Great accessible UK weekend breaks: Newcastle
24th August 2017
Newcastle is a vibrant destination and with award-winning dining, inspiring heritage, acclaimed architecture and the famous Geordie spirit, it is no surprise that the city is on many people’s bucket lists of places to visit in the UK.
Rachel Kershaw, who runs the blog Life in Geordieland explains why the city is a great destination for a short break, “Newcastle is a wonderful place for a weekend break, it's a compact city filled with museums, theatres, restaurants, great shops and peaceful parks all within close proximity to each other. We also have a fantastic public transport system which includes the Tyne & Wear Metro, making it easy to explore further afield to the coast or country if you can tear yourself away from the vibrant city centre.”
Whether you are visiting for a day or a weekend away, visitors are guaranteed to have a great time in Newcastle and those that take a short break will not have to worry about how they are going to get around.
Fortunately those that need stairlift solutions at home and struggle to walk long distances can visit lots of accessible places in Newcastle.
Best attractions to visit
There are lots of accessible attractions in Newcastle and here are some of the best that should be on your must-visit list.
The Discovery Museum tells the story of life on Tyneside and particularly its spirit of innovation and invention both past and present.
The impressive displays on show at the museum include including the 32 metre long Turbinia, the first ship powered by steam turbines and in October 2017 a new display, ‘Charge! The Story of England's Northern Cavalry’ will open at the museum. This new display will highlight the story of the Light Dragoons and the Northumberland Hussars over the last 300 years.
The attraction is really accessible with the entrance tarmacked and automatic doors and once inside, visitors can access all the museum’s floors via the lifts. All the different floors are level and have ramped access too.
There is plenty of seating available all over the museum as well as two wheelchairs available for visitors to use.
The museum opens Monday – Friday from 10am-4pm and Saturday and Sunday 11am-4pm.
Great North Museum: Hancock
The Great North Museum: Hancock is another very accessible museum and was awarded the Visit England gold award in 2012.
Older people enjoying a long weekend in Newcastle can see a wide ranging set of exhibitions from natural history, and archaeology (especially Hadrian’s Wall) to geology, ethnography and world cultures.
The Great North Museum also boasts a library which is full of natural history and archaeology texts, including a first edition of Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species.
Some must-not miss permanent exhibitions are the Living Planet, where visitors can see a full-size model of an elephant and a great white shark, and the Fossil Stories, where visitors can see a full-size T-rex skeleton and fossil trees.
The Great North Museum: Hancock opens from 10am-5pm from Monday to Friday and 10am-4pm on Saturday and Sunday.
Life Science Centre
Life Science Centre is an interactive and fun environment in the centre of Newcastle, which aims to engage and educate the North East and surrounding areas about science. They are an independent educational charity and host a range of fascinating and hands-on exhibitions and events throughout the year, with the current offering being the blockbuster exhibition Dino Jaws, featuring life-size animatronic dinosaur models. Another highlight is the state-of-the-art planetarium, where you can get lost amongst the stars in extra comfy seats!
It’s a perfect destination for a day out with the grandchildren, or you can simply pop by and learn something new. Life Science Centre is fully accessible with level floors, lifts, disabled toilet facilities and onsite parking for blue badge holders.
There is also a gift shop and two cafes on site serving a selection of hot food, snacks and coffees. Entry fees apply for the Science Centre.
Best restaurants in Newcastle
Newcastle is renowned for its world-class dining and here is a list of some of the most accessible and best restaurants to visit.
The restaurant has just completed a big refit which has involved refurbishing the restaurant, opening up a new Parlour Bar next to the restaurant and above the restaurant opening a wine, whisky and beer Tasting Room and Cookery School. The restaurant is also quite spacious, making it accessible for those with mobility problems.
Always check to see if there are any special events taking place as Blackfriars often runs medieval banquets, a Ladies Lunch Club and speaking and demonstration events.
The famed food ranges from local foods like Northumbrian hanger steak to classic meals such as Roast belly pork and Sunday roasts.
Tyneside Bar Café
Award-winning food blogger Lauren, who runs Scran on the Tyne, recommends eating at the Tyneside Bar Café at the Tyneside Cinema.
She says, “Take a trip to the amazing Tyneside Cinema - with 80 years of history no less - to catch a film and enjoy a bite to eat in their wonderful glass-front Tyneside Bar Cafe. There's something for everyone to enjoy for breakfast, lunch and dinner, plus they occasionally show films in the Bar Cafe area for diners to enjoy while they eat.”
The bar café is easily accessible and the food varies from quick bites to eat such as a Tyneside Hotdog and chips to Fish Tacos and chargrilled flat iron steak.
Lauren from Scran on the Tyne also recommends eating at intu Eldon Square as it boasts a purpose-built food quarter.
She says, “Accessible shopping centre intu Eldon Square has a purpose-build food quarter boasting a huge array of restaurants serving cuisine from across the globe. My personal favourite is Tapas Revolution, so if you're keen to take a jaunt to Spain on a lunchtime, this is the place to do it!”
Tapas Revolution brings a bit of Madrid to the UK as the owners of the Spanish café and bar bring a selection of tapas, vino and cervezas to the city. Diners can create a meal with a selection of meat, fish and vegetarian tapas on offer.
Fenwick Food Hall
The Fenwick Food Hall underwent a multi-million pound redevelopment and now it offers an exceptional dining experience.
From artisan bakery, a delicatessen and Rafi’s spice box to Fuego, the Porterhouse Butcher and Grill and Saltwater Fish Company.
The food hall also is highly recommended by Scran on the Tyne’s Lauren, “Finally, the Fenwick Food Hall, located on the ground floor of the famous department store, is a true treat for any food lover. It enjoyed a revamp a couple of years ago and is now the go-to place for lovely food and drink, both to enjoy in the restaurants there, as well as to purchase from the stands themselves to enjoy later or gift to others. Enjoy wood-fired pizzas at Fuego, a huge selection of fresh fish at the Saltwater Fish Co. (including an Oyster Happy Hour!) and amazing delicacies from Mason & Rye. You'll never want to leave!"
Best tours to go on
Here are some great sightseeing tours visitors can go on to see Newcastle in all its glory.
River Escapes offer great sightseeing trips and these include a one-hour Quay to City Cruise sightseeing trip.
The tours from River Escapes are easily accessible for those with mobility problems as visitors can sit down and enjoy the views and landmarks from the river.
Refreshments such as tea, coffee, crisps, bottled drinks and chocolate bars are also available to buy for visitors.
Newcastle Gateshead City Sightseeing
From just £8 older visitors can take in all the incredible attractions around Newcastle by going on the hop-on hop-off bus from City Sightseeing.
The open top double-decker bus allows you to take a full or half tour across the city and the tour takes visitors to 17 of Newcastle’s finest attractions.
By getting on and off the bus as many times as you like visitors can even create their own itinerary if they wish.
Go on the Quaylink buses to the Quayside
While strictly not a tour, Life in Geordieland’s Rachel Kershaw recommends going on a Quaylink bus to the Quayside.
She adds, “No break in Newcastle is complete without a visit to the Quayside which is served by bright yellow Quaylink buses that have an easy access wheelchair guarantee. In this area you can see Newcastle's famous bridges in all their glory. The world famous Millennium Bridge allows pedestrians to cross the River Tyne to Gateshead where you will find the wonderfully welcoming Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art and the breath taking Sage Gateshead music venue - both of which have extensive accessibility facilities and offer great food and drink options too.”
If you want to go on trips that are just outside of the city, then there are plenty to choose from and here is a guide to best ones to visit.
Go shopping at intu Metrocentre
Newcastle is famed for its shopping and the iconic intu Metrocentre is Europe’s largest covered shopping and leisure centre - a must-visit destination which meets today’s shoppers increased expectations for a day-out, thanks to its blend of world-class retailers and dining.
Travelling to intu Metrocentre could not be easier with almost 10,000 free car parking spaces, a Public Transport Interchange, a train station and a coach park which can accommodate up to 350 coaches.
Groups with a variety of budgets are catered for due to the wide range of retailer’s available under one roof. Alongside much-loved brands, the on-going £120 million investment programme has created an exclusive new aspirational retail experience, Platinum Mall at intu Metrocentre – where designer brands can be found in a designer setting.
The extension of the Qube leisure area has attracted 12 new amazing restaurants encouraging day-long dining – from a quick bite to eat to a three course meal.
For visitors keen to indulge in leisure activities, a 12 screen Odeon IMAX cinema and Namco Funscape, an entertainment centre with ten-pin bowling, arcade games and children's soft play, are firm favourites for families.
The shopping centre is perfect for older people with mobility problems as well with seven lifts located across the centre and a shopmobility service on the third level of the blue multi-storey car park offering 32 electric scooters and 50 wheelchairs.
Visit the Angel of the North
A visit to Newcastle just wouldn’t be complete without heading to the Angel of the North. Since spreading its wings in the late 1990s, it has become one of the most famous pieces of public art anywhere in the world.
Located just off the A1 in Gateshead, the statue is on the outskirts of the city and visitors with mobility problems will need to book a taxi to see the site.
Made from 200 tonnes of steel and with a wingspan of 54 metres, getting up close to the Angel is an experience that visitors don’t forget quickly.
Image Credit: Blackfriars, Discovery Museum, Great North Museum in Hancock, intu Metrocentre, Life Science Centre.
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