Newcastle is a relatively small city but absolutely beautiful. It is located in the county of Tyne and Wear in the Northeast of England. The river Tyne Runs through separating Newcastle from the city of Gateshead just across the way.
Ok so I know that 5 hours doesn’t sound like a lot of time to tour around a city … and its not lol. However when I was in England for my interview in February I wanted to take some time to visit Newcastle as I already had an offer to study there and I hadn’t even seen the campus in person. Since this trip was in the middle of the school year and I couldn’t afford to miss more classes than was necessary we decided just to do a day trip. And when I say we I mean I — my cousin was not too keen on catching a train at 8:30 am.
After my interview in Southampton we spent three nights in London before our flight home. So as I said we took an early morning train from London up to Newcastle. Our morning started with a tube ride from our Airbnb to Kings Cross station. We stopped to grab some breakfast in the train station (I had a vegan sausage roll which was surprisingly good but not the Greggs sausage roll I had been wanting.)
Of course since we were in Kings Cross we couldn’t leave without stopping at Platform 9 3/4 for some pictures (and a little shopping). Turns out early in the morning is the best time to visit as there was absolutely zero line up for pictures and the store was practically empty inside. I also somehow didn’t know that you can get your own Hogwarts letter printed in the store. My cousin got one and it was surprisingly pretty reasonably priced (I didn’t get one but probably will in the near future.)
After we had walked through the store 2 or three times we headed to the platform to catch our train. I had pre-booked our tickets and had them on my phone so it was nice and easy to board, we just scanned the tickets at the barrier and then got on the train.
The trip to Newcastle takes about 3 hours by train. You can get direct trains that go all the way there however, we had a transfer in York because it was a little bit cheaper. I personally do not recommend doing this. Since our tickets were digital I just had them in an app that was supposed to update with the platform information but for some reason it wouldn’t update in York. When we got off our first train I had absolutely no idea where to go to catch the next one (and only ten minutes to figure it out… cue anxiety). We literally started running around trying to figure out where to go. We did stop to ask someone which platform we needed unfortunately they told us the wrong one … and by the time we finally figured it out we were able to stand and watch our train pull away (I most definitely almost had a meltdown in the middle of an English train station). We asked someone who worked for one of the train companies what we could do if we missed the train and they said it would be ok if we hopped on the next one that was coming in a few minutes. It turned out it was not ok, and when the ticket lady came around she told us we would have to get off at the next station or we would have to pay for a new ticket. Turns out we had gotten on a train that was a different company form the one we had tickets with. I was thoroughly confused and very stressed but she was very nice and told us that if we got off at the next station and got on the train that was coming after we would be ok. We were but I remained very stressed as we stood on an empty platform in a town I had never heard of.
So after that very stressful fiasco we finally arrived in Newcastle. I was just stunned with how pretty the city was, even the train station is pretty. When we came out of the station I spotted a Gregg’s and immediately headed over so I could get a sausage roll (yes I love sausage rolls, and yes this was my second for the day).
I had scheduled a campus tour but it wasn’t until later in the afternoon so we spent a few hours doing some touristy things before heading over to the university. Newcastle is a very walkable city and the weather was wonderful and sunny for us so we just walked everywhere.
The first thing we came upon was St Nicholas Cathedral. They were doing some restoration work on part of the interior so we had to enter through the side door but there was still lots to look around at inside. Lets be honest most of my phone battery was probably drained taking pictures of all the stained glass windows.
After that we headed towards Newcastle castle. This was something I knew I wanted to see before going and I was very glad we made a point of stopping. The castle was built in the 12th century and includes the main keep as well as the Black Gate (which has a small museum inside that you go through. before entering the main castle ). You can explore the inside of the castle, as well as climb up to the top of the keep and get a great view of the city. (unfortunately my phone was almost dead at this point so I don’t have any photos from up top).
After we finished inside the castle it was time to head over to the university for the tour. Newcastle University has a really beautiful campus … I also realized that I had never been on a university tour before (other than the group tour in Southampton). I grew up in the city where I did my undergraduate degree and both of my parents and my brother went to the same university so I was pretty familiar with it already. However, if you are headed off to university in a new city I definitely recommend booking a tour if that’s a possibility, It was really helpful when it came to making a decision on where I wanted to go.
The tour took about an hour and a half so once it was over it was time to start heading back towards the train station. We made a quick stop inside The Church of St. Thomas which is right across from the university campus before stopping in a pub near the station for some dinner before we had to catch our train.
The Victoria Comet is this cute little pub right across from the train station. We got a little trio of pies that we split between us. This also gave me the opportunity to charge my phone as it had died super fast but I needed it for our tickets (and I of course didn’t charge my portable battery the night before.)
The train ride back to London was much calmer (thank god). We were both pretty exhausted by the time we got back so we grabbed some sandwiches for dinner and headed back to the Airbnb for an early night.