Newcastle-upon-Tyne, usually just called Newcastle, prides itself on its reputation as one of the friendliest places in England. Situated in North East England, the city is set on the north bank of the River Tyne. The city, although originally a Roman settlement, owes its name to a castle built in 1080 by Robert II, Duke of Normandy and eldest son of William the Conqueror. Like many cities in northern England, Newcastle started out as a major centre for the wool trade and coal mining. The city became a major port on an international scale. Since the decline of these industries, the city has grown into a cultural centre. The city is the sixteenth most densely-populated city in England. Locals, also known as Geordies, are well-known for their distinctive accents, which manages to charm the rest of the UK quite successfully! Geordies are seen to be extremely friendly and warm people and are generally well-liked, which isn't a given in a country that lives out its friendly regional rivalry. The city itself still retains its medieval aspect due to its street layout. You will notice various passageways and alleys around the riverside, which make for a quaint stroll, especially in the summer. The city, like most old industrial cities, Newcastle has an eclectic range of architecture - from modern glass and aluminum clad buildings to 15-18th century. Today, following the construction of the UK's first biotechnology village, the authorities are looking to develop the city to make it into a 'science city'. Otherwise, just across the river, you'll find Gateshead, which although isn't strictly part of Newcastle, the two often go hand-in-hand. Gateshead is cultural hotspot, which makes for a good day trip once you have explored Newcastle.
One of the greatest attractions in Newcastle, is its emblematic Tyne bridge, which when it was constructed in 1928, was the longest single span bridge - today it is Newcastle's 10th tallest monument. The city has a neoclassical centre, with Grey Street being voted as one of the most picturesque cities in Britain. However, the historic centre of the city is Grainger Town, which is worth visiting for its 244 listed buildings. Grey's Monument marks the centre - the statue at the top was actually designed by Hodges, who also designed Trafalgar Square's Nelson's Column. Also to see: Gateshead Millenium Bridge, the Central Arcade, and its numerous art galleries.
If you're a devout footy fan, then no doubt you already have the Newcastle FC stadium on the list of things to do; it's not a major attraction, but if you are into football, it's a fun activity for a rain day. If you're around for the Great North Marathon, then it's worth entering the race or at least going to watch it to support the runners. If you are one of those travellers who doesn't really feel like they've really seen the city until they have visited all its museums, then give the following a try: Life Science Centre, the Laing Art Gallery (1901), the Gallagher and Turner Gallery, the Newcastle Military Museum, the Stephenson Railway Museum and the well-known Great North Museum: Hancock. Otherwise, when the sun is out, Newcastle has lots of green spaces to relax in, such as Leazes Park established in 1873. For a spot of shopping, try the Grainger Market, which has been standing since 1835. If you fancy more of a modern shopping experience, then you're in luck because Newcastle has lots of shopping potential. The city has several busy shopping areas, the largest one being Eldon Square Shopping Centre, which is also one of the largest in the UK; you also have the Metro Centre, which is very popular. If museums and shopping isn't your thing, then Newcastle is abound with pubs, bars and trendy restaurants to try. For a good time, head to Bigg Market or Collingwood Street (also known as the 'Diamond Strip' due to its upmarket bars).
+ The friendly locals.
+ Picturesque streets around Grainger Town.
+ Large range of bars and restaurants.
- Grim and miserable in the winter.
- The museums could be of a higher standard in terms of the work on show.
Think about weather when visiting Newcastle. As we know, wind and rain are defining aspects of northern English cities, so if you are visiting in the winter, come prepared and leave the hair-straighteners behind! To fully enjoy Newcastle's medieval atmosphere and parks, summer is ideal.
Avoid emptying your bank account after scouring the city's many shopping areas for those star buys! Also, avoid shopping at Newcastle's shopping centres on Saturdays - it's so busy that you'll soon regret having got out of bed!
You can't pass through Newcastle without trying the local tipple; Newcastle Brown Ale, that is! Gives you a bit of a kick, that's for sure. Try catching a play at one of the city's many theatres; the largest one is the Theatre Royal on Grey Street (first opened 1837). Try out a poetry reading at the Morden Tower, run by poet Tom Pickard. Try to explore neighbouring Gateshead, which is in Newcastle's suburbs just across the river.
To bring back
Bring back a bottle or two of Newcastle Brown Ale for your friends and family to have a taste. If you are having problems with the opposite sex at the moment, then bring back a happy-go-lucky Geordie accent! That'll be sure to sway your chances!