultures.
Highlight of your visit would be Hadrian’s Wall gallery on the ground floor which shows many historic objects and tells fascinating stories about 73-mile long stretch of Hadrian’s wall, built in AD 122. There are many interesting exhibits in the Ancient Egyptians, Natural Northumbria and World Cultures Galleries as well.
This museum is part of Newcastle University. It’s open daily and free to visit.
17. Sage Gateshead
Located on the South bank of Tyne in Gateshead, Sage Gateshead is a renowned music and concert venue of the North East. This glass building is home to Royal Northern Sinfonia, a local orchestra of international fame. Opened in 2004, Sage hosts more than 400 gigs and concerts every year. If you are in for some live music, check out their website and buy a ticket in advance.
18. Laing Art Gallery
Located at the heart of Newcastle, Laing Art Gallery houses a great range of collections from watercolour painting to contemporary arts, ceramics to Newcastle Silver. Built in 1901, this gallery is a great place to learn and admire local arts which include Maling Pottery and glassworks. You would find some of the finest works of Thomas Bewick and John Martin – two of the greatest artists of North East England. The gallery runs a number of exhibits throughout the year. Entree is free to this family-friendly gallery except for some of the events.
19. Swing Bridge
Built in 1876 on River Tyne, Swing Bridge was the largest bridge of its kind when it was opened. This superb swing structure was designed to allow larger vessels on River Tyne to pass. This Grade II listed bridge is a heritage landmark of Newcastle. Once in constant use, now this bridge opens only four times a week.
20. Central Arcade
Located at the heart of historic Grainger Town of Newcastle, Central Arcade is an elegant Edwardian shopping arcade. This arcade is home to JG Windows, one of the oldest music stores in the UK which has a wide range of musical instruments. Pop into the arcade and explore its glass barrel-vaulted ceilings, mosaic floors and stunning tileworks. Shopping in this early 20th Century building is certainly a rare experience.
21. Newcastle Theatre Royal
One of the finest theatres in the UK, Theatre Royal on Grey Street first opened its door to the public in 1837 with the performance of The Merchant of Venice. Since then, over the past two centuries, many artists of the UK and international fame have performed here including Sir Henry Irving, Dame Judi Dench, Orson Welles, Charlton Heston. Today, this historic theatre hosts about 400 shows every year. They run guided tours throughout the year. Advance online booking is recommended.
22. Hadrian’s Wall- Excellent day out from Newcastle
Hadrian’s Wall is a UNESCO World Heritage site – a must-visit place while you are in northern England. This 73-mile long Roman fortification was built around AD 122 during the reign of Roman Emperor, Hadrian stretching from Wallsend (about 4 miles east of Newcastle) to Bowness-on-Solway on the northwest coast of England. Some key landmarks on this vast stretch include Segedunum, Housesteads Roman Fort & Museum, Roman Army Museum, Corbridge Roman Town, Roman Vindolanda and the iconic Sycamore Gap. If would like to walk the entire stretch, it would take around 10 days depending on your fitness level. The most popular part of Hadrian’s Wall is from Hexham to Haltwhistle which would take about 5 – 6 hours to walk. Hexham is about 45 minutes from Newcastle by train.
23. Amazing Nightlife - Best Party Town in North England
Newcastle is the party capital of North England. It has been voted the third best nightlife destination in Europe and seventh in the world. Most of the popular pubs and nightclubs are dotted around the Quayside. People from nearby towns and villages flock here at the weekend just to party. Even you would see some party buses parked at the weekend. Not just the regular raves, this city is also a popular place for Stag and Hen Do. So, pack our party dresses when you are coming to Newcastle.
24. Life Science Centre
Located on Times Square near the Newcastle Central train station, Life Science Centre is a science village. Opened in 2001 primarily to promote Life Science in North East, Life should go on your itinerary particularly if you are visiting here with your kids. They host loads of interactive exhibits, live experiments and educational workshops. Plus, they have the largest planetarium in North England. Highlight of your visit would definitely be the 4D Motion Ride.
25. St Mary’s Cathedral & All Saints’ Church
Located on Clayton Street, St Mary’s Cathedral lies very close to Newcastle Train Station. This mid-19th century cathedral was built by famous Victorian architect, Augustus Welby Pugin who also designed the Palace of Westminster. This cathedral with needle spires is now a Grade I listed building.
Built in late 18th century, All Saints Church in Quayside is the only elliptical church building in England.
26. Gateway of Northumberland - Easy Day trip from Newcastle
Historically, Newcastle was part of Northumberland until 1974 when metropolitan county Tyne and Wear was created. Now, this city is considered the southern gateway of Northumberland. Within an hour’s distance from Newcastle, lies some of the famous attractions of Northumberland:
Bamburgh – Bamburgh was the ancient capital of the Kingdom of Bernicia, which comprised of present-day Northumberland and a few neighbouring counties. This historic town is home to imposing Bamburgh Castle and Bamburgh Beach which boasts of having a sweeping, sandy bay with impressive sand dunes. If you are a fan of the Netflix series, The Last Kingdom, this is your must-visit place.
Alnwick Castle – UK’s second largest inhabited castle, super famous for the feature on Harry Potter films as Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
The Holy Island, Lindisfarne – This tidal island is the sacred heart of Northumbria. Only accessible in low tide, this is one of the earliest establishments of Christianity in the UK. Also, Lindisfarne has huge significance in terms of the Viking Raid in Britain.
Farne Islands – A famous wildlife Colony (especially puffins and grey seals) off the coast of Northumberland.
27. Newcastle Chinatown
Newcastle is one of the five cities in England with a Chinatown. This city’s Chinatown lies at Stowell street in the historic Grainger Town with a traditional Chinese arch to the northern entrance. The entire area is lined up with authentic Chinese restaurants, paintings of dragons, hanging Chinese calligraphy, karaoke bars. So, overall a really nice place for some Asian treats. If you are visiting Newcastle in February, this is a must-visit place when the Chinese New Year celebration takes place.
28. St Thomas Newcastle Church
One of the iconic landmarks in Newcastle, the Church of St Thomas the Martyr is located very close to the Haymarket Bus Station. The present church was built between 1827 and 1830 by famous architect John Dobson, who built many historic buildings in Newcastle. This is a Grade II listed building.
29. Morden Tower
Built in 1290, Morden Tower is one of the five remaining turrets of historic town wall in Newcastle. After Tom Pickard (a famous poet from Newcastle) and his wife, Connie leased out this tower in 1964, it has become a popular spot for poetry reading and literary meet. Many famous poets have read here including Allen Ginsberg, Seamus Heaney, Ted Hughes, Basil Bunting. If you are keen about poetry, you will have to be here.
30. Durham - An Epic day trip destination from Newcastle
From Newcastle, the Cathedral city of Durham is about half an hour by car and just 15 minutes by train. Durham is most famous for its historic cathedral which is the burial place of St Cuthbert. This Norman architecture Cathedral and the adjoining castle are a UNESCO World Heritage site. Durham offers many fun activities as well – you can row on the River Wear and admire the city landmarks, you can walk along the river or pop into the full moon market. So, Durham is a great choice to extend your trip by a couple of days.
Getting in and around Newcastle:
By Train: Newcastle is well-connected by train with most of the big cities in the UK. It takes about 1.5 hours from Edinburgh and 3 hours from London to reach here by train.
Getting around the City: You can walk to most of the attractions in the city. However, You would need to take the bus from Eldon Square for visiting some of the attractions which lie outside the city:
- Angel of the North – Bus Angel 21
- Beamish – Bus 28 or 28A
- For visiting Tynemouth, Longsands Beach, Whitley Bay, take the Yellow Line Metro from Central station or Monument metro station.
Planing a Trip to England?
For further reading on other ENGLAND destinations:
Peak District | How to Spend 4 days in Peak District – 14 Top Things to do
Haworth, West Yorkshire | 12 Most Awesome Things To Do in Haworth
Hadrian’s Wall| How to Spend a Day in Hadrian’s Wall – 11 Top Things to Do
Where to Stay in Newcastle:
Newcastle and its neighbouring town, Gateshead across the River Tyne have plenty of hotels, B&Bs and hostels. Accommodation is not too pricey here compared to other big cities in England.
Where to Eat in Newcastle:
This city has an amazing food and pub scene. There are loads of restaurants and pubs dotted around Quayside and the city centre. A few of our recommendations:
- The Botanist near the Eldon Square
- Blackfriars Restaurants – believed to be the oldest in Britain
- The Stack – Street food paradise with plenty of options from Italian to Asian