Steeped in a rich industrial history of shipbuilding, the city of Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK, has undergone a facelift in recent years. Now a top destination for the finer things in life, Newcastle is a hub of premium restaurants, specialist bars and vibrant nightclubs. Art galleries, cinemas and museums further contribute to a fantastic, family-friendly destination saturated in culture.
The locals of the city, lovingly known as “Geordies”, ‘embody the pride, industriousness and resilient spirit of their city’ – and are often cited as the reason that the location is truly a special place to visit. While the weather is notoriously unpredictable in northern England, nothing dulls the resilient nature of the city.
Newcastle is famous for its bridges. Situated alongside the north bank of the River Tyne in the North East of England, Newcastle is united to its twin city, Gateshead, by seven bridges; the most famous of which being the Tyne Bridge and the Millennium Bridge (pictured). They’re as iconic as the Geordies themselves and are an impressive sight for first time visitors, particularly on an evening. A walk alongside the quayside offers the best view of our city from the edge of the River Tyne.
Whilst the amenities of Newcastle are certainly attractive, the city itself offers so much more. Established on classical streets built by Richard Grainger, a builder and developer, the heart of Newcastle city centre is undoubtedly the Grainger Town area.
Between 1835 and 1842, some of Newcastle upon Tyne’s most impressive buildings and streets lie within this area, including Grainger Market, the Theatre Royal and Grey Street. The architecture of this area is truly breath-taking everywhere you walk – you need only to look up from the street level to appreciate another dimension of this Northern city.
Typically, Newcastle is considered a weekend destination; the city is abundant with things to see and do, much like your average city, during a short break. From the Laing Art Gallery, The Great North Museum and the Tyneside Cinema, there is plenty to satisfy the art-lovers among you, as well as offering plenty of fascinating exhibitions that further demonstrate a partnership between local and international culture. Despite our hardened exterior, Geordies are rather artistic, you’ll find, as many of the art on show is created locally.
For sports fans, there is Newcastle United’s football ground, St. James’ Park, based right amidst the city. You’ll certainly know when the team are playing as the electric atmosphere, plus the crowd’s cheers, echo around the streets. Alternatively, for appreciators of history, there is the Newcastle castle – ‘the gateway to Old Newcastle’, St. Nicholas’ Cathedral and Grey’s Monument to explore.
NatGeo‘s ‘Perfect day in Newcastle’:
■ 9am: To the Baltic for cutting-edge visual arts, then across Gateshead Millennium Bridge for a walk into the Ouseburn Valley to see, and possibly buy, local arts and crafts at cool, contemporary gallery The Biscuit Factory.
■ 12pm: Walk the Ouseburn Trail to leafy Jesmond Dene. Lunch at Jesmond Dene House or in nearby Jesmond village, at one of the laid-back cafes around Acorn Road.
■ 2pm: Take the Metro 20 minutes out to Tynemouth for a walk on the beach, a surf lesson or a stroll around the pretty Victorian high street.
■ 5pm: Catch the Metro into town, then out for dinner at The Broad Chare before seeing a show at the Sage.
■ 10pm: A gig at The Cluny or The Cumberland Arms, then drinks at the bars in grand Victorian buildings in and around the railway station.
After you’ve spent the day admiring our fair city’s attractions, you’ll need some refreshments. There are a particularly diverse range of eateries in Newcastle – everything from steakhouses, New York style brasseries and even a restaurant inside a reformed 13th century friary! I’d urge you to check out: George’s Great British Kitchen, Miller & Carter, Blackfriars, Babucho and, my personal favourite, Zapatista Burrito Bar.
Of course, Newcastle is also infamous for its nightlife. If you’re looking for the best spots to have a drink with your travelling companions, there are a number of venues that I would highly recommend: Pitcher & Piano, Barluga, Brew Dog, The Botanist and Pleased to Meet You.
For me, what really makes Newcastle special is the feeling of home, even though you’re in the middle of a bustling city. Although I don’t live in Newcastle, just a few miles away, whenever I’m coming home from a long trip, Newcastle gives me that feeling of comfort. If I’ve been on a trip abroad, as soon as that train pulls into Newcastle Central Station, I feel that reassurance.
Newcastle upon Tyne is quite unlike any other place in the world. It is a city where old meets new – the historic architecture melds with the technological advancements of the 21st century in a striking way. It’s a home away from home.
“Elegant is not a word many people associate with Newcastle. Urban? Yes. Dynamic? Possibly. But elegant? Hmm. Yet this word keeps springing to mind as I walk from the quayside into the central district of Grainger Town.” National Geographic Traveller
Newcastle Upon Tyne has plenty to offer. With plenty to tempt you to my hometown, why not consider visiting the North East for your weekend away?
You won’t regret it.
Thanks for reading.
If you like Film, TV and Games why not check out my blog, The Raving Gecko?
My thanks to Mohamad Al Karbi for this guest post.