As the summer weather beckons us all outside, a weekend away in the city is becoming more and more attractive.
Visiting any city shouldn’t have to break the bank, and luckily Newcastle-Upon-Tyne is one of the most affordable places to visit.
To top off this affordability, Newcastle also has plenty of great, free attractions to explore that are perfect for any age bracket.
And luckily for you, I’ve rounded them all up for you!
From nature spots and art galleries to free cinema screenings and festivals, here are 27 amazing free things to do in Newcastle.
1. Visit the beaches
Newcastle is home to some of the most breathtaking beaches in the country, and they are only a handy metro ride away from the city centre.
The traditional seascapes Whitley Bay and Sandhaven Beach are relaxing getaways – just don’t forget your bucket and spade!
Whitley Bay is an impressive two miles long and is near a charming fishing village.
St Mary’s lighthouse, which is open to visitors, is also near Whitley Bay.
Sandhaven is equally as beautiful and has the added bonus of water sport and volleyball opportunities.
2. Head down to the Quayside
As one of the most iconic Newcastle landmarks, the Quayside is not to be missed.
Stroll along the waters’ edge and take in one of the best views Newcastle has to offer as you overlook the cityscape.
It’s especially magnificent at night.
If you sit on the bridge walkway overlooking the Tyne Bridge, you’ll be greeted by a breath-taking scene of twinkling lights.
There’s also a market on Sundays, where you’ll find pop-up stores selling food and keepsakes.
This may be one of the best free things to do in Newcastle but I promise I won’t snitch if you return home with some goodies!
3. Explore Jesmond Dene
Within the trendy outer-city borough of Jesmond lies the natural wonder that is Jesmond Dene.
Perfect for tranquil walks and woodland exploring, this natural haven is home to an array of wildlife, and even has a waterfall.
The walk through the forest takes around an hour and fifteen minutes, and transport to the forest is available from the city centre.
4. Learn more at Discovery Museum
Address: Blandford Square, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 4JA
Phone number: 0191 232 6789
Set within grand Victorian-style architecture, the free museum is open mid-morning to 4 pm every day (excluding bank holidays).
It’s home to the former fastest ship in the world as well as other cultural, scientific, and technological treasures that tell the story of Newcastle’s history, all the way from Roman times to today.
There’s also the chance to look at over 12,000 items of clothing, ranging from the 4th century AD to modern fashion.
5. Wander around The Biscuit Factory
Address: 16 Stoddart St, Shieldfield, Newcastle upon Tyne NE2 1AN
Phone number: 0191 261 1103
About a ten-minute walk from the city centre lies the UK’s largest independent contemporary art, craft, and design gallery.
And a visit here just so happens to be one of my favourite indoor activities in Newcastle!
Situated in the artistic heart of Newcastle, Ouseburn Valley, The Biscuit Factory is home to an array of contemporary paintings, jewellery, and craft pieces.
Spend an hour or two indulging in fantastic art from local and international artists.
Ouseburn Valley is also worth exploring, with local pubs often offering up free gig nights.
And who can say no to some free live music?
6. Explore Grainger Market
Address: Grainger St, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 5QQ
Phone number: 0191 211 5541
Hidden within the city centre’s grand architecture sits Grainger Market, a quaint indoor market celebrating its 185th anniversary.
Browse through hundreds of local small businesses, including vintage boutiques, florists, jewellers, and bakers while taking in the distinct and impressive decoration.
It was even named ‘Britain’s Favourite Market’ back in 2020, so it absolutely deserves its place on this life of the best free things to do in Newcastle.
Its maze-like structure guarantees that you don’t know what gem lies around the corner, making it a great place to explore.
7. Learn more at Great North Museum
Address: Barras Bridge, Newcastle upon Tyne NE2 4PT
Phone number: 0191 208 6765
Looking like something out of Bridgerton with its grand exterior and rolling green surroundings, Great North Museum is home to an array of historical artefacts from different historical periods and places.
Marvel at everything from cars to dinosaurs in ‘the world under one roof’.
The first floor is home to the Living Planet gallery, where you can find out about the natural history of the North, including a collection of impressive fossils.
The World Cultures section, also on the first floor, showcases military and ceremonial objects dating back all the way to the 18th century.
8. Go for a walk around Rising Sun Country Park
Address: Whitley Rd, Benton, Newcastle upon Tyne NE12 9SS
Phone number: 0191 643 2241
If you’re after a break from city life, then a visit to Rising Sun Country Park is one of the best free things to do in Newcastle for you.
The green haven in North Tyneside has a beautiful nature reserve with ponds, a farm, and a woodland area that’s great for making dens or walking,
The farm is home to an array of animals, including donkeys and the cutest pygmy goats.
It’s a great place to explore and you can even go birdwatching.
9. Explore Saltwell Park
Address: E Park Rd, Low Fell, Gateshead NE9 5AX
Phone number: 0191 433 7413
As a previous winner of Britain’s Best Park, the green space is home to a classic Victorian house, Saltwell Towers, surrounded by lots of things to do for children and adults alike.
The house is an impressive Gothic mansion mixing elements of Elizabethan and French architecture and interiors design.
For kids, there’s a play area, a zig-zag maze, and a pets’ corner.
For adults, there are walking and jogging routes, as well tennis and basketball facilities.
Or there’s plenty of grassy areas if you just fancy a walk and a nice picnic.
10. Meet animals at Ouseburn Farm
Address: Ouseburn Farm, Ouseburn Rd, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 2PA
Phone number: 0191 232 3698
Tucked away in the heart of the trendy Ouseburn Valley, Ouseburn Farm is a volunteer-run farm set against a picturesque backdrop of a landmark bridge and luscious greenery.
It’s a natural oasis and a great place to visit if you want to be surrounded by nature’s calming influence.
You can even learn about and care for the animals, and the charity is keen to promote a community-spirited mindset within their ‘happy place’.
11. Appreciate architecture at Newcastle Cathedral
Address: St. Nicholas Sq, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 1PF
Phone number: 0191 232 1939
If grand architecture is your thing, then a visit to Newcastle Cathedral is one of the best free things to do in Newcastle for you.
The Cathedral is a Grade One listed building and dates back to the early 14th century.
It’s full of breath-taking visual elements, such as its decorated high ceilings and arches, and is steeped in history as it has been a central point in Newcastle’s spiritual and civic life.
The cathedral has recently undergone a multi-million-pound transformation supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund.
All the more reason to visit, right?
12. Read a book at The Literary and Philosophical Society
Address: Bolbec Hall, 23 Westgate Rd, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 1SE
As a hidden gem of Newcastle, the “Lit & Phil” is relatively unknown.
It’s every book lover’s dream, housing over 200,000 books.
Its décor is equally as impressive, with its stone arched roof and natural lighting making for a calming environment in which to escape to another reality for a few hours.
The library also hosts comedy shows, talks and readings, and jazz concerts.
13. Take in art at Laing Art Gallery
Address: New Bridge St W, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 8AG
Phone number: 0191 278 1611
Founded in 1901, the three-floor art gallery on Bridge Street is now home to wonderful and culturally important pieces of art.
Spend an afternoon treating your eyes to some of the best art found both locally and nationally, such as 18th– century displays with paintings by John Martin, Paul Gauguin, and William Holman-Hunt.
14. Go for a walk around Exhibition Park
Address: Claremont Rd, Newcastle upon Tyne NE2 4PZ
Phone number: 0191 278 7878
Exhibition Park is another leafy green oasis situated in Newcastle’s suburbs.
Perfect for meeting outdoors with friends, the park offers a beautiful setting in which to sit back and relax.
Its tree-lined paths make it a beautiful place to walk.
There’s also a small boating lake with ducks, and the park merges with Town Moor – open land where you can find cows grazing.
15. Meet animals at Pets Corner
Address: Red Walk, Newcastle upon Tyne NE7 7BQ
Phone number: 0191 814 4574
Another Jesmond gem, Pets Corner resides within Jesmond Dene and is home to a variety of animals including alpacas, pot-bellied pigs, goats, and sheep.
The farm is open between 11 am-3 pm, and is easily one of the best free things to do in Newcastle for the little’uns!
As well as animals, Pets Corner has a visitor centre and a great play area for under 8’s.
16. Explore Hatton Gallery
Address: King’s Rd, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 7RH
Phone number: 0191 277 8877
In affiliation with Newcastle University, Hatton Gallery is a great place to absorb cultural and artistic gems.
Packed with over 3,000 works of jaw-dropping art including art from famous artists Francis Bacon and Richard Hamilton, the gallery holds an extensive collection of beautiful sculptures and textiles.
The gallery also hosts exhibitions, the most recent one being Expanded Interiors: Restaged, which explores the relationship between artwork and surroundings.
The interior is a piece of artwork in itself, with its breathtaking glass ceiling dome and white stone pillars. It’s time to get a little snap happy!
17. Go window shopping in Grey’s Street and Eldon Square
Newcastle’s city centre is packed with a variety of different shops along the high street and within Eldon Square Shopping Centre.
Indulge in the likes of Urban Outfitters, Doc Martin, and a superbly stocked TKMAXX as you listen to one of the many street performers dotted about the street.
There are also regular market stalls selling fresh fruit and vegetables and similar items.
From clothes to gadgets, Newcastle has it all.
And if you’re willing to splash out a few pennies, Eldon Square is also home to one of the best rooftop bars in Newcastle. Bottoms up!
18. Visit the Angel of the North
Address: Durham Rd, Low Eighton, Gateshead NE9 7TY
Fancy standing under the biggest sculpture in the UK?
Yep, I’m sure you do!
The Angel of the North stands at an impressive twenty metres high and carries an equally impressive history as an emblem for Newcastle’s industrial history.
It’s a great way to absorb Newcastle’s cultural history while getting Insta-worthy selfies.
You can travel there by bus from Eldon Square, or by car.
19. Go dancing in one of the city’s clubs
Newcastle is known as the North’s party capital, with the city having clubs that play most genres of music.
While the majority of clubs require an entry fee, you can get into some for free – like Flares or Popworld – or you can also wait for free entry nights.
20. Go thrift browsing
The Geordie city is packed full of independent treasure troves that are just begging to be explored.
Browse through the likes of Flea Circus – a vintage shop near Ouseburn Valley brimming with antique goodies, RETRO – a second-hand clothes store on High Bridge, and Flipped – a shop specialising in masculine clothes.
You’re guaranteed to come home with something new for your wardrobe!
21. Catch a free film at Tyneside Cinema Café
Address: 10 Pilgrim St, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 6QG
Phone number: 0191 227 5500
This is easily one of my favourite free things to do in Newcastle!
Catch one of Tyneside Cinema’s free weekly films in the cinema’s bar, where you can buy drinks and snacks throughout the film while basking in a more informal setting.
Each week has a specific theme; the café has previously done Tom Hanks Week, Zombie Week, and Woody Allen Week, as well as many more.
Find one that takes your fancy and pop in!
22. Take a drawing class
Visiting a new city is prime time to start something new, so why not take a drawing class?
It’s something everyone can enjoy, with options for all abilities.
Websites such as Superprof connect you with teachers, many of whom offer the first lesson for free.
23. Visit Newcastle’s most haunted pub
Address: Old George Yard, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 1EZ
Phone number: 0191 260 3035
The Old George Inn is Newcastle’s oldest pub, dating back to 1582.
And it also happens to be the most haunted.
King Charles I was said to be a regular visitor, and modern-day pub-goers have reportedly seen a figure, believed to be The King himself, sitting in a room within the pub that is dedicated to the monarch.
Staff have also reported feeling watched when alone in the pub. Spooky stuff!
24. Explore Jesmond Food Market
Address: Armstrong Bridge, Jesmond, Newcastle upon Tyne NE7 7DD
Taking place every first and third Saturday of each month, Jesmond Food Market is held at Armstrong Bridge right next to Jesmond Dene.
Because of its leafy surroundings, the site is incredibly picturesque and a quirky place for a market.
It’s a great place for local sellers to come together, and you can treat yourself to an assortment of flowers, fresh food, and crafts.
25. Catch a free film in Eldon Square
Address: Percy St, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 7JB
Phone number: 0191 261 1891
Thanks to the six-week Screen on the Green film programme, a pop-up, open-air cinema is available in the heart of Newcastle for a limited time during summer.
Two films a day are shown, with family-friendly films shown during the day, and fewer PG films being shown at night.
Films guaranteed in the line-up include Tenet, Godzilla vs Kong, and Wonder Woman.
Seating options include deckchairs, bean bags, benches, and grass.
Choose your pick and settle down for a great date night or film night with friends!
26. Visit Bessie Surtees House
Address: Bessie Surtees House, 41-44 Sandhill, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 3JF
Phone number: 0191 269 1255
Bessie Surtees is famously known for eloping with John Scott, the future Lord Chancellor of England, in 1772.
Not only is this house a fantastic piece of Tudor architecture, but it’s also a place of scandalous history. Ooh, la la!
You can also go inside the house to look around, where you can experience what living like a Tudor was really like. Not your average city activity, right?
27. Attend Summer in the City
Address: Wesley Square, Quayside, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 3RN
As part of Newcastle’s Summer in the City programme, a pop-up park has transformed Wesley Square into a colourful place to relax with your friends.
As well as seating and faux grass, there are also seesaws, artwork, and games.
The fun doesn’t stop there.
There’s a 75-metre-long vinyl artwork made from vibrant shapes on the pavement – perfect for Instagram.
If you’re lucky, you may catch circus performers and live music, as well as free tours of iconic Newcastle landmarks.
Free yoga sessions are held in Wesley Square on Saturday mornings and Wednesday evenings too, but you need to book.
It’s safe to say that there are so many amazing free things to do in Newcastle for both adults and children, proving that you can soak up all that Newcastle has to offer without spending big.
Not only this, but Newcastle is one of the friendliest cities in the U.K, meaning that you will have an excellent trip wherever you decide to visit.
So tell me, which of these free things to do in Newcastle are you most desperate to do?
Please let me know in the comments below!