It’s common for Newcastle to have long, cold, and wet winters, but its summers can also be damp and drizzly. There’s a lot of rain, even during the driest month, so it’s not unlikely that you’ll experience the pouring rain during your visit. No matter the season, there’s always a rain shower or downpour at some point. However, it shouldn’t be the reason to postpone your trip to this beautiful city.
Sure, it may not be fun to go to the beach when it’s pouring outside, and you won’t be able to stroll the parks and wander around the Newcastle City Centre without being wet. You probably have to wait until the sun is out before you go boating and paddle beneath the bridges that span the River Tyne. But it doesn’t mean you should just stay in your hotel room and spend a rainy day in Newcastle doing nothing.
Endless fun indoor activities await you in Newcastle upon Tyne, so never let the bad weather dampen your spirit! Take this opportunity to explore what the city has to offer, from a wide selection of museums and art galleries to numerous restaurants, indoor crazy golf, and bars and pubs.
If you’re feeling extra daring, brave the cold and get outside on a rainy day. Just be sure to place your bags and unneeded items first with a secure luggage locker in Newcastle. This way, you can ensure that your essential belongings remain dry and safe while you go on with your rainy-day adventures.
Tour the Newcastle Castle
Rain or shine, a visit to the legendary Newcastle Castle is something you should definitely experience during your time in the city. Just a few minutes' walk from the Newcastle central station, the Castle is a family-friendly attraction from which the city obtained its name centuries ago.
Exploring the Castle will introduce you to the city’s rich history. It’s situated in a prominent position that overlooks the spectacular Quayside, so you’ll be rewarded with incredible views from the rooftop. But if the rain is too heavy for you to see and take photos from the rooftop, you can always go on a tour inside and learn about the Castle’s colorful and grim history.
The Newcastle Castle consists of two buildings, the Black Gate and the Castle Keep. Visitors can fully access Black Gate. However, Castle Keep has uneven surfaces and steep stairs, making it difficult for those with mobility issues to explore. It is located in Newcastle City Centre and is open every Monday and Wednesday through Sunday, from 10 am to 7 pm.
Enter the Victoria Tunnel
Escape the rain and tour the Victoria Tunnel, which runs beneath the city from the Town Moor stretching to the River Tyne. The Tunnel is a preserved wagonway from the 19th century under Newcastle that was originally built to carry coal to the River Tyne from Spital Tongues Colliery. It was 2.4 kilometers long and had a maximum depth of 26 meters. It remained closed for nearly eight years until World War II, when the section of the wagonway tunnel was converted into a bomb shelter.
Today, the Victoria Tunnel can be visited through guided tours or a virtual tunnel experience if you want to watch it from the comfort of your home or hotel room. During a tour, you’ll learn about its history and its role as a passageway for coals before it was turned into a shelter. You’ll also hear the stories of how difficult life was in the tunnel during the war and see the rugged replicas of benches and beds used by frightened residents during bombing raids.
Bring the Kids on a Trip to Seven Stories Museum
Keep the kids occupied and busy at the Seven Stories Museum, The National Centre for Children’s Books. It caters to all age groups so even kids at heart will enjoy a trip to the museum with its brilliant interactive exhibitions, sensory adventures, and creative workshops that will encourage everyone to enjoy and see books in a different way.
Don’t miss the Studio at Seven Stories in the museum basement. It allows visitors to get crafty, colorful, and physical with numerous activities to keep them entertained. It often features writing, singing, music events, and activities for young and older kids during holidays. So feel free to take your children on school holidays to the museum. You never have to worry about your little ones getting bored on a rainy day in Newcastle.
You can pack your lunch and eat in the dedicated picnic room. If you don’t have snacks prepared, don’t worry. The Riverside Café on the second level is open to serve snacks and meals in a nut-free environment. Adults can also enjoy hot drinks and sweet treats. Let them know if you or your kid have gluten or dairy intolerances to deliver the right food for you.
The Museum is open from 10 am to 5 pm every day except Wednesday. It’s also open during school holidays seven days a week. It offers free entry, including all galleries, bookshops, coffee shops, and cafés.
See Incredible Masterpieces at The Laing Art Gallery
Do you like unique art pieces and enjoy exploring art galleries? If so, head to the Laing Art Gallery on a rainy day and marvel at its outstanding collections of British oil paintings, ceramics, glassware, watercolors, and silver.
Founded in 1901, the Laing Art Gallery is the oldest gallery in Newcastle dedicated to promoting modern, historic, and contemporary art. It holds regularly changing exhibitions and hosts events, including family activities, curator talks, and artist programs.
The gallery is situated in the Newcastle City Centre at New Bridge Street, close to several cultural hotspots and significant attractions. Entry to the art gallery is free, making it a perfect place to stop during your cultural tour around town. However, please note that an admission charge may apply to certain exhibitions.
Its free displays include the 100 Years of Collecting, featuring paintings and objects from the gallery’s collection from the fifteenth century to the present day. The Northern Spirit, Chris Killip: The Last Ships, Newcastle in Watercolours, and New Perspectives: Outside In displays are also free.
Explore the Life Science Centre
Very close to the River Tyne is the Life Science Centre, an interactive and state-of-the-art science museum boasting hundreds of thousands of visitors each year. But, this place is more than a museum. It also has a planetarium, 4D motion ride, and themed shows, making it a fantastic place for kids – even children under the age of 7 – and families to spend their day on a rainy day.
There is no doubt that you’ll have an educational time at the Life Science Centre. Everything inside the Centre is accessible or included in your ticket, so you can spend the entire day exploring the world of science. There are hands-on activities you can do and plenty of engaging experiences to participate in.
This Science Center aims to help individuals, particularly children, know the importance of the scientific world and how relevant it is to their lives. It is also to inspire a new generation of STEM professionals, which is why the center has a program of workshops and story-telling sessions catered to students. It is open every day from 10 am to 5 pm, with the pricing varying with age.
Catch a Show at the Theatre Royal
Why suffer boredom on a rainy day in Newcastle when you can always watch a show at Newcastle Theatre Royal? Celebrated as the most prestigious theatre in the North East, Theatre Royal presents the best comedy, musicals, drama, and dance in the city centre. It is one of the country’s nine Grade I-listed theatre halls and is considered the finest theatre building in England.
Theatre Royal opened its doors to the public in February 1837 and has since been renovated multiple times. The largest renovation occurred after a fire in 1899 following a showing of the iconic Macbeth. It resulted in the redesigning of the entire auditorium by a legendary theatre architect, Frank Matcham.
Today, the theatre hosts more than 300 shows annually, drawing in more than 300,000 visitors. It accommodates some of the prominent names in drama, music, comedy, and dance. It is open every day, except Sundays, between 9 am to 8 pm.
Discover World History and Cultures at the Great North Museum: Hancock
Spend a rainy day in the Great North Museum: Hancock and discover the fascinating world, its history, and cultures under one roof. Established in 1884, this museum is housed in a restored Victorian-era building, featuring excellent natural history, ethnology, and archaeology sections. Every floor level features different galleries that tell the past and give you a glimpse of life before us.
Among the museum’s many interesting exhibits are the archaeological finds from the Roman Walls and artifacts from ancient Greece and Egypt. There’s also a dedicated space for younger visitors under five and their families at the Mouse House you can access near the museum entrance. It is designed to ignite young children’s curiosity and encourage them to explore while introducing the museum’s impressive collections.
Entry to the museum is free, but donations are always welcome. It is open every day, from 10 am to 5 pm on weekdays, from 10 am to 4 pm on Saturday, and from 11 am to 4 pm on Sunday. It is close to several attractions, including St. James’ Park, the Laing Art Gallery, and the City Hall.
Drive across the Iconic Tyne River Bridges
Your visit to Newcastle won’t be complete without exploring the world-renowned bridges across the Tyne. Since it’s raining day, it might not be a good idea to visit each of them on foot. So the best way to complete your Newcastle upon Tyne experience is to drive across the bridges.
The newest of the iconic bridges is the Gateshead Millenium Bridge, which opened in 2001. What makes it stand out is the pair of steel arches that span 100 meters forming between concrete islands, which rotates forty degrees to allow vessels to pass beneath. Then you have the Tyne Bridge, which has become Newcastle’s defining symbol. It was built in 1925 by the same builders who worked on the Sydney Harbour Bridge, which opened in 1932.
Another magnificent bridge over the river is the Grade II-listed bridge, Swing Bridge. It opened in 1876 and was the largest swing bridge ever built at that time. Then continue driving across the High Level Bridge, King Edward VII Railway Bridge, Redheugh Bridge, and Metro Bridge.
Explore an Indoor Shopping Centre
A rainy afternoon in Newcastle is one of the best times to tick items off your shopping list. Thankfully, the city is full of indoor shops and stores that allow you to shop as long as you want without getting wet.
Your first stop should be Eldon Square, the city’s oldest and most prominent indoor shopping complex in the heart of the City Centre. It’s an enormous space featuring passageways lined with designer boutiques, shops, stores, cafes, restaurants, and elegant arcades. It is also home to Fenwick Newcastle, another must-visit destination for fashionistas and keen shoppers.
Visit the Discovery Museum
Situated between Tyne Theatre & Opera House and Life Science Centre, Discovery Museum is an interactive and engaging science and history museum displaying local maritime history exhibits. They also exhibit the famous Turbinia ship, the first steam turbine-powered steamship and the fastest ship in the world during its time.
Perhaps the unique thing about this place is that they hold many fun activities throughout the week, such as indoor golf, mazes, and discos. Some weeks even have various themed activities for children to participate in, including lessons about science and maritime history from professional educators. Remember that each month may hold new activities, so plan your visit in advance if you don’t want to miss out on certain events.
At the Discovery Museum, there is always something on and something for all ages to do. And if you get hungry between activities, a cafeteria on the second floor serves hot meals. The museum offers hour-long guided tours for those who book in advance and is open daily from 10 am to 4 pm, with the weekends opening earlier at 11 am.
A Rainy Day in Newcastle
There’s no reason to despair if the weather in Newcastle doesn’t cooperate with your holiday schedule. Pick an activity or two from this list of rainy day ideas and make the most of your visit to this vibrant city in England. Most of the indoor activities in Newcastle are free, so you can save on your travel budget while seeing some of its top sights and attractions.
Looking for even more things to do in Newcastle on a rainy day? Check out these other guides: