Newcastle on the cheap: Free things to do

Howay man – you don’t have to spend big to enjoy a weekend in Newcastle. From intriguing modern art to dramatic old bridges – there’s stacks of free stuff to do.

Put your wallet away with our guide to free things to do in Newcastle – it’s purely belter. 

History- Discovery Museum

Huge, ocean-going ships that weighed thousands of tonnes were once built on Newcastle’s now-trendy Tyne river. Shipbuilding employed thousands of local folk, with vessels like the HMS Ark Royal and the colossal Esso Northumbria built here. Hear the story of shipbuilding in Newcastle at the Discovery. There’s even a scale model of the river.

Ships aside, check out scientific breakthroughs such as Joseph Swan’s first lightbulb.

What to see:

  • Turbinia. The first vessel to be powered by a steam turbine is on display at the museum. Built by Charles Parsons, Turbinia was once the world’s fastest steam turbine.

 What to do with the kids:

  • Family fun. Kids can learn about the exhibitions and artefacts on display during regular events held on weekends and throughout the school holidays.

 

Art and Culture - Baltic

Stroke your chin at the modern art on display at Baltic – and ponder the building’s former life as a flour mill. It’s on the banks of the Tyne in Gateshead, so it can be a bit ‘Baltic’ too – wear a coat on a cold day.

What to see:

  • Always something new. Everything changes but the view.There are no permanent exhibitions at Baltic. You’re always going to see something conceptual, thought-provoking and new.
  • The viewing platform. And what a view it is. Baltic sits on the River Tyne in the heartlands of the industrial North East. Gaze out from the level 4 viewing platform or the level 5 viewing box at sunset and be bowled-over by the Geordie beauty

What to do with the kids:

  • Get creative (and a bit messy). Free workshops for kids are held every weekend at Baltic. At Busy Bs they can take part in fun art classes inspired by current exhibitions.  

 

The great outdoors - Jesmond Dene

Newcastle isn’t all heavy industry and Geordie Shore. Find lush green grass, trees of all shapes and sizes, cascading waterfalls, and birdlife at Jesmond Dene. Follow bridges and trails along this wooded valley that runs alongside the Ouseburn river. The park was designed by William George Armstrong during the mid-1800s.

The park is rich in wildlife. Try and spot the kingfishers, which fly fast over the surface of the river. They’re easy to identify, with their distinctive bright blue and orange colour.

What to see:

  • St Mary’s Chapel. This chapel ruin was once a place of pilgrimage. The chapel was built close to a rumoured sighting of the Virgin Mary, which saw this part of Jesmond become a holy place.

What to do with the kids:

  • Visit the animals. Find goats, sheep, pigs and birds at Pets’ Corner. A great place to take the little ones, it was recently improved with new animal pens and paths.

 

Sightseeing

  • Tyne Bridge. This iconic landmark crosses the River Tyne, linking Newcastle and Gateshead. Built in 1928, the bridge symbolises Newcastle’s history of heavy industry. It was built by the same firm behind Sydney Harbour Bridge. Take in this famous bridge with a wander along the quayside.
  • Angel of the North. This vast steel sculpture towers into the Gateshead sky with its wings outstretched, and is one of the most iconic landmarks in the world. Designed by sculptor Sir Antony Gormley, it references Newcastle’s industrial past. Made of rust-coloured steel, its wings are as wide as a jumbo jet.  How to visit the Angel
  • Grey Street and Grainger Town. Grey Street was once named Britain’s third most picturesque street by Google. It’s famed for its elegant classical architecture and numerous listed buildings.Wander from here on to nearby Grainger Market and Grainger Street.