Looking for things to do in Newcastle today, this week or during the holidays? Great news, you are in the right place as we have all of the best attractions and events to keep you and your family entertained.
As with all of our guides, the guide is broken down into easy to use sections which provide useful information and links to pages with more details or direct to attractions and event websites.
So sit back, grab your favourite drink and lets find some fun things to do in Newcastle.
Things to do in Newcastle
The Quayside which is situated in the pedestrianised area around the Tyne and High Level Bridges has been redeveloped in recent years with lots of the old buildings converted into hotels, shops, and restaurants. You can find a number of historic buildings on Sandhill, including the Guildhall which was built in 1658 and the Merchants Court. You will also find the Bessie Surtees House with its with a restored Jacobean facade, which dates from the 16th century.
A little known tourist attraction is the underground 2.5-mile-long Victoria Tunnel which runs beneath the city from Town Moor, all the way down to the river Tyne. Opened in 1842, the tunnel was built to transport coal from the colliery to riverside for transport throughout the United Kingdom. If you plan a head, you can get a guided tour of a large section which I guarantee most people living in Newcastle have never done themselves!
If you happen to be traveling with kids, be sure to visit Seven Stories, where you will find original manuscripts and illustrations from some of Britain’s most loved children’s authors. Or pop along to the Life Science Centre which is nearby and a favourite of kids and adults alike. Here you will find a huge planetarium, hands on and interactive displays and a live theatre, but make sure you have plenty of time as you could spend several hours in the Life Science Centre alone.
Seven separate bridges cross the river Tyne in and around Newcastle. The oldest of all seven is the High Level Bridge which is 165 feet high and built on two levels. Interestingly, the High Level Bridge was designed in 1849 by Robert Stephenson and opened by Queen Victoria herself.
Opened in 1876, the Swing Bridge stands on the same site as the Roman fort named Pons Aelius. The bridge that most symbolizes the city’s identity and what everyone thinks of when they visualise Newcastle is the Tyne Bridge, begun in 1925 and opened by King George V in 1928, with what was at that time the largest arch of any bridge in the world.
Gateshead Millennium Bridge, which believe it or not, is the world’s first and only tilting bridge, may be situated at the end of the line of bridges on the river Tyne and also be the newest edition but it does not let us down.
The Gateshead Millennium Bridge connects Gateshead redeveloped Quays which includes hotels, shops and galleries with Newcastle’s Quayside, the bridge not only looks fantastic and is the river Tyne’s only footbridge but it attracts people from all over the world to watch it gracefully raise and lower to allow ships past. If you want to see this, I advise watching in the evening whilst having a drink in one of the many pubs outside seating areas. The lights really add to the view.
Eldon Square Shopping Centre
If you are looking for a little retail therapy then the intu Eldon Square shopping centre is a must for your visit. With more than 150 specialist shops and high street names including John Lewis, Fenwick, Marks & Spencer, River Island, Toyshop, New Look, Debenhams and brands which include Hollister, Adidas and Apple, you are sure to find what you are looking for.
You also have plenty of choice of where to drink and eat during your visit with a great choice of restaurants and cafés including Pizza Express, Strada, Costa Coffee, Wagamama, Nando’s, Starbucks Coffee and many, many more. If all of that is not enough then head out of Newcastle city centre and just off the A1 near Gateshead you will find the Metro Centre shopping centre which provides a huge choice of shops, restaurants and leisure activities.
Great North Museum: Hancock
The Living Planet gallery spans the ground and first floor of the museum and tells the story of wildlife and habitats. It also features live animal tanks and aquaria. You will also find the Hadrian’s Wall gallery on the ground floor where you can discover the rich and vibrant history of not only the wall but also the mile castles, forts and museums that you can visit today. There are a huge amount of archaeological finds to explore which have come from the 73 mile stretch of Hadrian’s Wall.
If you are visiting with under 5s, be sure to checkout The Mouse House, which is located just inside the entrance to the museum. There are lots of regular activities for your younger ones but be sure to ask for the schedule when you first arrive at the museum.
Fossil Stories is another exhibit on the ground floor of the museum, which uses fossils to tell the story of the the landscape, animals and plants that were living millions of years ago. There is also a T.rex skeleton which always brings a ‘wow’ from both young and old.
Moving to the first floor of the Museum you find the Ancient Egyptians exhibit where you get the chance to explore the world of the Ancient Egyptians including sarcophagus’ and mummies. And if that is not enough, enjoy the stunning Greek and Etruscan collections which showcases their art and archaeology.
If you are looking for something a little more ‘alive’, be sure to check out the Natural Northumbria exhibit which takes a look at the North East of England’s plants and animals and explores the coastal areas, woodlands, lowlands and uplands.
The Great North Museum – Hancock is a great free day out for all the family so it makes it into our top 10 of things to do in Newcastle.
Life Science Centre
What is a Science Centre? What should you expect from a visit to Life?
A visit to Life is a great day out for the whole family in Newcastle upon Tyne! There’s plenty to do inside the Science Centre, and everything’s included in your Science Centre ticket price:
- Permanent and temporary exhibitions
- Britain’s most popular planetarium which has a wide range of films and live events
- The Live Science Theatre where yo can find shows and demos
- The North East’s only 4D Motion Ride with a rotating programme of adventures
- Under 7s can enjoy The Young Explorers’ Zone
- Additional workshops and activities at weekends and during school holidays.
We recommend you allow at least three hours to explore the full Science Centre, but many families choose to stay much longer.
Best night out in the world!
According to the American Weissman Tourism Report which rates the best night life in the world by location, Newcastle has been name the eighth best party town in the world.
What? Are you sure? I hear you say. If you have had a night out on the town or Toon as we call it, you will know that it rivals the likes of New York, London and even Rio. Honestly, it really is that good! Ask a Geordie and I am sure they will ask ‘why only eighth, are you sure you have been to the best bits yet?’, and they may have a point!
To be in the Bigg Market on a Friday night is to be in clubbers’ heaven. More than 50,000 people cram into the city centre, and come 3am another £500,000 has been spent. This is no new phenomenon. Thirty five years ago, enterprising and forward thinking folk started to buy old run down pubs and make them into clubs albeit without dance floors. And once that started, people have flocked to Newcastle for a night out on the Toon ever since. What was once an experience made for and enjoyed by the locals is now a tourist attraction in its own right with thousands flocking to the city not just every weekend but every night, making it the best night out in the North of England and possibly the UK (I might be a little biased!).
Today, Newcastle is back on the map for tourists from all over the world and the night clubs and pubs generate huge revenues which drives the city forward and creates a better night life experience year on year for all to enjoy. If you have not experienced it for yourself, come and enjoy the party, every night.
Not just one of the best things to do in Newcastle but one of the best nights out in the world!
What to do in Newcastle this weekend
Angel of the North
Since opening in February 1998, The Angel of the North, which was designed by Antony Gormley, has become one of the most loved and hated pieces of public art ever made.
Address: Durham Road, Low Eighton, Gateshead, Tyne and Wear, NE9 6AA
Contact: 0191 478 4222; Visit website
Opening times: 24/7, every day, all year
Whats on in Newcastle this week
Sage Gateshead is the North East’s international home for music and musical discovery. It houses two main stages of acoustic excellence, a 26-room music education centre, a music information resource centre, four bars, a brasserie and a café.
You can enjoy all kinds of music from rock, classical, indie, pop, jazz, acoustic, country, folk, electronic, dance and has its own orchestra, Northern Sinfonia which takes centre stage during the Sage Gateshead’s classical programme.
Sage Gateshead is the hub for a superb music Learning and Participation programme delivered across the whole of the North East and Cumbria, and offers a wide range of opportunities to explore and create all kinds of music, for people of all ages at every level of ability and experience.
The building itself is spectacular and entry is free, so pop in and have a look around for great views of the Quayside, definitely one of the best things to do in Newcastle.
The Sage Gateshead is in the top 5 best concert halls in the world
Lorin Maazel, Philharmonia’s Director of Touring
Address: St Mary’s Square, Gateshead Quays, Gateshead, Tyne and Wear, NE8 2JR
Contact: 0191 443 4666; http://www.sagegateshead.com
Prices: Free Entry, check prices for concerts and events
Opening times: All year round
Kids activities in Newcastle
Blue Reef Aquarium
The Blue Reef Aquarium is not just home to all creatures aquatic but you also can see the monkeys and reptiles in the Amazonian exhibit and visit the California sea lions at Seal Cove. So if you want to see cute seals and otters, laugh at the clownfish or hide from the sharks, the Blue Reef Aquarium is bound to provide entertainment to you and your family for hours.
Make sure that you do not miss the fun talks and feeding sessions which take place throughout the day, simply ask for more details when you arrive, the staff are friendly and always ready to help.
Address: Grand Parade, Tynemouth, Tyne and Wear, NE30 4JF
Contact: 0191 258 1031; http://www.bluereefaquarium.co.uk/tynemouth/
Prices: Tickets from £7.75 children
Opening times: daily 10am-5pm, except December 25
Days out in Newcastle
You can experience the thrill of catching and riding a wave on our indoor surfing and body boarding FlowRider®. All sessions last one hour and involve up to eight riders at a time. Your first booking will include a safety session.
The FlowRider® surfing machine which is the only one outside of the South of England and a worthy entry into our best things to do in Newcastle list, generates a wave just as you can see in the picture. With this artificially generated wave you can have a go at body boarding and surfing in a safe and warm environment (this is Britain after all) under the trained supervision of the FlowRider staff.
- Must be pre-booked
- Body boarding minimum height = 3ft 6in
- Surfing minimum height = 4ft 4in
- You must where a t-shirt over your swim suit at all times
Booking and Price information:
Please contact FlowRider directly to check availability and latest pricing.
Sessions run for one hour and there’s a 15-minute break between each new activity. For example, first session is 8.45am to 9.45am, followed by the second session at 10am to 11am.
Address: Heworth Leisure Centre, High Lanes, Gateshead, Tyne And Wear, NE10 0PT
Contact: 0191 433 5715; firstname.lastname@example.org
Prices: £15.00 Adult, £10.00 Child per 1hr session
Opening times: daily but please call the attraction directly to avoid disappointment.
Things to do in Newcastle – conclusion
Newcastle is a vibrant, busy city with events, concerts, shows opening every week. The night life provides something for everyone, from the theatre and concerts to the clubs and restaurants. There are so many things to do in Newcastle that it is likely you will spend many, many days having fun and enjoying yourself before you become bored. When that happens, head to the beaches and amazing countryside surrounding Newcastle, trust us, it is amazing.
If you would like additional ideas for things to do in Newcastle, why not take a look at more of the attractions and events in our other Newcastle guides: