This month’s Hometown Tour Guide is Rachel from Life in Geordieland. Here’s what she has to say about her hometown….
What is the name of your hometown and where is it?
Newcastle upon Tyne, it’s a vibrant city in the county of Tyne and Wear in North East England
What, if anything, is your hometown famous for?
Newcastle is known as a place to party but there’s a lot more to the city than its nightlife, despite what you might have seen on the MTV show Geordie Shore! It’s a city with a proud heritage, fascinating history, wonderful architecture and a never ending calendar of exciting festivals and events!
Your top 5 attractions are:
- Newcastle Castle – No visit would be complete without checking out the historical building that gives the city its name. It’s recently been restored so you can appreciate the Medieval castle and its intriguing past in all its glory. Be sure to climb the stairs to the top of the Castle for breathtaking panoramic views of Newcastle and beyond.
- NewcastleGateshead Quayside – The city of Newcastle and the town of Gateshead are divided by the River Tyne but seven iconic bridges connect them and the area between The Tyne Bridge and The Gateshead Millennium Bridge is a photographer’s dream. It’s also where you’ll find the must visit attractions of The Sage, Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art and the Quayside Sunday Market.
- The Tyneside Cinema – I wouldn’t normally put a cinema on a list of unmissable attractions but The Tyneside is not your average cinema! It’s the last surviving Newsreel theatre still operating as a cinema full-time in the UK and the art deco interior is just gorgeous. Every day at 11.30am visitors are transported back in time with free archive newsreel footage and there are also regular free guided tours.
- The Great North Museum – For well over a hundred years this wonderful museum (formally known as The Hancock) has fascinated visitors with insights in to natural history and ancient civilisations. There’s plenty to see for both kids and grown ups and it’s free to get in!
- Seven Stories – The National Centre for Children’s Books is a great day out and really captures people’s imaginations. It’s located in Ouseburn, a very creative part of the city where you’ll also find a community farm and plenty of local pubs where live music is a common occurrence!
Are there any local sports teams? Where do they play?
Geordies (the residents of Newcastle) love their sport and football in particular. St James’ Park, the home of Newcastle United, stands proudly in the heart of the city centre and the roar of the fans in the stadium can even be heard by shoppers on the high street on match days! Newcastle also boasts the most successful British Basketball team in the history of the BBL, you can see the Newcastle Eagles in action at Sport Central which is part of Northumbria University. Rugby fans can get their fix by going to see Newcastle Falcons at Gosforth Park, a couple of miles outside the city.
My 3 favourite restaurants are:-
- House of Tides – Talented chef Kenny Atkinson not only took on the challenge of beautifully restoring a 16th Century merchant’s house but his sensational food also gained Newcastle a Michelin Star! Expensive but worth it!
- Artisan – A hidden gem of a British restaurant located inside The Biscuit Factory (an art gallery in Ouseburn). The food is locally sourced and served with exquisite presentation.
- The Grainger Market – OK, so technically it’s not a restaurant but the Victorian covered market in the city centre is a great place to grab a bite to eat. Choose from freshly made crepes, pizza by the slice, locally caught seafood, mouthwatering pies and so much more!
My 3 favourite bars/pubs are:-
- The Free Trade Inn – A proper no nonsense pub, think real ale, friendly locals, free juke box, unpretentious grub and one of the finest views in the country from the bar garden! There’s a resident cat called Craig David who loves to make new friends too!
- Hoochie Coochie – A luxury lounge bar and live music venue with a strict music policy, only the finest in jazz, funk, soul and disco will do. The cocktails are always served to perfection and the crowd are genuine music lovers who just want to dance the night away.
- The Botanist – This restaurant and bar is always a crowd pleaser, the decor is unique, the location is perfect for the start of a bar crawl and the roof terrace is a lovely sun trap in the summer!
Top 3 Hotels are:-
- The Crowne Plaza – It’s just a stone’s throw from Central Station and is the only hotel I can think of in the city centre that has a pool. It’s only recently been built so feels very modern and luxurious. It even has its own Gin Bar.
- Jesmond Dene House is located on the outskirts of the city and is a unique, independently owned, boutique hotel that oozes sophistication! It’s a real foodie’s paradise too, the restaurant is divine!
- Malmaison – An upmarket hotel with a prime position on the Quayside, the decor used to be a bit footballer’s wife but it’s recently had a bit of a makeover and there’s no denying its charm.
Why do you love your hometown?
It’s hard not to love Newcastle, everyone who comes here seems to fall in love with it. Last year, readers of the Guardian voted it ‘The UK’s Favourite City’. I think that’s because the people are so welcoming and friendly, there is always something going on and great transport links mean you can be in the countryside or by the coast within fifteen minutes, what more could you ask for?
Who should visit your hometown?
I know it sounds like a cliché but Newcastle really does have something for everyone; great bars, restaurants, theatres and shopping make it a fantastic city break for couples and groups of friends and the plethora of parks, free museums and local attractions mean it’s a fun filled place for a family holiday.
Best time of year to visit (weather):
There’s no denying that Newcastle gets seriously cold in the winter but there really is never a bad time to visit, just be sure to wrap up warm if the sun isn’t shining.
Language spoken: English (and the rather charming but confusing Geordie dialect!)