Newcastle might be best known as a popular spot for partygoers, but there’s a lot to love about this
Northern gem aside from its busy nightlife. Look a little deeper and you’ll discover a city bustling with fantastic food, culture and friendly people who are more than happy to tell you about their hometown.
A hop, skip and a 30-minute train ride away from the coast, it is also the ideal spot for those who want to enjoy both the comforts of the city and the serenity of nature.
Whatever your holiday goal, the Geordies will deliver. Here’s our itinerary of the best things to do on a short trip to Newcastle.
Drop your bags and let’s go
Wine connoisseurs will love Hotel du Vin, but this elegant hotel isn’t just for those who like a large glass of red. With rooms available for under £100, this is a perfect option for those after a luxurious stay that won’t break the bank.
Guests will notice a maritime theme throughout, including ship ropes in the courtyard and porthole windows in some rooms, alongside various other knick-knacks. As one would expect, there is a bar and bistro, as well as an expansive wine cellar where the team keeps all the grape goodness.
Have a glass of vino before you set out or simply drop the bags and go. Your next stop is around the corner.
Brunch first, always
Any city break is best begun on a full stomach and there’s no better place to tantalise those taste buds than at the Cook House. Open Wednesday through Sunday, the restaurant offers casual dining designed to make you feel at home.
Like many places in Newcastle, it was originally housed inside a converted container but has since moved to a new location with a dining terrace and garden, its own shop, and plans for a rooftop bee house.
The seasonal menu changes on a regular basis, but expect brunch favourites with a luxurious spin from 10am to noon, such as the whipped feta on toasted sourdough with blood orange, walnuts and mint. Or get down and dirty with a bacon sandwich. At lunch, dine on scrumptious dishes such as tempura cauliflower with coconut curry sauce (it’s vegan) and oyster mushrooms on toast with dill and truffle oil. The restaurant prides itself on being as sustainable as possible and using local ingredients, so you can feel good about your food too.
Address: Foundry Lane Studios, Foundry Ln, NE6 1LH
Telephone Number: 0191 276 1093
Time to smash some stuff
After brunch in Ouseburn, take a scenic walk along the river and you’ll soon hit Benwell, where you can find Smash Space UK.
The colourful and creative space has three different activities to choose from: the rage room (where you smash up things like glass bottles, plates, and mugs), the art space (like paintball but on walls), and themed escape rooms. Choose between being a spy or a tomb raider.
Although the concept might sound somewhat violent, the rooms are intended as anything but; the intention is actually to help people release pent-up anger or stress in a safe environment. And to have a bit of fun while breaking a bunch of junk, of course. Book in advance to avoid disappointment and let your inner child break free.
Address: 58-60 Scotswood, NE4 7JE
Telephone Number: 07538212665
Cuddle some cats and go kayaking on the River Tyne
If you’ve still got some energy left over, head back to the Quayside. Take a detour past Newcastle Castle – it’s on the way. Then, grab a coffee from the CatPawCino Cat Café, home to eight felines who will happily let you spoil them before you embark on your next adventure: kayaking on the River Tyne.
With stunning bridges and an eclectic mix of old and new buildings, Newcastle is a city best enjoyed from the water. On this award-winning tour you’ll get a taste of the city’s history as well as seeing how the Toon has transformed over the years. Run by CBK Adventures, this tour is a real must.
If you prefer to travel on foot, a good alternative is the Newcastle History Tour.
Address: 1A Norma Crescent, Whitley Bay, NE26 2PD
Telephone Number: 0191 251 9412
While away an afternoon at the market
After all that activity, treat yourself to a mellow afternoon. Originally opened back in 1835, Grainger Market is now a mecca of 100 independent shops and eateries where you can pick up some ’90s vintage fashion at Analog, lose yourself in a good book at family-run Newcastle Book Exchange, or simply move from stall to stall, enjoying the craft, kitsch and artisan goods as you go.
A must-visit is Nil Living, a zero-waste refill store for sustainable living that is incredibly popular with locals, selling everything from biodegradable and plant-based detergents to pick-and-mix nuts, organic hair and body-care products, and much more.
Fun fact: Grainger Market also has the oldest Marks & Spencer in the country.
Address: Grainger St, NE1 5QQ
Telephone number: 0191 211 5541
Have a hipster meal by the river before hitting up the clubs
Head back to the hotel and catch a wee kip before going out to dinner at the trendy Träkol by the Quayside.
Träkol, which is featured in the Michelin Restaurant Guide, focuses on “seasonal and ethical cooking” with preservation, dry ageing and cooking over fire at the forefront of its offering. This also means the menu is ever-changing but if its Instagram is anything to go by, expect succulent meats, fresh seafood, and other dishes with the words “heritage” and “cured” thrown in a lot.
The open-fire restaurant is actually one part of a container settlement from the River Brew Co., which also includes a brewery, tap room and cocktail bar. So there’s plenty to do after dinner before hitting up a bar in the city centre, like the popular rooftop joint ABOVE or superclub the Lofts — the biggest nightclub in Newcastle.
Address: Hillgate Quays, Gateshead, NE8 2FD
Telephone Number: 0191 737 1120
Start your day with eggs and cake
Far be it from us to tell you to get out of bed early, but you won’t want to miss breakfast at Olive & Bean. This quirky independent café and deli can be found on Clayton Street, just behind Grainger Market.
It’s walk-ins only so you don’t need to book ahead and the breakfast menu is pretty fantastic, with all the classics including the café’s own twist on a Full English (dubbed the “the Business”) with vegan and vegetarian options, too.
Try our personal favourite: toasted waffles with bacon and maple syrup. Because if you can’t spoil yourself on holiday, when can you?
Address: 17-19 Clayton Street, NE1 5PN
Telephone Number: 0191 233 0990
Take a walk along an (award-winning) beach
Once you’re nice and full, it’s time to take the Metro to the coast because no trip to Newcastle would be complete without swinging by Long Sands Beach. Just make sure to check the weather forecast first.
Grab a coffee from Crusoe’s family-run cafe — found on the south side — before taking a walk along the one-mile golden stretch surrounded by sand dunes. Long Sands is known for its cleanliness, great facilities and excellent water quality, having been granted the Blue Flag, a prestigious eco award.
It’s also a very popular surf spot. There’s a local school on the South Promenade that offers lessons if you fancy giving the waves a go. Or just grab a blanket and enjoy the beautiful scenery.
Top tip: Put aside some time to stroll through the weekend market at Tynemouth station when you arrive.
Address: Grand Parade, NE30 4JF. Take the Metro to either Cullercoats (north side) or Tynemouth station (south side) and walk.
And then… eat some fish
Before you depart the coast and Newcastle, make sure to grab some local grub at Riley’s Fish Shack on King Edward’s Bay. Not only is the food incredible, but the restaurant is also nestled in between the cliffs, with Tynemouth Priory and Castle above. The view from these converted shipping containers isn’t too bad either.
A badly kept local secret, the seasonal fish and seafood are mouthwatering, cooked over a charcoal fire and BBQ. Let’s just say that famed food critic Jay Rayner is a big fan.
Riley’s prides itself on using sustainable ingredients wherever possible, buying from local day boats and suppliers. Minimising the environmental impact of their business is a top priority for owners Adam and Lucy Riley.
As for drinks, there’s an impressive beer selection. We’d recommend ending your stay with warming homemade drinks like hot chocolate, mulled cider and hot butter rum, and get a brownie for the train ride back.
The perfect end to your Geordie adventure.
Address: King Edward’s Bay, NE30 4BY
Telephone Number: 0191 257 1371
Feel good about 2022. Reconnect with your favourite people and places, and find exciting events on an English city break this spring. Find out more on https://www.visitengland.com/escape-the-everyday-city-breaks