Although it is one of England’s most northerly cities, high speed trains mean that you can get to Newcastle in less than three hours from central London. Trains leave from Kings Cross (two an hour for most of the day) and follow a mostly scenic route, the highlight (for me at least) is the stunning view of Durham Cathedral just 15 minutes before arriving at Newcastle’s Central Station. From that station you are just a short walk from many of the city’s main attractions (including St James’ Park), or you can jump straight on the Metro to travel to more outlying areas.
If you plan to travel by train, I recommend the Trainline for ticket purchases as prices can be a lot cheaper than buying at the station, especially if you plan ahead. A full price flexible return ticket can be as much as £266 (and yes, that’s second class!) but I recently paid only £19 for a single by planning ahead and choosing a less popular travel time. A good average would be around £100 return if you want flexibility or about £60-£80 if you can commit to specific trains.
Alternatives to the train include driving (it’s about 300 miles on good fast motorways); Coach (the most economical and slowest option – check out National Express for details and prices); or air (Newcastle has a good international airport, with access by Metro to the city centre in about 30 minutes).
We travelled to Newcastle by train from London. As we had booked well in advance we got a great deal on tickets - it cost 25 pounds in all for the journey up and back. Interestingly, you can only get this price if you book two single tickets for each part of the journey - there is no return ticket for 25 pounds.
Newcastle train is on the fast London-Edinburgh line and the journey took just over 3 hours. We arrived exactly on time in both directions. As you get close to Newcastle there are a few sights worth looking out for. First, you get a fine view of Durham city and cathedral from Durham station. Then, about 5 minutes outside of Durham you can see the Angel of the North. Finally, as you cross the Tyne into Newcastle there is a nice view of Newcastle, Gateshead and the bridges across the river.
The Metrocentre is one of the largest shopping centres in Europe (see seperate tip) and is very well connected by literally hundreds of bus services.
If you are forced to visit this place (in my case by a shopping-mad wife) then you can at least let the train take the strain from Central station.
There are at least 3 services an hour, including a dedicated service (ie the Metrocentre is it's destinatation) that trundles to the metrocentre every hour.
As a bonus, look out on the way through the innner suburbs for rows of pidgeon lofts. Racing them still a big sport around these parts.
The Central Station was designed by John Dobson in 1846. In November 2000 I discovered this photo in the Severn Valley Railway Museum archive. It is of the old signal gantry at Newcastle Central Station but is without a date.
Train is a great way of getting to Newcastle - there are fast trains from London Kings Cross and Edinburgh, plus a direct service across from Carlisle. My own trip in was much more modest - by train from the MetroCentre mall in Gateshead. You arrive in the impressive Newcastle Central Station, a great piece of Victorian archictecture, opened in 1850.
Connections are good, as there's a Metro station linked to the station, or you can just walk out straight into the city - the whole of the city centre is within walking distance.
It's not really a place to hang around in winter, though - each end of the station is wide open to the elements and the wind can really whistle through. There are a few enclosed waiting rooms these days, which makes hanging around a bit more bearable than sitting next to the platform than it used to be....
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