Newcastle is officially the number 1 place to visit in 2018 so I thought I’d share my 10 reasons why you should visit this amazing city this summer.
I admit I am biased, I am a born and bred Geordie and Newcastle is my home town, but seriously if you haven’t visited this magnificent city, make this summer when you rectify this.
If you read my proud Geordie moment as Newcastle named number 1 place to visit in 2018 you’ll know that my home town was named by The Rough Guide 2018 at number one in its published list of the top “18 places that should be on your radar in 2018”.
A key reason highlighted by the Rough Guide to visit Newcastle is a free showpiece event throughout the summer, The Great Exhibition of the North.
The guide describes the family-friendly Great Exhibition as a “two-month jamboree that will tell the story of Northern England and how its artists and innovators have helped shape the world we live in”.
Another reason is our next-door neighbour Gateshead and the combination of assets between the two which have seen 2018 hailed as “Newcastle’s time to shine”.
Here’s my 10 reasons why you should visit Newcastle (and Gateshead) this Summer
1. We’re a canny bunch
There is no doubt in my mind that us Northerners are among the friendliest people on the planet. We Geordies are well known to be a canny bunch! Speak to someone on the Metro, or in a shop or bar and we will always be happy to chat (it’s getting us to shut up that’s the problem)!
Newcastle is one of the friendliest cities and we certainly know how to have a good time. I think we are all proud Geordies because it’s such a special place.
2. Cross one of our seven bridges
When you think of Newcastle upon Tyne, you’ll probably think of the iconic green Tyne Bridge but we actually have seven beautiful bridges linking Newcastle and Gateshead.
The newest bridge on the block is the Gateshead Millennium Bridge which is tilted (blinks) in the summer at noon. It also lights up at night it’s really lovely.
Robert Stephenson designed the High Level Bridge – it was the first in the world to have both rail and vehicle traffic.
The current Swing Bridge was opened in 1876 and still swings open four times a week and this little red and white bridge is my favourite.
3. Take a breather and enjoy the great outdoors
Newcastle has lots of green space right in the heart of the city from Leazes and Exhibition Park to the vast Town Moor which stretches from Gosforth in the north down to the city centre. The Town Moor has been the venue for festivals in the city since the 18th Century and hosts The Hoppings – Britain’s largest travelling fair – every June for around a week.
Blackett Street in Newcastle is being transformed for 10 weekends of the summer – six of those weekends will see the street changed by NE1 from a busy bus route into a pedestrian only, family park and playground – kitted out with artificial grass, seating, fairground rides and large outdoor games. It’s absolutely brilliant!
In Gateshead Saltwell Park has everything a Victorian park should have: majestic formal gardens, wild woodland, a boating lake and maze, as well as more modern stuff – a play park and sports facilities.
4. Let your hair down in one of our many many cool bars and nightclubs
Newcastle is famous for fantastic nightlife and there really is something for everyone.
The Bigg Market is a popular stretch of bars and pubs right in the city centre. But if gaggles of hen dos and heaving venues aren’t your thing, just take a short walk down to the Quayside, a more upmarket drinking spot with pretty river views.
For Quayside views of our fabulous seven bridges, book ahead at the Pitcher and Piano to bag a terrace table when the weather’s nice.
When the sun is shining it’s always lovely to seek out a terrace to soak up the rays. The Botanist at Monument Mall has a lovely one, with twinkly lighting at night. Tokyo cocktail bar has both an indoor and outdoor roof terrace.
Alternatively, take a stroll (or the Metro) to the Jesmond area for bars and restaurants located within just 100 yards of one another. Here you’ll find many outdoor canopied seating areas, making this a choice spot in the summer months.
We also have a buzzing alternative and indie scene. Try Split Chimp under the railway arch, which features a full-size skittle alley and live music gigs. Then there’s Cosmic Ballroom, the 300-capacity rave den in Chinatown with an edgy warehouse feel to it.
Newcastle’s thriving gay scene is consolidated in The Pink Triangle which is between Metro Radio Arena and the Central Station. The area is constantly expanding with exciting new bars and clubs.
5. Shop till you drop
You can really shop till you drop in Newcastle and Gateshead. I definitely did not appreciate the Metro Centre (now the intu Metrocentre) until I moved away. It has hundreds of stores to visit, as well as an IMAX cinema, bowling alley and other children’s play areas. And it’s open 10am until 9pm on weekdays and 9-7pm on Saturday’s and 11-5pm on a Sunday and best of all there’s loads of FREE parking. If you don’t drive you can get quite a few buses from Newcastle or the train – but don’t be misled by the name you can’t get the Metro to the Metro Centre (bonkers I know).
It’s sister venue, intu Eldon Square, is smaller than Metro but still has loads of shops including a John Lewis and Fenwick which aren’t at the Gateshead shopping centre and is right in the centre of town. There’s also fabulous Northumberland Street too and the Grainger Market as well as the market on the Quayside on a Sunday.
My favourite shop has to be the ornate Fenwick which opened in 1882 and is now one of the UK’s leading department stores. It’s the North’s answer to Selfridge’s basically.
This summer Fenwick is set to showcase the North’s flag-waving food and drink this summer, hosting a series of bespoke events in celebration of The Great Exhibition of the North. They’ve even hosted a gin pop-up bar in the window!
There’s loads of public transport into the city itself and lots of car parking spaces too (with many free car parks free after 5 o’clock).
6. Fill your boots with food
We Geordies love our scran and again you’re spoilt for choice with where to eat.
We’ve got the usual chain restaurants at both shopping centres and loads of independent restaurants across the whole of the city as well as plenty of Gregg’s if you just want a snack on the go – I recommend you try a stottie – it’s a local delicacy. Newcastle is the home of the famous baker’s after all – you’re welcome!
House of Tides has a Michelin star and fab historic location – I only hear good things about it. Another restaurant with a historic location is Blackfriars Restaurant and Banquet Hall, a 13th century medieval friary, you can go for a normal dinner, or try their Medieval Banquet Menu – where they really go to town.
Twice a year Newcastle hosts a restaurant week (January and August). NE1 Newcastle Restaurant Week is one of the North East’s most popular leading food events, celebrating some of the very best restaurants in my native Newcastle. You can read all about my first taste of NE1 Newcastle Restaurant Week here.
7. Go see a gig
You can see all the major stadium acts at the Metro Radio Arena – the largest concert venue in the North East. Newcastle City Hall also attracts some big names too. Sage Gateshead on the Quayside is famous in its own right with its curved steel and glass roof and is becoming a major host to events and gigs.
On a much smaller scale, The Cluny in Ouseburn Valley is a great live music venue for local bands.
A short walk away on the riverside is The Tyne Bar, which has a huge outdoor area by the water. It’s got a free jukebox for when it doesn’t have free live music.
The 02 Academy and both universities in Newcastle also host an array of live gigs and events too.
And with the Great Exhibition of the North there’s loads of music events throughout the North East to look forward to.
8. Architecture, History And Culture
The North East is positively oozing in history and Newcastle is certainly no different. Home to Grey’s monument, Central Arcade, the Victoria Tunnel and Newcastle’s castle keep, there are plenty of historic landmarks to see.
Mr Grey has been given a makeover for the Great Exhibition of the North and I think he looks brilliant!
For art lovers you will be seriously spoilt for choice, with the Laing Art Gallery, Theatre Royal, Biscuit Factory, The Discovery Museum and Tyneside Cinema all on your door step – to name just a few!
With the Great Exhibition of the North taking place we have 80 days of amazing events, exhibitions, film and all sorts going on throughout the city over the summer!
9. Take a trip to the coast or a castle
When the weather’s nice, I really recommend the pretty seaside town of Tynemouth. It takes about half an hour to drive or you can get the bus or Metro there. It has lovely independent shops, cafes and a ruined castle, as well as the beach and a fab market on a weekend. I’ve written two blog posts about Tynemouth – see what fun we had during the first weekend of the summer or what we got up to on our day date at sunny Tynemouth.
If you’re a fan of Harry Potter and Downton Abbey, then a day at Alnwick Castle must be part of your plans – it was Hogwarts in the first two Potter films and appeared in the Christmas specials of Downton.
You can also combine your trip to also visit the Alnwick Garden which is just next door to the castle with a fantastic tree house restaurant, activities for children and even a poison garden.
The atmospheric Holy Island of Lindisfarne is just over an hours drive from Newcastle. But you must time your visit right as there is only one road on and off the island, and it gets covered twice a day by the North Sea tide so I advise you check the tide times before your journey. Lindisfarne Castle is worth a visit if you do visit the island.
If castles, beaches and good food are your thing I totally recommend a trip to Bamburgh which is a stunningly pretty small village set on the Northern stretch of the wonderful Northumberland Coast. It’s about an hour away from Newcastle by car and there’s also buses from the city to Bamburgh. I have an upcoming blog post about our day at Bamburgh where we visited the beach and the “King of Castles” Bamburgh Castle.
10. The Quayside
Whether it is a sunny afternoon, or a get together with friends, the Quayside is definitely the place to be. There’s a massive range of bars and restaurants as well as the culture of the Sage and the Baltic – there’s something for every occasion.
Plus the views are stunning – both day or night. In the Summer we even have an artificial beach with deckchairs and ice-cream on the Quayside!
Quayside Seaside is a seaside paradise complete with deckchairs, palm trees, candy-striped beach huts, golden sand and a kids’ climbing wall. A new addition for 2018 is a playground area with a slide and a fireman’s pole.
This year – sun-worshippers and hardy Quayside Seaside beach goers will be able to enjoy first-class fish and chips from local pop-up Little Fishy which takes pride of place in the popular onsite container restaurant. We recently visited and enjoyed delicious fish finger sandwiches and fab chips.
Throughout the summer, there will a packed programme of events and activities happening on and around the Thomas Cook Airlines Quayside Seaside. Full details of the activity programme can be found at www.getintonewcastle.co.uk
So there you have it if I haven’t whet your appetite enough to pay us a visit then check out some of these other North East related blog posts:
Read all about the amazing iconic Tyne Bridge in my happy birthday Tyne Bridge post
The iconic Angel of the North turned 20 this year here’s my happy birthday Angel of the North post.
If you’re planning a city break then check out why you should visit Newcastle in my proud Geordie moment as Newcastle named number 1 place to visit in 2018
Newcastle has a fantastic restaurant week (twice a year) here’s my thoughts on my first taste of NE1 Newcastle Restaurant Week
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Have you visit Newcastle? What’s your favourite things to do and see in my home town? Let me know in the comments below.
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