Northumberland and County Durham offer wonderful options for day trips out with your new pals. Another thing to note is that by getting involved with societies like the Fellwalking society is an easy and cheap way to visit rural areas further afield.
When you pair a short train to Alnmouth and then a ten minute bus ride onwards, you can find yourself in the picturesque town of Alnwick in less than an hour (it’s also a short drive if you’re lucky enough to have a car). Find here a remarkable castle, which served as the set of the Hogwarts in the Harry Potter films, as well as some charming cafes & pubs and the enchanting Barter Books bookshop.
Okay, so this may be less of a hidden gem and more of a Newcastle student staple, but if you haven’t already been persuaded to visit the coastal town of Tynemouth, make sure you check it out ASAP. Fire-pits on the beach, fish & chips, instagramable beaches… and go for a dip in the North Sea, if you’re brave. If you prefer somewhere a bit less busy, but still an easy metro ride away, South Shields and Whitley Bay are other seaside towns either side of Tynemouth.
WINDMILL HILLS PARK
Head down over one of Newcastle’s iconic bridges into its twin city, Gateshead. Walk for a few minutes west and you come across Windmill Hills Park; windy as the name suggests, but also boasting impressive views over the Tyne and Newcastle. From the viewing platform, you can spot St James, the Civic Centre and even some NCL buildings; get acquainted with your new city from across the river.
Bamburgh has a big ol’ castle you can wander around, acclaimed to be “England's finest coastal castle”, as well as an idyllic beach. Even on a cloudy day, you can witness stunning views and if you come at the right time, there’s sometimes events and festivals held in the village.
HIGH FORCE WATERFALL
The North East’s Niagara Falls surrogate: High Force Waterfall in County Durham is arguably the most impressive waterfall in the area. Watch in awe as the river thunders twenty-one metres down into a gorge dating back millions of years. Perhaps a bit of a trek from Newcastle, but definitely worth the trip if you ever get the opportunity.