Hailed the UK's friendliest city, Newcastle has pristine pavements, shiny buildings, pricey drinks and lost of regeneration funding, which has seen it attracting cultural recognition. Whether it's the Angel of the North, the Blue (but it's grey) Carpet or Sir Norman Foster's Sage Music Centre, Newcastle has developed an identity beyond football and short-skirted ladies. But don't despair - the city is still as much about having a good time as ever.
The heart off modern Newcastle is the newly developed quayside. Newcastle and Gateshead are linked by seven bridges, their proximity forms a dramatic collage and perfect material for amateur photographers. The newest, the Millennium Bridge, which revolves in a 'blinking' motion, links the best Pitcher & Piano bar in the country with the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art. The latter was formerly a grain house and now provides excellent views of the Tyne river, but its exhibitions are often disappointing. There are echoes of Sydney Harbour in the Tyne Bridge and recently opened Sage Music Centre, though perhaps the most impressive feature of the quayside is the 19th-century High Level Bridge.
Try the local tipple
No trip to Newcastle is complete without downing a pint of the north east's most famous export, Newcastle Brown Ale. Locals refer to the drink as 'Broon' or 'dog', which stems from the euphemism "I'm going to walk the dog", meaning "I'm going to the pub".
Best of the rest
Notorious Bigg Market is one place to stop for a drink, while the more sophisticated Central Station area, pricier Quayside and gay Pink Triangle are also good for supping. In good weather, Osborne Road in Jesmond is a plum choice. There are numerous bars along the strip, with beer gardens from which to have a look at the passing lads and lasses. Newcastle isn't all beer and football, but the two are close to the heart of most Geordies. Just beware of overdoing it or you could end up at the fabled Newcastle Brown Ale ward of the city's General Hospital.
Out of town
Newcastle's a great hub from which to get to the desolate remains of Hadrian's Wall, where you can walk or investigate the ruins. As impressive though, is the north east's beautiful, sandy coastline. Dotted nearby are many castles, such as Alnwick, which featured in the Harry Potter films, and Bamburgh, which sticks out dramatically over the fairytale crags and white sands.