North East England and beyond: 10 day trip ideas

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North East England is a charming region full of history, beautiful architecture, and friendly people with lovely Geordie accents. In this guide to day trips in North East England, I’m sharing some of my favorite excursions from Newcastle.

I got to know North East England pretty well during a semester studying in Newcastle upon Tyne. Newcastle is the eighth largest urban area in the United Kingdom. For more information about Newcastle itself and tips for planning a trip, check out my post Planning a trip to North East England. Let’s get to it!

Day Trip 1: Make a trip to the coastline

You probably noticed that Newcastle is near the coast of North East England. You can reach the coast from Newcastle in about an hour by metro or 25 minutes by car.


Make a first stop at medieval Tynemouth Priority and Castle. It is a burial place of Northumbrian kings that overlooks the North Sea and the River Tyne. From there, make your way to Tynemouth Longsands for a relaxing walk or to enjoy the water. Keep in mind that the highest temperatures in the summer months go to mid-60s F (18 C).


Continue walking and make your way to Cullercoats, an artist’s colony and fishermen’s village. Cullercoats beach is located between two piers. Its sheltered location makes it perfect for swimming. As you look around, you’ll see why Cullercoats was popular with artists who drew their inspiration from the landscape.

Cullercoats has a thriving fishing industry. Take a look at colorful fishermen’s cottages,  and make sure to grab fish and chips!

Whitley Bay

If you continue walking on the beach, you will reach Whitley Bay and St. Mary’s Lighthouse. The lighthouse looks like a miniature island. You can walk out to the lighthouse between the tides. The island also has keepers’ cottages. Those are now a visitor’s center. You can climb the lighthouse for the best views of the North East coast.

Day Trip 2: Picnic at the Angel of the North in Gateshead

South of Newcastle in North East England is the Angel of the North. You can get there from Newcastle in 30 minutes by metro or 10 minutes by car. You can’t miss this massive statue. It sits on a hillside, easily visible from the road, especially from A2 and A167.

The Angel of the North stands 66 feet (20 m) high and 180 feet (54 m) wide. It is one of the most famous sculptures in England. Although it is only minutes from the highway, it is in a park . It’s the perfect place to snap a selfie and have a picnic.

Angel of North in North East England

Day Trip 3: Take a walk on the ancient Hadrian’s Wall

Construction of Hadrian’s Wall began in AD 122 during Hadrian’s reign. Back then, England was part of the Roman Empire. Hadrian’s goal was to maintain a stable, peaceful empire. He wasn’t interested in extending his territories. Hadrian started establishing the boundaries of his empire. One such boundary was a wall of stone and turf that became known as Hadrian’s Wall.

The wall is 73 miles (117.5 km) long. It spreads from Wallsend in the east to Bowness-on-Solway in the west. Even though the wall was completed in five years, improvements continued for 200 years. Hadrian’s Wall is not just a wall but also a system of forts. Roman soldiers were stationed in the forts to prevent cross-border raiding. They also collected taxes from anyone wishing to trade with the Roman Empire.

Hadrian’s Wall has been one of UNESCO’s word heritage sites in North East England since the 1980s. In its glory days, the wall reached 5 to 6 meters (16 to 20 feet) in height and 3 m (10 feet) in width. However, over the years, stones were removed from the wall to build houses and other constructions in the area.

Some parts of the wall are better preserved than others. I opted for Hadrian’s Wall and Housesteads Fort, walking toward Sycamore Gap with a famous tree from the movie Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. You can get to the wall by car throughout the year or by the AD112 bus from Good Friday through October 1st. The bus runs along the wall every hour during its operational season.

Hadrian's Wall in England

Stop by Hexam to see Hexam Abbey

Hexam is a market town in North East England. It is a 30-minute drive east from Newcastle and lies minutes away from Hadrian’s Wall.

Stop by Hexam Abbey and learn about its origin dating back to the 7th century. The building is quite impressive. It has a rich history and offers many attractions. The Abby grounds are surrounded by a green space made of Hexam Park and the neighboring Sele.

There are many notable elements in the abbey worth exploring. These include glass windows from Victorian times, sculptures, medieval painting in the form of screens and panels, banners from Northumberland history, the Phelps Organ, and the Frith Stool. Acca’s Cross serves as a memorial to the most important people in the town’s history. This abbey in North East England also features the Anglo-Saxon Crypt (the only part that survived from the original Wilfrid’s Church that stood there in the 7th century) and Flavinus’ Tombstone from Roman times dating to the 1st century.

Day Trip 4: Learn about Roman rule in England at Segedunum

To learn more about Hadrian’s Wall and Roman rule in England, visit the Segedunum Roman Fort, Baths, and Museum. A 10-minute drive or 20-minute metro ride east will take you there.

Segedunum was a Roman fort built to guard Hadrian’s Wall. The fort was first established in 122 AD. It was occupied by Roman garrisons for 3 centuries until it was abandoned. Segedunum is the most excavated fort along Hadrian’s Wall. Today, Segedunum Roman Fort houses an interactive museum and a reconstruction of a bath house. It also has a tower with a view across the site.

Day Trip 5: Explore Barnard Castle, a historic market town

Barnard Castle is called “Barney” by locals. It is an hour south of Newcastle by car. You can also get there by train and bus, although it is a bit longer of a trip. This town in North East England gets its name from a medieval castle from the 12th century. Unfortunately, there are only ruins left. Still, the castle offers a fantastic view of the surrounding city.

The town is charming. Stroll down the streets and enjoy architecture from Georgian and Victorian periods. Stop to enjoy one of the cafes, pubs, or antique shops. Barnard City also has a weekly market at the Butter Mart, an octagonal building from the 18th century.

You will find Bowes Museum there, which was inspired by French chateaus. John Bowes and his wife Joséphine founded the museum in the 19th century to house their art collection. Today, it is nationally recognized in England for fine art, sculpture, ceramics, furniture, and textiles. One of the most famous exhibits is a mechanical Silver Swan that performs for visitors daily.

Barnard Castle in North East England

Day Trip 6: Visit Alnwick Castle, a Harry Potter movie location

About an hour and 35 miles north of Newcastle in North East England lies Alnwick Castle. You can get there easily by car, bus, or train.

Construction of this castle in North East England started in the early 14th century. It has been in the hands of the Percy family ever since. The castle and its grounds are available to visitors daily. You must purchase separate tickets to enter the grounds of all the attractions. Tickets are available for sale online.

Attractions include the State Rooms tour, broomstick training, archery training, and Alnwick Gardens.

The State Rooms tour is a guided 30-minute tour. It features the castle’s history, the Percy family, and an impressive collection of arts and furniture. Alnwick Castle also offers broomstick training (priority of booking reserved for children ages 6-16) and have-a-go archery lessons (minimum of 13 years old).

The Alnwick Garden is a charity. Its proceedings maintain the site and support community members in need. The Garden includes the Taihaku Cherry Orchard, Rose Garden, Poison Garden, Labyrinth, and various water features. There are always flowers in bloom in the spring and summer. The Poison Garden’s toxic plants are behind a closed gate. You can only see the Poison Garden on a tour with a guide.

While you’re at the castle, you can enjoy lunch or dinner at a unique location. The Treehouse Restaurant is the world’s largest treehouse. The menu features British cuisine with seasonal and local produce.

Alnwick Castle in North East England

Day Trip 7: Take a guided tour of Durham Castle

Nineteen miles south of Newcastle is the city of Durham. There are many options to get there, including bus, car, and train. Train is the fastest option.

Here is another UNESCO world heritage site in North East England: Durham Cathedral and Castle. Both structures were first built in the 11th century. They were in the hands of Prince-Bishops of Durham, who were given autonomy in exchange for protecting the northern borders.

The castle remained in the hands of the Prince-Bishops until the 19th century. At that point, it became part of prestigious Durham University. If you’re planning to study at Durham University, you might be the lucky one to live in a medieval castle. To learn more about castle’s history, book a daily guided tour.

Durham Castle in North East England

Day Trip 8: Walk to tidal Holy Island

An hour and 15-minute drive north from Newcastle will take you to Holy Island. It is a tidal island off the coast of North East England, so times to cross vary by day. Low tide happens twice a day. Refer to a tidal waves schedule when planning your trip.

You have a few options to get to the island. You can cross by the Holy Island Causeway, take a bus from a train station, bike alongside the Causeway, or walk on St. Cuthbert’s Way. The 3-mile pilgrim route is marked by poles.

Lindisfarne Priory

One of the main attractions of the island is Lindisfarne Priory. The monastery was first established in the 7th century. Northumbrian King Oswald granted Lindisfarne Island to a group of Irish monks from Iona. The ruins of Lindisfarne Priory has stunning coastal views. There is a museum where you can learn about the priory’s rich history. Particularly notable are the Viking Invasion of the 9th century and St. Cuthbert. He was the most prominent saint in the UK in medieval times.

Lindisfarne Castle

Not too far from Lindisfarne Priory is Lindisfarne Castle. It was built in the 16th century to protect North East England from the Scots. The castle lost its strategic importance a century later when Scotland became part of the UK. The castle is open to public. Opening times vary by tides.

Day Trip 9: Learn about the Vikings in York

The best and fastest way to reach York from Newcastle is by train. It only takes an hour and a half. York is a well-preserved medieval town with lots of attractions, especially if you like history and the arts. The city’s modest size makes it easy to navigate.

One of York’s more unique attractions is JORVIK Viking Centre. The Vikings invaded North East England in the 9th century and settled in York, naming it Jorvik. The centre had displays of many artefacts left behind. While there, you can ride through a reconstructed Viking village. It is full of the smells and sounds of York’s early inhabitants from a thousand years ago.

Stroll through the medieval Old Town

While in York, be sure to wander through the Shambles. The Shambles is one of the best-preserved medieval streets with timber-framed buildings from the 14th century. This narrow and twisty street used to be full of butcher shops. Today, it houses restaurants, pubs, and boutiques.

Make your way to the city walls. The two-mile (3.4 km) city walls go around the historic city and are based on original Roman structures. Three out of four original gates remain. I recommend entering at the Monk Bar Gate and walking toward the Bootham Bar entrance. This will give you a great view of medieval buildings in the distance.

Another attraction not to be missed is York Minster, a cathedral dating to the 7th century. The cathedral is spectacular inside and out, from stained glasses to handcrafted stones. Guided tours are available. You can climb the Central Tower that overlooks the city. Visit the Undercroft Museum to learn more about the cathedral’s history, which goes all the way back to the ancient Romans.

Another location for panoramic city viewing is Clifford’s Tower. It is the oldest remains of a Norman castle from the 13th century. The castle served as a prison and a royal mint back in the day.

York has many contemporary art galleries scattered throughout the city. You will find classics, contemporary structure, and even local artists selling their work on city streets like the famous Shambles. 

Day Trip 10: Follow in the footsteps of the Beatles in Liverpool

Moving a bit more south west of Newcastle you will find Liverpool. It takes 3 hours to get here by both car or train, but it is a fun place to explore. Liverpool is the birthplace of the Beatles. You can feel their presence everywhere.

Start at the Beatles Story, the most comprehensive exhibit about the famous band from England. Hop on the Magical Mystery Bus to see more attractions featuring the Beatles. The bus will guide you to many famous spots, including Strawberry Field, Penny Lane, and Matthew Street. Matthew Street is the location of the Cavern Club, where the Beatles performed their first show.

There are other places in Liverpool worth exploring besides Beatles history. Royal Albert Dock is one of the major attractions of the city. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage site in England. The dock and its surrounding warehouses are the largest collection of Grade A buildings in the UK.

Liverpool also has the largest cathedral in the country and fifth largest in the world. Notable elements at the Liverpool Cathedral include stained windows, organs, and Gothic arches.

Beatles Story in Liverpool


Thanks to England’s geographic location, there are a lot of well-preserved historic sites remaining that weren’t destroyed during wars and invasions over the centuries. However, even if you or a traveling companion aren’t a history enthusiast, there is plenty to strike your fancy. North East England is a beautiful area with something for everyone’s interest with proximity of attractions making it perfect for day trips.

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