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Introducing Newcastle-upon-Tyne

Against its dramatic backdrop of Victorian elegance and industrial grit, this fiercely independent city harbours a spirited mix of heritage and urban sophistication, with excellent new art galleries and a magnificent concert hall, along with boutique hotels, some exceptional restaurants and, of course, interesting bars; Newcastle is renowned throughout Britain for its thumping nightlife, bolstered by an energetic student population.

The city retains deep-rooted traditions, embodied by the no-nonsense, likeable locals. Raised and subsequently abandoned by coal and steel, Geordies (as locals are dubbed, possibly due to support for George II during the 1745 Jacobite Rebellion or to miners' use of safety lamps designed by George Stephenson – no one knows for sure) are united through history, adversity and that impenetrable dialect – the closest language to 1500-year-old Anglo-Saxon left in England.

Allow at least a few days to explore the Victorian city centre and quayside areas along the Tyne and across the river in Gateshead, as well as the rejuvenated Ouseburn Valley to the east, shabby-chic Jesmond to the north, and, on the coast, the surf beaches of Tynemouth.