McKelvie’s Cities – Newcastle

| January 3, 2016

Newcastle has come on quite a journey over the last few decades. Life has returned with a joyous Geordie bang to the banks of the River Tyne in the form of world class museums and cultural attractions. The nightlife remains justifiably legendary, but there is also a heightened level of sophistication that is reflected in Michelin star restaurants and better hotels.

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Friday

Midday – Check into Newcastle’s new Crowne Plaza. It sits handily behind Newcastle Railway Station, with its higher floors offering sweeping city views.

1.30pm – The Broad Chare is one of the newer wave of bars, cafes and restaurants that have sprung up around the revamped Quayside. Enjoy local delights such as Lindisfarne oysters and a pint of prawns, washed down with a Camerons Brewery ale, from the largest independent brewer in the North East.

3pm – The Great North Museum: Hancock boasts an impressive sweep of natural history exhibits, as well as an ever-changing array of temporary exhibitions.

8pm – The shining star on Newcastle’s dining scene is House of Tides. Awarded a Michelin star in 2015, this relaxed, fine dining restaurant sees mercurial chef Kenny Atkinson brilliantly marry local ingredients with culinary creation in its tasting menus.

10pm – Take a stroll along the banks of the Tyne admiring the seven bridges that span the river, including the Tyne Bridge, a dead ringer for the Sydney Harbour Bridge, which it was modelled on.

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Saturday

9am – Head south of Newcastle to take in Antony Gormley’s striking Angel of the North. This 54m wide, 20m high, 200 tonne landmark dominates the approach to the city.

Midday – Hip burger chain Byron Hamburgers are a great option. The playful Run Rarebit Run is a burger laced with vintage cheddar rarebit and English mustard mayonnaise.

1pm – St Nicholas’ is England’s most northerly cathedral. Their free lunchtime concerts and recitals enjoy a spectacular setting.

3pm – St James’ Park is one of Europe’s great sporting arenas. If you cannot catch a game there are regular tours.

7pm – Award winning Blackfriars Restaurant is housed in a 13th century friary, with solid Modern British cuisine on the menu.

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Sunday

9am – Relax at the Crowne Plaza in their spa, with its swimming pool and myriad treatments.

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Best For  Those looking for an alternative city break in the UK who have already covered the big hitters like London and Edinburgh. And, yes, still stag and hen parties.

McKelvie’s Cities Rating – 14/20. A city on the rise that well rewards venturing a little off the tourist radar.

Getting There – I travelled to Newcastle from Edinburgh by train with Virgin East Coast. They also run services from other towns and cities such as London and Glasgow. First Class offers complimentary food and drinks.

Tourist Information – Newcastle Gateshead information site.

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