Wednesday 18 September 2019

The Toon Tour - Exploring Newcastle and Gateshead on the Hop-on Hop-off Open Top Bus Tour

This is an advertisement feature with Go North East 

Whenever I am visiting a new city for the first time a trip on the tour bus is an absolute must - the perfect way to get your bearings and learn some local history, it's one of the greatest ways for a tourist to travel round somewhere new.  It wasn't that many years ago that I was a visitor to the Toon myself, so I'm not entirely sure why I never took a tour bus round Newcastle back then but here we are, six years later, a now (very passionate) Honorary Geordie about to take the Toon Tour - NewcastleGateshead's brand new hop-on hop-off open top bus tour.

The Toon Tour - Exploring Newcastle and Gateshead on the Hop-on Hop-off Open Top Bus Tour
Now, I don't like to show off, but I like to think of myself as somewhat of a Toon expert, there isn't much I don't know about NewcastleGateshead - the best places to visit, its prettiest viewing points, and all of the history - or so I thought!

Welcome on board the Toon Tour!

Toon Tour - Exploring Newcastle and Gateshead on the Hop-on Hop-off Open Top Bus Tour

Now you may be wondering what on earth a local can get out of taking a trip on the Toon Tour Bus? Aren't hop on, hop off tours just for visitors? I can honestly say that after spending a day exploring our home on the bus I love the city even more than before.  Most people know how obsessed I am with this beautiful city so it may seem odd that anything could make me love it more than I already did, but exploring NewcastleGateshead in such a different way helped me to notice things that I had never seen before.

Believe me, you haven't truly seen the city until you have seen it from the top of a double decker bus!

Toon Tour  Hop-on Hop-off Open Top Bus Tour

We decided to start our Toon Tour journey at Central Station, Stop 1 on the map. There are 18 stops on total across the tour and you can join or leave the bus at any of them, I was just keen to get straight on the bus so decided to catch the very first tour of the day.  The first Toon Tour bus departs Central Station at 10:05 with buses running every 30 minutes until 16:05.

Toon Tour - Newcastle and Gateshead on the Hop-on Hop-off Open Top Bus Tour

Our journey began with the short trip to somewhere that a lot of folk in the Toon would argue is the greatest place in the city - St James' Park, home to the Magpies. Despite Simon and I not really being too fussed about football even we have to admit that you can't do a tour of Newcastle without taking a look at the stadium. The city is very passionate about football and on match day you see black and white shirts everywhere you go. With your Toon Tour Ticket you can get 20% off tickets to the Stadium Tour which doesn't only offer behind the scenes access to the grounds but also a great opportunity to climb the roof for great views across the city.

Toon Tour - St James Park

There are some great deals to be had with the Toon Tour bus ticket and as well as getting money off the Stadium Tour you can also get a free child admission to the Life Centre and 20% off Newcastle Castle (well worth a visit, the views from the roof of the castle are the best in the city and a bit of a hidden gem).

Of course when you're on an open top bus tour it's only right to sit on the top deck no matter the weather. We were lucky that we travelled on a pretty sunny Saturday in September, however even on a warm day it was pretty breezy up there so if you're planning your own tour make sure you wear layers.

Toon Tour Bus

As we travelled around the city we were treated to a recorded commentary offering some great facts, stories and history of NewcastleGateshead. I loved learning more about my home, I don't want to give too much away (you really must go and discover them for yourself!) but let's just say that the origin of the name "Gateshead" made me chuckle and I will think about it every time I venture across the river.

The Toon Tour - Exploring Newcastle and Gateshead Hop-on Hop-off Open Top Bus Tour
We decided to hop off the bus at Ouseburn, one of our favourite parts of Newcastle, the creative heart of Newcastle - we love the street art, the wonderful collection of independent bars, pubs and cafes as well as the Biscuit Factory (the country's largest independent art gallery) and our very own city farm.

It can sometimes feel like a bit of a walk if you're at the other end of the city so it was lovely to have a the bus drop us off a few steps outside Ouseburn Farm. If you're wanting to spend a full day really exploring all that NewcastleGateshead has to offer the tour bus is a great way to get round loads of places in a day without your legs getting tired.

The Toon Tour - Exploring Newcastle and Gateshead - Ouseburn Farm
Making sure we were back at the stop for the next bus we climbed back onboard the Toon Tour to continue our trip down to the iconic Quayside. Perhaps the most famous part of the city the banks of the River Tyne boasts a great collection of bars and there's always something going on.  During our tour the Dragonboat Race was happening along the Tyne and the atmosphere along the river was incredible.

The Toon Tour - Exploring Newcastle and Gateshead - Quayside

Everyone on our bus was very excited when we got our first glimpse of the Tyne Bridge and, despite being a local and already having a lot of photographs of the bridge already I couldn't resist taking a few more. It was great to see a different view of the iconic landmark.

The Toon Tour crosses the Tyne twice, first over my favourite bridge (don't laugh, every Geordie and Honorary Geordie has a favourite bridge!), the Swing Bridge. It offers fantastic views of the Tyne Bridge, Sage and Baltic and it was even more spectacular from the top deck of the bus.

The Toon Tour - Exploring Newcastle and Gateshead - Swing Bridge

After a quick loop round the Sage in Gateshead it was back across the river and this time we were crossing the Tyne Bridge. It doesn't matter how many times I have travelled over the bridge I will always get goosebumps. It feels special journeying across the Tyne Bridge and I have always loved the views across the Quayside from the pavement, travelling that little bit higher up made it even more spectacular.  Did I mention how much I love this city?

The Toon Tour - Exploring Newcastle and Gateshead - Tyne Bridge

The part of the Toon Tour that I really loved though? Driving through Grainger Town. I always say it was this part of Newcastle that truly made me fall for the city - the architecture is just beautiful and it's no wonder it's been named as one of the UK's most beautiful streets.

I have admired the buildings so many times and never take walking down Grey Street for granted, however seeing it from the top of the Toon Tour bus was an entirely new experience. Appreciating the streets that I love so much from such a great view point was so special and I was just in awe of how incredible this city is.

The Toon Tour - Exploring Newcastle and Gateshead
The whole tour from start to finish (with no stops) takes about an hour, we loved it so much we did a loop and a half and would have happily gone round again and again.

But all good things must come to an end, hopping off the bus at the end of our day I felt so inspired to see more and as we set off down the road in the direction of Grey's Monument I wanted to pinch myself.

How lucky am I to call the Toon my home?

The Toon Tour - Newcastle and Gateshead Bus Tour
What you need to know:
  • The Toon Tour costs £8.00 for adults, £6.00 for concessions, £4.00 for children and £20.00 for a family ticket (two adults with two or three children)
  • Tickets can be bought on the bus or on the Go North East app 
  • Tickets are valid for 24 hours unlimited travel and can also be used on the Quaylink bus between Newcastle and Gateshead Interchange 
  • Toon Tour Plus Tickets (allowing unlimited travel on all Go North East buses are also available as well as Toon Tour Add-Ons for those already with a valid Go North East or Network One ticket
  • The Toon Tour Bus is running every weekend until 27 October 
  • For up to date information on the Toon Tour see here
This is a sponsored for Go North East and we also received complimentary tickets for the Toon Tour.


  1. Looks like such a lovely day out - I LOVE that it takes you to Ouseburn too as not many buses stop there. My favourite bridge is the Millennium x

    1. We really loved the opportunity to get to Ouseburn without having to walk, usually if I suggest heading that way Simon says it's too far so I was very happy!

    2. It's great fun

  2. Newcastle is such a beautiful city with so much on our doorstep! The bridges are so iconic as well, I just love the quayside. Quite a reasonable trip out as well!

    1. Really reasonable, especially if you used your ticket to hop on and off all day!


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