Newcastle is one of those forgotten cities in Europe that should get a little more deserved attention. It’s certainly not full of Geordie Shore stereo types as you might expect. Actually, the people are far more friendlier and open than you will find in London. This city has a lot of history and you can find many old industrial buildings around Newcastle that make it look really cool.
Book a Mini Cruise with DFDS
The perception that cruises are just for old couples is long gone but that a cruise can be booked for just a weekend wasn’t something I knew much about. Last weekend I went on a 4-day mini cruise with DFDS. This Danish ship company has been around for 150 years and I booked a route that has been traveled for over 21 years now. Route IJmuiden to Newcastle and back. It takes about 15 hours to get across to England so the ship is equipped with shops, bars, restaurants, a cinema and even a casino area! The ships fits around 1400 passengers on board and you can book different accommodations from standard to deluxe suits. You don’t have to look far for food because there are about 4 different restaurants on board and a few cafe’s! Try the breakfast buffet at the Little Italy restaurant where you can get pancakes, fresh fruit and more. Tip » turn off your roaming as the data cost at sea are extremely high!
There is even a Wildlife Info Center on the ship and there is a guide available during the whale spotting season which runs from March to the end of September.
There are several options when it comes to sleeping. You can book a standard room which fits 4 people or you can book a deluxe suite on the 10th deck which gives you a nice double bed and all rooms have a sea view. Such a Titanic moment! Bring some seasick pills just in case you can’t handle the rocking of the boat. On arrival you don’t have to wait for your suitcases or long lines for the passport control as you do at airports. That’s a bonus!
WHAT TO SEE & DO
Once you’ve arrived in Newcastle, you will notice the old buildings and friendly faces. People grab thier breakfast and chat to each other, the vibe here is good. The ship arrives in the morning so you have a full day to explore!
» Ouseburn Valley is an old industrial area which is now full of arts and craftsmen. Many old buildings remain which makes it a cool area to walk around in. It’s really up and coming. Pay a visit to the Organic Urban Garden and cuddle with the cows, pigs or bunnies.
» Check out the Baltic Museum for contemporary art and see works from the likes of Damien Hirst. All museums in Newcastle are free of charge.
» Walk over the many bridges of Newcastle, The Tyne bridge is the most famous one and was designed by the same company that build the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Although the Tyne bridge was actually finished 5 years earlier. The Millennium bridge is the newest one and won several designer prices for it being so energy efficiënt. When we bridge opens, it tilts and takes around 4 min. The bridge is only open for bicycles and pedestrians.
» Go for a bicycle tour, we booked ours at The Cycle Hub which I can really recommend! (the place is also nice for grabbing a coffee.
WHERE TO EAT/DRINK
» Let’s start with some good coffee and check out Laneway & Co for specialty coffee espresso.
» Visit The Botanist for cocktails and very innovating food with a garden theme. Your starters are served in a flower pot and your mains in a small garden shovel. Crazy. It used to be a shopping center that never really did it for the crowd but The Botanist, now 2 years old, is always full of people and offers live music during the weekend. The interior is somewhat special with a large treehouse that also functions as a bar. Worth paying a visit! www.thebotanist.uk.com
» Grab some tea and cake at Violets, a cute little cafe on Quayside. www.instagram.com/violetscafe
» Go to The Tyneside Cafe when it rains, grab a movie and some all day breakfast and lunch in this cinema cafe. Website
» The Herb Garden is a great place with an awesome decor on the ceiling plus great for healthy options. Their homemade pizzas with a crunchy thin crust are famous. www.theherbgardenuk.com
WHERE TO SHOP
Newcastle is also known for shopping. There are several shopping malls that have a lot on offer like Topshop and other big names.
» Grainger Market is a inside market hall which dates back to 1835. People come here for food, small lunches, clothes, dairy and meat. You can find the smallest Marks & Spencers here. When you get the chance, look for the Pet Lamb patisserie for cakes and tarts.
» On Sundays there is a market alongside the Tyne river, starting at the Tyne bridge right over to the millennium bridge where you can find local treats, handcrafted goods and clothes. Watch out for the old man at the end of the market as he sells everything with a sweet little lie and it’s hilarious to watch!
I think we probably slept at one of the trendiest hotels in Newcastle
I think we probably slept at one of the trendiest hotels in Newcastle and I really loved the look of it. The building has a historic feel to it with the bricks featured in the entrance. Although Motel One is a hotel group widely spread all over the world, this hotel felt cozy and boutique like. Rooms go for as little ad £59 which isn’t much for British standards. The breakfast buffet is good and the rooms are very comfortable. Book your stay here.
My verdict is that Newcastle is a city that’s perfect for a weekend with friends or your partner. You can go crazy if you like but if you’re a foodie and explorer like me, Newcastle won’t disappoint! Book your own minicruise at www.dfdsseaways.nl (select your language) and visit this vibrant city!