The ceremonial county of Tyne and Wear is a goldmine of activities and top visitor attractions, from museums to sporting venues.
To help you plan your travel itinerary, we showcase 20 of the best things to do in Tyne and Wear.
We begin with an iconic building in Gateshead.
First on our list of things to do in Tyne and Ware is Sage Gateshead – an international music centre located on the south bank of the River Tyne, in Gateshead, Tyne and Wear.
Designed by the renowned architect Sir Norman Foster, the centre is an architectural marvel that serves as a local cultural icon.
Comprising three main performance halls—Sage One, Sage Two, and the Northern Rock Foundation Hall—it caters to an array of musical tastes, from classical symphonies and jazz concerts to folk music and contemporary rock.
Sage Gateshead is also the home of the Royal Northern Sinfonia, the UK’s only full-time chamber orchestra.
The centre provides a versatile backdrop for not only performances but also conferences, workshops, and community outreach programmes.
Its cutting-edge facilities and idyllic setting overlooking the River Tyne and Newcastle skyline make it a must-visit for any music enthusiast or culture vulture.
Ocean Beach Pleasure Park, South Shields
Located on the seafront at South Shields, Ocean Beach Pleasure Park offers a traditional yet exciting British amusement park experience.
Perfect for families and thrill-seekers, this vibrant park features over 40 rides and attractions.
From the adrenaline-pumping roller coasters and waltzers to the more tranquil dodgems and mini-golf, there’s something for everyone.
Young children can enjoy the selection of kiddie rides, bouncy castles, and trampolines, ensuring a complete family outing.
A highlight is the Laser Maze, a hi-tech attraction that challenges your agility and timing.
The park is also home to Quasar Laser Tag, an exhilarating indoor game perfect for competitive spirits.
Food stalls and kiosks scattered throughout offer classic British seaside fare, including fish and chips, candy floss, and ice cream.
With a multitude of arcade games and a convenient location just a short walk from the beach, Ocean Beach Pleasure Park makes for a delightful day out.
Seasonal events like firework displays and Christmas markets add a festive touch, making the park a year-round destination.
Newcastle Castle is a historic fortress located in the heart of Newcastle upon Tyne, bearing witness to over nine centuries of tumultuous history.
Originally a wooden motte-and-bailey castle built by the Normans in 1080, it was later replaced with the stone structure that stands today.
The castle complex consists of the Black Gate and the Castle Keep, both of which have been remarkably preserved.
The Castle Keep, one of the finest examples of Norman military architecture, offers panoramic views of the city from its turrets.
The Black Gate, serving as a fortified gatehouse, houses a museum showcasing medieval artifacts.
Together, they offer a captivating glimpse into Newcastle’s past, making the castle an essential visit for history buffs and casual tourists looking for things to do in Tyne and Wear.
The BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead
The BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, located on the south bank of the River Tyne in Gateshead, is a hub of artistic innovation and exploration.
Housed in a converted flour mill, the BALTIC boasts a stunning architectural design with ample space dedicated to showcasing contemporary works from both established and emerging artists.
The venue features multiple gallery spaces, a rooftop restaurant with panoramic views, and interactive exhibits that make it family-friendly.
With a focus on presenting a rotating array of exhibitions rather than a permanent collection, every visit promises something new.
This renowned centre for visual arts attracts both art aficionados and those new to contemporary art, making it a must-visit cultural attraction in Tyne and Wear.
The Discovery Museum, Newcastle
The Discovery Museum celebrates Newcastle’s historical strides in industry and science.
It’s set in a Victorian building that was formerly a Cooperative Wholesale Society warehouse and showcases a rich collection of artefacts as well as interactive experiences to engage visitors of all ages.
From Turbinia, the world’s first steam turbine ship, to interactive displays illustrating Newcastle’s role in the industrial revolution, the museum covers an impressive range of topics.
With collections focusing on maritime history, science, and local culture, it’s a place where learning comes alive.
The museum also features a play area for younger kids, making it a family-friendly destination.
Visitors can dig deep into Newcastle’s past, discover its contributions to science and industry, and explore the developments that shaped modern-day life—all under one roof.
St. Nicholas’ Cathedral, Newcastle
St. Nicholas’ Cathedral is located in the middle of Newcastle and is one of the most visited Tyne and Wear attractions of all.
Constructed in the 14th and 15th centuries, this magnificent structure epitomises the skill and determination of those who built it.
Featuring a high-reaching spire that stands at 196 feet, the cathedral is an unforgettable sight in Newcastle’s skyline.
Originally a parish church devoted to St. Nicholas, the building gained its cathedral status in 1882.
Inside, the delicate artistry of the stained glass windows and the sophisticated wooden carvings in the choir stalls invite visitors to take a closer look.
Serving as the Episcopal seat of the Bishop of Newcastle, it also hosts various community events and ceremonies.
Designated a Grade I listed structure, the cathedral is an unmissable destination for lovers of history, culture and architecture.
Tynemouth Priory and Castle, North Shields
Resting on a rugged cliff with the North Sea as its backdrop, Tynemouth Priory and Castle encapsulate an enchanting blend of historical richness and scenic allure.
Initially founded in the 7th century as an Anglo-Saxon monastic settlement, the site later transformed into a fortified compound.
Its timeworn walls and archways narrate the complex tale of England’s past, marked by Viking incursions, monastic dissolutions, and several military conflicts.
With its castle walls offering sweeping vistas of the adjacent coastline, this landmark is a treasure trove for aficionados of history and admirers of natural beauty.
Tynemouth Park, Tynemouth
Tynemouth Park is a beloved coastal escape in Tynemouth, Tyne and Wear, offering an assortment of leisure activities that cater to all ages.
The park’s tranquil boating lake, adorned with swan-shaped paddle boats, provides a serene setting for relaxation and family fun.
The mini-golf course is thoughtfully designed to challenge and entertain both beginners and seasoned players.
Additionally, the park features an intriguing maze, perfect for group challenges or family bonding.
For younger visitors, a well-equipped adventure playground ensures hours of active fun.
Those looking to unwind can enjoy refreshments at the park’s cafe, which overlooks the beautiful lake.
Seasonal events like Halloween walks and festive Christmas markets add a unique charm, making Tynemouth Park a year-round destination for both locals and tourists.
The Museum & Winter Gardens, Sunderland
The Museum & Winter Gardens is an institution of both historical and botanical significance.
Founded in 1846, this cultural visitor attraction was the UK’s first municipally-funded museum.
It’s since become a cultural hub and features an array of fascinating exhibits and artefacts.
The museum itself takes visitors on a compelling journey through Sunderland’s maritime and industrial past, offering a comprehensive view of its transformative history.
From shipbuilding artefacts to relics from the coal mines, the museum meticulously captures the essence of the region.
Equally stunning is the adjoining Winter Gardens, a lush indoor tropical oasis that seems like a slice of paradise in the middle of the city.
Home to a myriad of exotic plants numbering over 2,000, the Winter Gardens are a feast for the eyes.
The striking glass and steel structure that houses these verdant wonders adds an architectural layer to the experience, evoking the charm of Victorian-era conservatories.
Angel of the North, Gateshead
Completed in 1998, the Angel of the North stands 20 meters high and has a wingspan of 54 meters, making it larger than a Jumbo Jet.
Built to withstand winds of over 100 mph, the Angel was constructed from 200 tons of weather-resistant Cor-Ten steel.
Its broad wings are not perfectly horizontal; they rise at a slight angle, creating an impression of embrace or a bird in flight.
This modern marvel isn’t merely an aesthetic wonder but also a nod to the region’s coal-mining history, embodying both the spirit of progress and the acknowledgment of past struggles.
Over the years, it has become an iconic sight for travellers and an enduring symbol of Northern England’s resilience and transformation.
The Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle
The Laing Art Gallery, nestled in the heart of Newcastle upon Tyne, serves as an important cultural repository of fine art.
Established in 1901, thanks to a generous donation from Alexander Laing, the gallery has cultivated a remarkable collection that spans across several centuries.
The venue features an impressive array of British oil paintings, watercolors, ceramics, and decorative arts.
Visitors can expect to see works from distinguished artists such as Sir Joshua Reynolds and Thomas Gainsborough, as well as modern and contemporary art from the likes of Sean Scully and Chris Ofili.
The gallery’s environment is conducive to both casual visits and deep art studies.
Special exhibitions are regularly curated to bring freshness and dynamism to the art scene, making the Laing a must-visit for art enthusiasts and casual visitors looking for top Tyne and Wear attractions.
South Shields Museum and Art Gallery
The South Shields Museum was established more than 100 years ago and houses a diverse array of exhibits that paint a vivid picture of South Tyneside’s seafaring history and societal changes.
If art is your passion, this acclaimed Tyne and Wear visitor attraction within is a must-see. It features an ever-changing collection of both classical works and modern pieces, ensuring that each visit offers something new and inspiring.
But this museum is more than a collection of objects and paintings; it’s a living space designed to engage minds young and old.
Children can look forward to interactive displays that make learning fun and engaging.
When it comes to accessibility, the museum checks all the boxes. It’s designed to be welcoming to everyone, featuring wheelchair-accessible spaces and easy-to-read information boards.
They even host regular educational events and workshops, making it not just a museum, but a dynamic venue for community learning and interaction.
The Great North Museum: Hancock, Newcastle
Situated in Newcastle upon Tyne, The Great North Museum: Hancock is a sanctuary of knowledge and exploration that appeals to curious minds of all ages.
This expansive museum hosts a varied range of exhibits that offer something for everyone.
From the rich history of Hadrian’s Wall to the captivating diversity of natural life, the museum serves as an educational hub for the North East of England.
For history buffs, the museum features an exceptional Ancient Egyptian collection and even a life-size T-Rex replica that promises to leave you awe-struck.
The Living Planet exhibit provides a different kind of thrill, showcasing a blend of interactive displays and real specimens, from insects to large sea creatures.
The museum is a family-friendly space, offering an array of interactive and educational activities aimed at engaging young explorers.
With free admission, and conveniently located near public transport links, The Great North Museum: Hancock makes for a compelling day out, whether you’re a local or looing for things to do in Tyne and Wear.
Washington Old Hall, Washington
Washington Old Hall is a well-preserved 17th-century manor house that was the ancestral home of George Washington, the first President of the US.
The oak-panelled rooms exude a warm, inviting atmosphere, and each corner of the house tells a story of the past.
From the cosy kitchen to the elegant drawing room, every space offers a glimpse into the lifestyle of the Washington family.
Beyond the interiors, the manor boasts lush gardens and outdoor spaces that add to the charm of the visit.
The gardens are meticulously maintained and provide a tranquil escape where you can wander among blooming flowers and manicured lawns.
It’s a cultural and historical treasure that invites both history enthusiasts and curious minds to step back in time and relive a piece of American history on British soil.
St James’ Park, Newcastle
When you’re in Newcastle upon Tyne, the unmistakable silhouette of St James’ Park is almost immediately evident.
This legendary sporting citadel serves as the home field for Newcastle United Football Club, and its towering presence symbolizes more than just a match day experience.
Able to house 52,000-plus roaring fans, the venue pulsates with energy, particularly when the hometown heroes, the Magpies, step onto the pitch.
The appeal of St James’ Park extends beyond the cleats and goals; it’s an inseparable thread in the social fabric of Newcastle.
If you’re keen to delve deeper, the stadium offers behind-the-scenes tours that expose you to areas usually reserved for players and media professionals.
With its city-centre location, arriving here is a cinch, making it a must-see stop for anyone keen on understanding Newcastle’s communal life and sporting culture.
Penshaw Monument, Sunderland
In Sunderland, the Penshaw Monument stands as an unmissable sight on the skyline, with its commanding presence capturing the imagination of locals and visitors alike.
Built in 1844, the monument pays homage to the Earl of Durham, John George Lambton, and stands as a testament to local history and Greek architectural influence.
Modeled after the Temple of Hephaestus in Athens, the monument provides an unexpected classical touch to the Northeast landscape.
With its 70-foot height, Penshaw Monument offers a wonderful vantage point from which to enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding area.
Accessible via a brief but steep hike, reaching the monument is a small adventure in itself.
Once at the top, you’ll be rewarded with a sweeping vista that encompasses fields, towns, and even a distant view of the sea.
Arbeia Roman Fort, South Shields
Arbeia Roman Fort in South Shields is much more than just a collection of ancient ruins; it’s a gateway to Britain’s Roman past.
Established around AD 160, Arbeia was a crucial naval supply base for Roman legions, especially those stationed along Hadrian’s Wall.
The well-preserved site lets visitors step back in time, offering a tangible link to the days when the Roman Empire extended its reach into Britain.
This archaeological marvel isn’t just for history buffs. Its extensive grounds feature reconstructed buildings, including a gatehouse and barracks, which bring the ancient world vividly to life.
As you wander through the fort, the museum’s exhibits offer further context, displaying Roman artefacts like pottery, weapons, and jewellery.
Ouseburn Farm, Newcastle
Located in the heart of Newcastle’s vibrant Ouseburn Valley, Ouseburn Farm offers an urban oasis that serves both as an educational center and a sanctuary for various animals.
A community-run venture, the farm features an eclectic mix of creatures, from cows and pigs to smaller critters like guinea pigs and birds.
The farm’s welcoming environment encourages close interaction, allowing visitors to pet and feed some of the animals.
Beyond the delightful animal encounters, the farm is committed to sustainability and environmental education.
Numerous gardens filled with fruits, vegetables, and medicinal herbs surround the animal enclosures.
These gardens serve as living classrooms where visitors can learn about organic farming techniques and the importance of biodiversity.
With its unique blend of leisure and learning, Ouseburn Farm is an ideal destination for families, nature enthusiasts, and those looking to escape the urban grind for a moment.
Millennium Bridge, Newcastle
Standing proudly over the River Tyne, the Millennium Bridge is a modern engineering marvel and a major Tyne and Wear tourist attraction.
Opened in 2001, this “blinking eye” bridge is not just an architectural feat but also a visual spectacle.
The bridge’s unique tilting mechanism, activated to allow boats to pass, has become a must-see event for both residents and tourists.
Constructed from over 850 tons of steel, the Millennium Bridge encapsulates innovation and design excellence.
Its sleek, aerodynamic shape provides a stark contrast to the historic bridges nearby, showcasing the region’s progression from industrial heartland to a hub of modernity and culture.
Lined with LED lights, the bridge offers a dazzling display after sunset, becoming a beacon on the Tyne’s waterfront.
A walk across the Millennium Bridge is more than just a simple crossing; it’s an experience that elevates one’s appreciation for architectural innovation and community revitalization.
Exhibition Park, Newcastle
Exhibition Park serves as a diverse retreat for relaxation and education amidst the city’s lively atmosphere.
Originating in the late 19th century, this park has transitioned from a basic outdoor area to an elaborate venue catering to a broad spectrum of age groups.
With amenities like a peaceful boating lake, an energetic skate-park, and the historically significant Palace of Arts structure, Exhibition Park delivers a varied palette of activities that extend far beyond simple outdoor leisure.
Among its standout attractions is the Palace of Arts, which now houses Wylam Brewery, a local favourite for craft beers.
This architectural gem serves both as a museum and a lively venue for community events. Sports enthusiasts will find a skate-park and tennis courts, while those seeking tranquility can wander through themed gardens filled with exotic flora.
Simply put, Exhibition Park is a vital part of Newcastle’s heritage, offering a balance of cultural, recreational, and natural attractions that make it a must-visit destination.
Newcastle’s Quayside is a bustling riverside hub that seamlessly blends the city’s rich heritage with a vibrant contemporary scene.
Framed by iconic bridges such as the Tyne Bridge and the Millennium Bridge, this area invites exploration, offering a medley of cultural attractions, dining options, and leisure activities.
Wander along the scenic promenade and you’ll encounter an array of cultural landmarks, including the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, known for its avant-garde exhibitions, and Sage Gateshead. an architectural marvel that hosts a diverse range of musical performances.
Quayside is also renowned for its culinary offerings. Whether you’re craving traditional fish and chips or global cuisine, the waterside eateries cater to all palates. The Sunday Quayside Market is a local favourite, featuring artisanal goods and delectable treats.
National Glass Centre, Sunderland
The National Glass Centre in Sunderland is a mesmerizing celebration of artistry, innovation, and the sheer beauty of glass.
Nestled by the River Wear, this architectural marvel offers a captivating journey into the world of glassmaking.
With its striking, glass-fronted design, the centre is both an art gallery and a working glass studio, showcasing the talents of glass artists and craftsmen.
Visitors can witness live demonstrations of glassblowing and glass artistry, gaining insight into the intricate processes behind creating these stunning works.
The center hosts an ever-changing array of glass exhibitions, from contemporary installations to historical pieces, providing a diverse and immersive experience for art enthusiasts and curious minds alike.
The National Glass Centre also offers hands-on workshops, allowing visitors to try their hand at glassmaking under the guidance of skilled instructors.
Whether you’re here to admire the art, learn the craft, or simply enjoy the scenic river views, a visit to the National Glass Centre is a journey into the fascinating world of glass and creativity.
Official North East England Tourist Site