Newcastle: Vibrant attractions and bucketloads of character

A city with vibrant attractions and bucketloads of character, Newcastle upon Tyne is a great place to visit. It’s got the lot – top-class venues, buzzing nightlife and the legendary Geordie charm that’ll make any visitor feel welcome. 

Here’s our guide to some of the best things to see and do in Newcastle, from the latest events and festivals to tips on where to head for a spot of retail therapy – along with a few hidden gems you might not have heard of.

Things to see and do in Newcastle

You can’t fail to spot the iconic TyneBridge, a symbol of the city’s rich industrial heritage. It’s one of seven bridges that cross the river, and links Newcastle with Gateshead.

Gateshead has its own fair share of impressive – albeit more modern – buildings. The Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, sited in a former flour mill, looms large on the south bank of the Tyne. A little along the river is world-class music venue the Sage Gateshead. Upcoming performances include Britain’s Got Talent winner Paul Potts on October 27, Neil Sedaka on October 29 and Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem on November 8.

Back in Newcastle, the Castle Keep, which was built during the reign of Henry II, is said to be one of the finest surviving examples of a Norman keep in the country. It’s a bit of a climb to the top but well worth the effort, thanks to the stunning views across the city.

Shopping in Newcastle

Shopaholics will adore Newcastle, with its scintillating mix of modern malls, designer brands, high street favourites and independent stores.

In the heart of the city you’ll find Eldon Square shopping centre, where the big stores such as John Lewis and Debenhams reside. There’s also Fenwick department store – be sure not to miss its amazing food hall.

Newcastle also has several markets. One of the most popular is Grainger Market, which sells fresh local produce and features what is perhaps the world’s smallest M&S.

To pick up a vintage or handmade bargain, head to the High Bridge Quarter, which is adorned with cool boutiques, music shops and eateries.

If you’re looking for an unusual Christmas present, you might strike gold at UpSide Down Presents on the Quayside. It’s a new and quirky gift shop that stocks everything from artwork to dog collars. 


Food and drink in Newcastle

You certainly won’t be short of places to go for a bite to eat in Newcastle. From budget restaurants and cosy cafes to buzzing bistros and haute cuisine, there’s something for everyone.

Pani’s Café near the Theatre Royal serves some of the best Italian dishes in Newcastle, and is just the place to recharge your batteries after a marathon shopping session. The menu includes dishes that you won’t find anywhere else in the city – and it’s great value for money, too.

It’d be a shame to leave Newcastle without sampling its famous brown ale, which you’ll find in many of the city’s bars, including The Town Wall, which is directly opposite the station.

Newcastle’s nightlife is legendary, so glam up for a night on the tiles if you get the chance. Try swanky gin bar Pleased to Meet You, which stocks more than 50 varieties of gin, or The Living Room, a stylish piano bar and restaurant on Grey Street. 

Hidden Newcastle

Here are three places in Newcastle you might not be aware of…

Flat Caps Coffee is hidden below Elula in the centre of Newcastle. It offers some of the best coffee in Newcastle and was named as one of the coolest coffee shops in the UK by ShortList.

Vane is a contemporary art gallery situated on the first floor of Commercial Union House, which showcases the work of both international and UK artists. It’s open to the public Wednesday to Saturday, so head here to pick up an original work of art.

Victoria Tunnel is one of the best attractions in Newcastle, hidden or not. It’s a preserved 19th century waggonway that was built to transport coal, and was also used as a wartime air raid shelter. It runs beneath the city, and the sound and visual effects make it a fabulous experience – just look at its top rating on TripAdvisor.

Enjoy your stay in Newcastle.