For the August bank holiday, we booked reward flights to Gothenburg with British Airways. When threats of a strike loomed, we decided to pull the plug and enjoy a staycation. One city I’ve been itching to explore further is Newcastle, a heartwarming city oozing with bars and close to dramatic natural scenery. We decided to spend the long weekend in the area and share some of the highlights of our trip. It may surprise you to discover that there is so much more to Newcastle than a good night out.
So, here’s what you should do on a weekend in Newcastle (especially if you’d prefer to burn some calories rather than nurse a hangover!)
48 hours in Newcastle and Durham
Friday night – Newcastle
Arrive in Newcastle in time for happy hour cocktails at one of the many city establishments. Try Pitcher and Piano on the Quayside, Trakol on the Gateshead quays, or Stack in the centre of town. The latter is a modern outdoor eating and drinking space offering a multitude of different cuisines, a variety of bars and live events. On a balmy summer evening in August, it was hugely tempting to waste away the hours sipping cocktails but we had other plans for our weekend.
For those who love wines, you may wish to stay at the Hotel Du Vin and partake from their extensive wine list. (I highly recommend the Kelland & Jackson Chardonnay).
Saturday morning – South shields
As tempting as it may be to indulge, there are ample delights to explore in the surrounding area. Jump on the Metro (or take the car) out to South Shields for a walk along the pristine promenade. Alternatively, if you are an avid runner, you may wish to join the Saturday morning Park Run which departs at 9 am from the seafront promenade. You will pass a long clean stretch of sandy beach before reaching a cliff side path which meanders along the top of rocky headlands. We were fortunate to arrive on a beautiful sunny day and the views were stunning.
Once your feet have had enough, head to the Sanddancer Pub for a coffee or late breakfast. It’s great value and is on the promenade with lovely views out to sea. I truly felt like I had entered into a bar on the Florida Keys when I walked in such was the décor. Hard to believe this beauty is just a few hours from home.
Saturday afternoon – Tynemouth
Tynemouth is another traditional seaside town reminiscent of Victorian times. With a long sandy beach and a quaint cove, hiding fabulous coffee shops, it is a great place to spend at least an afternoon. The colourful town square is packed with busy bars, coffee shops and restaurants under the watchful eye of the Priory. Down on the beach, surfers and stand up paddleboarders battle the waves while children play on the sand.
If you have enough energy, walk from the Collingwood monument and along the north pier before climbing the hill to the Tynemouth Priory. From there, you can walk around the headland to Whitley bay.
If you want to visit the priory it is £6.30 per adult and £3.80 per child. Family tickets and concessions (£5.70) My top tip for history lovers is to buy an annual English heritage membership. I promise you, you will get your money’s worth. You can visit unlimited attractions throughout the year and can save an absolute fortune.
Getting to Tynemouth
You have several options for getting between Tynemouth and South Shields. You can take the Tyne tunnel (£1.50), the metro or ferry depending on whether you are on foot or driving. The metro travels via Newcastle city centre and costs £3.10. The journey takes around an hour so the ferry is a much better option. It runs between North and South Shields every 30 minutes and and costs £1.70 for a single.
Saturday evening – Durham
From Tynemouth, head south to Durham for some cocktails or a late afternoon tea at the Hotel Indigo or Radisson Blu.
Durham is jam packed with bars, hidden in tiny nooks and crannies along the riverside. I highly recommend Tom’s Gin Bar for an eclectic interior, great drinks and fabulous views of the cathedral.
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A more modern alternative is CoHo on the lower riverbank. There is a great selection of other bars just up the stairs, including a Wetherspoons, and Champagne Bar. You can certainly enjoy a pub crawl without having to wear out too much shoe leather.
For dining, I highly recommend the Rabbit Hole. It’s a little walk from the old town but is well worth the trip. It’s website describes the restaurant as a ‘private opulent 20’s inspired Shanghai Supper Club, (which pays) homage to a bygone era of pure decadence and indulgence’. I don’t know about that but it certainly delivers great food and service in a quirky venue. If you are staying at the Hotel Indigo this restaurant is around a five minute walk.
Sunday morning – Durham cathedral
In the morning, why not try punting on the river or a visit to the exquisite Durham cathedral? This UNESCO world heritage site is mammoth and hovers majestically above the riverbanks.
The riverside path meanders alongside the winding river, and allows you to enjoy the cathedral from many vantages. Clamber up the hillside, walk up the cobbled street to the grassy common in front of the cathedral and admire it in full glory. Up close, it is even more spectacular with a grand inner courtyard, spectacular columns and dramatic stained glass windows. It’s hard to believe that it’s actually FREE to visit this incredible beauty.
Sunday afternoon – Durham town
In the afternoon, head into the cobbled streets of the old town for a spot of window shopping. Alternatively, continue your walk along the river banks. It is around a two-mile walk from the bank by the Radisson Blu to the riverside by the Hotel Indigo.
Mid afternoon – time to go home!!
Sadly it’s time to head home but the great news is you can always return for more fun in the North East.
What are your top tips for the north east?
Who else loves the North East? The more time I spend here, the more I fall in love with the friendly locals, great drinking and eating and some spectacular sights. Maybe you have some other top tips or suggestions for visitors to the area? I’d love to hear them so just dive into the comments and have your say.
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