For a few years after I left university – a good ten years ago now – I struggled to make sense of my life. In a failing relationship and lurching from one silly job to another, I moved from city to city in the UK, trying to find a place I could call home. A friend from uni impulsively asked me to move in with her in her flat in Heaton, Newcastle, and I, equally impulsively, agreed. And so began my love affair with one of the northernmost cities in England; a place that welcomed me, healed me and taught me the meaning of home, a place which will always be special to me.

Tucked away in the far north of England, Newcastle isn’t the sort of place that one would normally consider a tourist destination; but I’ve always thought that is grossly unfair. Though I live in Berlin now, if I ever moved back to the UK the only place I’d be able to live is here. It’s small, but bursting with charm and character; the public transport network is excellent, rents are relatively low, there are plenty of great cafes and bars – and last but not least, the people are literally the friendliest and most fun you’ll ever find anywhere in the world.

Here are a few of the reasons why I fell in love with Newcastle, and some tips on what to do should you ever find yourself in this awesome little city!

A thriving art scene

Newcastle was a working class hub of the steel industry, but when Britain’s trades were all but destroyed in the late 80s to early 90s, large amounts of public money were pumped into the northern cities which suffered the worst in an attempt to fill the void this left with art and culture. As a result of this, although economically Newcastle is no powerhouse, culturally it’s just got so much to offer. The Baltic¬†Centre for Contemporary Art is probably my favourite modern art gallery in the world. Housed on the Quayside in the old Baltic flour mill, this gallery consistently displays the best, most arresting – and often most fun – modern art in the world. Next up is the Biscuit Factory, an old Victorian warehouse which now houses an ever-changing array of contemporary arts and crafts. Or check out Vane, a super cool little gallery housed in an old office block which showcases a variety of modern artists at all career stages.

Cosy Coffee & Foodie Culture

When I lived in the student mecca that is Heaton, one of my favorite little haunts to hang out in was Heaton Perk. Named after the famous cafe in Friends, this place is easily as cosy and cool as its namesake. The decor is homely and vintage-themed, and the walls are stacked with books that you can thumb through as you sit and sip your coffee – and you can even buy them if you don’t want to stop reading when it’s time to go home!


Bar, music and club scene

History & Architecture

The people

Last but definitely not least, Newcastle’s finest asset are its people. Geordies are just about the friendliest, kindest, most fun-loving folks on the planet. Although the accent may in some areas be impenetrable, they are always happy to chat with you like an old friend. When I moved from Newcastle to London I remember being struck by how different attitudes were on public transport; if you made eye contact with anyone on the Tube, it was a big faux-pas, whereas in Newcastle people are friendly and at ease on the Metro, a million miles from the awkward, tense silence of the Underground. Geordies will also amaze you with their ability to head out for a night of drinking in freezing midwinter weather dressed as if they’re on a Caribbean holiday. This particular cultural phenomenon has to be seen to be believed. Don’t be fooled though – beneath the tough, weatherproof exteriors lie some truly soft centres.