How to spend a day in Newcastle

Tuesday, 2 May 2023

Newcastle Quayside and Tyne Bridge

Whether you are planning to take one of our Baltic cruises from Newcastle or are going on a cruise around the UK, you can travel to the city early or stay a few days after your cruise to extend your holiday. Especially if you’ve never visited Newcastle before, we’d highly recommend setting aside some time to explore this majestic northern gem, even if it’s only a day.

How to spend a day in Newcastle-upon-Tyne

  • Visit the Victoria Tunnel
  • Wander around Grainger Market
  • Watch a match at St James’ Park
  • Enjoy an evening on the Quayside

Inside the Victoria Tunnel, Newcastle

Image Source: Ouseburn Trust

Visit the Victoria Tunnel

The Victoria Tunnel is one of Newcastle’s highlights, and for good reason. This 19th-century wagonway runs under the city from Town Moor to the Tyne River and is well preserved. Originally used to transport coal, the tunnel has also served as an air-raid shelter and is now a historical attraction which you can enjoy on a guided tour.

For history lovers, this is a wonderful way to spend some time in the city. You’ll learn about Newcastle’s history and some of the city’s other prominent landmarks as you walk beneath the hustle and bustle of daily life. The tours tend to take just over an hour but will take you from 1838 through to the modern-day and can help you learn more about this fantastic city.

Heritage sign for Grainger Market, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne

Wander around Grainger Market

In the middle of the city centre, you’ll find Grainger Market. Originally opened in 1835, Grainger Market was the city’s first supermarket and, to this day, is one of the highlights of Newcastle. With a wealth of shops and places to eat, it’s easy to spend hours here exploring all there is to see. You’ll find cobblers, jewellers and florists alongside greengrocers and bakeries. Or, the range of independent cafes and eateries are sure to delight, with food inspired by cultures worldwide.

At the time of its opening, the Grainger was the largest covered market in all of Europe. It was originally separated into two halves, one for fruit and vegetables and one where meat was sold. It’s home to one of the original Marks and Spencer’s Penny Bazaars, which is still open today with its original signage and is one of the smallest Marks and Spencer’s stores in the world – though we’re not sure you’ll have much luck trying to pick something up for a penny anymore!

We spoke to Katie, a professional baker from Newcastle-Upon-Tyne who shares her recipes online on her site, Katie Cakes. Of course, Katie recommended Grainger Market, where her very own bakery, Pet Lamb Patisserie, is located. She told us:” My number one recommendation for day visitors to Newcastle is The Grainger Market! You can easily spend hours wandering around the cute boutique stalls, and the food is fantastic! There is street food from all over the world all contained in this beautiful Victorian Market, not to mention the best bakery in Newcastle, Pet Lamb Patisserie. Treat yourself to some brownies before your cruise.”  

Grainger Market was also recommended by Jeff, who is the mastermind behind Newcastle Eats. Jeff told us: “If you've only got a day to check out Newcastle, be sure to check out The Grainger Market. It's the beating heart of the city, with stalls selling everything from fried chicken to steamed dumplings and everything in between. Steeped with history since 1835, it's a must for a lazy afternoon stroll, rubbing shoulders with locals and tourists alike while grazing on street food from around the world. Don't miss it!”

Watch a match at St James’ Park

For football lovers, there is likely no better way to spend a day in Newcastle than at St James’ Park – unless you’re a Sunderland fan! The Magpies have been playing at this iconic stadium since 1892, and for those who’ll be in the city when the team plays, securing tickets can be a great way to enjoy the day. As well as the men’s team, you can also get tickets to see the Newcastle United Women’s contingent take on their competition here.

If you want to check out the stadium but won’t be around for a match, you could also consider an access-all-areas tour. There is a range of tour options, from the classic tour to a rooftop tour, meaning there will be something for every fan.

A view of By the River Brew Co. and the Tyne Bridge at dusk

Image Source: By the River Brew Co.

Enjoy an evening on the Quayside

When you picture Newcastle in your head, it’s likely the Newcastle Gateshead Quayside that you’re looking for. Marked by the iconic Tyne Bridge and Gateshead Millennium Bridge, the Quayside is home to some of the very best restaurants and bars in the city and is the perfect place to spend an evening. What’s more, you’ll be able to see live music and shows here, visit the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art and enjoy the weekly Quayside Market every Sunday.

If you do come here for food, then By the River Brew Co. is not to be missed. A container community with delicious craft beer and locally-sourced street food, this is a great place to get a bite to eat in the day or evening time, and you’ll be able to sample some amazing and unique cuisine. Situated directly underneath the Tyne Bridge, this amazing venue is one of the city’s highlights.

We spoke to Rachel Kershaw, who blogs about her home city of Newcastle at Life in Georgieland. She recommended the Quayside, telling us: “First-time visitors should head to the Newcastle Gateshead Quayside. Here they will get spectacular photo opportunities as they traverse across the River Tyne using our famous bridges, including the Gateshead Millennium Bridge (the world’s first and only tilting bridge) and, of course, the mighty Tyne Bridge, which is instantly recognisable.

“Then, why not enjoy some of our local delicacies? The food and drink scene around the Quayside is fantastic, with everything from traditional pubs to a container village filled with street food vendors and even a Michelin-star restaurant!

Rachel also has a great recommendation for those who want to see as much as possible in their time in the city: “For those wanting to cram in as much sightseeing as possible, I recommend hiring a bike from the Cycle Hub, situated beside the river on the edge of Ouseburn, Newcastle’s cultural quarter. From here, you could venture to some of our many green spaces and experience a more tranquil side of the city.

“If you’d rather not break a sweat, you could jump on board the Toon Tour, a hop-on hop-off open-top bus which stops in the heart of the Quayside but will also transport you to the other corners of this wonderful city. There’s an onboard commentary that will enlighten you with interesting trivia along the route.”

Getting to Newcastle Cruise Terminal

Newcastle Cruise Terminal is situated at the Port of Tyne, which is only 9 miles from the heart of Newcastle and is very easy to access. It’s also easy to reach by rail, bus, or taxi if you’d rather leave your car at home. If you do want to spend a day in Newcastle, you’ll be able to do so and still be in close reach of the port, ready to depart on your Ambassador cruise.

Address: Port of Tyne International Passenger Terminal, Cobledene, North Shields, Tyne and Wear, NE29 6EE

For full details on how to get to Newcastle Cruise Terminal, take a look at our Newcastle cruises page.

Our UK departure ports

We’re proud to depart from eight regional ports around the UK: Belfast, Bristol, Edinburgh, Falmouth, Dundee, Liverpool, London Tilbury and Newcastle. Our aim is to make holidays effortless, and with our selection of ports around the UK, whether you live in John O’Groats or Land’s End, you’ll be much closer to a hassle-free holiday.

With no-fly cruising from the UK, you don’t have to worry about airport queues, parking or luggage weight limits, about tiresome trips just to get to your holiday, about having to unpack and repack multiple times between destinations.

Whether you want to enjoy an epic cruise around the world or a short-but-sweet mini cruise, you’ll be able to depart from closer to home than you may think.

For more informative articles, including destination guides and updates on Ambassador Cruise Line, be sure to check out our blog.