Welcome to Newcastle
England’s most Northern fortress is a city built on industry. The last coal pit closed in 1956, but the city remains a majestic celebration of grand 19th century architecture and Victorian engineering excellence.
Gulls drift between the great iron bridges of the Tyne, crowds spill through the flashing neon and night roar of the Bigg Market, and shoppers wander the elegant pavements of Northumberland Street and the Royal Arcade with shiny designer carrier bags.
Newcastle is bold and brave, a city with nothing to apologise for. But its heritage is more than just rivets, barges and coal- its 18th century Literary and Philosophical Society was amongst the first great libraries, and it has a powerful political and debating history, a great University, world-class art galleries, great pride in its football team, Newcastle United, and it’s one of the UK’s greenest cities, with seven parks in the city centre alone.
At its heart is The Tyne, the big, rolling Northern river which once carried coal on blackened barges and now carries travellers and tourists on pleasure boats, beneath its extraordinary bridges. It is a city that combines Regency elegance with 21st century design; and where terraced streets end in huge, steel bridge struts.
And of course, there’s the people- proud, friendly, and with the best accent in the British Isles.
St Nicholas’ Church
Tyneside Cinema Coffee Rooms
The Old George Inn
The Vermont Hotel
If there’s time, take a trip out to pretty Jesmond, where there are antique shops on Osborne Road and Fern Avenue, leafy streets and plenty of bars and restaurants.
Football fans should visit the Strawberry pub, and Sir Bobby’s Garden- a little garden of remembrance for the great man.
China Town is a great place to eat cheaply- there are over 25 restaurants on Stowell Street close to the Chinese Arch.
The Laing Art Gallery houses an excellent pre-Raphaelite collection, while the Hancock museum has Roman and Egyptian galleries- both are well worth a visit.
Newcastle is fabulous for shopping- the big department store is Fenwicks, and the trendy area is around Highbridge. Visit Attica vintage shop for beautiful clothes from the 19th and 20th centuries.
Unless you really are planning to party, avoid the Bigg Market at weekends- it’s a very full-on experience, involving a great deal of alcohol.
Newcastle is fairly compact, and a recent scheme offers free parking after 5 pm at many of the big car parks, including Eldon Garden and Eldon Square. You can also park and ride, from several Metro stations- check here: http://www.newcastle.gov.uk
Bikes are available to hire in the city centre for a small fee- after you’ve paid a 1p registration fee. It’s a fairly flat city to ride around, but there are not cycle lanes on every road, so would suit experienced riders better than beginners.
A line goes from the airport to South Hylton in Sunderland- the other from St James, via the North Tyneside Coast loop to South Shields. £1.40 for 1 zone, £2.20 for 2 zones and £2.90 for 3 zones one-way. Return tickets and day passes are better value for money.
To get between North and South Shields, two towns located at the mouth of the River Tyne, but on opposing sides, use the Shields Ferry. The ferry terminal is just outside North Shields. To get to the port, there is no direct public transport, but DFDS run a double decker scheme with 2 departures a day- or taxis take under 15 minutes and cost around £12 from the city centre.
Trains stop at Newcastle central station. There are frequent inter-city services between Newcastle and London, which takes about 3 hours, and also to the North West of the country via York. You can also easily reach Edinburgh.
To see train timetables and to book visit The Trainline.