COUNTY DURHAM - WHY GO?
Newcastle has it all for a metropolitan weekend, with trendy galleries, lively pubs and legendary nightlife. And don't miss the historic cathedral city of Durham, with its cobblestone heart, Victorian market and traffic-free shopping streets.
MUST SEE, MUST DO
Just three hours from London by rail, Newcastle has plenty of urban buzz. See its arched Millennium bridge spanning the River Tyne lit up at night, then check out its lively waterfront bars and quayside galleries. The cutting-edge Baltic is definitely worth a visit, and even if the art's not to your taste the terrace cafe is sure to hit the spot. Look out for the giant steel Angel of the North sculpture as you approach the city.
Explore the chic boutiques of Jesmond a leafy suburb of Newcastle or the vast MetroCentre Gateshead Europe's largest indoor shopping and leisure centre. For a step back in time, browse the windows of the butchers and fishmongers at historic Grainger Market, built in the 1840s.
Travel writer Bill Bryson reckons Durham has "the best cathedral on Planet Earth". As well as this famous edifice, you'll find characterful shops, charming galleries, an ancient castle and plenty of cafes for relaxing over a cappuccino. Take a river boat cruise to get the best feel for this historic city.
Do make time to visit the remarkable open-air Beamish Museum, which recreates life in the North East in the early 1900s and 1900s. Also worth visiting are the Bowes Museum and the Kilhope Lead Mining Museum.
Teesdale's wild and scenic walking country is just a short ride away from Durham. The village of Romaldkirk, complete with old-time village green, makes an excellent base.
MAKE A DATE
Sunderland Air Show. Turn up and see the breathtaking aerobatics.
There's ice skating, Christmas markets and more at the annual Newcastle-Gateshead winter festival.
COUNTY DURHAM ROMANCE
Book a pampering day at Seaham Hall's fabulous Serenity Spa, then hit the bright lights of Newcastle for drinks, dinner and clubbing.
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