The port city of Newcastle owes its prosperity historically to industries such as coal mining, the wool trade, and shipbuilding and repair, however, the city is now more likely to be synonymous with nightlife. Party-goers come to Newcastle to experience the many clubs, pubs and bars of Quayside and Bigg Market, as well as the Diamond Strip that stretches along Collingwood Street and Mosley Street.
The historic city also features neoclassical (sometimes referred to as Tyneside Classical) architecture in the centre of town and a medieval street layout (particularly visible in the narrow alleys near the waterfront), paired with newer marvels of engineering such as the Millennium Bridge. Even sections of ancient Hadrian's Wall and other Roman ruins can be found in the area.
Although rain may occur throughout the year, Newcastle is one of the U.K.’s driest cities due to the rain shadow of the North Pennines. The region’s temperate oceanic climate is comparable to that of others in England. June and July are generally the warmest and driest months, while January and February are often the coolest.
When to fly to Newcastle
Tourism in Newcastle peaks from June to September when the weather is most likely to be warm and dry.
January and February are typically the coldest months in Newcastle, and therefore, they are the low season for tourism, as the weather is less favourable. This is reflected in accommodation and travel costs and availability.
Getting around Newcastle
Newcastle city centre is relatively compact with many pedestrian-friendly areas. Most tourist sites are easily reachable on foot. However, the city also has a public transportation network including a metro system, buses and rail services to surrounding towns.
Newcastle Airport (www.newcastleairport.com) is located in Woolsington 9 km (6 miles) northwest of Newcastle city centre. Durham Tees Valley Airport (www.durhamteesvalleyairport.com) is also accessible, and located near Darlington in County Durham, around 54 km (33 miles) south of Newcastle.
Newcastle insider information
- Newcastle Castle, after which the city is named, is both a Grade I listed building and a Scheduled Ancient Monument, located in Central Newcastle. The site originally held a Roman fort, then a wooden Norman motte-and-bailey castle, and finally today’s castle, a stone keep built for Henry the II in the 12th century. The keep is accompanied by the Black Gate, added in the 13th century as an outer fortification.
- The Great North Museum comprises the museum itself, Hancock and the Hatton Gallery (both based on the University of Newcastle’s campus). The museum’s collection includes fossils, preserved animal specimens, mummies, and a scale model of a Tyrannosaurus Rex. The gallery has a collection of more than 3,000 works of art, including some dating back to the 14th century.
- Central Arcade, a stunning, mosaic-floored, glass-roofed, preserved Edwardian shopping arcade, provides a glimpse of the Newcastle of yesteryear. The arcade is home to many shops, including the J.G. Windows music shop – one of Newcastle’s oldest, established in 1908 – and the Tourist Information Bureau.
- The Cathedral Church of St. Nicholas, also known as Newcastle Cathedral, was built in 1359 on the site of a prior parish church destroyed in a fire. It’s notable for its lantern spire, constructed in 1448, which was used for centuries as a navigation point by ships travelling along the River Tyne. The cathedral is an iconic part of Newcastle’s skyline, being one of the tallest structures in the city.
- Seven Stories is a wonderful family attraction; it’s the first museum in the U.K. solely dedicated to children’s literature. Its name refers to the idea of the seven basic plots used in all stories and the fact the museum is housed in a seven-storey renovated Victorian mill. The work of artists and authors such as Philip Pullman, Quentin Blake, Terry Jones, Enid Blyton and Jacqueline Wilson is represented in Seven Stories.