Written by Thomas Maris
Newcastle might not be your first choice for a min-break destination, but bear with us while we talk you through why it's worth adding to your short list:
The weather might not always be idyllic, but it's far from grim up north. Tynemouth's beaches are seasonal creatures, but good in all seasons – busy in the summer months as the surfers drop in, and bracing and beautifully windswept in winter as people stroll the shore before warming up over a pub lunch. And Newcastle isn't even known for being a beach town. It's better known for its docks, and the Tyne Bridge and the Castle.
If you like to play lord or lady of the manor then take a tip out to Wallington Hall, a charmingly cared for National Trust property with extensive grounds and gorgeous interiors. And if you like your entertainment more historic still, then you'll be interested to hear that Newcastle was founded over 2000 years ago, and is pretty close to Hadrian's Wall - excursions are organised there on a daily basis by the tourist board if you don't have a car, or you can visit Segedunum, which is an ancient tower at the beginning of the wall.
Newcastle also has its fair share of museums. Quite a few of them focus on this city's great industrial history, but the Great North Museum covers the earlier periods as well, and, if you're interested but time poor, the free, interactive, Discovery Museum also tells the city's story – as well as putting on a variety of timely travelling exhibits.
Newcastle is known for nightlife – this town knows how to have a good time. If you want cheap and cheerful you won't have any problem finding it, if you want cheerful and cheerful then kick the evening off with a comedy show at the Grinning Idiot, before hitting the Cluny Club for a night of live music.
Or take this opportunity to see shows you wouldn’t necessarily get to see anywhere else in the country. The Theatre Royal has the biggest, and most mainstream, productions, but for something more independent head to the People’s Theatre. This amateur dramatics group is one of the most professional in the country, offering a reasonably priced evenings entertainment. For music, try the Sage Music Centre for classical pieces, or the O2 Academy and Metro Radio Arena for more contemporary bands.
The Northern appetite for life extends to food and dining, and there are plenty of fabulous restaurants across the city to suit every budget. Blue Coyote is a reasonably priced Mexican that serves up hearty portions to its customers, while the Italian Marco Polo often has a queue stretching out into the street. For something a little more upmarket, try mussels at Barluga: freshly caught, locally sourced and always perfectly served.
The historic Quayside doesn't just have the famous bridges and pubs, cafes and restaurants with water views, it also has a Sunday market, which a good range of stalls – including some that sell photos of all the area's bridges... Old George Yard is a good place for finding unexpected treasures and pleasures, Blackfriars is another or you'll also find your more popular shops on the high street, in the Metro Centre and in Eldon Square.
If you’re looking for the best deals on hotels in Newcastle, try a dedicated website such as HotelClub to search for hotels in the UK and beyond. In Newcastle they're recommending the Jurys Inn. There are plenty of deals on offer throughout the year, meaning that all you have to do is book your break, and get ready to say “why aye” to the friendliest city in Britain.