Named the best place to visit in the UK in 2018 by Rough Guides, Newcastle and Gateshead offers visitors so much more than a party lifestyle, with world-beating culture, award-winning food, unbeatable shopping and stunning architecture all there to be sampled on a 48-hour stay.
Breakfast is said to be the most important meal, and you will certainly need to fill up to fuel what will be a packed day of sightseeing in one of the UK’s most outward facing, vibrant and cultural cities. Quay Ingredient on Queen Street just off Newcastle Quayside serves delicious cooked breakfasts from 8am until late morning, including a full English, pancakes, cured bacon stotties (a round disk of bread that is a traditional North East delicacy) and eggs Benedict, with plenty of freshly-brewed coffee and tea to wash it all down.
It’s ideally located for a post-breakfast stroll along the Quayside, taking in the view of all seven of Newcastle-Gateshead’s river crossings, including the iconic Tyne and Swing Bridges. Then it’s a leisurely walk across the impressive Gateshead Millennium Bridge – the world’s first and only tilting bridge – which links the bustling and lively north bank of the Tyne in Newcastle with the cultural quarter on the south side. Here you will find the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, once a flour mill that now hosts a diverse and dynamic programme of exhibitions and activities from internationally-renowned artists in four specially-created spaces.
Make your way to the level five viewing box for a panoramic view of the Newcastle-Gateshead cityscape. Alongside BALTIC is the spectacular Sage Gateshead live music venue with its dramatic curved steel roof. If you are lucky, you may catch a live music performance on the spectacular concourse. Watch the comings and goings on the River Tyne while you lunch on the seasonal, mainly locally-sourced menu at Sage Gateshead’s Sir Michael Straker Café, where all day brunch is served until 4pm.
Wander back over the Gateshead Millennium Bridge and watch the 600 or so pairs of kittiwakes which have made the Tyne Bridge their home. The furthest inland colony in the world, it also makes Newcastle one of the few cities anywhere to have seabirds at its heart. Nearby you will find Bessie Surtees House, actually two former merchants’ homes built in the 16th and 17th centuries that have a romantic past. It is from here that Bessie eloped with John Scott, a coal merchant’s son, who was to later become the Lord Chancellor of England.
Time to take a deep breath and make the steep climb up Dean Street to Grey Street to admire the Regency architecture that many believe rivals Bath in its beauty. A few minutes’ walk away is the glass covered Grainger Market, home to a diverse range of shops, cafes and street food outlets, including Marks and Spencer’s Original Penny Bazaar, the world’s smallest M&S store. Finish the day off on a Michelin-starred high at House of Tides on Newcastle Quayside, where chef Kenny Atkinson – a familiar face on the BBC’s Saturday Morning Kitchen and The Great British Menu – works his culinary magic.
Quay Ingredient on Queen Street just off Newcastle Quayside serves delicious cooked breakfasts from 8am until late morning, including a full English, pancakes and cured bacon stotties
Start the day off with a cooked English breakfast, homemade waffles or salmon and poached eggs, at Violets on The Side in Newcastle – owned and run by Michelin-starred chef Kenny Atkinson’s wife, Abbie. Refreshed and replete, it’s time to visit the impressive Norman fortress which gave Newcastle its name. Find out all about the history of this great city, and get a birds’ eye view from the turrets of the surrounding urban landscape and the River Tyne.
Newcastle is home to some of the UK’s finest museums and art galleries: the unique Centre for Life, where visitors are encouraged to explore, get stuck in and have fun across a variety of zones; the Discovery Museum telling the story of the region’s maritime, scientific and technological history; and the Great North Museum: Hancock, focusing on natural history and boasting an impressive planetarium. Or if art is more to your taste, head for either the Laing whose highlights include works by Thomas Bewick, John Martin and Paul Gaugin, or the Hatton, embracing pieces from Francis Bacon to Eduardo Paolozzi and what is said to be German artist Kurt Schwitters best work, the Merz Barn Wall collage.
Fenwick Food Hall is the place to head for lunch where you will find a myriad of dining experiences from the Mason and Rye cafe to the Naked Deli. For an afternoon’s shopping, Eldon Square is the place to go with its impressive list of more than 150 high street names and specialist outlets, while Northumberland Street is home to more popular brands. Grainger Town features smaller boutique shops and exclusive names like Reiss and Space NK.
Round off the day with dinner and a pint at the River Brew Co’s Gateshead shipping container village nestled beneath the Tyne Bridge, with its in-house brewery, taproom, restaurant and hawkers’ market with 15 independent local food outlets.
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