Sun, Sea and Spanish City: A whistle-stop tour of the North East

October 15, 2020 6 min read

The North East of England is both a historical and vibrant place to visit and live, blessed with a sandy coastline, wild nightlife and fun, easy-going people- something which I had just three days to show to some friends coming up to stay from university. Having been born and bred a short five minutes away from our stunning coastline I have been known to brag and boast about my hometown and city but the thought of cramming it all into three days was daunting, but, after lots of planning, I finalised a whistle-stop tour of the north east. Having realised the task of showing off our best bits in three short days is probably a difficult one for everyone, I have decided to share my own plans to design the ultimate day-by-day guide of Newcastle and the coast for locals and tourists wanting to show and see our best sites.

Day One:

My guests all arrived by train in the late afternoon, so I looked out for places near and around Central Station. Luckily, Central Station really is rather central to all the best bars and restaurants in the city and we were spoiled for choice. Having been blessed with a small heatwave the sun was shining and temperatures were rising every hour, we parked ourselves in the Union Rooms with a seat outside where we could catch some rays. Union Rooms is an ideal afternoon pub because of its centrality and the sleek interiors and open outside space that is perfect for people watching. The bar was basked in sun rays and my friends enjoyed watch the native Geordie go about their day-to-day life.

After welcoming my friends in true Geordie fashion, we headed to Zapatista for a burrito that quite possibly weighed the same as a small child. Zapatista is a born and bred Geordie Mexican restaurant which is casual and perfect for evening dining. It serves the best burritos and nachos in town for around five pounds, so it is a firm favourite with both locals and also students studying at Newcastle and Northumbria university. Zapatista was the perfect place to bring my university friends because of our student-sized wallets and love for casual and friendly places.

Other places to visit:

 Jalou is the perfect place to go for a few drinks with the girls and is right by the station- not to mention the 241 cocktails every Thursday

 Central Oven and Shaker offers a range of pizzas, pastas and sharing dishes that are complimented by some fun cocktails. This is ideal if you want to visit somewhere close to the train station but that is a bit more of a sit-down experience than Zapatista.

 Revolution Bar is massive and beautifully decorated in Newcastle, it is definitely worth a visit even though it is a chain across the UK. This is the ideal place to go for some food and drinks especially if you arrive slightly later.

Day Two:

Since the weather wasn’t quite as glorious as the previous day, I decided to dedicate the second day of the trip to shopping and sight-seeing around the city centre. We wandered around Fenwick’s and Grainger Market first so they could experience places that are not in their local area. Grainger Market is a great place to show touring friends because it is regarded as a ‘historic heart’ of Newcastle and is a Grade I listed market. The architecture of Grainger Market is much like the rest of the stone buildings in the city centre- something my friends did not expect to find in up north! Grainger Market is also a great place to eat with noodle stalls and Slice which sells gigantic pizza slices for a not so gigantic price.

After grabbing a slice from Slice, we wandered down to the Quayside so I could show off the River Tyne and the breath-taking bridges that unite Newcastle and Gateshead. The walk to the Quayside itself is a great way to show off Newcastle because all the buildings that we passed had the traditional Grainger stone architecture which quite literally left them speechless. When we arrived at the Quayside we settled for a while at the Quayside Seaside and then headed over the bridge to visit the Baltic art gallery. The Baltic was the perfect place to visit to show off a cultural side to Newcastle that I’m pretty sure people don’t realise we have! The Baltic is free to get in and features contemporary art, but the gift shop was probably our highlight because of all the quirky trinkets and souvenirs it sells.

Then it was back for a quick change and some more makeup ready to show them a night out on the lash in the toon. We lined our stomachs some traditional Mumbai street food from local favourite Dabbawal. Dabbawal is local to the north east and has a casual and relaxed atmosphere which was the perfect environment for us to catch up and eat some spicy food.

Afterwards we headed to Yolo Bar for some cocktails- which happened to be on 241- and began our night out. After drinking at a few bars, we finished our night out in Mimo’s which is ideal for a slightly more casual night out and meant we could stay in our trainers!

Other places to visit:

 Quilliam Brothers tea house is perfect if you’re in town after a tea break or some delicious brunch. It has a range of tea flavours as well as coffee, cakes and a massive breakfast menu. Quilliam’s is a great place to visit if you’re vegan or vegetarian as it offers lots of veggie breakfast options and the most delicious banana and vegan chocolate scones.

 The Laing Art Gallery is filled with lots of variations of artwork and it ideal to explore the culture of Newcastle.

 There are also a number of guided walking tours with Iles Tours if you want to learn more about the history Newcastle rather than hitting the bars.

Day Three:

What better way to end the trip with a trip to the seaside and fish ‘n’ chips in Tynemouth? We started our day at Whitley Bay and walked around the newly refurbished Spanish City before grabbing some breakfast at Café 19- an affordable local café that does a range of breakfasts and is also suitable for veggies and vegans. We decided to enjoy the sun and walk into Tynemouth via the coastline which is a great way to experience all the best beaches in a short space of time. Along our coast we have several beaches that are well worth a visit: Whitley Bay, Cullercoats, Tynemouth Longsands and King Edward’s Bay. Each of these beaches are a must-see- especially for those who do not get to visit the seaside very often-because of the soft sand and mesmerising waves.

After we got ourselves settled it was about time for a late lunch so we headed up to Longsands Kitchen which I would -boldly -claim does the best fish ‘n’ chips in the north east. For some of my friends it was the first time they had ever eaten fish and chips and I think Longsands Kitchen really set the bar high by serving us melt in the mouth flaky fish that was coated in a crunchy, bronze batter served with chips laced with salt that had turned soggy from all the vinegar. I ordered a side of sweet curry sauce that actually tasted like the seaside, whilst the others went for the classic mushy peas and the northern favourite: gravy that was thick like treacle. If you are visiting the coast whilst staying in the north east, I would recommend paying Longsands Kitchen a visit because it is the epitome of English, northern food and truly serves the best fish and chips in town.

We walked back down to King Edward’s Bay with our fish and chips and watched the sunset, enjoying the last few rays when there was a commotion on the beach. Confused and annoyed that our fish and chips had been interrupted we stood up only to see three dolphins jumping and swimming a few metres off the shore. The dolphins have been sighted a number of times this summer, but I never imagined that we could have seen them then. It was actually and magical encounter with the dolphins on the foreground of the summer sunset and it was the perfect way to end the weekend.

Other places to visit:

 Spanish City is an iconic part of Whitley Bay and has been since the early 1900s, it is home to two pubs, Valerie’s tearoom, a waffle house and a Steak and Oyster Restaurant, 1910.

 Trenchers Fish and Chips is found in Spanish City and is perfect for both takeaway and eat in fish and chips- it also serves a range of food so it would be ideal for anyone who is veggie or does not like fish!

 The Boatyard in Cullercoats is the perfect cosy and quaint café ideal for coffee and cake or brunch- they even allow dogs so if you have a little friend with you on your trip this is the place for you.

 The View is on Tynemouth Longsands beach and has a stunning outside seating area so you can watch the waves whilst tucking into some food. Their hot chocolate menu is very impressive as well!

 Riley’s Fish Shack is a tiny wooden shack on King Edward’s beach which offers a range of seafood from wraps to lobster. This small and quirky restaurant has been reviewed by The Guardian and is famous beyond just the north east.

Amelia Dunn
Amelia Dunn

Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.

Also in FTLOTN Blog

An adventure in the Lake District
An adventure in the Lake District

July 18, 2021 4 min read

I know what your thinking, I create drama just for these blogs!

I’m hoping this will be the last one with any drama for a while.  I might start from the end and work backwards, but the major difference this time was that I had my girls with me and not the dog.  I’ll let you work out which set is the most peaceful! 

Guide To Visiting The North East: Tynemouth
Guide To Visiting The North East: Tynemouth

July 12, 2021 3 min read

We absolutely love where we live and if we're honest we definitely think some of the best places to visit during summer are right here on our very own doorstep. We’re starting a new series where we go through different locations within the North East and tell you all there is to do there. So whether you’re a local or a visitor looking for a weekend trip away, here’s some tips on what to do and where to go - starting with: Tynemouth!

5 Castles To Visit in the North East of England
5 Castles To Visit in the North East of England

July 04, 2021 4 min read

I don’t know about you, but when I think of England one of the first things that comes to mind are our castles surrounded by stunning countryside views. We may be a small island, but we’re rich in history...the kings and queens of our past, the battles they fought, it’s all encapsulated in our fairytale-like castles and fearsome fortresses...