Top 12 Things to Do in Newcastle Upon Tyne

Newcastle sits along the northern banks of the Tyne River. It is one of North East England’s most populated areas and is well known for its nightlife, strong sporting traditions, and other tourist attractions that bring in tons of visitors from all over the world.

If you aren’t interested in city life, you can still spend days enjoying the historical architecture and touring old cathedrals, caves, bridges, and medieval pathways that lead out of the city or into a castle.

No matter your interests, there is something for everyone in this large English city. Here are 12 amazing sites you should add to your itinerary for your next trip to Newcastle upon Tyne!

1. Admire the Lantern Spire of the Newcastle Cathedral

While in Newcastle, stop by the Newcastle Cathedral and take some time to admire the design of this grade II listed building. 

The Newcastle Cathedral, the former Church of St Nicholas, is the Mother Church of the Diocese of Newcastle. It is the namesake of St Nicholas, the patron saint of boats and sailors, who watches over the River Tyne while sitting on the Northern Heights looking over the water.

While the cathedral itself is beautiful in almost every way, the unique lantern spire draws the attention of most guests. A spire is used like a watchtower to grab the attention of sailors, helping to guide them inland. 

The design of this specific spire displays images of Adam and Eve, David (Israel’s most famous king, known for slaying Goliath) holding a harp, and Aaron (first High Priest of Israel and the brother of Moses) dressed as a Bishop.

Things to do:

  • Climb the tower
  • Attend a worship service
  • Go to a concert
  • Take a guided tour
  • Walk the outdoor trail
  • Enjoy the peace and quiet

2. Visit the Great North Museum: Hancock

Formerly known as the Hancock Museum, the Great North Museum was established in 1884. It is now located on Newcastle University’s campus after merging with the University’s Museum of Antiquities in 2006. 

This museum of natural history and ancient civilizations is owned and operated by the Natural History Society of North Umbria and is next to the Great North Road. 

The museum showcases collections tracing back to the late 1700s, starting with natural history and ethnography materials. Today, the building offers visitors the opportunity to view displays of artifacts and documentation from Ancient Egypt and Ancient Greece. You can view items from the Romans to Hadrian’s Wall and learn about world cultures, prehistory, natural history, and geology. 

While there, you can see a life-sized African elephant cast, a full-sized replica of a T-rex skeleton, and two mummies.

Things to do:

  • Visit the Mouse House, a space designed for kids under five
  • Check out the planetarium
  • Explore the interactive Study Zone
  • Visit the library
  • Take a tour (or a virtual one!)
  • Experience Great North Nights

3. Enjoy a Seven Stories Event with Your Little Ones

Seven Stories, the National Centre for Children’s Books, is in Ouseburn Valley in Newcastle upon Tyne. It is a renovated mill with seven levels (or stories!) and the only British museum entirely dedicated to British children’s books.

This discovery museum and visitor center opened its doors in 2005. The building has interchanging exhibitions and themes based on popular UK children’s books. Here you can learn and explore literature and contemporary art from top patrons such as Quentin Blake, an English cartoonist, and Jacqueline Wilson, an English novelist.

There is plenty to do and experience when visiting Seven Stories, making it a great place to visit with the entire family.

Things to do:

  • Dress up as your favorite literary character
  • Enjoy the daily storytime
  • Join a creative writing or word place class
  • Visit the illustration and craft centers
  • Take your infant to a baby book social
  • Visit the WildWoods Gallery
  • Check out the digital exhibitions
  • Stop by the café and bookshop for a tasty treat and a new book!

4. Admire the Seven Bridges from the River Tyne Banks

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Seven bridges cross the River Tyne, linking Newcastle and nearby cities to Gateshead. Five of the bridges are stationed right in Newcastle

There are seven road bridges, two rail bridges, one road/rail bridge, and one footbridge. You can spend an entire day driving out to these bridges individually, walking alongside them, across them, or just admiring them from afar.

The seven bridges are:

  • Redheugh Bridge (1870)
  • King Edward VII Bridge (1906)
  • Queen Elizabeth II Bridge (1981)
  • High Level Bridge (1849)
  • Swing Bridge (1876)
  • George V Bridge or Tyne Bridge (1925)
  • Gateshead Millennium Bridge (2001)

5. Explore the Victoria Tunnel

If you want a unique and exciting adventure, consider checking out the Victoria Tunnel. This historic wagonway runs from the Town Moor to the River Tyne. 

The Tunnel was built between 1838 and 1842 as a subterranean passage. It was used for transporting coal exported from Leazes Main Colliery to the river. 

In 1939 the Tunnel was converted into an air-raid shelter to keep Newcastle citizens safe during World War II. Some tours offer information about the Tunnel’s history and the experiences of British citizens during this dark period.

This unique experience allows you an up close and personal look into England’s history and events that changed their way of life.

Things to do:

  • Experience an interactive guided tour, complete with sound effects, replica artifacts, and the WWII roll of honor
  • Check out famed Newcastle landmarks, such as Hadrian’s Roman Wall, from below

6. Do Some Shopping While You Are There

Newcastle is a popular tourist spot, which means there are plenty of places to shop if that is something you are into.

Whether you want to grab some new gear by hitting shopping centers and malls or snag a bargain at a local Newcastle market, there is something for everyone in this city.

  • Grainger Market (Grainger Street, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 5QQ): This 186-year-old public market has a selection of local goods, from great food to books and clothing.
  • Monument Mall (Blackett Street, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 7AL): A stylish shopping center home to popular retailers offering everything from high-end fashion to jewelry and so much more. They also have restaurants where you can eat in a glass dome overlooking the city.
  • Eldon Garden (Percy Street, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 7RA): This shopping center is home to specialty retailers, hair stylists, and independent boutiques.

And these are only a few of the many shopping centers in this United Kingdom city. Take some time to explore and find more great places to spend a little money. 

7. Check Out Grey’s Monument

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Grey’s Monument is a Grade I listed building dedicated to Earl Grey (British Prime Minister 1830-1834) for his part in passing the Great Reform Act of 1832. 

This monument stands 135 feet high at the head of Grey Street and displays a statue of Grey standing on a Roman Doric column atop a sandstone pedestal. 

This landmark sits in the center of Newcastle upon Tyne as a popular focal point and tourist attraction for the city.

Things to do:

  • Climb the 163 stone steps to a viewing platform
  • Take a guided tour
  • Visit markets and activities around the base

8. Visit the Home of Newcastle United Football Club (St. James’ Park)

The St. James’ Park Stadium is the oldest and largest football stadium in North East England and the eighth largest in England. It has been hosting football matches for over 100 years, since opening its doors in 1880.

St. James’ Park is also the home of the Newcastle football club, and has been since its formation in 1892. Newcastle United Football Club is a Premier League club with four league championships, six GA cups, a UEFA Intertoto Cup, and the InterCity Fairs Cup.

If you are a sports fan, this stadium is definitely worth a visit. 

Things to do:

  • Take in a live Newcastle United FC game from the stands
  • Go behind the scenes with a tour of the stadium

9. Walk Through the Old City Chares

The chares are narrow alleys or medieval streets located in North East England. Long ago, there were said to be about 20 chares in the area, but most of them disappeared after the Great Fire of 1854 ripped through the site, destroying much of the city in its wake. 

These small passages provide a unique experience for visitors, allowing you to travel the path of those who walked them so long ago. While the chares were often unpleasant, crowded, and dirty places at the time, visiting them gives an eye-opening glimpse into the past for visitors today.

Some known chares in Newcastle include Peacock Chare, Trinity Chare, Dark Chare, and Rewcastle Chare.

Things to do:

  • Go for a stroll along the chares
  • Attend a ghost tour
  • Walk the stepped paths leading to the river and the stairs to the castles 

10. Be Astonished by the Angel of the North

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The Angel of the North sculpture sits on the side of the road near the main entrance to Newcastle and is seen by more than 33 million people every year. It reaches the view of so many due to its massive size. This sculpture is 20 meters tall and has a wingspan of 54 meters

The Angel of the North was completed in 1998 by sculptor Antony Gormley. It is a contemporary piece made from three separate portions of fabricated steel to welcome visitors traveling to the city.

While it is hard to miss when heading into the city, take the time to catch the intricate details. Also, make sure you visit this site during the daytime. There is no spotlight, so you can’t see it in the dark.

The statue is a monument dedicated to the people who underwent struggle during the industrial revolution by working in the mines, building ships, constructing bridges, and the like.

11. Grab a Bite to Eat

When visiting Newcastle upon Tyne, you can’t miss out on the local cuisine. This location is ideal for seaside dishes, fine dining, and comfort foods.

Whether you are into craft beer, pizza, or a traditional breakfast favorite, a restaurant in Newcastle is waiting for you.

  • Fat Hippo Underground: This restaurant is kid-friendly and offers affordable breakfast, lunch, and dinner options. Its menu is ever-changing but always offers traditional items such as sourdough bread with marmalade for breakfast or seasonal salads and roasted chicken for lunch. 
  • Box Social Brewing: This is a compact venue with micro barcuterie, including platters of cheese, cured meats, and bread. You can also grab a craft ale from Britain’s best brewers or a delicious dessert such as pease pudding. 
  • Blackfriars: This restaurant, which has been operating since 1239 and is believed to be the oldest in the UK, is inside a medieval Dominican friary. Alongside its rich history, it serves delicious, traditional dishes such as flaky smoked haddock, shoulder of lamb, and shellfish chowder.

12. Take in Newcastle’s Nightlife

Although Newcastle upon Tyne is well-known for its incredible history, beautiful architecture, and jaw-dropping views, it is also a trendy place for those who love having a little fun.

Newcastle’s prominent nightlife offers many adventures, from raging clubs to laid-back diners and everything in between. 

If you enjoy a little excitement at night, here are some things you need to do while visiting:

  • Comedy shows at The Stand: Take some time to see this city’s best comedians while enjoying the seasonal menu provided by the in-house restaurant. 
  • Dance the night away at The Gate: The Gate Complex is a collection of clubs and bars. You can go from a sports bar with spontaneous podium dance to classic bars with cheap beers by just walking a short distance.
  • Osborne Road in Jesmond: This is another string of bars and clubs sitting atop each other. However, you will find a more refined crowd dressed for an upscale experience here. 
  • Colonel Porter’s Emporium: Colonel Porter’s provides a unique experience with a DJ on hand and live music all year long. The inside is adorned with stuffed animal heads and an array of colors, ornaments, and lights.

Summing Things Up

There is always something to do while visiting Newcastle upon Tyne. This city is an excellent vacation spot when traveling with friends, family, or on your own. 

Whether you are interested in historical artifacts and architecture, adventure, or you’re just looking for somewhere to enjoy a few drinks and dance the night away, this popular city in North East England is one of the best places to go in the United Kingdom.

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