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Top things to do on Newcastle Quayside

Things to do on Newcastle Quayside- sunset Quayside view

I've lived in Newcastle upon Tyne for fifteen years now. I moved here for university and just never wanted to leave! I was lucky enough to live right down next to the river Tyne for nine of those years and as you can imagine, in almost a decade, I spent many a weekend taking advantage of being in this gorgeous location right by the river.

There is always so much going on down on Newcastle Quayside and it's an area which always feels alive and buzzing. I would always recommend it as a great part of the city to head to if you are visiting our beautiful toon, so I thought it was about time I shared the top activities to enjoy in the area. From brunches to cat cuddles, modern art to food tasters, read on to find out the top things to do on Newcastle Quayside.

Things to do on Newcastle Quayside- view of sage

Indulge in a Delicious Brunch

Two of my absolutely favourite places for brunch in Newcastle happen to be down near the Tyne. Quay Ingredient was my go-to breakfast spot when I lived on the Quayside but it is pretty small so can be hard to get into. The cafe opens at 8.00am and arriving early improves your chances of getting a table so I'd advise getting down as soon as you can. The menu varies but expect a sophisticated take on your usual favourites, such as eggs benedict with duck or scrambled eggs with truffle oil.

Violet's Cafe is a charming little cafe with such good quality food and drink. I love their beautiful breakfast pancakes with berries, but everything I have tried has been excellent quality so it is well worth checking out if you are in the area. I love the decor as well as their delicious cakes and would definitely recommend a visit when you are on the Quayside.

Things to do on Newcastle Quayside- Violets breakfast pancakes

Visit a Cat Cafe

Who doesn't love an excuse for some kitty cuddles? I have two of my own cats now but I used to love heading to CatPawCino for a cuppa and some cake. This is a great thing to do if it is raining but also a nice coffee break any time you are down on Newcastle Quayside. It is £5 per person to enter which goes towards looking after the cats and I would advise booking a slot online as they do get busy. You could always chance it if you're walking past but you might find yourself with a long wait. The entry price doesn't include food but they have a nice, simple menu with toasties and sweet treats.

They have 8 resident cats and sometimes some foster cats join in as well. I find it a really peaceful, cat-friendly atmosphere and not cruel at all. I was worried about this before I visited but at CatPawCino they have strict rules to put the cats' welfare first and I definitely saw evidence of that when I visited. What a lovely place to spend an hour forgetting all your worries.

Things to do on Newcastle Quayside- CatPawCino

See Modern Art at The Baltic

I am definitely not claiming to be any kind of art expert but I have always really enjoyed visiting the Baltic Art Gallery. The building is an old flour mill which was converted into a six floor gallery in 2002 and remains an impressive building today. The exhibitions change regularly and they are always contemporary and thought-provoking. I find myself scratching my head sometimes as I really don't get what the art means, but that's a good thing as it's nice to lose yourself in something different!

Things to do on Newcastle Quayside- baltic gallery

It's one of my favourite places to head to alone and it's got a great floor with children's activities as well. Top tip: if you are meeting friends with toddlers for a coffee this is a great place to go as they can let off steam and then you can grab coffee and a cake in the lovely, child-friendly cafe downstairs.

I really like the shop on the left as you enter the building and would recommend popping in on your way in or out. It has some great Geordie gifts and quirky items which are different from other shops. It's a while since I have been, but the restaurant on the top floor always gets fantastic reviews. It's worth dining there for the views and architecture of the building alone, never mind the delicious food! Entry to the gallery is free but a small donation is suggested. Don't miss the viewing galleries to get an amazing view of the Quayside.

Things to do on Newcastle Quayside- view from the baltic

Try some tasty food at Quayside Market

The Quayside Market is on every Sunday from 9.00am - 4.00pm and has a mix of great independent traders. From beautiful handmade mirrors, to clothing, candles and leather goods, you will find lots of great stalls to browse. In recent years, the food part of the market has really expanded and it's now an excellent place to eat. It's my go-to on a quiet Sunday where you possibly overindulged a little the night before and need some tasty food to sort you right out. 

I've tried a few of the stalls now and recommend Acropolis Greek food, Tasty Thai deli, and of course the locally renowned Redhead's Mac 'n' cheese. Some of the food stalls further along dish out samples, so I would recommend starting at the Pitcher and Piano end of the market, enjoying a few samples on your way and ending with the hot food stalls at the other end. On a sunny Sunday there is nowhere I'd rather be than our gorgeous Quayside market so I would definitely recommend checking it out if you are in Newcastle on a weekend.

Things to do on Newcastle Quayside- Redheads mac n cheese

Enjoy live music at The Sage, Gateshead

That unusual silver building on the banks of the river is our gorgeous music hall, The Sage. I have enjoyed some great classical music concerts there but they host a mix of performers from Jamie Cullum to Status Quo. The best event I have been to was the Snowman at Christmas with a live orchestra, but they really have a good range of events which you can check out on the Sage's website.

Local blogger New Girl in Toon recently shared her experience of a Royal Northern Sinfonia concert which is definitely worth checking out to give you an idea of what to expect. Even if you don't go to a concert at the Sage you are welcome to pop in for a browse of the shop and a visit to the cafe.
Things to do on Newcastle Quayside- Sage Gateshead

Admire the Gateshead Millennium Bridge

The stunning Millennium Bridge first opened to the public in 2001 as part of a competition to design a bridge to connect developments in Newcastle and Gasteshead. Out of 150 entries this design was the clear winner. It has been compared to a winking eye as it actually opens and closes to allow ships to pass. 

You can check the expected tilt times on the Gateshead Council website but they are subject to change. If you are lucky enough to catch the bridge opening it is a great experience, especially if you get yourself a seat outside the Pitcher and Piano bar on the river's edge!

Things to do on Newcastle Quayside- Millennium Bridge

Have a drink on the banks of the Tyne

As soon as there is the slightest hint of sunshine on Newcastle Quayside the Pitcher and Piano bar is immediately packed with a fantastic atmosphere. The outside seating gets really busy in the sun, but I would recommend heading upstairs to the balcony / terrace area if you spot any seats. I have often managed to grab a table up there when it is packed downstairs. It's one of my favourite bars in the toon and the best place for a nice drink if you are visiting the Quayside Market.

Things to do on Newcastle Quayside- Pitcher and Piano

In recent years we got the exciting new addition of By the River Brew Co on the Gateshead side of the Tyne. To access this bar and restaurant made of shipping containers, head over the swing bridge and you will spot it on the Gateshead side of the river. They have a fancy restaurant, Träkol, which you can read about on their site. I haven't tried the restaurant but I have had a few lovely afternoons enjoying drinks in the sun over there to wash down a tasty bite from their street food market.

I hope this has inspired you to visit Newcastle Quayside and given you a taster for some of the amazing things there are to do. Next time someone mentions that 'it's grim up north' promise me you will show them this post and encourage them to check out our fabulous city and north east region in general!

1 comment

  1. Although I've been to Newcastle many times, I've never explored the Quayside. When I visited the city a couple of months ago, all I did was go to China Town but, when I crossed the river on the bus I glanced down and thought how interesting it looked.

    The Quayside is certainly an area I want to visit in the future. I've often seen the Millennium Bridge but until I read your post I had no idea it could move. Even without seeing it happen, I can understand how it would resemble a winking eye.


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