Exploring more of the UK doesn't have to be expensive - in fact, there are many different ways that you can discover Britain on a budget. If you've already explored our suggestions on the best free things to do in Manchester and Birmingham, why not join us as we head further up north to Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, or as locals call it, ‘the Toon’.
Newcastle is renowned for its nightlife (including a great range of secret bars), but it may be a surprise that the city is full of culture and history, as well as having a thriving restaurant scene and beautiful scenery. Thanks to its abundance of free activities, like exploring the many green spaces, bridges and famous landmarks as well as museums and markets, Newcastle is an excellent place to visit for anyone on a tight budget.
Keep on reading to discover free things to do in Newcastle, as well as cheap places to eat and stay during your trip. Take advantage of fantastic prices and travel by train sustainably when you book an Advance Ticket with CrossCountry.
Head to the Discovery Museum to immerse yourself in the history of the North East. Entry to the museum is completely free of charge (donations are welcome), and visiting the museum is a must if you’re visiting Newcastle on a budget. With changing exhibitions, as well as permanent displays, a visit to the Discovery Museum is educational, fun, and best of all, free.
2. The Baltic
The Baltic art centre is located on the Gateshead side of the river, close to the Sage and Millennium Bridge. The Baltic showcases some fantastic contemporary and experimental artwork as well as portraying how these art pieces have affected individuals and communities. Head to the fourth and fifth floors for phenomenal views of the Quayside and city-centre.
Tucked under Byker Bridge in the quaint Ouseburn valley, is Ouseburn Farm. A free, vibrant green space where you can see animals like pigs, sheep, rabbits and guinea pigs. Ouseburn Farm is a not-for-profit business and offers opportunities to learn about farming and sustainability as well as providing fun art and craft activities. A must-see when visiting Newcastle with children.
4. Walk along the Quayside
With miles of pathway that follow the river, a walk along the Quayside is enjoyable for all the family. Stop by the ‘beach’ in summer or get some exercise at the outdoor gym. If you want to travel further along the river towards the coast, why not consider hiring a bike? Whether you walk, run or ride, the views are second-to-none and there are many attractions, restaurants and bars you can stop off at along the way.
5. Explore Newcastle’s parks
As well as being a thriving city, Newcastle also has plenty of gorgeous green spaces where you can relax, people watch or play sports. Smack bang in the city centre, Leazes Park is a lovely space to do just this. Relax with a picnic or hire a boat on the park’s central lake. If you’re headed to Jesmond, a visit to Jesmond Dene is a necessity on a sunny day. There you will find the free Pets Corner with alpacas, pot-bellied pigs and more.
6. Walk the seven bridges
The Tyne Bridge may be the most iconic, but Newcastle also has six other bridges that offer fabulous views of the river. If you have the chance, it’s worth heading down to the Quayside at night-time too, to witness the spectacular multi-coloured sequence of The Gateshead Millennium Bridge. If you’re there during the day, you might be lucky enough to see the bridge “wink” and let passing ships through.
If you’re prepared to hop on a bus, The Angel of the North is a must-see whilst you’re in the North East. Free to visit and walk around, make sure you get a selfie with the Angel herself! A landmark of the region’s character, the Angel is one of the most recognisable pieces of public art ever produced. You can get there from the city centre by catching the 21 Angel bus from Haymarket.
Grainger Market is located right in the middle of the city centre, around a 2-minute walk from Grey’s Monument. A busy, vibrant market, locals come here to grab a bargain from one of over 100 local traders and businesses. For everything from florists and jewellers, to butchers and greengrocers, head to Grainger Market, where there’s something for everyone, especially if you’re looking for a souvenir!”
The aesthetically pleasing building that sits near Newcastle University, holds the Great North Museum: Hancock. It was created to house the growing collections of the Natural History Society of Northumbria, and there are exhibitions that will interest the whole family. The museum is free to enter and is open seven days a week.
If you’re visiting Newcastle over the weekend, the Sunday Quayside Market is worth a visit. A host of businesses flock here every week, and you can browse through street-food vendors to handcrafted goods. Open from 9AM-4PM, there is a fantastic atmosphere here, with street artists and buskers creating a warm, friendly ambience.
Affordable Places to Eat in Newcastle
Eating in Newcastle doesn’t have to break the bank. Of course, there are plenty of fine dining options, but there are budget friendly alternatives that are loved by tourists and locals alike.
Grainger Market - As mentioned, Grainger Market is a great place to have a wander, but it also has some delicious food options, with Turkish, Chinese, Italian, and other cultural delicacies all under one roof. With almost all options doing special offers, you are bound to bag a bargain. Get a £3 doner kebab from Fez Food or head to The French Oven Bakery and order “yesterday’s bakes” at hugely reduced prices.
Greggs – The North East is the home of Greggs and you will find one on almost every corner. It would be rude not to grab a vegan sausage roll or sausage, bean and cheese pasty whilst you’re in Newcastle. They also have local favourite, stottie cake, on the menu - a flat, round loaf, for making your own sandwiches.
Eat4Less - A favourite amongst students, Eat4Less is located on Northumberland Street and offers great value for money on anything from paninis, to jacket potatoes and bagel pizzas (yes, that’s a thing). You can get a full English for £3.60 or an 8” pizza, fries and a can of soft drink for a mere £5.20.
Longhorns – Just a 7-minute walk from Newcastle Central Station, Longhorns is the place to go if you’re looking for fresh, slow cooked meat. With various deals available over the week, dining here is a great option for those on a budget. Get unlimited wings on a Wednesday for £7.50 or visit between 12 and 5pm on a Saturday and get the famous Dirty Longhorn burger, fries and a pint for just £9.99!
Thali Tray – Newcastle’s first craft brewery and Indian street food joint, Thali Tray is located in Arch 2, Ouseburn. Catering for meat eaters, vegetarians and vegans, Thali Tray has something for everyone. Outdoor seating is available, and Thali Tray even provides blankets for ‘non-Geordies’ when it gets a bit chilly. For just £8 you can get the statement Thali Tray, which includes two curries, an onion seed naan or puri bread, a soyawadi tikka skewer, cardamom turmeric rice, lime pickle and fresh chillies.
Affordable Places to Stay in Newcastle
Like all major cities in the UK, finding accommodation to meet a smaller budget can be tough. Pick from these affordable options and look forward to your weekend in the Toon.
Albatross Hostel - Voted the ‘No.1 Hostel in England’ by Hostelworld customers, the Albatross won’t disappoint. With a fantastic location less than a 2-minute walk from restaurants, shops and nightlife, you’ll be right in the middle of the action. A great choice if you’re travelling in a group - you can choose from 4, 6, 8 or 10-man room, and there is also a female-only room option.
Sleeperz Hotel - Backing onto the station, Sleeperz is the perfect choice if you want somewhere reasonably priced and stylish. With a bar, dining area and lounge to relax in and rooms for up to four people, Sleeperz guarantees an enjoyable stay in a sought-after location.
Motel One - For a hotel that provides contemporary accommodation at affordable prices, Motel One is spot on. Included in the price of your stay is the use of a large courtyard, secure bike storage, iPads to borrow and discounts for local attractions and restaurants. A buffet breakfast is also available and is a fantastic way to start your day in one of the friendliest cities in the UK.
Travelodge - There are two Travelodges in Newcastle city centre to choose from. Both hotels are in enviable locations - the first is situated close to the Millennium Bridge, with the second just behind Newcastle Central Station. For basic rooms with all the amenities you’ll need for a stay in Newcastle, Travelodge is a great choice.
If you're planning a trip to one of the best free things to do in Newcastle, don't forget to book an Advance ticket via our website or our CrossCountry app. You can also find information on how to get cheaper train tickets via our special offers page. If you need more information, you can contact us here.
The UK is bursting with fun activities. Whether you're visiting one of the best places to find fossils in the UK, the most famous landmarks in the UK, or the best indoor ski slopes in the UK, you can always travel by train. CrossCountry has services running up and down the country to ensure you can get to the places you need to be.
Written by Julia