I am not suggesting that Newcastle looks or feel neglected, it is just a place overlooked by tourists and unfairly critiqued by UK citizens. Yet this ancient settlement at the North of England has a lot going for it. It is well worth a day or three to visit. In Roman times, the city was a fort on Hadrian’s wall known as Pons Aelius. William the Conqueror in 1080 commanded his son to construct a “New Castle” on the site of the old Roman fort. For many years, a grim industrial city, the loss of UK manufacturing has transformed the city economically and culturally.
We walked into the city as part of our 84 mike trek across England following the aforementioned Hadrian’s wall. It was a fascinating way to arrive in the city. For those preferring an easier way, Newcastle is well served by trains to London and Edinburgh. It has it’s own airport with flights to a range of European ports. FlyBE and Easyjet are the key airlines to check. Book ahead for both, you can get some great fares! For example train to London for 16 pounds or to Edinburgh for 12.
To the chagrin of Geordies (nickname for Novacastrains), the 2013 Sunday Times listing of the top 12 cities in the UK to live in, did not include Newcastle. I am a little less harsh. I don’t think the city is liveable as Bristol, UK but I would live in Newcastle before London! Newcastle has everything you need with less rush, less congestion and less crowding.
The city, sadly, has one of the highest unemployment rates in the UK. Its cost of living is in the middle range for the UK.
Summer temperatures reach 18 degrees celsius (64F) and in winter the temperature can plummet to two degrees (36F).
Last year Newcastle was named as the city with the best nightlife in the UK by the Sunday Times. I would agree with the newspaper’s assessment that you can “get a degree in partying”.
The city also was voted the best UK city by readers of the Guardian and Observer.
The city enjoys a massive range of cultural activities outside pubs and clubs including a massive range of shows at the Theatre Royal, mainstream and independent, cinema (check out the historic Tyneside cinema), the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art and concerts at the iconic Sage Music Centre. Its also a major sports town.
While Newcastle has a slightly higher crime rate than other UK cities, globally it barely rates for crime! I have always felt safe wandering around downtown but take I the usual precautions. Dial 999 for emergency police assistance.
In the early 1970s, some of the rail lines around Newcastle were consolidated into the Tyne & Wear Metro. Combined with the bus service, transport around Newcastle, its suburbs, and Newcastle International Airport is frequent and efficient. Check out Wallsend station, which has many of its signs in Latin to commemorate the nearby remains of the Roman Fort Segedunum. I was less impressed with the Fort.
Personal Vibe: 9/10
Newcastle has a great feel. The people are friendly and seem relaxed. We got entertained with history and anecdotes wherever we went!
My Overall Rating:83% – my 33rd favourite city in the world. NB I give Edinburgh the same rating which will upset some people!
Look out for:
- Grainger Town the beautiful historic downtown core including Grey Street was voted as England’s finest street in 2005
- The redeveloped restaurants and walkways the River Tyne
- Tynemouth Castle and Priory
- St Nicholas Cathedral
- The coast -a short metro ride from downtown
- Great North Museum
- Discovery Museum
- Castle Keep
- The Sage