48 hours in Newcastle

They know how to party on Tyneside, and it'll be rocking on Millennium Eve. But why wait 'til then? By Rhiannon Batten

WHY GO NOW?

WHY GO NOW?

Voted this year's "Best UK City to Visit" by Condé Nast Traveler magazine's readers, Newcastle is a lively and upbeat kind of place (details on 0191-277 8011/8012 or at: www.newcastle.gov.uk).

BEAM DOWN

The smoothest way to reach Newcastle is by train. GNER (0345 225225) has services from Glasgow (2hr30min, £25) and London King's Cross (3hr or less, £31). Virgin Trains (0345 222333) will get you there from Bristol in around five hours (lowest return fare £41.50), Birmingham (3hr, £22), Edinburgh (90min, £16) and Leeds (90min, £15). For other fares and timings, call National Rail Enquiries on 0345 484950.

National Express (0990 808080) runs coaches from many points in England and Scotland. By air, there are frequent flights to Newcastle from Aberdeen, Belfast, Bristol, Gatwick and Heathrow, mostly operated by British Airways (0345 222111).

Locally, the Tyne and Wear Metro service will get you to Newcastle International Airport in 20 minutes from the city centre - or out to places like Sunderland and Whitley Bay. For general information, contact the Tourist Information Centre at the Central Station , Neville Street, Newcastle (0191-230 0030).

GET YOUR BEARINGS

Newcastle is compact and easy to get around on foot, and all the main attractions are clearly signposted. To the south of the city, flanked by the redeveloped Quayside, is the river Tyne. In the middle is the train station and, reached by a walk up grandiose Grey Street, Eldon Square shopping centre and the commercial district. To the north, is the University of Northumbria and, further out, the Jesmond area. But the best way to orientate yourself is care of the city's grand civic architecture. Look out for the mammoth red brick E&F Turnbull factory; the ornate Cathedral Buildings on Dean Street; the striking North East Co-op store and, of course, the imposing bridges that straddle the Tyne.

CHECK IN

The Malmaison Hotel (Quayside, Newcastle 0191-245 5000) is the most glamourous place to sleep, and the facilities include a gym, a spa and a restaurant. If it's not sleep you're after, the hotel is also very handy for local nightlife. Double rooms start at £99. Alternatively, try the Copthorne (The Close, Quayside, 0191-222 0333). It's much less stylish but the location is quieter and there's a swimming pool (prices from £42.25 per person). For cheaper options, head to Jesmond, just north of the city centre. Da Vinci's (73 Osborne Road, Jesmond, 0191-281 5284; doubles from £45) has a bit of style and a decent restaurant - and there's a bus stop practically right outside - or there's the basic but clean Minerva Hotel (105 Osborne Road, Jesmond, 0191-281 0190; doubles from £35) and the Youth Hostel (107 Jesmond Road, 0191-281 2570).

TAKE A HIKE

Get a sense of the city's history by following the walk marked out in the "Wall Trail" leaflet (35p from the Tourist Information Centre) or, if you prefer to wend your own way, start at the train station and walk up to the old Town Walls. Next pass by the Keep (the remains of the New Castle that gave the town its name - and which was originally built in 1080 by the son of William the Conqueror), and the modern installations that decorate its Norman chapel, before strolling up through Grainger Market to Grey's Monument. From there head back downhill along elegant Grey Street, sweep under The Side and come to a halt by the banks and the bridges of the Tyne at the Quayside.

ICING ON THE CAKE

Many people come to Newcastle just for the nightlife - and clubs such as Tuxedo Royale (the boat with the revolving dance floor), the Baja Beach Club (nowhere near Baja or the beach), Rockshots 2 (very gay friendly), World Headquarters (not too "beery", decent hip hop) and Legends (mainstream). For live music try the Bridge Hotel (Castle Square, 0191-232 6400) or the Newcastle Arts Centre (0191-232 2401, evenings, or: www.newcastle-arts-centre.co.uk) or wait until 27 November when Visual Arts North East (VANE) '99 culminates in Subterfuge, an evening of experimental audio arts at the Waygood Gallery on High Bridge (details, 0191-221 1712).

A WALK IN THE PARK

Take the Metro to Jesmond and walk up to Armstrong Bridge, for an overview of Jesmond Dene - a woody (and sometimes muddy) park that is also home to a well-known restaurant, the Fisherman's Lodge. Wander or cycle around or, on a sunny day, just loll on the grass. On the way home, stop off at the Armstrong Bridge arts and crafts market (Sundays between around 10am and 4pm).

TAKE A RIDE

... to a ride. The seven-minute train ride between Newcastle Central and the MetroCentre sweeps you regally across the Tyne, then swerves to the right (affording a glimpse of an angel) and trundles along to "Europe's biggest covered shopping and leisure complex". Inside you find a fully-fledged funfair. A ride on the rollercoaster costs £1.80.

DEMURE DINNER

21 Queen Street is the most elegant place to eat. Starters, such as celeriac and truffle soup, cost from £6.50 and mains, such as pot-roasted pheasant with choucroute and root vegetables, from £16.50. The set dinner menu is good value at £25 for three courses. Alternatively, try Metropolitan (35 Grey Street, 0191-230 2306), 18 Dean street (0191-261 4371) or Heartbreak Soup (Quayside, 0191-222 1701). Or, go to Rupali Restaurant, at 6 Bigg Market (0191-232 8629), where girls get a free rose and beered-up boys try the Curry Hell Contest. Conquer the menu's hottest curry, and you don't have to pay.

AN APERITIF

The Bigg Market is the Sunset Strip of Newcastle, filled with tribes of near-naked, shivering girls and aftershave-smothered boys, all crawling their way around a collection of noisy pubs. The Quayside is probably a safer area to aim for, but don't expect a quiet evening there either. Casa at 56-60 Sandhill, Quayside (0191-222 0164) and Chase (13-15 Sandhill, Quayside, 0191-245 0055) are two popular places, but if you prefer to drink without an accompaniment of ear-busting pop tunes, head up instead to the Crown Posada pub (16) at 31 The Side (0191-232 1269).

CULTURAL AFTERNOON

For a boy's perspective on Newcastle, visit the Discovery Museum at Blandford Square (0191-232 6789, open Mon to Sat, 10am-5pm and on Sun from 2-5pm, free) for exhibits of boats, cars, engines - and a frock or two (upstairs, in the threadbare-looking fashion gallery). Then stroll over to the Laing Art Gallery at New Bridge Street (0191-232 7734, open Mon to Sat 10am-5pm and Sun from 2-5pm, free). The city's main art gallery is looking a bit neglected, but among the artistic jumble there's a Holman Hunt and a Burne Jones. Magnetic North, an exhibition of British and Norwegian video artworks hosted by the Laing - and including works by Newcastle-born artists Jane and Louise Wilson - is fun and runs until 21 November.

LUNCH ON THE RUN

Stotties (which are basically enormous white baps) are a Newcastle tradition. Buy them at any local baker for about £1 stuffed with the usual sandwich fillings, or head off to Café Laing to fill up on a bacon and Stilton stottie (£2.20) in sedate surroundings before embarking on an afternoon of culture.

WINDOW SHOPPING

Newcastle is the ultimate shoppers' Nirvana - not because of the number of shops (there are masses, especially in the streets radiating out from Grey's Monument and in nearby Northumberland Street, Eldon Square, Eldon Gardens and Monument Mall) or even the city's proximity to the MetroCentre. but because you can't go more than about 50 metres without finding yourself at a cash machine.

Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Graphic Designer - Product Development

    £26000 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Product Development departm...

    Recruitment Genius: Assistant Manager - Visitor Fundraising

    £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Visitor Fundraising Team is responsi...

    Recruitment Genius: Developer

    £30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

    Recruitment Genius: Estates Contracts & Leases Manager

    £30000 - £34000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Estates Team of this group ...

    Day In a Page

    Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition

    Orthorexia nervosa

    How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
    Lady Chatterley is not obscene, says TV director

    Lady Chatterley’s Lover

    Director Jed Mercurio on why DH Lawrence's novel 'is not an obscene story'
    Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests

    Set a pest to catch a pest

    Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests
    Mexico: A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life

    The dark side of Mexico

    A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life
    Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde. Don't tell other victims it was theirs

    Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde

    Please don't tell other victims it was theirs
    A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

    A nap a day could save your life

    A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
    If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

    If men are so obsessed by sex...

    ...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
    The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

    Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

    The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
    The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

    Rolling in the deep

    The bathing machine is back but with a difference
    Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

    Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

    Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
    The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

    The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

    Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
    House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

    The honours that shame Britain

    Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
    When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

    'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

    Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
    International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

    International Tap Festival comes to the UK

    Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
    War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

    Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

    Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border