20 Things To Do In Newcastle

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Newcastle-upon-Tyne, or simple Newcastle, is the gateway to the north and one of the most energetic, friendly and inspiring cities in the north-east of England. Growing up near Newcastle meant I could easily access this city, and I spent many exciting days exploring its museums, shops, restaurants and riverside. So, I know all the things to do in Newcastle very well. 

Newcastle is a university city, with Northumbria University and Newcastle University in the city centre. As a result, plenty of cool bars and restaurants are frequented by students and some of the best nightlife in the region. Newcastle is a former industrial city with a busy port area; however, much of its riverside has now gone through renovations to transform the old factories. This renovated area, known as The Quayside, is now filled with trendy apartments, restaurants, galleries, and more.

A stroll along the River Tyne is a great way to start your time in Newcastle before heading up the steep banks into the city. Geordies (people from Newcastle), will welcome you with their renowned friendly nature and unmistakable and endearing accents. The city is compact and has easy access to most of its key attractions on foot. The city is an amalgamation of ancient structures such as the castle, old 16th-century inns and Victorian architecture combined with more modern structures such as the Sage.

Newcastle is ideally placed close to the coast and the rolling green spaces of Northumberland, both of which are only a short drive or metro journey away. Newcastle is a great place to shop, immerse yourself in culture at one of its many museums, or enjoy delicious food in trendy surroundings. Here are the best things to do in the toon (how locals refer to the city) when you visit.

Newcastle, England

Top Tours

20 Things To Do In Newcastle

aerial view of newcastle and the river tyne
You’ll find plenty of things to do in Newcastle Upon Tyne, a lovely river city.

1- See The Exhibits At Great North Museum: Hancock

Great North Museum: Hancock is one of the best museums in Newcastle, as it combines natural history, history, science and much more.

John Hancock, an ornithologist and taxidermist from Newcastle, helped secure funds for the museum, resulting in it being named after him.

The museum is run in collaboration with the Natural History Society of Northumbria and opened in 1884.

Inside are several exciting exhibits children and adults alike will love, including a display on wildlife and habitats named Living Planet, a gallery filled with artefacts and information about the nearby Roman structure Hadrian’s Wall, and an exhibition focusing on Ancient Egypt with two real mummies displayed.

Great North Museum: Hancock is at Barras Bridge, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, NE2 4PT.

Recommended tour:

2- Explore Newcastle Castle

Newcastle Castle is a Norman fortress in the city centre that gave the city its name.

The castle’s remaining structures include the grand Castle Keep and the Black Gate.

The castle’s origins date back to Roman times when a settlement and fort was built on the site.

The castle was built and developed by William the Conqueror, Henry II and Henry III, with the Castle Keep and Black Gate predating the city walls.

Enter the castle, explore 2000 years of the city’s history, and make the most of the spectacular views over the river from the top of the tower.

Newcastle Castle is at The Black Gate, Castle Garth, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, NE1 1RQ. Skip the line and reserve your entry ticket here.

3- Visit The Discovery Museum

Newcastle upon Tyne Keyside And Suspension Bridge
Looking for things to do in Newcastle upon Tyne? Check out our top 20.

Newcastle’s Discovery Museum is the perfect place for a family day out.

The museum is free to enter and jam-packed with exhibits focusing on life in the city and the surrounding areas, shipbuilding, scientific discoveries, code-breaking and more.

Alongside its permanent exhibits, the museum has temporary exhibitions, including Shalom! an exhibition focusing on projects created by the local Jewish community, and an interactive exhibit in collaboration with the British Library.

The museum has a range of interactive trails and activities for children and holds regular themed days, often during school holidays.

Discovery Museum is at Blandford Square, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, NE1 4JA.

4- Learn Something New At The Life Science Centre

Life Science Centre is a unique attraction in the city dedicated to the life and the human body.

The centre celebrates hands-on activities, with most exhibits offering interactivity and experiments.

The centre is not just a museum; it also houses many research rooms and labs for those in education, business or science to carry out potentially breakthrough research and experiments.

If visiting Newcastle at Christmastime, head to the museum to skate on its outdoor ice rink.

Life Science Centre is at International Centre for Life, Times Square, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, NE1 4EP.

5- Cross The Tyne Bridge

newcastle bridge on a sunny day
Crossing the Tyne Bridge is one of the things to do in Newcastle.

Many bridges cross the River Tyne, but none are as iconic as the green iron Tyne Bridge.

Mott, Hay and Anderson designed the Tyne Bridge, which is similar in design to their other famous bridge located in Sydney Harbour.

The bridge was erected in 1928 and officially opened by King George V.

The Tyne Bridge has become a symbol of Newcastle and the North East.

It is utilised by cars and pedestrians, offering excellent views up the River Tyne and down towards the river mouth and the sea beyond.

Tyne Bridge is at A167, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, NE8 2BE.

Recommended tour: Newcastle: Historical Guided Walking Tour.

For more ideas around England, read:

6- Shop And Eat At Grainger Market

Shepherd's pie casserole with minced meat and mashed potatoes in ceramic baking dish on white rustic table with spoon.
Eating and shopping at Grainger Market is one of the things to do in Newcastle.

Grainger Market is one of the best destinations in Newcastle to sample foods from around the world.

John Dobson designed the market that opened to the public in 1835, and today is a listed building home to more than 100 independent traders selling plants, craft items, artworks and more.

There are also 17 incredible food stalls in the market ran by passionate people serving delicious foods.

Enjoy flavour-filled dumplings at Dumpling & Bun, crisp and juicy fried chicken at Fed’s Fried Chicken, or stock up for a picnic or enjoy a relaxed and varied meal at La Casa Delicatessen, a Spanish tapas bar and deli.

Grainger Market is at Grainger Street, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, NE1 5QQ.

Recommended tour: Newcastle: Walking Tour to Grainger Market & Quayside.

Alexander Laing, a local businessman, provided the city with the funds to build a museum dedicated to fine art in the late 1800s, with the gallery first opening in 1901.

The gallery houses an internationally recognised collection of important works of art, with many of the pieces painted by British artists with oil paints.

Further collections in the gallery include watercolour paintings, silverware and collections of fine china.

The museum has regularly chaining displays with past exhibitions, including a focus on works by Leonardo Da Vinci.

Laing Art Gallery is at New Bridge Street, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, NE1 8AG.

8- Watch A Show At Theatre Royal

John and Benjamin Green designed the Theatre Royal with input from Richard Grainger, the man behind much of Newcastle’s most famous Victorian Structures, in the early 1830s, with the theatre opening with The Merchant of Venice in 1837.

Architect Frank Matcham later added the theatre’s famous columned facade in 1901 following a fire in 1899.

Since then, this Grade I listed building has seen many performances, including many of Shakespeare’s works, and welcomed the Scottish Opera and Ballet.

Theatre Royal is at 100 Grey Street, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, NE1 6BR.

9- Admire Art The Biscuit Factory

The Biscuit Factory is another of Newcastle’s excellent art museums focusing on commercial arts and crafts.

Located in Ouseburn, the heart of Newcastle’s cultural quarter, The Biscuit Factory has been open since 2002.

This former Victorian biscuit manufacturing plant went through extensive renovations however, much of the original brickworks and beams were preserved and are used as interior design features of the gallery.

The gallery regularly changes its exhibitions of local and national artists’ work with many artworks displayed, including glass, ceramics, paintings and prints.

After immersing yourself in some of the best up-and-coming works of art from the region and the country, head up to The Factory Kitchen, the gallery’s rooftop restaurant, for a bite to eat with a view.

The Biscuit Factory is at 16 Stoddart Street, Shieldfield, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, NE2 1AN.

10- Watch A Movie At The Tyneside Cinema

Tyneside Cinema has entertained locals for more than 100 years in a beautiful city centre art deco building.

The cinema is dedicated to screening a range of new releases and independent films from across the North East and beyond.

Aside from showing the latest movies, Tyneside Cinema considers itself a hub for the local community, focusing on how film can be used to challenge and change perceptions.

Each week the cinema hosts two film clubs where interested parties can discuss specific movies, use movies to discuss current affairs or to meet like-minded fans.

The Tyneside Cinema is at 10 Pilgrim Street, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, NE1 6QG.

11- Walk In The Woods At Jesmond Dene

Jesmond Dene Waterfall framed by greenery
Relaxing at Jesmond Dene Waterfall is one of the things to do in Newcastle Upon Tyne.

Escape the bustle of the city and surround yourself in dense woodland in Jesmond Dene.

Jesmond Dene is a historical park nestled in a steep wooded valley a short bus ride away from the centre of Newcastle.

The valley was once the home of many water mills that used to grind corn from local farms, with some of the mills remaining today.

Learn more about the history of Jesmond Dene on a history trail that takes visitors to the most ancient parts of the park.

Animal lovers or those visiting with family should spend an hour or so at Pet’s Corner, where you can meet sheep and pigs and see an aviary filled with colourful birds.

Jesmond Dene is at Newcastle-upon-Tyne, NE7 7DZ.

12- Tour St James’ Park 

St James’ Park is the home ground of Newcastle United F.C., the city’s Premier League football team.

Football fans can visit the stadium on various tours, including classic tours, a rooftop tour and a tour specifically designed for those with Autism.

Classic tours take visitors into the media suite where the manager gives pre and post-match conferences, the dressing rooms and to one of the highest points in the stadium for the best views.

Rooftop tours take those feeling brave up to the rooftop at 150ft (45.72m) to see incredible views across the city and of the pitch below before spending some time back at ground level at the pitch side and dugouts.

St James’ Park is at Barrack Road, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, NE1 4ST.

13- Look For Old Books At Lit & Phil Library

Take a quiet moment to enjoy the relaxing atmosphere inside the Lit & Phil Society, Newcastle’s independent library.

The library was founded in 1793 and was officially opened in 1825.

Since opening, the library has celebrated learning in elegant Victorian surroundings.

The library has more than 170,000 books, some dating back to the 16th century.

The library is free to enter and explore, however a free membership is required to borrow any items.

There are plenty of cosy reading nooks to curl up in and read, walls lined floor to ceiling with books and a red ornate wrought iron balcony separating the floors allowing the light from the glass ceiling to flood in.

Lit & Phil Library is at 23 Westgate Road, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, NE1 1SE.

14- Eat At Michelin-starred House of Tides

Indulge your tastebuds at the Michelin-starred House of Tides by Kenny Atkinson.

The restaurant is set inside a Grade 1 listed 16th-century townhouse formerly owned by a merchant.

House of Tides offers fine casual dining in a cosy setting that utilised much of the building’s original features, including beams and flagstone flooring.

The menu regularly changes as Atkinson aims to use locally sourced ingredients to influence and develop classic dishes.

Enjoy dishes from their tasting menu, such as Lindisfarne oysters in a jalapeño, red onion and passionfruit sauce or Yorkshire pork with seasonal leeks, apples and turnips.

House of Tides is at 28-30 The Close, Quayside, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, NE1 3RF.

15- Enjoy Art, Good Food And A View At Baltic

Baltic Contemporary Art Museum
Seeing the collections at the Modern Art Museum is one of the top things to do in Newcastle, UK.

On the other side of the River Tyne, surround yourself with art at Baltic, a converted mill transformed into a centre for contemporary art.

Baltic houses various permanent and temporary exhibitions, often focusing on contemporary artworks and immersive experiences.

The gallery regularly hosts events for adults, families and children, so check out their calendar before your visit to see what creative opportunities are.

After exploring the galleries, head up to Six, Baltic’s rooftop restaurant, for dinner with a view.

Six utilises a farm-to-plate principle and champions local and seasonal produce to produce delicious dishes such as saffron & salmon fishcakes, roast cod with chorizo crust, or broccoli risotto.

Baltic is at South Shore Road, Gateshead, NE8 3BA.

16- Visit Grey’s Monument

Grey’s Monument is one of Newcastle’s most iconic landmarks and a must-visit for a photograph and to learn more about the city’s history.

The monument was built in 1838 as a dedication to Charles Grey, a local politician and UK prime minister.

Grey was pivotal in the Great Reform Act of 1832, which allowed more people to vote in parliamentary elections.

At the monument’s foot is a time capsule buried below the foundation stone containing a sketch of the monument and a range of medals and coins.

Grey’s Monument is at Grainger Street, Newcastle-upon-Tyne.

Recommended tour: Newcastle: True Crime Guided Tour.

17- Visit Ouseburn Valley

Ouseburn Valley was once a wasteland, left behind from the Industrial Revolution.

Following an extensive 20-year transformation, Ouseburn Valley has been transformed into a cultural destination now considered the best creative area in Newcastle.

Extending over the valley is the Ouseburn Railway Viaduct, Glasshouse Bridge dating from 1878 and a flax chimney which all serve as a reminder of the area’s history.

Guided walks of the valley often occur with historians and environmental experts.

There are several art galleries within the valley, and it has become a popular music and gig destination for local and national bands.

Ouseburn Valley is at Newcastle, NE6 1BU.

18- Soak Up Some Culture At Sage

The Sage Building In Newcastle Upon Tyne
Exploring the Sage Building is one of the things to do in Newcastle Upon Tyne.

On the Gateshead side of the River Tyne is the Sage, an uniquely designed cultural centre and concert hall.

Foster & Partners, the British architecture firm, designed the concert hall, which opened in 2004.

Since its completion, Sage has won several architecture awards, including the RIBA Inclusive Design Award and the Civic Trust Award.

Its unique glass and mirrored curved design is best photographed from one of the River Tynes’s many bridges or from the roof terrace of the neighbouring Baltic.

Time your visit right, and you may be able to catch a music performance or could take part in one of their many classes or workshops.

19- Explore Victoria Tunnel

Victoria Tunnel is a historic section of the Ouseburn Valley dating from the 19th century.

It was built as a covered wagon way leading from Town Moor down to the River Tyne to transport coal.

During World War II, the tunnel was converted and used as an air raid shelter.

Guided tours of the tunnel are available where visitors can explore the tunnel and learn more about its industrial history, its impact on the surrounding area, and how those who used the tunnel as an air raid shelter lived during the bombings.

Parts of the tunnel are laid out to replicate this use, with wooden beds, benches and warning posters displayed.

Victoria Tunnel is at Victoria Tunnel Entrance, Ouse Street, Byker, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, NE1 2PF.

20- Central Arcade

newcastle at night
There’s lots to do in Newcastle at night.

Central Arcade is another of Newcastle’s beautifully designed indoor shopping areas and is filled with boutiques.

Richard Grainger, who redeveloped much of the city, built the arcade in 1837 in the Edwardian style.

The building features a large glass-arched ceiling, intricately tiled floors, stores with art deco fronts, and large, welcoming windows.

The oldest shop in the arcade is JG Windows, a music shop dating from 1908 that still sells a range of instruments and sheet music.

Whether you come to the arcade to shop or marvel at its architecture, it is a great place to visit in Newcastle.

Central Arcade is at Newcastle-upon-Tyne, NE1 6EG.

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sarah holmes travel writer
Sarah Holmes is a travel and fashion writer living in the heart of England. From family adventures in numerous parts of the UK and Europe to exploring cities as an adult, Sarah has a wide knowledge of the best areas, sights and local tips that the UK and the neighbouring continent can offer. Sarah grew up in the North East of England, with incredible sights and landmarks only a short drive away. Her favourite places to visit include Seaham Beach, the Lake District and Alnwick Castle. Sarah has written for a range of fashion and travel blogs and print publications.