By Yanmin Zhuchen
Feeling burnt-out after a tough exam period? Fancy a change of scene to recharge before your summer internship? Looking for any excuse to hit up somewhere warm and sunny? Take advantage of the budget airlines from Newcastle Airport, bring your campus card for the student discounts and visit these top destinations without blowing the last of your loan.
Dublin: Sea breeze, beers and brunch like a local for £30 return.
Flights daily: leaving Newcastle at 22:40; leaving Dublin at 09:45 or 20:55: 1 hour 10 minutes each way.
Dublin is a city with plenty to offer for every kind of traveller, and with flights for £30 return, it’d be rude not to. The National Gallery of Ireland is free and worth ducking into if you’re in the area. If you want to celebrate your hard-earned freedom, go on one (or both!) of the tasting tours at Guinness and Jameson – both offer complimentary drinks during the tour. Another tour well worth booking yourself onto is at Old Kilmainham Jail, and then a trip to the cosy Royal Oak Pub for a cosy and authentic Irish experience (you’ll need Google Maps, it’s that tucked away). All tours should be booked in advance, though you might be able to score a couple in the morning. For something a bit different, take the train to the Dun Laoghaire and buy yourself a Teddy’s 99 ice cream as you amble along the waterfront. If you’re looking for something even cooler, go for a chilly dip at the Forty Foot like the locals do. If the stream of brewery tours and a night out in Temple Bar means that you’re not feeling too sunny, take yourself to Beanhive for a filling brunch or Bewley’s Grafton Street for something a little more upmarket. Dublin is the perfect place for those of you not wanting to stray too far, but still fancy a bite (or pint) of something different.
Gdańsk: A chilled-out city break for £38 return.
Flights on Mondays and Fridays: leaving Newcastle 20:00; leaving Gdansk at 17:00: 2 hours 15 minutes each way.
Pronounced ‘dansk’, this Polish city is often forgotten in favour of its larger neighbours. Don’t let the size fool you though – it’s absolutely packed with things to do, especially for food and history buffs. Known as the amber capital of Europe, this place boasts an impressive colour palette to match – any photo taken in the beautiful Old Town will instantly liven up your Instagram feed. It is here, in the marketplace, that the best doughnuts in the world are made – Caldo bakes fresh doughnuts right in front of you, but don’t worry, your wallet will feel as full as your stomach. Still peckish? Head to Original Burger for its huge portions and music-based décor, although if you’re in the mood for some proper Polish cuisine, Familia Bistro serves traditional dumplings in a cosy setting. If you’re feeling funky, Josef K is a phenomenal cocktail bar which boasts a truly impressive range of infused vodka to boot. If you can spare a day trip, head out on the train to Malbork Castle, the largest in the world and with free and incredibly friendly audio guides. Gdańsk is absolutely the place to go if you’re wanting a relaxed and thrifty long weekend away somewhere off the beaten track.
Madrid: Living it up in the city for £47 return
Flights on Mondays and Fridays: leaving Newcastle at 16:20; leaving Madrid at 14:15: 2 hours 40 minutes each way.
Fancy somewhere warmer to start working on that tan but still want those slick city vibes? Fly to Madrid and experience the hustle bustle of the shopping district paired with the erudite calm of art galleries galore. If the weather is sunny, take to Parque del Retiro for a leisurely stroll amongst the pines and vines before hitting the sales. If not, head to the museums – the Museo Nacional del Prado and the Reina Sofía are both free for students. The Royal Palace of Madrid is also well-worth a visit for the sumptuous décor and the view of the city from the balcony. To celebrate your success in true Hollywood style, get yourself down to Museo Chicote for a sensational Old Fashioned – this cocktail bar is famous for having entertained some of the world’s most illustrious visitors, who are forever immortalised on the walls. If you’re looking for cute but practical souvenirs, pop into Ale-Hop – unmissable because of the huge cow statue at each entrance. Although it can be expensive here, Madrid has no shortage of good but thrifty eats to offer – from churros at Chocolatería San Ginés to calamari sandwiches at Bar La Campana, you won’t ever go hungry in this lively city – for food or culture.
Photographs: Yanmin Zhuchen and Tom Mander