If Newcastle, in North-East England, isn’t on your list of places to visit in the United Kingdom, it’s time to change the list. The city has changed unrecognizably over the last few years – it’s now how to stunning modern architecture, a thriving arts scene and the friendly locals (although those have always been there). It’s also gateway to the incredible sights of the North of England – when you get some time out, here’s where to go.
Durham: One of the prettiest cities in England, with its cathedral and castle area perched on a bluff overlooking the river Wear. The rest of the town is one big clutch of cobbled streets, medieval buildings, university colleges (a la Oxford and Cambridge) and beautiful views, and the Norman cathedral is the crowning glory.
Angel of the North: Only 15 minutes out of Newcastle town center, on the outskirts of Gateshead, this mammoth piece of art has been taken to heart and come to represent the North of England since it was finished in 1998. The 66 ft tall steel sculpture of a human with wings (177ft across) was designed by Antony Gormley and stands on a hill in Tyneside. Not that it’s lonely – the area is always packed with visitors.
Hadrian’s Wall: Just 40 minutes outside of Newcastle you can walk the remainders of Hadrian’s Wall – and if you make it to Housesteads, you’ll find a Roman fort as well. Vercovicium, as it used to be known, was in the Roman province of Britannia and is run by English Heritage. Get an idea of how the soldiers used to live, and then have a wander along the wall itself.
Whitley Bay: Once a popular seaside resort, Whitley Bay isn’t as sparkling as it once was thanks to the advent of low cost flights to Europe, but it’s still a great place to get to the sea. The North Sea is too cold to swim in, but the regenerated sea front is great for a stroll and if you stay for the night, you’ll get to see some of the famous North-Eastern club scene (think highly intoxicated young people in a state of hardy undress).
Alnwick: Less than an hour north of Newcastle, in Northumbria, Alnwick is so pretty that it was named the best place to live in Britain by Country Life magazine. Its history dates back to 600AD, its architecture to medieval times (like the stunning, intact castle) and it’s still a very rural place – and totally unspoiled despite the fact that scenes from Harry Potter were filmed here.