Christmas is behind us, the summer holidays are months away (particularly for me, since I just committed to having mine in November!), and our New Year’s Resolution to have interesting weekends has already fallen by Tesco and the wayside. So, couldn’t we all do with a bit of a getaway? If only we had the time.
Except all you really need is a day and a break from routine, a flying visit to somewhere new and fun. Maybe you won’t see everything – but you’ll see something.
Newcastle Upon Tyne is a brilliant destination for a day trip, with lots of things to do and all of them easily accessible for the visiting tourist. If you can visit for longer, you absolutely should since it is the most amazing city, but one day is still enough to have a lot of fun. You can go shopping in the City Centre, check out one of Newcastle’s amazing markets or grab a coffee and an ice-cream at the seaside.
Actually, if you moved fast enough you can probably manage to do all of that in a day. Look, I lived in Newcastle for a couple of years and I loved it there. It’s definitely a fun place for a flying visit – although, like I said, if you can make it for a bit longer then do it.
The easiest way to get to Newcastle is from Belfast International via Easyjet. Pick the right day and you can fly out in the morning, spend the day in the city and be back home in time for a nightcap. I’d pick a Sunday myself – that’s because I like to hit the markets – but there are a lot of options. It costs from £3 a day to leave your car in the Park and Fly (it’s open from March), and it’s worth it if you’re planning to do some shopping. It’s about a fifty minute flight, usually pretty smooth, and Newcastle is a really good airport to fly into. Oh, and if you are planning on doing some shopping? Bring an empty carry-on, you can leave it in Left Luggage at the airport (next to WH Smith) for £8, and you can pack it with your loot when you get back.
The Metro is the main reason that Newcastle is such a great destination for a day trip. There is a station right in the airport, you just come out past baggage claim and turn left, and you can go from there to pretty much everywhere in Newcastle, from the City Centre to Tynemouth. It costs £4:80 for a day tickets to all zones – in my opinion, it’s worth it even if you’re only planning to go to one zone to avoid any fines if you get on the wrong line. Take the green line from the Airport to Haymarket, and there you in the middle of the city. Trains are usually every twelve to fifteen minutes, so it’s a quick circuit.
Places to See in Newcastle
Fenwick (pronounced Fennick) is on Northumberland Street between Haymarket and Monument. It’s one of a short chain of distinctive, innovative stores and was founded in Newcastle by JJ Fenwick back in 1882. These days Fenwick’s is a must-see stop on a one day trip to Newcastle, they have designer clothes, a range of skin-care and make up (check out the designer fake lashes), and an absolutely awesome food court. Trust me, if you bring nothing else back from Newcastle you want to have a bag of gingerbread pokey in your pocket – it’s delicious and you can also get gingerbread wine to go with it. Go and get the ginger pokey.
Since it is right next door, the next stop is Eldon Square, a gorgeous, sprawling mall that is a brilliant blend of high street fashion and quirky originality. You can check out fashions in River Island and Lipsy, grab a coffee in Caffe Nero or a juice from a Juice Boost Bar, head to Neal’s Yard Remedies for a pick me up (or pick skin up), and check out the stationary in Smiggle.
Next up, keep heading down the street (this is why I told you to get off at Haymarket). Head on past the entrance to Monument Station, pause to admire the Theatre Royal, and head into Grainger Market, Newcastle’s 52 week a year indoor market. You can get pretty much anything here, from bacon ribs to Crime Scene beer or some chutney at glug (I’m gluten-free, and don’t drink, and I still wanted to buy beers just for the bottles), as well as enjoying a walk through what is a really beautiful old building. You can even get weighed in the old Weigh Centre if you’re feeling like it, just 30p! You can check out the shop plan here, or just go and have a wander.
Now check the time. Depending on how much time you’ve spent wandering around the city centre, you might need to head back to the airport. I’ve only touched on my favourite places here, there’s plenty of other shops to see around Northumberland Street. You can grab lunch in the city centre, go to TK Maxx or Primark, or check out St Nicholas’ Cathedral.
If you’ve got some time, though, why not head back down into the monument station and catch a train to Tynemouth. On weekends they have an absolutely brilliant market right in the metro station, with jewellery, clothes, vintage stalls, records, books, and more (more being cupcakes, freshly cooked macaroons, and gluten-free cheesecakes). If it’s not the weekend, then take a walk down to the sea front. There’s a coffee shop called Mister Woods that serves delicious hot chocolate and coffee, which you can enjoy while looking over the ruins of Tynemouth Priory and the sea.
It’s a nice place to catch your breath before heading back to the airport.
If you are going to spend a few extra days in the city, then you have to take a day to go to Durham. The University is gorgeous, the city is beautiful, and you should take a good pair of flat shoes because the cobbles can be tricky.
*There is always a risk with a day trip that delays are going to eat into your visit. I once flew into Bristol after midnight. In fairness though, I have never been delayed more than 20minutes on the Newcastle route.