If you’re anything like me, you could spend day after day wandering the streets of Newcastle and discovering all its wonderful secrets hidden away in cobbled side streets, tucked away in the Cathedral and nestled above our beloved Grainger Market. There is so much to see and do in Newcastle! That said, it’s sometimes important to explore further afield and see what delights other towns and cities have in store for you.
I’ve decided to share with you my top 5 favourite day trips – all of these destinations can be reached by train from Newcastle Central Station in under 2 hours! This means that you can travel there, discover the large majority of the fantastic places I’m going to tell you about, and travel home all in one day full of adventure.
After Newcastle, I would definitely say that Edinburgh is my favourite city in the UK! Full of history, Scottish culture and some of the best bars I’ve ever been in, Scotland’s capital has so much to offer daytrippers. The journey up to Edinburgh Waverley from Newcastle Central Station only takes around an hour and half, and this journey is perhaps the most spectacular train journey you’ll go on in Great Britain. The train takes you right along the Northumberland coast, offering you stunning views of beaches and countryside. Just make sure you sit on the right-hand side of the train on the way there!
Alex and I visited Edinburgh in January for his birthday and we had the most amazing time. We started off by exploring the rich history of Edinburgh Castle, then enjoyed a decadent afternoon tea at The Balmoral Hotel, followed by some seriously fascinating cocktails at the best speakeasy bar I’ve ever been to – Hoot the Redeemer. This bar is a bit wacky, but that’s what makes it so brilliant! As you descend the non-assuming staircase just off Princes Street, you come to a ‘Mystic Meg’ guarding the door to the bar – make sure you do as she says, or no cocktails for you!
We even had time to fit in a tour and tasting session at the Edinburgh Gin Distillery which was great fun and definitely one to try (just make sure you don’t fall asleep on the train home and miss your stop after all that gin!)
First-class pubs, dainty tearooms and beautiful beaches await you in Alnmouth after a mere 25 minutes on the train from Newcastle Central! If you don’t fancy driving, the coastal village of Alnmouth is perhaps one of the most convenient places to get to in Northumberland, with the train station lying at the top of a hill a short walk away from the centre of the village. Nicknamed ‘the Tobermory of Northumberland’, Alnmouth’s friendly, colourful houses have become popular holiday homes and B&B’s over the years and there are no surprises as to why that is!
North of the River Aln’s estuary is a lovely beach for walking dogs, building sandcastles on a sunny day and playing games with your friends and family. All of this can be thirsty work, so make sure you stop off by Scott’s of Alnmouth for a drink and something tasty to eat. Alnmouth is also very popular with golfers – why not try your hand at a new sport and wash down your new-found success with a few pints in the famous Red Lion Inn?
I sometimes forget that York is just an hour’s train ride away from Newcastle, but when I remember I can’t help but be grateful! I’ve been going on day trips to York for as long as I remember and recently I went back to visit one of my close friends from university for the day. Walking through The Shambles area of York always makes me smile – the overhanging, Mock Tudor buildings, the cobbled streets and the bustling market place and little courtyards are always what spring to mind first when I think of York.
There are a huge number of museums and visitor attractions in York considering the size of the city itself, but I would recommend first going to the Castle Museum and the beautiful York Minster if you’re short on time. If you’re after a more leisurely day, why not pass the time in Betty’s Tearoom (prepare to queue on weekends) eating dainty sandwiches, cakes and scones, followed by a spot of shopping in some of York’s most luxurious stores?
My favourite restaurant in York has to be Lucia’s Wine Bar: set in a cosy courtyard, complete with outdoor seating, patio heaters and blankets for chillier nights, this Meditteranean bar and grill serves some really fantastic cocktails, tapas and main dishes. You could quite easily wile the day away sipping cocktails and catching up with friends in this hidden gem of a restaurant!
The ancient walled town of Berwick-upon-Tweed lies in the most northern parts of Northumberland but is only around a 45-minute train trip from Newcastle Central. I’ve heard some people in the past say that there isn’t much to see or do in Berwick, but I certainly beg to differ – it’s certainly worth a visit. The turbulent history of this town means it offers so much for the history-enthusiast, as well as those who will enjoy photographing stunning scenery such as Berwick’s famous bridges.
Just 3 miles from the Scottish border, this coastal town is home to a total of four sandy beaches! If that’s not enough to entice you to visit for the day, it’s Elizabethan walls provide the perfect route for ramblers – finish the day with fish and chips at the coast before heading back home!
Ignoring the fact that I went to university in Durham, therefore I’m a little bit biased, you have to believe me when I say that a visit to Durham is the ultimate day trip in the North East. Alex had never been to Durham before he met me, and when he first visited he couldn’t believe how truly beautiful the city is and how much it has to offer. The centre of Durham is always bustling with life and there are so many amazing places there to recommend to you all!
Let’s first look at the sight-seeing aspect of Durham: walk through the historic market square in the city centre, through the hilly, cobbled streets and up to Palace Green where you will find Durham Castle, Durham Cathedral and Palace Green Library. I cannot recommend enough taking the time to explore each of these heritage buildings, as there is so much to learn about the history of Durham, its people and the North East of England in general. Did you know that the bones of the Venerable Bede are also buried at Durham Cathedral? A short walk away from Palace Green is Durham City’s best kept secret: Crook Hall and Gardens! This listed manor house/family home has the most enchanting gardens, as well as a really lovely Georgian tearoom.
Walking up and down the many cobbled hills in Durham (as quaint as they are) will mean that you need somewhere to sit and recharge for a while. My ultimate recommendation for daytrippers to Durham is a visit to Tealicious Tearoom! This family-owned tearoom serves the most delicious afternoon tea and homemade cakes you will ever taste (top tip: try the Sticky Ginger, Treacle and Lime cake), as well as light lunches using local produce. The tea selection is really second to none: the loose leaf teas served there, coupled with the delightful, mismatched china and friendly service makes this the perfect place to chill out in Durham. Tealicious have also just launched ‘Tealicious Evenings’, complete with tea-inspired cocktails and cake platters – I can’t wait to visit!
I hope you enjoy visiting all the fantastic places you can get to from Newcastle in under 2 hours!