The Best Things to Do in Newcastle for Free

Bustling Newcastle upon Tyne offers plenty to keep you entertained on a budget
Bustling Newcastle upon Tyne offers plenty to keep you entertained on a budget | © CAMimage / Alamy
Judy Cogan

City breaks can be expensive, but Newcastle is one of the best cities in England to explore on a budget. Stroll across the Seven Bridges and explore Grainger Market on your next trip to the Toon.

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Travel up the North East coast, and you’ll find the university city of Newcastle overlooking the North Sea. While it can be tricky to travel on a shoestring in many UK cities, Newcastle bucks this trend. It has plenty of free activities, including museums, markets, parks and even a petting farm. Here are Culture Trip’s pick of the top free things to do in this great northern city.

Stroll across the Seven Bridges

PR0GKA The Millennium Bridge, Tyne Bridge and Sage Gateshead Arts Centre, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Tyne and Wear, England, United Kingdom, Europe

Newcastle is a compact, walkable city and – lucky for you – walking is free. The best way to explore on foot is by criss-crossing the Seven Bridges — Gateshead Millennium Bridge, Tyne Bridge, Swing Bridge, High Level Bridge, Queen Elizabeth II Metro Bridge, King Edward VII Bridge and Redheugh Bridge. Enjoy picturesque views across the River Tyne while the architectural history of the city unfurls before your eyes from the ultra-modern to Grade II-listed structures.

Ponder contemporary art in the Biscuit Factory

If you’re expecting a deluge of digestives, forget it. This is the largest independent commercial art, craft and design gallery in the UK. It was established in 2002 in – you guessed it – a former Victorian biscuit factory. The original beams and brick walls are intact, and the gallery hosts 250 artists at any one time with a headline exhibition. The in-house cafe, the Factory Kitchen, isn’t free, but it does have a rooftop terrace and an excellent brunch menu.

Walk the Walk of Fame

R2CP5T Bronze plaque honouring Newcastle and Gateshead inspiring people of past 60 years, Ant & Dec, Quayside. Newcastle Upon Tyne, England, UK

The Newcastle Walk of Fame, also known as the Local Heroes Trail, celebrates the most inspiring people in the city with prestigious bronze plaques along the Quayside. From film stars and musicians to politicians and sporting greats, you will find plaques for Alan Shearer, Ant & Dec and Sir Bobby Robson, as well as suffragette and socialist Connie Lewcock. It first opened in March 2014, and new names have been added each year.

Find peace at Jesmond Dene

G6G3M5 Autumn colours at Jesmond Dene, Newcastle upon Tyne.

One of the most beautiful green spaces in northeast England, Jesmond Dene is a peaceful retreat from the hubbub of Newcastle city centre. This narrow wooded valley is lively with wildlife and has a unique mix of native and exotic trees. It’s the perfect place to enjoy a leisurely stroll and a picnic by the stream. There’s a monthly arts and crafts fair on Armstrong Bridge; a free-entry petting zoo; and it’s home to the ruins of the medieval St Mary’s Chapel.

Head to the Great North Museum: Hancock

EN63GH Facade Of The Great North Museum Hancock Barras Bridge Newcastle Upon Tyne UK

It’s here you’ll learn all about the natural history, archaeology and geology of Newcastle, plus the connection the area has to different world cultures, from Africa to North America. Highlights inside this free-to-enter museum, established in 1884, include the Hadrian’s Wall gallery, with a detailed history of the World Heritage Site, and a space dedicated to the ancient Egyptians, including two real mummies. The Mouse House will keep under fives happy.

Take the kids to Ouseburn Farm

This green oasis has been a charity and community city farm since 1976, when a group of parents bought a plot of land to give their children access to nature and a place to grow their own food and take care of animals. Today, it has a farmyard teeming with animals and lush gardens. Spare some pounds for food to feed the animals and stop by the kitchen afterwards for a well-deserved cuppa.

Check out the Discovery Museum

In Blandford House, a building dating to 1899, the Discovery Museum is a free-to-enter science, tech and local history centre. In the lobby, you’ll come face to face with Turbinia, once the fastest ship in the world. There is a diverse range of temporary and mainstay exhibitions for kids and grown-ups, including Destination Tyneside, the only permanent dedicated gallery in the UK telling the story of migration. There’s a science maze, Play+Invent space and a lovely cafe overlooking Turbinia.

Browse Grainger Market

A deserved winner of Britain’s Favourite Market 2020, this historic indoor market opened in 1835 as the first supermarket in Newcastle. Today, 100 local traders sell everything from cheese, meats and veg to vintage clothes and house plants all year around. It’s also home to a thriving street food scene, with tasty bites including steamed dumplings, Chinese burgers and mac ‘n’ cheese, plus some seriously good coffee.

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