May 07, 2019
Newcastle travel guide
Ahead of the trip to Newcastle this weekend for the Heieneken Champions Cup final we’ve teamed up with our Travel Partners Thomas Cook Sport to bring you the ultimate city guide.
Whistle-stop city tour
Newcastle has one of the strongest regional identities in the United Kingdom and it has been the key hub at the heart of the north-east for hundreds of years. Home to some of the country’s most famous symbols, including: the Angel of the North, the Millennium Bridge, St James’ Park, the Sage and the Tyne Bridge, the locals are intensely proud of Geordie Land and its heritage – get ready for a warm welcome.
There has been a settlement on the north bank of the Tyne since the Roman era and evidence of this ancient past is dotted all around the region. Most notably, outside Wallsend Metro station where you’ll find the Segedunum Roman Fort ruins and museum, while the world-famous ruins of Hadrian’s Wall are just a short drive from the city.
Within the city limits, the history is a little more modern. The castle after which the city is named is a positive spring chicken at just 940-years-old, for example. Open to visitors seven days a week, the building tells a brutal story of one of the crown’s few northern strongholds and the ruthless iron fist that was needed to curb the region’s turbulent politics throughout the ages. Just over the road you’ll also find Newcastle Cathedral, built in 1350, the cathedral is named after St Nicholas, the patron saint of sailors and boats - its spire was once home to a bonfire which acted as a beacon for ships as they journeyed up the foggy Tyne. The Victoria Tunnel is also worth exploring, open for a limited period each year, the underground 19th century wagonway has an incredible history of the city’s shipbuilding and mercantile past.
So far, we’ve covered the Romans, a castle built by William the Conqueror’s eldest son in 1080, a cathedral built in the dark ages and even touched on the 19th century along the way too. During the 1800s, the city was an economic hub to rival anywhere else in Europe, it had enjoyed relatively steady growth from a woollen trade and by this time the city was well established as the world’s biggest shipbuilding and repairing centre. Richard Grainger developed a new area of the city further up the hill from the Tyne. Grainger Town grew into the new downtown area of Newcastle and it is now home to its most spectacular architecture. Wander from Grainger Market through the streets and Central Arcade to Grey’s Monument and down onto Grey St, home to the Theatre Royal, to experience it all in one sweep.
There’s plenty of great places to eat and drink on the Toon, you’ll find lots of fantastic Indian options, with the Sachins near the train station offering the very best south Indian cuisine, while Valley Junction, near old Jesmond Metro station has the added luxury of one of Newcastle’s finest pubs on its doorstep, The Carriage. If Indian doesn’t tickle your fancy then Peace and Loaf on the outskirts of Jesmond Dene certainly will – opened by a former MasterChef contestant, the eatery has received plaudit after plaudit since opening. For a drink, head into Jesmond and wander around Osborne Rd - lined with bar after bar which the friendly student population keeps busy every evening. For those looking for pubs rather than bars, take a short taxi to the Ousburn area of the city, under Byker Bridge. Here you will find the infamous Cluny music venue – those who know, know – as well as the Free Trade Inn, The Ship and, of course, the Tyne Bar. Which is a pub, despite the name.
End your whistle stop tour of the city down on its Quayside, the city’s former shipbuilding centre is now home to a gentrified waterfront with bars and restaurants to spend your evening. The Quayside is home to the Millennium Bridge, Sage, and the Baltic Gallery, all of which are a fantastic backdrop to wind down your evening.
On matchday, you can use the Tyne and Wear Metro to get to the ground, the underground’s yellow line runs to St James’ Station on matchdays and will drop you directly underneath the 52,000-seater stadium. St James’ is also just a short walk from the centre, so if you’re planning on spending some time in Newcastle centre before the game then there’s no need to get on the Metro again. Drop by the famed Strawberry pub before the game, the Toon Army’s favourite drinking hole, or try Shark Club opposite the stadium – well worth a quick stop if you’re looking to soak in the pre-game atmosphere.