Ouseburn is without doubt the coolest suburb of Newcastle. This little area of the North East’s top city cannot be missed and hopefully I’ll show you why you need to book that visit. This is my guide on the best things to do in Ouseburn, Newcastle.
Ouseburn is to Newcastle what Shoreditch is to London, the Northern Quarter is to Manchester and what Fitzroy is to Melbourne. Newcastle is a pretty lively city with top quality bars and restaurants all over but Ouseburn is the place where it comes together for those that like things a little more alternative. It’s a great area for photography but, then again, you could say the same about the whole of Newcastle.
Ouseburn lies just a short distance to the east of Newcastle’s city centre and is rapidly gaining popularity. Formerly post-industrial wasteland, Ouseburn has been regenerated into what you see today. It’s definitely somewhere where you can spend a full day whether you are wanting a few beers, out for a coffee and cake or are planning a family day out. This is the area of Newcastle that the locals like to keep to themselves. All you really need to know is that it’s my kind of place; urban, quirky and cool. I absolutely love it and I’m sure you will too.
THE TOP THINGS TO DO IN OUSEBURN, NEWCASTLE
For me, I would argue that Ouseburn centres on the Cluny (more on that below) and branches out both to the North and to the South. For those first-time visitors, Ouseburn Road just off Stepney Bank is a great place to start your day of exploration.
Ah, The Cluny. This must be the spiritual home of Ouseburn Not only is it a great independent venue for gigs, it serves up great food and great beer. Pre-Covid, you’d be surprised if you didn’t see people spilling out of the Cluny on to the nearby stepped area with pints of beer. I love the feel of this pub just by the Ouseburn arches. This is practically an Ouseburn institution; you have to have a drink here.
The Ship Inn
The Ship Inn is directly underneath the famous Ouseburn arches, opposite the Cluny. On one end of the building is a huge painted sheep whereas on the other is a really good mural which makes for a great photo. They do really cool vegan food here and pints of Prahva; what else do you need?
Directly between The Cluny and The Ship Inn is Ouseburn Farm. Yes, you read that correctly. This little farm is a green oasis in the city and the perfect place for everyone to reconnect with nature. Tickets are free and Ouseburn Farm is run as a charity so it relies on volunteers and donations. It’s definitely worth a look for those with younger children especially if you’re heading on to Seven Stories nearby.
A hidden gem in Newcastle is the Victoria Tunnel which originally stretched from the Town Moor to the River Tyne. The tunnel was originally built so that waggons could transport coal straight from the colliery to the banks of the river. After the colliery closed, the tunnel was completely redundant until WW2 and it was repurposed as an air raid shelter with new entrances built all over. Once the war was over, again the tunnel closed and all entrances blocked up apart from the one here in Ouseburn. Informative tours are now available and you can spend a good few hours underground.
Seven Stories – National Centre for Children’s Books
I’m not afraid to admit that I had absolutely no idea that the National Centre for Children’s Books existed let alone was based in Ouseburn, Newcastle. Keep your eyes peeled for exhibitions which, at the moment at least, are free to visit with a pre-booked ticket. There’s also a bookshop and cafe on level three.
From here, you have a choice of either walking 10 minutes north-west up Stepney Road or 15 minutes south-east towards the banks of the Tyne. Either way, you need to do both!
To The North
On the site of Thali Tray, just up from The Ship Inn, you have a match made in heaven. Indian street food combined with on-site brewing by Newcastle Brewing Ltd. The staple here are the thali trays themselves, with two curries, bread, rice and pickle served up in the classic stainless steel trays. I hadn’t really experienced something like this until I visited Little India in Singapore but this is as authentic as you can get. They do vegan dishes too.
Under The Bridge
A brilliant shipping container bar with a decent beer garden including fire pits! Guess where this one is? Yes, under the bridge. If you were planning a few drinks in Ouseburn, you couldn’t miss this place out!
Ernie / Ernest
I think I’d seen a little glimpse of Ernie on Instagram but was completely surprised when wandering up Stepney Yard. Ernest is the formal cafe bar serving great food all day long such as a local hero breakfast, hash bowls, foccacia sandwiches and flatbreads. The food gets a little more substantial the later in the day it gets! However, around the back of Ernest, is the brand new takeout, deli and shop called Ernie. The shop is described as a wholefood corner shop, farmers market, deli and bakery and stocks local produce. Also, there’s a huge Darth Vader on one of the building’s walls which is just so cool.
The Biscuit Factory
The Biscuit Factory is a beautiful art gallery set in a former warehouse; a must-visit for those interested in art. It’s said to be the UK’s largest independent commercial art, craft and design gallery. There’s also a cafe and a rooftop terrace and it’s a really great place to get married too!
The furthest place north on my little travel guide to Ouseburn but probably the quirkiest place on the whole list. In a former car garage on a petrol station forecourt is the Garage (the clue is in the name). This little cafe serves up iced coffee, flat whites, brownies as well as more substantial meals for brunch such as halloumi burgers or cheese toasties.
To The South
If I had to choose just one place to eat in Ouseburn this would be it. Hell, if I had to choose one place to sit, relax and have a drink, it would be here. I haven’t yet eaten here myself, just drooled over the menus (not literally – Covid and all that) whilst enjoying a green tea and a homemade lemonade. Cook House is the new home of Anna Hedworth who is a food blogger-come-chef and this is THE place to grab exceptional food. The food is so exceptional in fact that you will spot a little Michelin Guide sticker (Michelin Plate 2021) and so I can almost guarantee you will not be disappointed.
I sat outside at the Cook House and was just mesmerised by how peaceful it was. The gardens are beautiful and you can even eat on a spectacular terrace overlooking the industrial building that houses Seven Stories. Just writing about the Cook House makes me want to go back and I haven’t even experienced the food yet!
The Cumberland Arms
Opposite the Cook House is a little stepped incline through trees which will bring you out at the front of the Cumberland Arms, a classic 19th century pub and beer garden serving up ales and craft beer.
As with almost everything in Ouseburn, Kiln is housed in a red brick industrial building and is a cafe perfect for brunch and a coffee but with the benefit of it being a pottery where you can buy beautifully handmade plates and mugs amongst other things. The evening menu though is what really intrigues me and I cannot wait to try this; the Kiln Meze with 10 dips and snacks as well as a bigger dish such as roasted squash or slow cooked lamb shank. There’s also a lamb shawarma, slow cooked for 16 hours, that is just made to share.
Brinkburn St Brewery
Occupying the same building as Kiln is Brinkburn St Brewery, an independent brewer serving up great beers brewed on site (love the pilsner) alongside other fantastic local beer. The kitchen bangs out sourdough pizzas, characture boards and burgers that make my mouth water. When I was here, I didn’t have a burger but I will have to return on my quest to find the best burgers in the North-East; they look like they could be contenders!
Just behind Brinkburn Street Brewery, on the Riverside Walk, is Northern Rye; a small bakery specialising in breads (think sourdough), pastries and coffee. The pastries are, in my opinion, absolutely incredible and cannot be missed. You’re pretty much always guaranteed a pain au chocolat (huge!) but if you’re lucky you’ll be able to try a lemon curd morning bun or a cruffin… Yes, a CRUFFIN. That is a croissant crossed with a muffin. I’d probably say it’s more of a croissant in the shape of a muffin though I’m not aware of the specific baking technicalities. All I know is that it is a taste sensation. I had a crunchie cruffin and the centre was filled with super smooth chocolate!
Di Meo’s Ice Cream
National ice cream champions in 2013, 2014 and 2020, Di Meo’s is Whitley Bay’s famous ice cream shop that people travel from across the region to experience. Now opened in Ouseburn, you can get incredible ice cream without having to drive to the coast. There’s always guest flavours on offer but you can’t beat offerings such as sea salt caramel, battenberg, strawberry cheesecake or white chocolate. To be fair, I could eat all four of those right now.
The Tyne Bar
Under yet another bridge is The Tyne Bar a very short distance from the River Tyne itself. This is one of the original pubs in Ouseburn having been on this site since 1994. Again great beer as always and classic bar food including burgers, frankfurters and wraps.
Free Trade Inn
A short walk from The Tyne Bar and you’ll have reached the banks of the River Tyne and the end of your journey through Ouseburn. The Free Trade Inn sits a top a small hill with a beer garden known for gorgeous views down the river back towards Newcastle’s many bridges. You can choose from a huge range of cask ales, craft beers and ciders as well as little bar snacks such as locally made vegetable samosas. This place is perfect in the sunshine.
Street Art in Ouseburn
I think that the street art in Ouseburn deserved a whole section of this post to itself. Not only is Ouseburn home to cool bars and great places to eat, many of it’s industrial buildings are adorned with street art. For those who have followed my blog for a while now, you’ll know how much I love street art and it just helps add to the whole vibe around Ouseburn. The street art will always change and often pieces will be linked to topical events such as the Euros 2020 (gutted for England!). My favourite pieces across Ouseburn and Newcastle generally are by a local artist ‘Mul Draws’; so good.
If you’re looking to stretch those legs a little more or jump into the car before heading home, you’ll find more excellent places to check out without having to step foot in the centre of Newcastle. These all come highly recommended but I’d say you cannot miss the doughnuts at Proven Goods or the meat at Block & Bottle.
- 2Knives Kitchen
Full Circle Brew
Block & Bottle
WHERE TO STAY IN OUSEBURN
There’s only one obvious choice when you’re looking for someone to stay the night in Ouseburn and that’s at the Hotel Du Vin. Hotel Du Vin is a luxurious four-star hotel in the heart of Ouseburn occupying the former home of the Tyne Tees Steam Ship Company. The hotel itself is perfectly positioned to explore both Ouseburn, a matter of seconds from The Tyne Bar and Northern Rye, and Newcastle itself with the Quayside just moments away too. The prices will obviously range dependent on availability and whether it’s the weekend but you could easily have a night here for £100 which isn’t bad at all!
GETTING TO / FROM OUSEBURN
Thankfully for all of you lucky people, I’ve put together a custom map with pins of all the locations mentioned above. For those arriving by car, you can park right by the Ouseburn Arches next to the Ship Inn (though there are limited spaces) or for free at the Ouseburn South Car Park on the Quayside (NE6 1BY). The nearest metro station is Manors which is a short 10/15 minute walk and Newcastle is also well connected with taxis (including Uber) which are all competitively priced.