Newcastle is known as the capital of the UK's northeast, a former industrial powerhouse that remains a major hub for culture and nightlife. Geordies, as locals are known, are a funny, friendly bunch, and make Newcastle feel warm and welcoming even when it's chilly and wet.
The medieval stronghold of Newcastle Castle still stands at the historic centre of the city. Grey Street, lined with Georgian buildings, connects the castle area with Grainger Town, Newcastle's main shopping district. This is where you'll find the biggest concentration of malls, art galleries and museums.
West of Grainger Street, the area around Bigg Market is famed for raucous pubs, nightclubs, live music venues and curry houses. You'll find lots more bars and restaurants lining the rejuvenated waterfront along Newcastle's Quayside.
From here, you can stroll across the Millennium Bridge to Gateshead, the city's next-door neighbour on the River Tyne and another former industrial centre now enjoying a 21st-century renaissance.
You can delve deep into the history of Britain under the Roman Empire at Segedunum Roman Fort, Baths & Museum in Wallsend, east of the city centre, and Arbeia Roman Fort & Museum in South Shields.
Newcastle Castle, the semi-intact fortress that gave the city its name, gives you a glimpse of medieval history. Nearby, you can discover Newcastle's 16th-century past at Bessie Surtees' House.
Art lovers will find works by 19th-century painters like John Martin at Laing Art Gallery in the city centre. Across the River Tyne in Gateshead, you'll discover ever-changing, cutting-edge work by 21st-century artists at BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art.
Newcastle and its suburbs are packed with smart boutique hotels, no-frills budget accommodation and larger hotels within easy reach of sights, shops and restaurants.
Planning a shopping, sightseeing or weekend break? You'll want a room in vibrant Grainger Town, within walking distance of Birmingham's main commercial, cultural and nightlife hotspots.
Newcastle's bus and metro network makes it easy to explore the city from the buzzy Jesmond area. About 10 minutes from the centre by bus or metro, this leafy suburb has plenty of trendy places to eat and drink with a more laid-back atmosphere than the city centre.
You'll also find places to stay in Gateshead, which is handy for shows at BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art and Sage Gateshead, and walking distance from central Newcastle.
Racing fans can find hotels close to the equestrian action at Gosforth Park, Newcastle's famous race course.
Geordies love their street food, and you'll find plenty of traditional fish and chip shops all around the city centre, as well as busy takeaway kebab and pizza joints.
You can also follow locals to curry houses serving authentic Indian and Bangladeshi dishes and old-school trattorias dishing up Italian classics. There's no shortage of Chinese, Thai and Tex-Mex eateries either. If you're in town for a romantic weekend or special occasion you'll find gourmet restaurants with menus that focus on locally sourced seafood, lamb and beef.
There's a big choice of places to eat around Grainger Town and Bigg Market, and you can drink and dine al fresco in the pubs and café-bars along Newcastle's Quayside. The Jesmond area is lined with wine bars and sophisticated gastropubs.
You can sample snacks from all over the world at Newcastle's twice-monthly Boiler Shop Steamer food festival, held in a former industrial building.
Locals still do their everyday shopping in the 19th-century arcades at Grainger Market, and there are plenty of modern shopping centres and malls in the surrounding Grainger Quarter.
The mall at intu Eldon Square dominates the city centre. Inside you'll find high-street shops like John Lewis, as well as the flagship branch of the luxury department store Fenwick's.
If you're shopping for vintage clothing or collectible vinyl records, take a wander down the cobbled streets of the High Bridge Quarter.
Across the River Tyne in Gateshead, intu Metrocentre houses more than 300 stores, a multiplex cinema and a leisure centre with activities for kids and adults. East of the city centre, in North Shields, you'll find bargain-priced fashions and sportswear at Royal Quays Outlet Centre.
Newcastle is the main cultural centre of northeast England. Venues range from 19th-century theatres and concert halls to huge modern stadiums that host world-class rock acts, classical music, theatre, ballet and opera. The city is famous for its hedonistic nightlife, which attracts fun-lovers from across the UK and beyond.
Innovative venues such as Gateshead's BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art have revived the city's cultural scene, complementing much older Victorian institutions like Newcastle City Hall.
The city's temple of high culture is Sage Gateshead, which attracts international performers and is home to the Royal Northern Sinfonia chamber orchestra. Theatre Royal stages West End musicals and hosts prestigious visits from the likes of the Royal Shakespeare Company. The huge Metro Radio Arena attracts the biggest names in rock and pop.
Newcastle's high-energy nightlife district is Bigg Market, where the action kicks off around 9pm and keeps going until 4am or later at weekends. Here you'll find cocktail bars and pubs packed with young locals intent on a raucous night out. Throbbing dance music provides the soundtrack for tequila shots and potent cocktails.
Newcastle's family-friendly attractions aren't all tucked away indoors – you'll also find open-air museums and outdoor activities to make the most of sunny days. There are plenty of child-friendly places to eat, and many pubs and restaurants offer kids' menus.
You can time-travel into the past at Newcastle Castle in the city centre, and hear costumed characters explain what local life was like in the 19th century at Beamish, The Living Museum of the North.
For a day at the seaside, take the metro train to Tynemouth. On a fine day, kids can romp and built sand castles on the long, breezy beach. If it clouds over you can always meet seals, sharks and other sea creatures at Blue Reef Aquarium.
Zip lines and treetop rope walks make for exciting excursions at Go Ape Matfen and Beamish Wild. Both are located in rolling green countryside within easy reach of Newcastle.
The city and surrounding region can get pretty wet, but there are lots of fun ways to stay dry in Newcastle:
Kids can enjoy storytelling sessions and live shows at Seven Stories, and sometimes even meet their favourite authors.