If you thought that Newcastle was just the home of Geordie Shore or a place where stags and hens go to party – you couldn’t be more wrong. There’s way more to the Toon than its glamorous nightlife. From world-class art and music venues to Michelin-starred restaurants, flagship shops, family-friendly activities and nearby beaches – this vibrant region really does have it all. Read on to find out all about the top attractions in Newcastle.
World-class Cultural Venues in Newcastle
Newcastle is packed with art galleries, museums, theatres and music venues with world-class acoustics. Whether you’re into modern art, natural history or musical discovery – you’ll never be short of something cultural to get stuck into. The Great Exhibition of the North 2018 is a monumental 80-day programme to showcase world-class art, culture, design and innovation from the North of England. Art, design and innovation trails will take place in and around Newcastle and Gateshead's prominent venues and unique spaces, such as the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, Sage Gateshead and Great North Museum. Our very own Euro Hostel Newcastle will also play a part in the Town Wall Whistles sound installation, which aims to re-enact the sounds of the old steam engine whistles around the edge of the city.
The BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art is a vast renovated flour mill with six floors and three mezzanines of modern, minimalist interiors and a calendar of cutting-edge temporary exhibitions from international and Turner Prize-winning artists. This impressive, industrial building sits on the south bank of the River Tyne in Gateshead and includes a classy sixth-floor restaurant (called Six, believe it or not) with panoramic views of the city and a renowned afternoon tea. During the Great Exhibition of the North, diners can experience a true ‘Taste of the North’, which includes six dishes and optional matching wines.
Since opening in 2002, the BALTIC has had over 7 million visitors. Exhibitions are free to the public and include family activities as well as guided tours and interactive workshops.
The Sage is an innovative live music venue, designed to produce world-class acoustics that can be altered to suit any style of event. The building’s spectacular auditoriums and wood-panelled halls have welcomed hugely influential musicians from Blondie to James Brown, Nick Cave and Grace Jones.
Mini budding musicians under the age of five can book in for regular music-making classes and the annual screening of The Snowman is a constant Christmas sell-out. Lauren Laverne’s Great Northern Soundtrack is part of GETNorth2018, as well as BBC Music Introducing – known for discovering internationally-acclaimed artists such as Florence + the Machine, Jake Bugg and George Ezra.
© Mark Savage
The Great North Museum
The Great North Museum a.k.a. the Hancock, is Newcastle’s museum of natural history, archaeology, geology and world cultures. The free, family-friendly destination includes exhibitions on wildlife, fossils and world cultures, as well as an exploration of the North East of England’s animals, plants, woodlands and coastal areas. The museum also includes a library and natural history archive open to the public.
During the Great Exhibition of the North, high-profile loans will be on display including the last piano played by John Lennon and the world’s largest mixed reality display. Visitors can come face-to-face with virtual dinosaurs and illusions of a range of industries such as rebuilt castle ruins, luxury cars and even spaceships. There are 250 new items on loan from around the UK, including Damien Hirst’s shark in formaldehyde ‘Heaven’ (2008-9).
© Great North Museum: Hancock
Other Cultural Venues in Newcastle
Other world-class cultural venues in Newcastle include The Biscuit Factory, a 2-storey art and crafts gallery set in an old warehouse and the Laing Art Gallery, which holds regularly changing exhibitions of both modern and contemporary art. Wylam Brewery is a popular 30-barrel micro-brewery that resides at the Palace of Arts in Exhibition Park and hosts regular foodie, pop-up and music events such as Battle of the Burger and Slice Wars. You can buy a brewery tour ticket for only £10 or hire the Grand Hall for weddings, corporate events and parties.
© Nigel John
Sporting Venues in Newcastle
Newcastle is home to plenty of great sporting venues that host huge sporting events throughout the year.
St James’ Park
If you’ve ever watched a Toon game, you’ll know that St James’ Park is one of the best football stadiums in the U.K The atmosphere is unbeatable and, whether you’re a Geordie or not, you’ll enjoy a match day and a magpie here (it’s a meat and potato pie that goes great with a Bovril – or a beer.)
As well as international football, St James’ was used as a football venue for the 2012 Olympics. The stadium has also hosted Dacia Magic Weekend, a huge event in the city’s sporting calendar. The stands fill with rugby fans to experience the very best of Rugby League plus live music, food vendors and fancy dress.
For an undoubtedly good group day out in Newcastle, Newcastle Racecourse is within the 812-acre Gosforth Park and hosts the annual social-calendar fave, North East Ladies Day, amongst loads of other racing events throughout the year.
Find out more information on sports venues in Newcastle.
Gateshead International Stadium
Gateshead International Stadium has world-class facilities, including an IAAF-standard track and a state-of-the-art gym. As well as the Stadium's sporting accolades (five world records have been set at the stadium, including two by pole vaulter Yelena Isinbayeva and a tied 100 metres record by Asafa Powell in 2006), it has also hosted major music concerts, with previous megastars such as Bon Jovi, Tina Turner, Bryan Adams, Rod Stewart and Brit-Award winners Little Mix gracing the stage.
Shopping in Newcastle
Geordie girls love to dress up and if there’s one thing you can be sure of – they know how to shop. From a flagship department store, to cool independents, and the 2nd largest shopping centre in the country – you’ll never leave the city empty-handed.
Fenwick is one of the country’s most prestigious department stores. It was originally founded in Newcastle in 1882 and today has 10 branches across England, including Bond Street in London. The Fenwick Christmas window is an annual hit with locals who gather in their hundreds – with a festive cup of coffee, to experience the window’s unveiling. Five floors of total indulgence include a beauty hall with stands from Charlotte Tilbury, Tom Ford and NARS, women’s and men’s designer fashion and a food hall that rivals the best in Europe. One thing's for sure, you won’t be leaving without one of the store’s signature green bags.
Meat lovers head to Porterhouse Butcher and Grill who dish up Himalayan salt-aged beef and organic Wagyu. If you’d choose seafood over a T-bone, Saltwater Fish Company operates a no-fuss fish bar in the food hall, with a blackboard of daily specials.
In Newcastle city centre, Grey’s Monument towers over luxury, flagship stores like BOSS, Reiss, Michael Kors and The White Company, while Eldon Square has all your everyday high-street shopping needs.
High Bridge Street
A couple of minutes away from Grey’s Monument, the cobbled streets of High Bridge Quarter are home to stylish gin bars, artisan coffee shops, barbers, a boutique hotel and vintage clothing. It’s where the cool kids go.
© Pleased to Meet You
If size matters, you’ll never come away empty-handed from the Metrocentre, which is the 2nd largest shopping centre in the U.K., behind Westfield in London. It has over 370 shops, over 50 places to eat and the only Odeon IMAX cinema in the region.
STACK is a brand-new shipping container village that is planned to open in August, housing over 40 independent bars, delis, restaurants and bespoke shops.
Where to Eat in Newcastle
We don’t really know where to begin when it comes to Newcastle’s eateries. The city has absolutely everything from Michelin-starred restaurants, to top gastropubs and unbeatable local seafood. Seriously, don’t say we didn’t warn your waistline.
Foodies will be well and truly spoilt for choice in Newcastle. The recently refurbed Grey’s Quarter includes trendy late-night food venues like the Alchemist and Chaophraya, where Thai food cookery and cocktail classes are available to buy for budding chefs or booze fanatics. Other restaurants in Grey’s Quarter include Red’s True Barbecue (we recommend going with an empty stomach and getting the Pitmaster Tray), PizzaStorm and Tapas Revolution.
On the other hand, up-market restaurants are forever cooking up a storm in the city-centre and down on the quayside. Former Masterchef finalist, John Calton, has recently opened the new modern bistro ROUTE, which dishes up incredibly fresh local fish and a corker of a Sunday dinner. Michelin-Starred restaurant House of Tides is a must for extra special occasions and The Broad Chare is a gastropub with great beer and great seasonal scran. Pleased to Meet You doesn’t only satiate your gin appetite, but your hunger as well; their day and night menus combine the very best seasonal, locally-sourced produce with classic French technique.
© House of Tides
Comfort Food in Newcastle
If you’d prefer some proper comfort food, head to the Herb Garden for incredible, wood-fired pizzas, Red House for gratifying pies and Meat:Stack – worthy winner of Newcastle’s Battle of the Burger.
Insider tip: Scream For Pizza serve up Neapolitan pizza with a twist and were featured in the book ‘Where to Eat Pizza’, written by over 1,000 food experts (a.k.a. people who get paid to eat). Finalists of the British Street Food awards, you can find their van on Wednesday evenings between 5-9pm at the Free Trade Inn down in the Ouseburn.
International street food can be found in the famous Grainger Market, which includes La Petite Creperie, Meat:Stack, Slice, and Mmm…Glug – cult artisan food and ales specialist (seriously, where do we sign up to become one of those?!) Every Sunday, the roads are closed on the Quayside for the market, which sees crafts, artwork, fashion and food sold from stalls along the banks of the river. We can highly recommend the handmade doughnuts from Proven Goods Co for a little Sunday treat.
Jesmond Market takes place every 3rd Saturday of the month on Armstrong Bridge, where we recommend that you grab a Fat Hippo burger and walk off with a stroll around Jesmond Dene. Just a 25-minute drive from central Newcastle is Tynemouth Market, which is free to enter and takes place in Tynemouth Metro Station every weekend.
Coastal Retreats in the North East
If you need an escape from the city centre, the coast and its beachfront fish shacks and restaurants are just a short Metro journey away.
Tynemouth is a very popular destination, known for its string of front-street bars, lovely stretch of beaches and award-winning seafront restaurants. Riley’s Fish Shack was named in the 2018 Good Food Guide – two converted shipping containers that dish up the freshest seafood straight from the grill. The portions are big, so walk – or collapse – onto King Edwards Bay (“King Eddies” to the locals) afterwards, a small sandy beach overlooked by the historic Tynemouth Priory.
For a family-friendly day out, Tynemouth has an aquarium, an 18-hole dinosaur-themed crazy golf, quirky cafes and a market that takes place every weekend in Tynemouth Metro station. Longsands Fish Kitchen is extremely popular for food and the Surf Café is as cool a venue for either coffee or a gig.
© Nigel John
The Fish Quay in North Shields is an up-and-coming area filled with really cool bars and award-winning gastropubs. Low Lights Tavern is one of the oldest pubs in the region; Salty Sea Dog is a great little pub with an extensive drinks list and an amazing tapas menu that includes chorizo scotch eggs. The Staith House secured a place in the 2018 Top 50 Gastropubs list and their fish dishes are out of this world.
If you’re after some fish and chips, you can’t beat Colmans in South Shields which has won both national and regional awards for their legendary food. For taste-buds that prefer a bit more spice, Ocean Road is filled with Indian restaurants – we’d recommend Zeera – which you can follow with an award-winning ice cream from Minchella & Co.
Activities in Newcastle
Those of you with a competitive spirit will love Newcastle’s games venues. If you’re on the hunt for the perfect date night, we’ve got everything from comedy to cool independent cinemas and a pop-up container community.
Lane7 will keep you and your mates busy with “boutique” bowling, crazy golf and beer pong. Absolutely ideal for a group day out, you can refuel with wood-fired pizzas and a good cocktail menu before heading to your private karaoke room – which includes a big red button and trapdoor for when your mate starts murdering Wonderwall.
Date Night in Newcastle
In the city-centre, pop to the independent Tyneside Cinema where you can watch the latest Indie films in style with a glass of wine or local craft ale alongside your popcorn. For something a little different, Mr Mulligan’s Space Golf is an “out of this world” adventure golf experience complete with cosmic-themed cocktails, which will either help or hinder your putting.
The Stand Comedy Club on High Bridge Street never fails as a winning group or date night. Enjoy some stand-up scran in the bistro or tuck into some nachos from the club menu until the show begins.
On Grey Street, Newcastle’s Theatre Royal is one of only 9 Grade I listed theatre halls in England and hosts over 300 shows a year from dance to drama, musicals and comedy. 2018 shows include everyone from Kevin Bridges to Cliff Richard, the Vamps and Jools Holland.
By the River Brew Co.
By the River Brew Co. is a brand new, independent container community nestled under the iconic Tyne Bridge on the Gateshead side of the river. Enjoy Spanish tapas from Kaltur, Indian street-food from Dabbawal, plus a selection of artisan coffee, gin and cocktails.
© By the River Brew Co.
Live Music Venues in Newcastle
Whether you’re into small, intense gigs where you can get up close to the band, or big stadium concerts with a buzzing atmosphere – Newcastle appeals to music fanatics of all tastes.
If a band is up and coming and worth knowing about, chances are they’ll be playing at the Cluny. This intimate, independent venue is based down in the cool, creative hub of the Ouseburn, where you will also find the Tyne Bar – known for its free live music events and Evolution Emerging festival.
Nightclubs in Newcastle
For live music in a nightclub environment, choose from Think Tank at Digital or Riverside Newcastle, on the banks of the Quayside – both hot and sweaty favourites with local gig-goers. World Headquarters is Newcastle’s longest running underground club that prides itself on its diverse and unified approach to partying.
World-Class Music Venues
Sage Gateshead is a landmark live music venue with world-class acoustics while Metro Radio Arena is the largest concert venue in the North East, showcasing all the major names in music. Other venue highlights include the Boilershop, a Grade II listed building steeped in history from the Industrial Revolution. It’s a lush space with exposed rafters and a hyper-cool vibe that’ll make seeing your favourite artist all the more special.
© Alex Telfer/Boiler Shop
Nights Out in Newcastle
You’ve probably heard about Newcastle’s nightlife, but you may not know about the extent of late bars, clubs and pubs we have to offer. However you like to drink, we’ve got a watering hole for you.
Late Bars in Newcastle
Newcastle is notorious for its nightlife and there’s a night on the Toon for everyone. For a glitzy night-out that gives you an excuse to scrub up, head to the Diamond Strip which has a selection of upmarket bars and nightclubs. Tup Tup, House of Smith, Madame Koo and Perdu are all very popular for some late night dancing. Party groups can plan a bar crawl around The Gate for cheap drink deals that usually involve trebles – and plenty of stag and hens.
Low-light, late-night bars include Lola Jeans, Jalou, Tokyo and Livello. All have their fair share of extensive cocktail menus and DJ sets. To get you in the Geordie spirit (literally), try Lola Jeans’s ‘Inspired by the North East’ concoctions – the ‘Fog on the Tyne’ will blow your Southern socks off. Tokyo has a rooftop terrace where DJs play deep house and disco from 8pm Wednesday-Saturday.
Gin Bars in Newcastle
If gin’s your thing, grab a seat in Pleased to Meet You, a stylish gin bar on High Bridge Street, or out on The Botanist’s hidden roof terrace. Bealim House is a gin distillery in a rustic setting (i.e. lots of wood) that also whips up tapas at the bar. Dacantus have their very own ‘gin lab’ with around 90 speciality G&Ts. They also offer Gin Tasting Sessions if you fancy yourself somewhat of a connoisseur (or just love a drink).
© Pleased to Meet You
Ouseburn Bars and Beer Gardens
If you want something a little cooler – where trainers aren’t frowned upon – get yourself down to the Ouseburn for micropubs, real ale breweries and beer gardens. If you have time to grow a beard and buy some skinny jeans in advance, do it. Arch 2 Brewpub & Kitchen has an outdoor fire pit, 10 taps of craft beers and ciders, plus an impressive board-game selection.
The Tyne Bar is a waterside pub, whose outdoor benches make it a summertime, day-drinks favourite. If you’re lucky to grab yourself a spot outside at the Free Trade Inn, you’ll be blessed with some of the best views in town. Head to Kiln for local beers in a Mediterranean-style bar with its own ceramics workshop, and Tyne Bank for a game of darts or ping-pong and local beers from the on-site brewery.
© Tyne Bank Brewery
For pub golf and drink offers, look no further than Jesmond’s famous Osborne Rd – a favourite with the students. Spy Bar, Osbornes and 97 & Social are all popular choices; while Mr Lynch and As You Like It are the places to go for live music.
The Quayside is lined with favourites such as Pitcher & Piano, Head of Steam and BrewDog. Tiger Hornsby is a popular cocktail bar and Popolo is a stylish venue with live music every Friday.
Pubs in Newcastle
Proper pubs include the Bridge Tavern, The Forth and The Town Wall, while micropubs Box Social and The Split Chimp are great for an intimate drink – if you’re a large group, get there early! Other favourites with the locals are Lady Greys and the Charles Grey.
Whatever you come to Newcastle for, save your extra cash for lush food, great drinks and a cracking line-up of gigs and activities by staying the budget-friendly way with Euro Hostel. We treat groups properly, with a selection of private dorms, mini-suites and en-suite bedrooms. Based in the city-centre of Newcastle, you’ll be ideally located for restaurants, bars and an array of entertainment options. To be honest, we don’t know what you’re waiting for…