by Matthew Moore

Free and Family Friendly Fun in Newcastle | Self Guided | Walking Tour

Newcastle Quayside

Whether it’s the Summer school holidays or a half term getaway, finding time to escape as a family and do something different can be just the change of scene you need.

Going on holiday or taking a short break with the family doesn’t have to cost the earth either. All our Sleeperz Hotels have great family rooms with Queen size beds and cool cabin bunk beds for the kids. Breakfast is free for the under 5’s and only £4.95 for children aged 5 to 12.

Sleeperz Hotel Newcastle is right in the heart of one of Britain’s best-loved cities and it’s the perfect place for a family short break.


If you want to enjoy Newcastle but feel like logging some steps and exploring the city on foot, then follow our self-guided walking tour of all the free and family friendly fun in Geordieland.

Pick up a map of Newcastle from reception at Sleeperz Hotels Newcastle and hit the streets.

Great North Museum

Start the day at Great North Museum: Hancock where you can enjoy everything from Ancient Egyptian mummies to a large-scale model of Hadrian’s Wall; the diversity of the animal and plant kingdoms to a life-size T-Rex dinosaur skeleton.

Credit and Copyright ©: Colin Davison

From here it’s a short walk through Newcastle University’s historic arches to The Hatton Gallery, where Kurt Schwitters’ Merzbarn, considered by many to be one of the seminal artworks of the twentieth century, is on permanent display alongside a highly-regarded programme of historical, modern and contemporary art exhibitions.

Wander past Cath Campbell’s cascading ‘Escapology’ – Northern Stage’s crowning glory – on your way to the Civic Centre.

Here in Spring and Summer you’ll find ducklings and rabbits wild in the heart of the city, and plenty of perfect picnic spots. While you’re here, look out for David Wynne’s beautiful bronze sculptures – Swans in Flight and River God of the Tyne, as well as John William Goscombe’s The Response, which shows soldiers responding to the call to arms in 1914.

From here it’s a short walk down Northumberland Street to Tyneside Cinema, a jewel of an independent cinema, recently renovated to reveal its original art-nouveau fixtures and fittings, where you can watch a free old-fashioned newsreel film most mornings at around 11.30am. Check their website for full details of what’s on.

Grey’s Monument, Newcastle

Admire the scale and grandeur of Grey’s Monument as you wander below, and on the way don’t forget to look down – on each side of the eminent Earl Grey you’ll find one of four perspex cubes sunk into the ground, containing an eerie casting of the Earl’s head. The artist, Simon Watkinson, was inspired by the story of the statue’s head being knocked off the Monument by a bolt of lightning.

Nearby you’ll find the Grainger Market housed in a Grade I listed building. This is a great place to pick up a light snack or just wander around taking in the variety of sights, sounds and smells. Have a look around and you’ll find the Marks and Spencer Original Penny Bazaar – the world’s smallest Marks and Spencer store.

Grey’s Monument towers above Newcastle’s Christmas Market- credit Brett Jones – creative commons

Head towards Gallowgate Street and wander through the ornate archway, constructed by a team of craftsmen from China, marking the entrance of China Town, towards a section of Newcastle’s surviving ancient walls at the end of Stowell Street.

From here the Discovery Museum is just a short walk away.

Inside you’ll find displays about life on Tyneside through history as well as interactive exhibitions that are a hit with kids and grownups alike.

Head towards Newcastle Central Station and you’ll pass Sean Henry’s Man with Potential Selves sculptures at the corner of Grainger and Neville Street on your way to The Castle Keep – one of the finest Norman stone castles surviving in Britain today. Stand beneath its imposing walls and feel the weight of thousands of years of history.

Newcastle Quayside

During the Summer months, NE1 (Newcastle’s business improvement district company) hosts the Quayside Seaside for passing families and kids to enjoy. Picture white sand, deck chairs and buckets and spades and you’re right there with this pop-up beach paradise.

Next, make your way along the Quayside towards Gateshead Millennium Bridge, the world’s only tilting bridge, on your way to BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art – the world’s biggest contemporary gallery of its kind.

While you’re at Gateshead Quays, pop into The Sage Gateshead to admire this amazing glass structure from the inside and take in the stunning views of the River Tyne.

kayaking on the River Tyne Newcastle
Newcastle’s Quayside basks in soft sunlight – photo credit NGI & CBK Adventure Co

After the museums and galleries close the best way to end a thrifty day is with a walk along the Quayside after sunset to enjoy the stunning views of the beautifully lit bridges and the reflections of the twinkling lights reflecting on the Tyne.

Alternatively, if you’re here on a week night and still hungry for culture, make yourself comfortable at The Lit & Phil – the largest independent library outside London which stays open later Monday – Thursday. Check their website for full details.

Our other recommendations for FREE things to do include:

ANGEL OF THE NORTH. Credit: NewcastleGateshead Initiative

Exploring the wider North East region

Newcastle is a compact city with excellent transport links, which make it easy to explore the wider North East region.

The Tyne and Wear Metro is an overland and underground train system that is great for travelling around, including right out to the coast.

Here are some ideas for great family days out around the region for under £30.

For quick rides around Newcastle city centre hop on a yellow Quaylink bus.

If you’re over 18 and looking for a cool way to see the city, you can also hire one of the many orange Neuron E-Scooters that are available now in Newcastle.

If all that walking and travelling has tired you out, collapse into your Queen sized bed and turn on the 32″ TV with Freeview or make the most of our Sleeperz lounge bars by sinking into a plush armchair with a well-earned glass of wine.