6 Reasons to Explore Newcastle Upon Tyne

6 Reasons to Explore Newcastle Upon Tyne

20 December 2018

Destination Focus : Newcastle Upon Tyne 


With Grand UK Holidays, an added bonus too many of our tours is that you get free time popular destinations across the UK, but then what will you do with your free time?

To help you prepare for your free time in Newcastle, we have created our top recommendations for half and full day activities.

All of our top tips have been endorsed by previous holiday makers.

Victoria Tunnel

Despite being a long way underground, there is nothing gloomy about Victoria Tunnel; You can opt to join either a 1 or 2 hour tour of the fully preserved tunnels.  Originally built in the 19th century the tunnels were used to transport coal but were re-opened in the World War II as a shelter during air raids.

The tour begins in the main office, which takes you on a trip back in history with its black and white photos of historic Ouseburn.

The tour then continues with your personal informative and funny guide. Who will bring the tunnels to life with their knowledge, stories and their accounts of people who lived in the area in the 19th century.

As a bonus the tunnels are in a fantastic location in Ouseburn, which means you can easy to combine this tour along with other attractions in one day.

*Top Tip: Be sure you wear sturdy shoes with good grip, as the tunnels can be damp and the temperature in the tunnel is a constant 12°C, so plan your clothing accordingly.

Newcastle Castle

It wouldn't be a visit to Newcastle without heading to the fantastically preserved castle that dates back to 1178, this is one of the best kept Norman stone buildings in The UK.

Originally the castle was occupied by Romans and settlements known as the Pons Aelius however, in the 12th century the ‘New’ stone castle was built by William II and introduced the addition of the Black Gate.

Once inside you are met with well displayed, informative and intriguing information. The volunteers work hard to make all parts of the castle Interactive and if you dare, head to the dungeons and view the rings still in the wall from the chains and shackles.

You could easily spend hours exploring the rooms, corridors, trying on costumes and enjoying the castle, however, one thing you must do if you are able is to take the steps up to the turrets of the Castle and admire the view over the city itself.

The location of the castle is in the heart of the city centre, 10-minute walk from Central Station you could spend either a whole or half a day here.


Blackfriars is a former Dominican 13th Century Friary and the medieval buildings were established in 1239. Nowadays Friary buildings hosts a restaurant and some specialist crafts shops. The grounds are open to the public and there is information dotted about the grounds giving the history what part of the grounds where used for.

Within the complex you will find a Parlour Bar (the oldest standing bar in Newcastle), the restaurant which is believed to be the oldest purpose-built restaurant in the UK and also hosts a Whisky Tasting Room.

The atmosphere and indoors design is amazing and takes you back in time with touch of aristocratic taste. The choice of food and wine is really good, however, it can be busy and be pricey however, check out the set menu at lunch time, you can choose from a menu and 3 delicious courses cost just £18.

I recommend having a look at their Blackfriars Menus and potentially pre-book a table for the day you intend to visit so that you are not disappointed.

The Quayside

If you are looking for a more relaxed activity then I would recommend taking a walk along the Quayside. In this very scenic area of Newcastle you’ll have views of all the bridges including the iconic Tyne and Swing Bridges and the magnificent Millennium Bridge. There are plenty of places to eat and sit along the way, it makes for a stress-free picturesque walk.

In the evening the area is lit up as the lights reflect on the Tyne River, providing you with the perfect picture moment.

 Jesmond Dene Park

Laid out by Lord Armstrong in Victorian times the Dene has approximately 2 miles of scenic walking available, Jesmond Dene Park is perhaps the best way to experience this side of Newcastle and escape the hustle and bustle of city life.

You can choose a number of well-maintained routes and paths of varied in distance, while a stroll around the whole park will take around 2 hours (depending if you linger for food or at the petting zoo). I recommend taking the short trail along the river to admire the picturesque abandoned water mill.

The Corner House End is the restaurant within the Park, open most days and sells a range of pleasant scones, cakes and homemade sandwiches for hungry walkers, the food is reasonably priced and there is even a petting zoo at the back.

So whether you like to walk, people watch or just enjoy the country life Jesmond Dene Park is a must for a bit of peace and quiet in your day.

Grey Street

If like me when you travel you love to take a trip to the local shops and treat yourself or someone else, Newcastle doesn’t disappoint.

From the usual highstreets shops to little boutiques and specialist food shops, it is a delight to walk down Grey Street, you feel safe in the warm and welcoming friendly atmosphere.

With beautiful sandstone buildings and the central architectural master piece of the Theatre Royal, the whole area has a sense elegance and the buildings all tell stories of the history of Newcastle.

It is lovely, clean and central to other popular attractions so you can pop down on your way too or from, if you fancy a spot of lunch there are many nice bars, restaurants and coffee shops to choose from.

More Information

Getting Around.

There are plenty other attractions in Newcastle to be found, Hadrian’s Wall, the many Cathedrals, churches and the Belsay Hall gardens are some other top places to visit.

For more information on these talk to your Tour Manager or take at look at the official FREE Pocket Guide to Newcastle 

Your time in Newcastle doesn’t have to be spent wondering how to get around, here we have linked the Bus routes, and maps to help you plan your visit.

*If you are on one of our many tours, speak to your Tour Manager about any updates for Getting Around Newcastle


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