Newcastle upon Tyne is a city of contrasts. Dating back to the second century, it retains many historical sights, which stand side by side with the modern world. Hadrian's Wall was built to span the width of England and protect the northern border of the Roman Empire, and there are still parts intact today in and around Newcastle. The Roman fort was replaced by a Norman 'new castle' in the 11th century and later a castle keep, which, along with the Black Gate, still stands on the banks of the River Tyne.
The fascinating history of Newcastle is apparent throughout the city, with various architectural eras visible. Ultra-modern buildings blend in seamlessly with the ancient, creating a mismatched combination that keeps sightseers interested at every turn. Newcastle has something for everyone, from museums, art galleries, and the Theatre Royal to a plethora of restaurants, nightclubs, and bars.
With a unique English dialect, the people of Newcastle are referred to as Geordies and considered among the friendliest in the country - you will be warmly welcomed wherever you go. Newcastle is paired culturally with the neighboring city Gateshead, which is located across the river. Many entertainment venues, including the Sage Gateshead concert hall and the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art are on the riverside, linked by bridges to Newcastle.
Newcastle dates back to Roman times and displays both ruins and restored buildings from this era. From the 11th-century castle to 19th-century architecture, the sights never cease to amaze.
If you need a break from the city center, Leazes Park and the Town Moor are vast expanses of green just a few minutes away. Do some exercise, take a stroll or bike around, and feel like you're in the countryside without even leaving Newcastle.
The main focus of the city center is shopping. Everything is in one area around Northumberland Street and Eldon Square. From high street bargains to designer labels, there are stores to suit all budgets.
Catch a play or musical at the Theatre Royal, browse through the history of the area at the Discovery Museum or the Great North Museum, or view the latest exhibitions at the Laing Art Gallery.
Said to be the best nightlife destination in the country, Newcastle is popular with fun-seekers of all ages. The area around Central Station is hip and laid back, the Bigg Market area is full of energy, and the Quayside has bars to suit everyone.
The Newcastle Castle, built on the site of the former Roman fortress, includes the main stone tower, Castle Keep, and Black Gate. Robert Curthose, son of William the Conqueror, erected a castle on the site in 1080. Henry II began construction on Castle Keep in 1172, and Henry III added Black Gate in 1247. Today, visitors can discover the passageways and chambers, as well as its history from Roman to Medieval times. In 2015, Black Gate was reopened as a museum, which hosts engaging exhibits and events.
Gateshead Millennium Bridge, a tilt bridge that crosses the River Tyne between Gateshead's Quays and the Quayside of Newcastle, was opened to pedestrians and cyclists in 2001. The bridge was designed by the WilkinsonEyre and Gifford firms. Known locally as the Blinking Eye Bridge because of its shape and tilt, Gateshead Millennium Bridge is open occasionally to sightseers and for events, such as the Northumbrian Water University Boat Race and the Cutty Sark Tall Ships' Race.
The Cathedral Church of St Nicholas, home to the Bishop of Newcastle and the Diocese of Newcastle, was established in 1091 as a Norman church that was destroyed by fire in 1216. The current structure, completed in 1350, is famous for its 15th-century lantern spire. The building was restored in 1777 and achieved cathedral status in 1882. Among the highlights, visitors can observe the marble monument of Admiral Lord Collingwood, who commanded the Battle of Trafalgar, the stunning stained glass throughout the building, and a thirteenth century effigy of an unknown knight, as well a 1903 bronze statue of Queen Victoria.
Located on the banks of the River Tyne, the Quayside, once an industrial and commercial hub, is now a music and arts complex. Visitors can find restaurants, bars and nightclubs, as well as the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art and The Sage Gateshead, a performing arts center. The Quayside is home to the Gateshead Millennium Bridge, which connects the BALTIC Centre and the Newcastle Law Courts. Quayside also hosts the annual Great North Run.
The Angel of the North, a striking modern sculpture designed by Antony Gormley, was unveiled in 1998. The imposing steel angel, believed to be the largest angel sculpture in the world, measures 66 feet and has a wingspan of 177 feet. Located on the hill of Birtley, the statue can be seen year-round. Visitors can access the sculpture by bus from Eldon Square Bus Station in Newcastle or Gateshead Interchange.
Summer is the most pleasant time of year to visit Newcastle. July and August see temperatures between 65 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit and very little - if any - rain.
Newcastle International Airport (NCL) is less than seven miles from the city center. A connecting flight from London takes just over an hour. Taxis are available from the airport and will cost less than £10 to most destinations in the city. The rail system also links up to the city; a single ticket costs £3.30.
Trains arrive at Newcastle Central Station, which is located just minutes from the city center. Taxis, buses, or the subway can be taken to your final destination. Trains from London take around three hours. If booked well in advance, tickets can be as low as £40 rising to upwards of £100 for last-minute journeys.
Driving to Newcastle is straight forward from any direction. The A1 runs from Edinburgh to London and passes right by the city. The A69 runs from the west coast to the outskirts of Newcastle.
Taking the bus from London to Newcastle takes around eight hours or six overnight. While it is the slowest, bus is the cheapest form of transport for this journey. Long distance buses are usually referred to as coaches and stop at Newcastle Coach Station, which is a few minutes away from the train station.
The majority of hotels are located near the river, usually up the hill that leads to the city center and overlooking the river from a height. Try the Copthorne Hotel or Malmaison. Budget hotels, such as Holiday Inn or Hotel Indigo, tend to be in the city center or surrounding areas, such as Jesmond or Gosforth.
The Quayside - revamped traditional buildings and new constructions house bars, clubs, and restaurants that make the Quayside a vibrant area both day and night.
City Center - with shopping, dining, museums, and art galleries all within walking distance, the city center is easy to navigate.
Jesmond - an area popular with students, there are a growing number of bars, restaurants, and coffee shops, as well as small, boutique stores.
The Metro system is a light railway, which travels under and overground, covering Newcastle towards the coast and south of the River Tyne to South Shields and Sunderland. There are also plenty of bus routes to all surrounding destinations. Fares generally cost £2-3 within Newcastle.
There are various taxi ranks around the city, at the train station, and busy shopping or nightlife areas. Taking a taxi between two locations in Newcastle will cost under £10.
If you plan on staying in Newcastle and visiting other areas in North and South Tyneside, there is really no need for a rental car. If you want to travel further afield, a rental car may be worthwhile. The daily cost of a mid-sized car will be approximately £50 from companies such as Hertz, Europcar, or Avis. There are many parking lots and parking garages around the city that generally cost less than £10 for three hours.
Shopping in Newcastle is centered around the Eldon Square shopping mall, which has all the major UK chain stores, as well as the surrounding streets, like Northumberland Street and Grey Street. There are department stores, including Fenwick and John Lewis, which are about on par with US prices.
Fenwick and Marks & Spencer have food halls offering groceries and ready-to-eat meals. Prices tend to be higher than at regular grocery stores, such as Tesco, Sainsbury's, and Waitrose, which are in or around Eldon Square. A loaf of bread, milk, and eggs will each cost £1-2.
Chinatown is located on Stowell Street; here, meals cost around £10. Restaurants are generally dotted around the city and offer a wide range of cuisines. A three-course meal at Marco Pierre White Steakhouse Bar & Grill will cost around £40 per person. The menu includes a range of steaks and classic French dishes with a modern twist. A meal from the set menu at Simply Greek Tavern will cost £18 per person, and the offering includes beef stifado and chicken souvlaki.