NEWCASTLE: A Geordie guide to a belting weekend on the Toon
England’s northernmost city boasts brilliant bars, exciting eateries and welcoming locals – no wonder it’s regularly voted one of the best places in the country for a night out. There’s more to the Toon than brown ale and oversized angels...
Newcastle at a glance:
• Towering into the sky with its wings spread wide, the Angel of the North marks your approach to a city that always offers a warm welcome
• Forget fog on the Tyne, the busy Quayside is a place to dine in style or enjoy drinks on the river
• There’s nothing quite like the atmosphere on match day at St James Park, but make sure you book tickets in advance if you know you’re going to be there during a game
• Boasts brilliant bars, beautiful bridges and some of the best spots to sup the locally brewed Newcastle Brown Ale
If you’re arriving in the city centre by train you’ll find plenty of architectural treats as soon as you step onto the station platform. Venture up into the Grainger Town area on foot and you will encounter sights like the Theatre Royal and Grey’s Monument, built in honour of the former prime minister who gave his name to Earl Grey tea. Take a seat at one of the coffee shop or restaurant’s street tables and watch the locals go about their business.
The Bigg Market – bustling bars and burgers
This bustling area in the centre of Newcastle is a popular nightspot for students during the week and is equally busy at weekends. Here you’ll find bars in close proximity and a smattering of faithful takeaways, such as Munchies. Groups often start at the nearby Gate, which is home to bars including Tiger Tiger and Sam Jacks then move on to the Market – a popular stop off for stag dos thanks to the late licences.
The Quayside – where upmarket hospitality and culture collide
Home to upmarket hotels like The Vermont and the Malmaison, Newcastle’s Quayside has plenty to offer by night and by day and, thanks to its three iconic bridges, it’s a great spot for photography too.
Enjoy lunch with a view in the Baltic’s own SIX rooftop restaurant or pitch up at the Pitcher & Piano . Time it right and you might catch the Millennium Bridge tilt to allow boats to pass through. Find the finest food at Kenny Atkinson’s much-praised House of Tides and discover proper pub food – including the best bar snacks around – at The Broad Chare .
Ouseburn – laidback long days in the valley
On sunny summer days the banks of Ouseburn are packed out with people sunning themselves, pint in hand. But even when it’s attracting the crowds there’s something a little laid back about the Ouseburn Valley. A must-visit for ale enthusiasts, Ouseburn is scattered with pubs like The Cluny , The Cumberland Arms and The Tyne Bar , which sit alongside arty spots like The Star and Shadow Cinema. Visit The Free Trade Inn’s beer garden at sunset.
The Diamond Strip – the VIP zone
Running along Collingwood Road is Newcastle’s ‘Diamond Strip’, a collection of bars where you’ll find décor with a contemporary feel, once you get passed the less modern queues. Seen as ‘the place’ to be in Newcastle, this area does take itself a little more seriously than most other areas. Visit popular Madame Koo , Perdu , House of Smith and Bijoux and you’ll mostly be greeted by a fairly strict door policy balanced by a good range of drinks and danceable music that ranges from funky house and techno to R’n’B.
Jesmond – student central
One of the most popular places to eat, drink, shop and stay outside of the city centre is Jesmond. During university term time it’s inhabited by a lot of students, who seem to find a home away from home in the local Waitrose. The area’s popular Osborne Road is typically packed on bank holidays, with locals and visitors enjoying the hospitality of the many hotels and bars that flow into one another. If you’re spending the day here, visit burger joint the Fat Hippo on St George’s Terrace for a juicy burger that always hit the spot. Make sure you wash it down with one of the venue’s speciality alcoholic shakes.
Exploring the Geordie ale scene:
Want to move beyond the Newcastle Brown Ale? Beer lovers blend in well in Newcastle thanks to a burgeoning beer and real ale scene and you could spend a weekend simply stepping from one great venue to the next. Treat your tastebuds under the Tyne Bridge in the Bridge Tavern . If you’re in the Quayside area, be sure to check if one of the regular beer and cider events is happening at the Free Trade Inn. Up from the Tavern in the other direction you’ll find BrewDog on Dean Street, which has built up a number of fans in its short time in the city. A short walk from the train station and conveniently close to the city’s O2 Academy club is Tilleys on Westgate road, which has some great hand-pulled beers as well as some fruitier bottled finds.
The Pink Triangle – home to Newcastle’s thriving gay scene
Newcastle has a thriving gay scene and the establishments situated on the ‘Pink Triangle’ formed by Westmorland Road, Scotswood Road and St James are largely welcoming to straight clientele too. Only a few minutes walk from Central Station, here you’ll find plenty of shows with sparkle and a great stomping ground in the form of late-opening nightclub Powerhouse.
Newcastle’s best bars:
Appreciate the skills of a fine bartender? If you’re looking for something to mix it up with the beer then there are plenty of places to sample a cocktail or enjoy a well prepared drink.
Pleased to Meet You (High Bridge) specialises in gins, while Bonbar (Fenkle Street) is a fairly new addition to the scene and the food and drink in this flashy venue are consistently good. If you want to indulge as soon as you arrive, Jalou (Neville Street) is a few steps away from the train station and has some good midweek deals combined with an interesting cocktail menu. A little out of the way but well worth a trip is Alvinos on Pilgrim Street, which has friendly door staff, relaxed music and a roof terrace that offers a welcome breather during the summer.
Newcastle’s best nightclubs:
MSA, Hood Street
Hipster hangout Music Slash Art is a fairly new kid on the block that offers a different vibe to the city’s Diamond Strip. You’ll find it on Hood Street – down from the Monument.
Bar Livello, Lower Dean Street
Trendy in a more traditional way, Livello attracts a consistent crowd who appreciate the disco ball and late night opening.
Flares, Mosley Street
You’ll find a Flares or an establishment like it in most cities and when it comes to fancy dress friendly venues for stag parties, this venue close to the Bigg Market is always a safe bet.
Digital, Times Square
If you’re serious about your dance music, Digital is the venue for you. Situated a few minutes walk from Central Station it hosts regular nights as well as DJ sets and gigs.
Food: eat like a local:
Eating in Newcastle is a real pleasure, with plenty of options to keep things tasty and cheap or enjoy a serious splurge if you want to step it up a notch. On the Quayside, the super-swish House of Tides and pub The Broad Chare have both built excellent and well-deserved reputations for serving up fine food with a local influence. Staying in the same area, Redhouse serves pies and pints at affordable prices.
Chinatown sits on the west of the city towards St James’ Park and is a great place to start your night before heading along for drinks at The Gate or a little roulette at nearby Asper’s Casino , which is home to its own restaurant, Freya’s.
Need to blast a hangover? Try Butterfly Cabinet in Heaton, which frequently impresses with a decent veggie breakfast option. If you’re in town, head to Quay Ingredient on the Quayside, where eggs benedict and coffee should help recharge your batteries.
Alternatively, take a turn up to Ouseburn and visit Ernest , where the build your own brekkie or all day brunch options should see you right. If only a Bloody Mary will see you through, visit the Mal or Hotel du Vin for the superb Sunday brunch options.
The best view of the city:
Newcastle is a place of peaks and valleys, which means there are some great views to be appreciated across the city. The rooftop of SIX at the Baltic centre and the beer garden of the Free Trade Inn are both superb places to enjoy the sunset, drink in hand.
You shouldn’t find it hard to track down a taxi in the Toon, particularly near the recently refurbished train station, which connects directly to the town’s Metro system. The Metro links Newcastle up with the North East coast as well as the nearby city of Sunderland. Want to head further north? Catch a bus from the Haymarket to explore the picturesque towns, villages and castles of the Northumberland coastline.
Did you know?
Although the city dates back to 1400, Newcastle upon Tyne was actually part of Northumberland rather than Tyne and Wear until 1974.