Linking Gateshead with Newcastle, this sweeping steel arc bridge is a sight to see day or night, but it’s truly incredible at full tilt (check the schedule for times). Designed by Wilkinson Eyre Architects and engineered by Gifford, the “winking bridge” stands at the end of a line of distinguished bridges across the River Tyne, including the Tyne Bridge and Robert Stephenson’s High Level Bridge.
2. Discover the art of glass-blowing at the National Glass Centre
Prepare to be captivated as hot molten glass is shaped into stunning works of art right before your eyes at one of Britain’s premier glass-blowing facilities (glass made here has even been used in the restoration of Windsor Castle and the Albert Memorial). Stay for a live demonstration by one of the centre’s 40 full-time glassmakers, or sign up for a group or private lesson and have a go yourself!
3. Gaze at the Angel of the North
Since spreading its wings in 1998, Antony Gormley’s towering sculpture has become an icon of the Newcastle skyline. Standing 20 metres tall (that’s about the height of four double-decker buses!) with a wingspan matching a jumbo jet, the 200-ton steel is one of the most discussed pieces of public art ever produced.
4. Catch a Newcastle United game at St. James’ Park
This 52,405-seat stadium has served as the home base for Newcastle United since 1892 and, as a fixture of football matches since 1880. Besides the Premier League, St. James' Park has also been used for international football matches, including the 2012 Olympics. The stadium has hosted rugby games, charity events and rock concerts, and also served as a set for films and reality television shows.
5. Admire contemporary art at BALTIC
Housed in an expansive former flour mill, this contemporary art gallery sits on the bank of Newcastle Gateshead's River Tyne. Spend an afternoon wandering throughout the cavernous space, checking out the latest exhibitions, before heading up to the rooftop for cocktails and stunning cityscape views.
6. Enjoy quiet reflection at Durham Cathedral
Perched on rocky cliff overlooking the city of the Durham, this nearly 1,000-year-old cathedral is one of the finest examples of Norman architecture still in existence today. Declared a World Heritage Site, along with the adjacent Durham Castle, the sprawling cathedral serves as a place of worship and reflection for more than 700,000 visitors every year. Stay for a service, or explore previously hidden spaces like the Monks’ dormitory and Great Kitchen in the new Open Treasure exhibition.
7. Stroll through the Victoria Tunnel
For an entirely new perspective of Newcastle, journey 85-feet below the city streets and take a two-and-a-quarter mile walk through the Victoria Tunnel. Built in 1842, the tunnel previously served as a waggonway used to transport coal from the Spital Tongues Colliery to waiting miners on the river Tyne. Although the tunnel hasn’t been used since 1860, except during World War II as an air-raid shelter, visitors can still get a glimpse into town’s hidden heritage by taking a guided tour.
8. Buy locally made products at Grainger Market
Nestled in the heart of Newcastle, this 52-week-a-year market is home to more than 100 vendors, offering everything from fresh fish and delicious sweets, to quirky greeting cards and retro gaming consoles. Pop in for a quick bite during a day of sightseeing, or spend the day stocking up on locally made gifts for everyone on your holiday shopping list.
9. Live out your fairy tale fantasies at Belsay Hall, Castle and Garden
Two historic buildings—a 14th-century castle and a grand Grecian hall—are connected by a charming English garden that spreads across 30 acres of landscaped grounds. Meander through the meticulously manicured greenery, admiring the fragrant flowers and shrubs that change with each passing season. Be sure to check out the famed Quarry Garden, bursting with winter flowering rhododendrons, ferns and other exotic plants.
10. Discover quirky arts and crafts at The Biscuit Factory
Housed in a former Victorian warehouse, this innovative gallery hosts four major exhibitions a year, showcasing around 250 new artists each season. Spend a day wandering throughout the two-floor space checking out the contemporary sculptures, original photography and design-led homewares (everything is available for purchase as well), before stopping for a bite at the on-site restaurant Artisan, specialising in regional and seasonal cuisine.