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The land of Geordies, Newcastle upon Tyne is one of England’s liveliest cities in the country. The downtown core straddling the River Tyne is attractive, compact and easy to use, with a deserved reputation for its diversity of nightlife, culture and sports. As a bonus, the city sits at the heart of northeast England where travellers can scour the countryside by car and check out oodles of historic sites and natural wonders.
Who to Book With
All the big name car hire firms are on hand in Newcastle catering to the waves of visitors who come for business and pleasure. The airport is home to several established chains like Avis and Enterprise, while the train and bus stations are also a good place to arrange a rental. You can almost always find lower rates by booking online ahead of time, especially in popular destinations like Newcastle.
Best Time to go
Newcastle has a typical English climate, though it does enjoy some of the driest weather in England. Summers are definitely the prime time for a visit here, when temperatures reach near 20°C during the long days. July and August are also the most crowded months, so a trip on the shoulder months of June or September rewards with great weather and far fewer crowds of tourists.
Need to Know Essentials
Show the rental office the following documents when picking up your vehicle:
- A valid EU or UK driving license or International Driving Permit
- A second piece of photo ID
- The credit card used for the online booking
- A printed booking confirmation of your car hire if possible
Driving in the centre of Newcastle is moderately congested during weekdays but not too frustrating. Most of its core is best explored on foot, with many sections off-limits to vehicles. Parking is not a major problem on the edges of downtown thanks to the 10,000 spaces in eight multi-storey car parks and 48 surface lots in and around the city. Parking fees range from £0.60 to £1.80 per hour, and lots are generally open between 07:00 and 20:00 daily. Tickets are bought from machines on site using coins only.
To save on parking expenses, the city has several park-and-ride lots on the outskirts. From these free lots, there are either buses or a metro stop to whisk you into the city centre for around £2 a trip. Newcastle lies just east of the north-south A1 and east-west A69 for easy driving from London and most other points in England. There are also several smaller roads like the Coast Road (A1058) and the Great North Road (A167) for a more scenic drive through the region.
It’s very easy to reach Newcastle by train, plane, bus or road from most cities in Great Britain. The city boasts a nice metro system supported by an extensive urban bus network and suburban trains. Taxis are also readily available for quick trips around the downtown area. Travellers who want more flexibility to sightsee around the area can find major chain car rental offices all over the city.
Newcastle has excellent rail connections from its three long-distance, one regional and one local train operators. Between East Coast, Cross Country, Transpennine Express, Scotrail and Northern Rail it’s possible to travel almost anywhere in the UK. The Newcastle Central Station is connected to the city’s metro network for convenient onward travel. Check with National Rail for current schedules.
The Tyne and Wear Metro is the pride of Newcastle, offering safe and efficient transport throughout the city as well as outlying destinations like the airport and surrounding towns. Its two lines run from 06:00 to 23:00 daily, with trains hitting each stop at around eight-minute intervals. Fares on the metro range from £1.40 to £3.60 based on distance. Tickets are bought at either automated machines in each station or from the information kiosks.
Newcastle’s bus system is managed by three different companies: Stagecoach North East, Go North East and Arriva North East. The main bus stations are Haymarket and Eldon Square, with dozens of stops both in town and in the surrounding suburbs. Tickets come in single fare, return trips and day passes. The Day Rover day pass is a particularly good value at £6.80 as it includes transport on the metro, suburban trains and ferries as well. Single fare bus tickets can simply be bought from the bus driver.
The Shields Ferry is another transportation option for travellers who need to cross the Tyne River or simply enjoy a fun scenic trip on the water. An all-day ticket costs just £2.50, and there are metro stops within a five- or ten-minute walk of both the North Shields and South Shields ferry landing.
Plenty of taxi outfits operate in Newcastle offering the most convenient way to travel around the city centre. They can be hailed on the streets, though empty taxis are a bit rare. It’s better to seek them out at taxi ranks in front of the central train and bus stations or just phone a company like Blue Line for a quick pick up any time of day or night.
Newcastle is the ideal base for spending time driving around the northeastern end of England. There is an endless array of historic towns, seaside resorts and natural attractions to see within an easy scenic drive of the city. From the Northumberland Coast and Northumberland National Park to interesting cultural sites such as the Beamish Open Air Museum and Bede’s World there are some fun excursions if you have your own car rental.
Beamish Open Air Museum - This recreates a typical northeastern English town from 1913 in full detail. There is a complete town to explore along with a manor house, railway line and many interactive exhibits. A neat tram provides comfortable transport around this massive open air museum.
The Northumberland Coast - This is a stunning stretch of sea with several excellent historic villages like Bamburgh and Warkworth to stop off at while driving the route. Druridge Bay Park is also along the road, one of England’s finest beaches that really shines in the warm summer.
Durham - This is one of the most spectacular cathedral towns in England. Just 30 minutes from Newcastle, this city is centred around its magnificent Durham Cathedral and Durham Castle, both UNESCO World Heritage sites that rarely fail to impress. Durham University contains both of these landmarks, whose campus is also a treat to walk around.