I had the pleasure of visiting Newcastle for a weekend thanks to NewcastleGateshead.com. Their latest campaign, #TheTyneIsNow aims to show people that Newcastle (and Gateshead across the river) is an amazing, underrated weekend destination.
The “Toon”, as locals like to call it, will be hosting the Great Exhibition of the North this summer so it’s the perfect time to visit! Over 80 days, Newcastle Gateshead will be filled with amazing art, exhibits, and live performances. Head over there between 22nd June and 9th September to see the city buzzing even more than usual!
How to get there
Virgin Trains East Coast only takes 3 hours to get from King’s Cross in London to Newcastle Central Station. We travelled First Class which was fabulous as they served us a light breakfast and plenty of much-needed tea and coffee. The same journey would take you 5 hours by car, so I’d recommend opting for the train for a quick and stress-free journey.
Where to stay
Jesmond Dene House is a lovely boutique hotel in a quiet neighbourhood just a 10 minute taxi ride away from the centre. Rooms are spacious, beds very comfortable and service was friendly and helpful. They do a great afternoon tea, which was the best way to end our trip!
I stayed in the city center on my first ever visit to Newcastle and wouldn’t recommend it unless you want to go clubbing – it can get pretty wild! Jesmond is a very nice alternative.
Eat your way around the city
Around 90% of our time in Newcastle and Gateshead was spent eating delicious food, so it only seems right to make this guide a foodie one. We had everything from elegant dinner and afternoon tea to lunch in a shipping container and snacks at a fancy food hall.
What I love about Newcastle’s food scene is that there seems to be a real community of restaurateurs, pub owners, and local artisans. Ask questions and people will happily tell you about where their coffee/beer/cheese/chicken comes from. Geordies (as the locals are often called) take real pride in supporting small businesses and using local produce, which is really lovely.
Head to Cook House for delicious food cooked by the lovely Anna Hedworth using fresh local produce. Eating at her restaurant feels like sitting in her kitchen – in a good way! Cook House was featured on Channel 4’s ‘Hidden Restaurants’ TV show and The Guardian has called it a hidden gem, so you know it’s good! Have a look at the website for supper clubs and food market dates, and keep an eye out for Anna’s upcoming book, merging recipes and stories of starting a food business. Her food blog is fantastic too.
Update: cook house has now moved to a bigger venue which is super exciting! I’ll be dropping by for some lunch next time I’m in Newcastle.
Visit Wylam Brewery in Exhibition Park for Sunday roast and craft beer. We were taken on a tour of the brewery and weren’t meant to eat anything there, but the lovely Dave couldn’t resist giving us a taste of the Sunday Roast. It was one of the best I’ve ever had! The roast pork was incredibly tasty. Book 3 to 4 weeks in advance to make sure you get a table – it’s very popular at the weekends.
Dobson and Parnell
Book a table at the elegant Dobson and Parnell restaurant for a sophisticated meal. This is modern British cuisine with some pickling, curing and smoking incorporated. I really enjoyed my rack of Yorkshire lamb and the other girls only had good things to say about the halibut. Go for lunch Tues-Sat and get a 3 course set menu for only £19 – bargain!
Fenwicks Food Hall
Visit Fenwick food hall for locally sourced treats including gin, baked goods, locally roast coffee, and cheeses from nearby farms. Try Doddington Cheeses or the Northumberland Nettle cheese, they’re delicious. Gin is the best selling category here and I can understand why: the variety of gins on offer is amazing and a pretty bottle from a local distillery makes for a lovely gift. The food hall reminded me of Selfridges Foodhall in London, but friendlier and with more local products.
Grainger market for retro signage and a variety of shops and cafes. One of Marks and Spencer’s original penny bazaars is here, and its beautiful signage dates back to 1895!
Try some freshly prepared dumplings from Nan Bei – I recommend the excellent house special!
Riley’s Fish Shack
Head over to the beach in Tynemouth for the best seafood in town, from a shack (two containers) on the beach. Riley’s is incredibly popular on a sunny day, and it’s easy to see why. Not only does it have a prime location on the beach next to Tynemouth priory and castle, it also serves up fresh, seasonal and delicious fish dishes cooked on a wood fired oven. The menu is ever changing but you can expect it to feature dishes like monkfish kebab, chargrilled lobster, and stuffed squid with chorizo.
House of Tides
If you feel like trying the very best fine dining in Newcastle, House of Tides is the place to go. This is the only Michelin Star in town, and Chef Kenny Atkinson has become quite the celebrity chef. He’s a double winner of The Great British Menu and is a regular on shows like BBC1’s Saturday Kitchen & ITV Saturday Morning with James Martin. Sadly we didn’t have time to visit on this trip, but the food has been described by the Michelin guide as “creative dishes which are well-balanced and attractively presented”.
Try some local watering holes
Ouseburn Valley is a fantastic place for craft beer lovers. Our guide for an evening, beer writer Alastair Gilmour, took us around this area of Newcastle and showed us all the best places. He is an expert and a fountain of knowledge, so check out his website and get in touch if you need a guide!
Walk up a hill to The Cumberland Arms, my favourite of all the pubs we visited, and take a seat in the beer garden or inside by the log fire. The owner was happy to chat us through all of the different types of Northern Alchemy beers and I loved the sweet Pineapple IPA and the breakfast-inspired Marmalade & Assam Tea IPA.
Free Trade Inn
Head to the Free Trade Inn just before sunset to enjoy some real ales and the amazing views over Newcastle and Gateshead from one of its two beer gardens. Rumour has Jimi Hendrix used to spend time here!
As mentioned above! The Tap Room is open Thursday to Sunday, and the beer is brewed in this beautifully restored building from 1928. There are tours of the brewery on Saturdays. We were told that it’s dog friendly, child friendly, and caters to everyone from hipster to hip replacement! Try the coffee-flavoured Macchiato beer while you’re there.
Family-friendly pub by day, intimate bar venue by night – check The Cluny‘s website for listings.
More places to see
- Quayside, as the banks along Tyne river are called, is lovely for a scenic stroll. Take in the views along the river, including some of Newcastle Gateshead’s seven bridges. For a spot of culture, visit the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art housed in an old industrial building on the Gateshead side. In the summer enjoy Quayside Seaside, Newcastle’s very own little beach.
- Grainger Town is the historic heart of Newcastle, with classical architecture designed in the 1830s by Richard Grainger. Head South down Grey Street to admire some of the city’s finest buildings, including the much loved Theatre Royal.
- Tynemouth Castle and Priory used to be one of the largest fortified areas in England, and enjoys views of the coast and out onto the North Sea. A nice picnic spot!
- The Angel of the North is a huge sculpture in Gateshead that has become a symbol for the North East.
- Next time, I want to visit Saltwell Park in Gateshead. It looks very pretty!
This foodie weekend made me fall in love with Newcastle. I had visited the city once before but hadn’t been convinced – it just goes to show that knowing the best places to go instead of just wandering around can sometimes make a huge difference! I can honestly recommend all of the places listed above, and would encourage you to start conversations with every local person you meet. They’re usually more than happy to recommend their favourite places and share interesting stories about their beloved Toon!
This post was written in collaboration with NewcastleGateshead.com. Thanks to them for organising such a fun foodie weekend!