The Toon has plenty to keep you entertained. Whether it’s a sunny beer garden, a delicious brunch by the River Tyne or a touch of culture at an art gallery that you’re after, this spot up North has you covered.
If you’re visiting for more than a few days, you might start to wonder what else there is to do just outside of the city. If you’re looking for the best day trips to take from Newcastle, then you’re in the right place. From quaint seaside towns to England’s largest forest, we’ve listed Newcastle’s nearby must-sees below.
Kielder Water and Forest Park
Distance from Newcastle: Around 1.5 hours by car
Based in Northumberland, Kielder Water & Forest Park is undoubtedly one of the most breathtaking locations in the North East. Home to northern Europe’s largest man-made lake (Kielder Water measures a huge 10.86km²) and surrounded by luscious forest, it really is paradise on a sunny day – attracting watersports lovers, hikers, cyclists and picnickers too.
If you love water, make sure you try out sailing, water skiing or canoeing during your visit. Prefer to stick to the land? Go horse riding, mountain biking or fishing instead! If you’re lucky, you might even see some of Kielder’s collection of rare wildlife here. Kielder Forest has 50% of England’s native red squirrel population, and it’s also home to roe deer, salmon, otters, osprey and the pipistrelle bat.
Minimal light pollution also means Kielder Water & Forest Park has some of the darkest skies in the country too. To say the skies here are beautiful is an understatement, and it really is a stargazer’s haven on a clear night. Stick around for a few hours after the sun has set to enjoy a spot of stargazing at Kielder Observatory before heading back to catch some sleep in Newcastle.
Distance from Newcastle: 51 minutes by car
If you’ve never been to Alnwick Castle, it’s odds-on that you’ve seen it on the big screen. Just like Durham Cathedral, the castle featured in the first two Harry Potter films, but even if you’re not a Potterhead you might recognise this magnificent location from Downton Abbey’s Christmas specials and Transformers: The Last Knight.
Under an hour’s drive from the heart of Newcastle, Alnwick Castle and The Alnwick Garden make for an extraordinary day out. As you’ve probably guessed from its collection of big-screen debuts, it’s an amazing place to explore. Choose from a Garden only ticket, Castle only ticket or a combined ticket – prices for adults won’t exceed £26.
The Alnwick Garden isn’t any old garden – it’s full of wonder, imagination and promises to be plenty of fun. There are loads of water sculptures (which you’re free to splash around in), a Poison Garden, a mysterious Bamboo Labyrinth and one of the largest tree houses in the world here (as well as over 4,000 plant varieties too – if you do love your gardening!).
Alnwick Castle, meanwhile, is the second biggest inhabited castle in the UK and, currently, is home to the 12th Duke of Northumberland. While you’re unlikely to see the Duke at home with his feet up, you are able to explore the public areas of the castle! As well as being a remarkable sight in itself, Alnwick Castle offers endless activities suitable for all ages. Fancy a bit of Broomstick training? Or do you prefer to go on a Dragon Quest? This castle has it all. There are loads of themed tours as well, and you can even try your hand at Medieval craft making and have a go at archery in the grounds.
Distance from Newcastle: 27 minutes by car, 13 minutes by train
Less than half an hour from Newcastle, Durham is a beautiful city bursting with history. Simply walking around Durham is enough to keep you preoccupied, with its cobbled streets and stunning architecture giving it a wonderful, quintessential old English feel.
Top of your to-see list should be Durham Cathedral and Castle, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Dating back to 1093, Durham Cathedral is an amazing example of Norman architecture and is home to the Shrine of St Cuthbert. The relics of Saint Cuthbert were actually transported here by Lindisfarne months way back in the ninth century.
You’ll also find an impressive library that holds some of the earliest printed books in England and three copies of the Magna Carta.
You’ll probably recognise Durham Cathedral from a handful of films and TV shows too, including the first two Harry Potter films. Don’t forget to take photos of the locations, scenes shot here include those in Professor McGonagall’s classroom and Hogwarts’ courtyards.
Beyond the cathedral and castle area, you’ll find an array of shops, local cafes, markets and plenty of waterside bars and pubs to grab a refreshing drink from. The Gala Theatre & Cinema is a wonderful choice for an early-evening activity too.
Distance from Newcastle: 1 hour 20 minutes by car
Lindisfarne, locally known as Holy Island, is a tidal island just off the northeast coast and promises to be a unique day trip you’ll never forget. It sits a mile off the mainland, and you can only reach it during low tide.
You’ll have to cross a magnificent causeway to reach Holy Island, a path once taken by ancient monks over 1,400 years ago.
On a very serious note, it’s vital to check Holy Island’s crossing times before you visit. Making the journey along the causeway outside of crossing times – which are updated daily – can be extremely dangerous. The causeway floods twice a day, and fast incoming tides can easily catch unprepared drivers out.
Armed with the knowledge of tide times? Great! Once you arrive to Lindisfarne safely, you’ll be able to take a walk around the 12th century Lindisfarne Priory and 14th-century Lindisfarne Castle, discover various exhibits on Vikings and the sacking of Lindisfarne in 793 at Lindisfarne Heritage Centre, stop off for a coffee at Pilgrims Coffee House and even go wildlife spotting – if you’re lucky you might see wildfowl birds, brent geese and even grey seals.
Distance from Newcastle: Approximately 30 minutes by car or Metro
Swap the buzz of Newcastle city centre for the refreshing sea breeze of Tynemouth. A charming village steeped in history, it makes for a wonderful day trip.
A walk along Tynemouth’s seafront will treat you to amazing views, with Tynemouth Priory and Castle towering high above the water. Walk along Long Sands Beach towards the Priory to make the most of the sights, and don’t forget to stop off at the delicious Riley’s Fish Shack. Shortlisted in the World Restaurant Awards, the shack (made from two shipping containers) can be found on King Edward’s Bay and has become famous for its freshly-caught fish. From chargrilled monkfish to mouth-watering lobster, you’ll probably spot Riley’s from the queue lining up outside the door. It’s definitely worth the wait though, and you’ll want to make another trip to Tynemouth just to come back
Bellies full, continue on towards Tynemouth Priory and Castle. It’s known for being the burial ground of Saints and Kings of the old Kingdom of Northumbria, and many events are held here over the year – with the Mouth of Tyne festival being the major highlight. The Collingwood Monument isn’t far from the Priory either, which celebrates the achievements of Admiral Lord Collingwood who served in the Battle of Trafalgar.
Don’t forget to have a wander around Front Street and Percy Park road too – you’ll find loads of independent cafes, bars and shops here.
Distance from Newcastle: Around 1 hour by car
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Hadrian’s Wall is a piece of history everyone should take the time to see. Marking the northern limit of the Roman Empire, the wall dates back to AD 122, and reportedly took over 15,000 men six years to build.
Measuring 73 miles, and stretching from coast-to-coast, a huge part of Hadrian’s Wall still stands today. Forts , milecastles, towers, turrets and barracks were placed every couple of miles, and there are many sites to explore along the wall.
Housesteads Roman Fort, Corbridge Roman Town and Birdoswald Roman Fort are just a handful on the most popular spots to visit. Why not pop on your hiking boots, pick up snacks and supplies and explore part of the wall on foot? There are a range of certified trials to discover. Make sure you check out the Hadrian’s Wall Country website to catch upcoming events too!
Looking for somewhere to stay while you visit Newcastle? You can’t beat our Roomzzz Newcastle City townhouse. Based inside a Grade II Listed building, we have 14 boutique serviced apartments to choose from (and we’ve got 74 brand new apartments opening before the year is out).