Prior to beginning my final year at university, I’d watched friends in the year above leave Newcastle for good. I watched them say goodbye to their favourite bars, beaches and clubs as they packed up ready to start a new life in a new city. Now I sit with just days left of my tenancy ready to move out of Newcastle. This is not the ending that any final year student thought that they would have. However, I’m glad that I chose to stay put in Newcastle for lockdown as it would’ve been much harder to say goodbye had I only been returning to clean out my student house. I still remember going into Eldon Square on my first week living in Newcastle and asking a Lush employee for recommendations on the best places to go. Now that I’ve lived in Newcastle for three years, I have my own set of recommendations. I had hoped that I would be able to go on a goodbye visit to all of these places, although with just days left in my student house and the current global pandemic, I do not think that will be happening anytime soon. That being said I hope that these recommendations might be a good starting point for anyone planning on visiting Newcastle as lockdown is beginning to ease.
My favourite places to visit
Since moving to Newcastle, I have seen so many films. This is mainly due to joining Newcastle University’s Film Society in my first year. Joining Film Soc was the best decision that I made in my first year as I met the majority of my close friends through the society. It was due to the people that I met through Film Soc that I was introduced to Tyneside Cinema. I think it is one of the best places in Newcastle and I really hope that it reopens after lockdown as it would be a massive loss to Newcastle’s cinema scene. If you’re aged between 15 – 24 years old, you can see any film for £4.50 which is a stark contrast from the ticket prices at mainstream cinemas. I used to go to the cult classic nights at Tyneside nearly every week throughout my second year as you can watch a cult film with a glass of wine for £4 which is a bargain. In my final year I partook in one of Tyneside Cinema’s film-based courses in screenwriting. The course was expensive, yet I’m glad that I got involved as I met numerous other aspiring screenwriters and learnt a lot about screenwriting as a profession.
Jesmond Dene is one of the only places which I visited during the height of lockdown for daily walks. I was introduced to Jesmond Dene in my first year as I visited Pets Corner and absolutely loved it. Considering you have the opportunity to see goats, peacocks, rabbits and so many more animals free of charge, I think it is an adorable and affordable afternoon out. In the last few weeks as lockdown has eased, I have been able to go for picnics at Jesmond Dene which is a lifesaver as my student house does not have a back garden.
I have so many fond memories of Tynemouth from the last three years. I have visited at all different times of the year. I love buying fish and chips from Longsands Fish Kitchen and sitting on the beach or visiting The Gibraltar Rock for a carvery. It is incredibly easy to catch the Metro from the city centre to Tynemouth and it is worth going on a weekend so that you can visit the Tynemouth market.
I have visited the Quayside Sunday Market numerous times over the last three years. There is a variety of food stalls offering international cuisine as well as a long line of stalls selling everything from books to mirrors. When it is a sunny day and you need a long walk, the views of Quayside along with the weird and wonderful people at the market (including the stall owner who claims to be a John Lennon look-a-like) are worth a visit.
Talking of the Quayside, just over the Millennium Bridge is the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art. I used to walk to the Baltic nearly every other day during the first few weeks when I moved to Newcastle. It became a bit of a safe haven for me when I was still getting settled into a new city where I knew no one. I’ve always loved contemporary art. I’ve seen so many odd exhibitions at the Baltic. However, even if you’re not a big fan of modern art I would still recommend visiting the Baltic as it offers one of the best views of Newcastle. The viewing platforms allow you to see the city from high up and I’ve always taken every person who has ever visited me in Newcastle to see the Baltic.
Dog and Scone
Most students who live in Newcastle have either visited the Dog and Scone or Mog on the Tyne. I personally am more of a dog person; therefore, I’ve been a regular visitor at the Dog and Scone. All of the staff are lovely, and I always found it such a calming experience to sit and play with the tiny puppies. If you’re planning on visiting Newcastle, I recommend having a look on the Dog and Scone website as places often get booked up quickly and I’m sure that the moment they reopen they will be full for weeks in advance.
The Pottery Experience
I only found out about The Pottery Experience since moving to Jesmond as it is so close to my student house. The owners have decorated their shop beautifully. It is such a wholesome place to visit. The last time I visited was on Valentine’s Day and I loved seeing families out creating pots together. The Pottery Experience has been keeping busy throughout lockdown and have been selling take home kits. I really recommend having a look on their Instagram which is full of pottery inspiration and the owner’s incredibly cute dog Arlo.
During my degree I have had the opportunity to visit a variety of theatres across Newcastle including Live Theatre which is located on the Quayside. Every performance I have attended at Live Theatre has been incredible, I especially loved Ishy Din’s play Approaching Empty. It is companies such as Live Theatre which make Newcastle’s theatre scene so amazing. I really hope that all of the theatres across Newcastle, including Northern Stage, Alphabetti Theatre and People’s Theatre, are able to return after lockdown.
My favourite places to Brunch
The Dispensary is a relatively new business which I found through Instagram as students from my uni began sharing a series of photos of their huge pancake stacks and elaborate hot chocolates. In my first year I lived in The View which is located above The Dispensary. However, when I lived nearby it was in fact a restaurant which primarily sold salad boxes. This was probably a blessing in disguise as I would have ended up spending a lot of my student loan buying American pancakes. The Dispensary’s pancake stacks have now become infamous. They offer quirky twists on traditional American pancakes such as Jammie Dodger pancakes and Rolo pancakes for limited periods. If you’re a big foodie and have a sweet tooth, The Dispensary is definitely worth a visit.
I discovered Aidan’s Kitchen whilst living in Sandyford in my second year. I absolutely love it and I went through a phase of visiting weekly. I’m a self-confessed picky eater and I love that Aidan’s Kitchen offers a vast variety of brunch options. They also offer a student discount which is rare for a lot of brunch venues in Newcastle. Additionally, you can book ahead which has been helpful on many occasions when I have family visiting and I don’t want to risk not getting a table.
1901 have been thriving throughout lockdown as every time I have visited for a takeaway coffee and cake there has been a long line of customers queueing. They have been running the store over a counter in the doorway and have made sure that everyone queues 2 metres apart for their ice creams, bacon butties and takeaway teas. Similarly to Aidan’s Kitchen, 1901 have a wide menu which can cater to all and it has a beautiful setting in an old church building, so if you’re in need of a takeaway treat anytime soon I would suggest visiting 1901.
Favourite places for coffee
Over the past three years I have visited the majority of coffee shops in Newcastle as I prefer to complete uni work and meet friends in coffee shops rather than on campus. I’m not a big alcohol drinker so whilst most students know Newcastle’s bar and club scene well, I know much more about the best places to grab a coffee. Last year I did a more in-depth post about my favourite coffee shops which I will link here. However, I wanted to mention a few of my favourites in this round up.
Flat Caps Coffee
I think that Flat Caps is the best coffee shop in Newcastle. I love their aesthetic as the entire coffee shop is full of plants and fairy lights. Flat Caps was another safe haven for me during my first year whilst I was still settling into Newcastle. I would often write my creative writing assignments in Flat Caps or my essays as it has an incredibly relaxed vibe and the staff are lovely. Flat Caps is just minutes from Grey’s Monument so it’s easy to walk to if you’re only visiting Newcastle city centre. Their salted caramel brownies are delicious, and I’m gutted that I cannot buy one before leaving Newcastle.
I began visiting Camber Coffee in my third year to edit Courier articles for WordPress on a Monday after laying up the articles on InDesign. Similarly to Flat Caps, it has a beautiful aesthetic and is full of house plants. If you’re a vegan, veggie or have a gluten intolerance this would be the perfect place to go for brunch. It’s also just minutes from Central Station and Grey’s Monument so it’s easy to get to if you’re only visiting Newcastle’s city centre for the day.
My favourite places to go for an evening meal
I heard about Francesca’s in my second year as everyone was raving about this affordable Italian restaurant which offered half and half dishes of pasta and pizza. Francesca’s is a traditional, family-run restaurant in the heart of Jesmond located on Manor House Road. You will probably have to wait to be seated if you go. Every time I have ever visited, I usually have had to wait about 20 minutes, but it has always been worth the wait.
I think that Holy Hobo has the best cocktails in Newcastle. My absolute favourite is their Toblerone cocktail which I would always buy during their happy hour. If you’re a student, make sure to show your student ID as you can get most cocktails for £4.50 and a discount on their popular food dishes.
Fat Hippo has two restaurants in Newcastle, one based in the city centre on Shakespeare Street and the other based on St George’s Terrace in Jesmond. I love their American styled burgers and sweet potato fries. Fat Hippo have been delivering during lockdown which was a lifesaver when I was having a mental breakdown trying to finish my dissertation.
There are so many amazing places to visit in Newcastle which I’ve not mentioned on this list. Newcastle is such an incredible city with so much to offer and the Geordies are some of the friendliest people I have ever met. I’ve loved every second living in Newcastle and I’m going to miss it so much. Yet, after being stuck in my student house for the last three months I do feel ready for a change of scenery. Although, I can’t wait to come back and visit Newcastle in the future when it is safer to travel more freely, and I know that whenever I come back to visit these are the first places which I will be heading to.