Even though I live less than 30 minutes away from Newcastle, I don’t often visit. When I do visit it is usually my haunting ground for night photography. It’s such a beautiful city on a night all lit up with plenty of places varying in style.
Whenever we do visit Newcastle its tends to be for a specific purpose where I will come for a reason and not just for a explore. So when I got the chance to work with GoNorthEast on the new Toon Tour, I jumped at it. Perfect way to see the city from a different perspective. All we needed now was for the sun to shine so we could experience the open top in all its glory.
The bus isn’t just for tourists to the city, locals can get in on it too. Newcastle is a big city and can get tiring on the old legs if you were too walk around the main attractions, never mind time consuming! The Toon Tour goes to all the main places you would want to visit, a total of 18 stops along the route. As it is a hop on hop off bus you can get around the city with ease, stopping off along the way, whether you’re here for the architecture, history, shopping or food. There is certainly plenty to see along the way.
So on Saturday we all headed out of the door to catch the Metro from South Hylton to Newcastle and got off at Central Station. The weather gods must have heard us as the weather was lovely for late September. Central Station is the first stop on the map, so we thought we would go in order and board the bus at the beginning. However the bonus of the Toon Tour is you can hop on and off anywhere along the route, so even though the station is number one you don’t have to start here.
I must admit though it did take me some time to establish which bus stop we should be waiting at. Well actually I never found it, we stood waiting in the middle of all the bus stops to see when the bus arrived where it stopped then ran to catch it, so it wasn’t a good start. Il admit that I got an ear bashing from the missus for not pre planning. I struggled with finding the correct stop as there was a poster over the Toon Tours sign on the bus stop, which I missed when looking. Anyway, if you head out of the central station and turn left, it’s the first bus stop you come too!
The first Toon Tour bus departs Central Station at 10:05am with buses running every 30 minutes until 16:05. We managed to catch the 11:23 bus and grabbed some decent seats on the top deck. The boys were absolutely thrilled to be open top on the bus and were pointing out everything they could see.
Our Journey began passing the Life centre and then on to Newcastle’s football stadium, it takes you right past and if you wish you can do a stadium tour, with your tour ticket giving you a 20% discount. I’ll leave that there…but as I am a Sunderland fan I am not sure whether they would accept me in!
Your Toon Tour tickets offers gets you discount at a few other places. Free child admission to the Life Centre, which is a must if visiting Newcastle, this is a day out in itself. Plus 20% off on admission tickets to the castle.
As you travel around the city you are treated to a recorded commentary, with some very interesting facts about the city. It was great to hear some information about a city I live so close too.
We had planned that we would hop off in Ouseburn Valley for some lunch and a wonder around the farm, so when we were nearing we pressed the buzzer to get off at the stop. This seemed a popular stop and lots of people got off to take in Ouseburns offerings. To say it is very close to the city centre it has a very different atmosphere, with some lovely pubs and cafes to visit. After a little wander around the farm and along the river we stopped at Dreamworld Cakes for some brunch and coffee. I would highly recommend this little place, we sat outside in the sunshine and had some lovely food. The boys enjoyed a warm croissant and jam, while me and the missus shared a salmon and cream cheese sandwich with a banana bread option too. We then headed back to the bus stop to continue our ride.
We then headed to my favourite part of the city, the Quayside. The views from up top of the river and bridges is fab! There is plenty to do here with the sage and the Baltic just over the river. This place has become a bit of an iconic place for photographers, everything about the quayside is simply stunning. There are plenty of bars and places to eat and you even have the outdoor beach which is ideal for the kids to blow off a bit steam too.
Once back on board you past the quayside strip and the bus crosses over the Tyne to the Sage and the Baltic, then a quick loop round and back across the Tyne bridge, with stunning views down the Tyne looking to the Millennium bridge. My favourite place to photograph when I visit here on a night.
We drove round another time to take it all in. It took about an hour before ending our tour on Market street for a spot of shopping and to take the kids to our favourite little toy shop. If you haven’t already go visit Mr Wolf, a beautiful little quirky toy shop that you can easily spend a good hour in exploring all the wonderful toys. They also have the original shop in Hexham too.
Overall the Tour was a brilliant day out, a totally different perspective on Newcastle, seeing in a totally different way. The boys thoroughly enjoyed it and is a great way of exploring some of Newcastles history and culture.
Important things to consider:
The Toon Tour costs £8.00 for adults, £6.00 for concessions, £4.00 for children or £20.00 for a family ticket (two adults with two or three children)
Tickets can be bought on the bus or on the Go North East app
Tickets are valid for 24 hours unlimited travel and can also be used on the Quaylink bus between Newcastle and Gateshead Interchange
The Toon Tour Bus is running every weekend until 27 October this year
For up to date information on the Toon Tour see here
I was gifted a family day ticket in return for my honest views of the toon tour.