In the last couple of years I’ve topped up my tan in Thailand, skied black runs in Bulgaria and Austria, ate my body weight in cheese in the Côte d’Azur, discovered hidden waterfalls in Cyprus and explored the winding streets and waterways of Rome and Venice! I’m very fortunate that I get to travel a lot but I also consider myself very lucky to come home to such a fabulous city!
As much as I love gallivanting across the globe, I can honestly say that Newcastle has just as much to offer as anywhere I have ever been. It seems I’m not the only one that thinks so either, the travel gurus at Rough Guides recently named Newcastle as the ‘Best Place to Visit in the World in 2018’!
People often get in touch for advice on how see the city in just one day and although I would urge any visitor to spend more time here if they can, I usually find myself recommending my favourite places over and over again. So, here they are in one handy blog post…
How to spend the perfect day in Newcastle:
Fuel Up With Breakfast
You’ll need to start the day with a hearty breakfast so you’ve got enough energy for all the exploring you’re about to do. Head for Quilliam Brothers, a quirky teahouse in the beautiful Claremont Buildings near Newcastle University. There are over 60 varieties of tea to choose from and the menu includes favourites like Eggs Benedict and Pancake Stacks.
Other great places for breakfast include Quay Ingredient, a small but perfectly formed coffee house nestled under the Tyne Bridge and Blakes, a cosy, independent café on Grey Street in the heart of the city. All of these are ideal places for bumping in to welcoming locals who will proudly tell you more about this fun and friendly city!
Soak up the Culture on the Quayside
Newcastle is renowned for its vibrant culture and the local calendar is always full of exciting events (be sure to check the listings HERE before you arrive). Regardless of what else is going on though, no visit is complete without a stroll along the iconic quayside where you’ll see many famous landmarks. Take a stroll over the Gateshead Millennium Bridge, the world’s first and only tilting bridge and you’ll come to Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art and The Sage Gateshead, an impressive music venue. Both are well worth a peek inside, not least for their awe-inspiring views.
If you’re visiting on a Sunday be sure to check out the Quayside Market, it lines the street all the way from the Tyne Bridge to the Gateshead Millennium Bridge and is the perfect place to pick up local produce and unique handcrafted souvenirs. There’s some yummy food stalls too.
Grab a Quick Coffee
Newcastle has an abundance of independent coffee shops so you won’t have to look far for a caffeine fix. I suggest you pop in to Laneway Coffee on the cobbled street of High Bridge, their homemade cakes are as tempting as the aroma of their freshly ground coffee. Pumphreys Coffee Centre and Brewing Emporium is also worth a visit, it has a rich local heritage and can be found inside the historic Grainger Market. You can’t go far wrong with Pink Lane Coffee either; they do the most amazing iced lattes.
Visit our Free Museums
You don’t have to spend a lot to experience a lot in Newcastle, our must-see museums are free to enter (although donations are always welcome) and they are full of impressive artefacts and exhibitions. The Great North Museum near Haymarket is devoted to natural history and ancient civilisations while the stunning Discovery Museum is all about getting hands on with Science and local history. I love Laing Art Gallery too, the beautiful vaulted ceilings in this city centre gallery make it a wonderful place to be inspired.
Shop till you Drop
As well as offering an eclectic mix of shops and a unique covered market in the compact city centre, Newcastle is also just a short bus ride from Europe’s biggest indoor shopping centre, intu Metrocentre in Gateshead. Hop on the bus on Blackett Street near Grey’s Monument in the heart of the city and you’ll arrive at the shopping Mecca within minutes. There are hundreds of famous retailers, dozens of amazing places to eat plus a state of the art IMAX cinema.
If you decide to stay in Newcastle city centre then be sure to pop in to the Grainger Market, it’s full of independent traders selling everything from meat and cheese to gifts and homewares. Pet Lamb Patisserie is a cake-lover’s dream and Geordie Gifts sell souvenirs with a touch of local humour.
A Leisurely Lunch
You really are spoilt for choice when it comes to choosing somewhere for lunch, Newcastle city centre is foodie heaven and there are fabulous cafes, bistros and restaurants on every corner! Current favourites include The Herb Garden, a pizza place famous for its eye-catching wall of herbs growing free from pesticides in metal cylinders, Bierrex which will make you drool when you smell the slow cooked meat being prepared in the wood fired smoker and Kafe Neon which is a chilled out Greek bistro with a holiday vibe on the Bigg Market. There really aren’t many eateries I’d tell you to avoid so have fun wandering around the city till you find one you fancy.
Explore the Place that Gave the City Its Name
Yes, of course Newcastle has a castle, where else do you think it got its name from? It’s in the heart of the city too , just a couple of minutes walk from the train station. Newcastle Castle is a fascinating place to learn about the changing face of the city through the ages and you can even venture up on the turrett for yet more breathtaking views of the bustling landscape, there’s the River Tyne in one direction and Newcastle’s third cathedral (St James’ Park Football Stadium!) in the other.
It’s no secret that Newcastle knows how to get the party started, in 2010 it was voted third best city in Europe for nightlife and it’s only got better since then, so as you can imagine, there’s no shortage of places to enjoy a tipple.
The Botanist is a great place to start your evening, they do fabulous cocktails and there’s often live music. I also like Pleased to Meet You on High Bridge, and if you’re a gin lover, so will you! They have over 50 varieties to choose from, along with a tantalising selection of tonics and botanicals so you can create your perfect beverage. Speaking of gin, The Continental is also a favourite bar of mine, it’s small but very sophisticated and the expertly prepared G&T’s are 2 for £10 plus the lovely staff often serve up complimentary tapas dishes alongside the drinks.
Dine in Style
One of Newcastle’s most loved restaurants also happens to be one of the oldest dining houses in the country, Blackfriars is a former refectory of a friary dating from 1239. The setting is unique and charming and the food is classically British, served with modern sophistication. I highly recommend it!
Geordie’s are also rather proud of House of Tides, it has a Michelin star don’t you know! Head chef Kenny Atkinson has created a luxurious dining experience in a Grade 1 listed 16th Century town house and the exquisite tasting menu will send your taste buds in to overdrive! You’ll need to book in advance to avoid disappointment.
Another luxurious restaurant that gets my vote is Jesmond Dene House. This 19th century mansion house turned hotel sits within the tranquil woodland area of Jesmond Dene and is renowned for offering one of the most exquisite dining experiences in Newcastle. You can read my review of their famous tasting menu HERE.
Dance the Night Away
Be sure to pack your dancing shoes because you won’t want to miss the chance to paint the Toon red! Head to Livello or Bonbar for lavish cocktails in a chic and stylish setting or strut your stuff on the dancefloor in World Headquarters it’s probably one of the friendliest nightclubs you could ever stumble in to. There’s also Hoochie Coochie, a luxury lounge bar which has a strict door and music policy to ensure it only attracts those who really appreciate good music. Previous live acts have included Jocelyn Brown and The Brand New Heavies, Superstar DJ’s like Dimitri from Paris often play here too, if they don’t get you dancing then no one will!
See a Show or Head to Tyneside Cinema
For a more chilled out evening you could always visit one of our many world-class theatres instead of the bars and clubs. The grandest is without doubt the Theatre Royal on Grey Street but there’s also the more modern Northern Stage, the small but perfectly formed Live Theatre and the impressive Tyne Theatre and Opera House. If that wasn’t enough I also recommend the Tyneside Cinema, a beautiful art-deco cinema showing an eclectic mix of films.
When you’re finally ready to get some beauty sleep, you’ll be glad to know there are 7000 rooms available in Newcastle upon Tyne, from luxury hotel rooms to cheap and cheerful B&B’s and funky hostels. I’ve put together a handy guide to help you find the perfect place to turn in for the night. Check it out HERE.
Hopefully, this itinerary has inspired you visit Newcastle upon Tyne in the not too distant future, but if you still need convincing, here are my top five reasons why I think it should be on your travel wish list…
1. It’s Easy to Get to
Newcastle has an International Airport, a Ferry Terminal and the train journey time from London is less than three hours, so wherever you are in the world, you’ll find an easy route in to the Toon!
2. It Offers Excellent Value for Money
Whenever I leave Newcastle to explore somewhere new I can’t help but compare the cost of things to back home. Whether it’s a pint of lager or a theatre ticket, the prices in Newcastle are often surprisingly low!
3. There’s Always Something Going On
I can honestly say there’s never a bad time to visit Newcastle! In summer you’ll find music festivals, food markets, comedy weekends and pop up cinemas, in winter there’s ice-skating, Christmas markets, free family events and fireworks… I never get bored.
4. The People are Super Friendly
Geordies are renowned for being some of the most friendly people in the world and I can confirm, it’s not a myth. Ask someone for directions and chances are you’ll end up going for a pint together!
5. It’s a Great Base to Explore the Rest of the North East
Newcastle is within easy reach of beautiful beaches along the North East coast, the tranquil countryside of Northumberland National Park and the historic city of Durham… you’ll definitely wish you had more than 24 hours to spend here.