A Local Guide to Newcastle: Creative Havens, Riverside Bars and Green Valleys | Holidays in Newcastle


I like to pick up a book and have a cup at Super Natural, a cozy vegetarian cafe near the train station. It has comfy couches, whimsical nature murals, and a hand-drawn solar system with fairy lights on the ceiling. Food options, all meatless, range from sandwiches and jacket potatoes (I love the dal) to lasagna. I also like to wander around the Quayside Market on Sundays, where the vans sell everything from Thai and Caribbean food to fudge and pancakes. Under the Tyne Bridge on the Gateshead side of the river is Träkol, a trendy restaurant. Housed in a set of rusting shipping containers overlooking the Tyne, its menu – called “outrageously good” by Jay Rayner – focuses on open-fire cooking and seasonal ingredients.


Ali Pritchard was just 22 when he put on his first show at the Dog and Parrot pub. His audience that night? A man, who had been kicked out of the downstairs pub, and his dog. A decade later, he owns the 80-seat Alphabetti Theatre, which offers poetry, comedy, music and drama every week. The theater was not created for “business, money, or personal gain,” so it operates a pay-as-you-go policy that ensures everyone in the “toon” has access to the arts.


Locals guide illo for Newcastle

Ouseburn Valley was once teeming with grafters, but is now home to a thriving artistic community of potters, artists, engravers, musicians and more. The Ouseburn Trust, an independent charity, has been repurposing industrial buildings here for decades, turning them into a bustling creative haven. The biscuit factory offers arts and crafts exhibits throughout the year, as well as regular workshops and lectures. Kiln Cafe & Ceramics (pictured, inset) is good for breakfast, serving Middle Eastern dishes, including a lovely shakshuka. Customers can eat while watching clay-covered artisans toss pots alongside. There are also many bars. Le Cluny is a popular concert venue; Arch 2 is the place for craft beer; and Tyne Bar – under Glasshouse Bridge, where the Ouse meets the Tyne – is perfect for sunny days. For families, the Ouseburn Community Farm has pigs, sheep, cows and more.

The Ouseburn.
The Ouseburn. Photography: CandyAppleRed Images/Alamy

Green area

Hop on a tube or bus to Jesmond Dene, a quiet wooded valley north of the centre. A maze of tall ash trees tower over mossy stone bridges, and a babbling spout leads to a waterfall. Families should take a few butties to the hilly picnic area or visit Pets Corner, where talkative Amazon parrots and cute pot-bellied piggies amuse the crowds. A Taste of Persia, an Iranian restaurant owned by smiling Buke Dehaty, is a great place to refuel after a trip to the Dene. The joojeh (grilled chicken skewer marinated in saffron and lemon) is a real treat.

Night life

Geordies are quick-witted people; see it firsthand at The Stand, an underground comedy club that rivals Chicago’s second city. Red Raw on Wednesday nights is a great place to start as it showcases the best rookie comedians in the area for a high five. The booth seats around 300 people, a Noddy-inspired color theme, a small stage and two quality bars (the top one usually has shorter queues).

For a good pint of craft beer, head to Mean-Eyed Cat, an independent micropub housed in a former newsstand previously known for its abundance of adult reads. This cabana-like bar opposite Newcastle Central Bus Station, named after an old Johnny Cash song, is full of wacky Lucha Libre wrestling props, abstract paintings of cats and artwork multicolored Johnny Cash. The crowd is welcoming and there is a rotating selection of local, national and international beers, as well as a country-meets-Americana-meets-punk-garage playlist.


Motel One (doubles from £69) is a chic, central chain hotel. Jesmond Dene House (doubles from £108) is a boutique hotel 10 minutes’ drive from the center in a Grade II listed house with restaurant.

Adam Taylor is a Tyneside based travel writer

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