Here are some of our must-sees and dos when you are out and about in Newcastle and Durham.
- You can easily spend a day at Newcastle Quayside. One of our favourite things to do is to take a loop walk across the Millennium Bridge – if you time it right you can see it be raised to let ships pass. During the walk, pop into the Baltic Art Gallery and then cross Millennium Square to walk through the Sage Opera House where you can stop for a drink in its foyer and take in the views before heading along the Tyne and crossing the Swing bridge back to where you started.
- Tyneside Cinema. A fantastic independent cinema where the seats are comfy and you’ll catch both mainstream and arthouse movies.
- Shopping: It’s got to be Grainger market for great seafood, fruits, vegetables and meats. Plus, the wonderful French Oven with its gorgeous croissants. For clothes hit the Eldon Square Shopping Centre for all your high street favourites and High Bridge street for more urbanwear.
- Newcastle is world famous for its nightlife, but if clubbing isn’t for you there is still lots of fun to be had. Try catching some of the many great performances at the Theatre Royal or the Sage Gateshead or try any of the numerous restaurants on offer, including fantastic Indian street food at Dabbawal, authentic Cantonese food in Newcastle’s Chinatown or head a little out of the city to Jesmond Dene House or Peace and Loaf for a fine dining experience. If it’s a view you’re after then Six at the Baltic delivers this in spades.
- Newcastle has some great free museums and the Discovery Museum is probably one of the best. Here you can take a walk through history, get hands on with scientific inventions and discover Newcastle’s shipping heritage. If science is your thing then the Centre for Life has been home to some fantastic exhibitions over the past years including dinosaur animatronics from Walking with Dinosaurs, Wallace and Gromit’s World of Inventions and Lego.
- Seven Stories museum of children’s literature is a must see. The only one of its kind in the UK it is literally seven storeys of exhibitions centred around particular authors. Previous exhibitions include Judith Kerr’s The Tiger who Came to Tea where children could interact with the story through recreated scenes from the book, Enid Blyton and Julia Donaldson’s The Gruffalo and other stories.
- Head to the coast for fantastic fish and chips at Tynemouth or Whitley Bay’s recently restored Spanish city. There’s traditional seaside fun to be had at the crazy golf, beach volleyball championships, surfing lessons and if you’re feeling energetic you can walk up the coast to the fantastic St Mary’s Lighthouse – just make sure you had back to shore before the tide comes in.
- Climb to the top of Earl Grey’s Monument. Open to the public at certain times during the year (check the newcastlegateshead.com website for dates) this structure, which requires visitors to climb 164 steps to the top, was built to commemorate Earl Grey – of the tea fame – who was Prime Minister at the time of the passing of the Great Reform Bill 1832.
- Take a trip underground in the 19th Century Victoria Tunnel – a fully preserved waggonway under the city, which was used to transport coal to the River Tyne and was converted into an air raid shelter during World War II.
- Visit the castle of Newcastle’s namesake and learn about the city’s turbulent past, as well as taking in some fantastic views of across the Toon.
- Whether you’re taking part or just cheering someone along, the Great North Run crossing Newcastle’s iconic Tyne Bridge is definitely a must see/do. It is the second largest half marathon in the world and attracts international runners as well as participants from across the UK.
- Spend a day in the city of Durham visiting the Cathedral and Castle – a World Heritage Site – and taking in the city’s beautiful architecture on a cruise along the River Wear.
- Step back in time and visit the Living Museum of the North – Beamish. Sample some Victorian sweets in the village shop, take a ride on one of the trams or steam trains or journey down the mine. This is a great place for the whole family showing life how it was in the Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian periods. It is particularly special at Christmas and they also run various special events throughout the year from May Pole Dancing to classic car days.
- You can see Anthony Gormley’s Angel of the North as you descend the A1 into Newcastle. It is also worth stopping off at this iconic sculpture to see its enormity up close.