A weekend in Newcastle: Where to stay, where to eat and what to do

Ellie Ross
Here's all you need to know if you're looking to spend a weekend in Newcastle. [Photo: Getty]

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Newcastle is perhaps best known for its thumping nightlife and energetic student population. But there’s far more to this riverside city than partying. Set amidst a dramatic backdrop of industrial grit mixed with Victorian elegance, it boasts a sprinkling of galleries, boutique hotels, rich culture and an increasingly diverse culinary scene.

Explore the city centre and quayside areas along the Tyne, before venturing further afield. If time allows, head towards the revamped Ouseburn Valley to the east, Jesmond to the north, and the surf beaches of Tynemouth on the coast.

Newcastle: Fun facts

  • Lucozade was invented here. The energy drink was originally created as "Glucozade" in 1927 by pharmacist William Walker Hunter.

  • The High Level Bridge, designed by Robert Stephenson between 1847 and 1849, was the world’s first bridge to combine rail and road traffic.

  • Famous Geordies include the former Girls Aloud singer Cheryl, footballer Alan Shearer, TV presenting duo Ant and Dec and The Police frontman Gordon Matthew Thomas Sumner (aka Sting).

The Tyne Bridge over the River Tyne in Newcastle Upon Tyne. [Photo: Getty]

Here’s our guide to the best places to stay and eat, and what to do while you’re in Newcastle – no matter your budget.

Where to stay

If you’re on a budget

Check in to Motel One, a budget hotel with a designer feel located in the heart of the city. You’ll be well placed to explore Newcastle with this as your base – it’s set right on cobbled High Bridge - one of the city's oldest streets - with most of the main sights accessible within a ten-minute walk. Inside, you’ll find some original features from the 19th century building blended with modern touches, such as colourful retro-style chairs and classy hardwood floors. Doubles from £69.

Book the hotel here

The exterior of Motel One. [Photo: Motel One]

If you’re looking for luxury

The Hotel du Vin sits inside a former commercial building near the Quayside. It has the company’s trademark style, with clubby touches such as Chesterfield sofas, exposed brickwork, slate and wooden floors and modern lighting. Decorated in shades of grey and coffee, rooms are smart and spacious, and the bathrooms feature lovely roll-top tubs. The French-bistro menu is just the ticket after a day exploring Newcastle. Doubles from £95.

Book the hotel here

A room at Hotel du Vin. [Photo: Hotel du Vin]

Where to eat

If you’re on a budget

The Botanist is set inside an incredible building with a huge glass domed ceiling and botanical décor. There are live music performances every day and gin and ale masterclasses. A two-course, set menu costs £12.95. Tuck into calamari with sweet chilli and creme fraiche to start, followed by a juicy cheeseburger or sweet potato and beetroot salad.

The stylish interiors at The Botanist. [Photo: The Botanist]

If you’re looking for luxury

For a taste of Newcastle best fine dining, slip into a leather booth at Dobson and Parnell, which has been included in the Michelin Guide. Dishes are so beautifully presented they look like works of art, and there’s also a children’s menu and extensive collection of wines including a rose from Devon. The menu is British and European-inspired, with highlights including roast duck breast, parmesan gnocchi and chai rice pudding. Choose from the daily menu (mains from £15) or the tasting menu (£50 for five courses).

The chic dining area at Dobson and Parnell. [Photo: Dobson and Parnell]

What to do

If you’re on a budget

Art lovers should venture to the Gateshead side of the Millennium Bridge and pay a visit to BALTIC. Housed inside a landmark industrial building, it’s the largest gallery of its kind, showcasing an impressive amount of contemporary art with everything from quirky installations and interactive exhibitions to live dance performances. Free to enter, this gallery has also previously been the host of the Turner Prize. For something closer to the city centre, check out the Great North Museum, which is also free. Kids will love the ‘Mouse House’, while other galleries are dedicated to everything from Hadrian’s Wall to Ancient Egyptians.

The unique Great North Museum in Newcastle upson Tyne. [Photo: Great North Museum]

If you’re looking for luxury

Don’t miss Newcastle Castle, which is where the city got its name. Take in its square Norman keep and the Black Gate, and uncover the history of the city, its castle and residents with the indoor exhibits. The castle occupies a hilltop location five minutes’ walk from the railway station and the 360-degree city views from the rooftop are the best in town. Adult tickets cost £7.50; under-fives go free.

You can visit the historical Newcastle Castle. [Photo: Newcastle Castle]

How to get there

The Virgin Trains East Coast service links Newcastle with London, Edinburgh and other UK cities. Other UK destinations across the Pennines, including Manchester, are connected via Cross Country TrainsFlybe flies to Newcastle airport from Exeter and Newquay.

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