South Shields: The Complete Guide

South Shields
CC BY-SA 3.0 / Stuart Locke

South Shields is a coastal town and a seaside resort at the mouth of the River Tyne, downstream from Newcastle upon Tyne in north east England.

History of South Shields

Stone Age arrow heads and an Iron Age round house have been discovered on the site of Arbeia Roman Fort. The Roman garrison built a fort here around AD 160 and expanded it around AD 208 to help supply their soldiers along Hadrian’s Wall as they campaigned north beyond the Antonine Wall.

There is evidence that the fort was used in the early post-Roman period as a British settlement and was the royal residence of King Osric of Deira.

The current town was founded in 1245 and developed as a fishing port.The name South Shields developed from the ‘Schele’ or ‘Shield’, which was a small dwelling used by fishermen.

In the 19th century, coal mining, alkaline production and glass making led to a boom in the town.

Visiting South Shields for the first time and wondering what are the top places to see in the city? In this complete guide, I share the best things to do in South Shields on the first visit. To help you plan your trip, I have also included an interactive map and practical tips for visiting!

This website uses affiliate links which earn a small commission at no additional cost to you.

15 Best places to See in South Shields

This complete guide to South Shields not only tells you about the very best sights and tourist attractions for first-time visitors to the city but also provide insights into a few of our personal favorite things to do.

This is a practical guide to visiting the best places to see in South Shields and is filled with tips and info that should answer all your questions!

South Shields Museum and Art Gallery

South Shields Museum And Art Gallery
© artuk
South Shields Museum and Art Gallery’s is an art gallery located in South Shields, England. Its collection consists of mainly 19th and 20th-century works by British artists located in a 150 year old Victorian building. With the exception of the occasional nationally recognized artists, the collection is largely local in character. Many paintings are of […]
| Website | Distance: 0.20km
Visiting South Shields Museum and Art Gallery

South and North Marine Parks

The South and North Marine Parks are located on the seafront in South Shields. The parks have a miniature railway, a boating lake hiring out pedal boats, two soft play areas, distant sea views and a cafe. For over 100 years it has been a place for walking, dancing, relaxing, playing and socialising for local […]
Location: South Marine Park 2 Bents Park Rd South Shields NE33 2NL United Kingdom | Hours: Park: 24 hours | Price: free | Website | Distance: 0.40km
Visiting South and North Marine Parks

Arbeia, South Shields Roman Fort

Arbeia South Shields
CC BY-SA 3.0 / Jan Hazevoet
Arbeia was a large Roman fort located South Shields, Tyne & Wear, England, now ruined, and which has been partially reconstructed. In Roman times South Shields was called Arbeia and was a fort of some considerable importance as not only did it guard the entrance to the Tyne but it protected a small Roman port […]
Location: Arbeia, South Shields Roman Fort Baring St South Shields NE33 2BB United Kingdom | Price: Free | Distance: 0.60km
Visiting Arbeia, South Shields Roman Fort

The Word, National Centre for the Written Word

The Word, South Shields
CC BY-SA 2.0 / John Lord
The Word, National Centre for the Written Word is a library and community centre, located in South Shields market place in South Shields, England. It was in 2016 to host exhibitions, activities, seasonal arts and crafts workshops, storytelling and cooking lessons.
Location: The Word 45 Market Place South Shields NE33 1JF | Website | Distance: 0.80km
Visiting The Word, National Centre for the Written Word

Shields Ferry

Ferry At North Shields
CC BY-SA 2.0 / Christine Johnstone
The Shields Ferry operates across the River Tyne, England, between North Shields and South Shields. There have been ferries across the Tyne since the 14th century, and the service operated by Nexus, the Tyne and Wear Passenger Transport Executive (PTE) is the only service that remains. It was known as the Market Place Ferry until […]
| Hours: Shields Ferry Managers Office Ferry Street South Shields NE33 1JR | Website | Distance: 0.80km
Visiting Shields Ferry

North East Maritime Trust

North East Maritime Trust
© North East Maritime Trust
The North East Maritime Trust is a traditional wooden working boat repair, restoration and sailing charity based in South Shields, England. On Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays between 09.30 and 16.00hrs you can visit the trust’s workshops to see historic vessels being brought back to life using old-time materials and knowledge.
Location: Fisherman's Workshops 2/3 Wapping Street South Shields South Tyneside Tyne & Wear NE33 1LQ | Distance: 0.90km
Visiting North East Maritime Trust

The Customs House

The Customs House, South Tyneside
CC BY-SA 2.0 / wfmillar
The Customs House was established in 1848 and is an arts venue in South Shields, South Tyneside, England. Set in a Neoclassical building, it consists of a theatre of 441 seats, a 145 seat studio, a gallery, a restaurant, a bar, a box-office and a community room. The Customs House also has an annexe of […]
Location: The Customs House Mill Dam South Shields NE33 1ES | Distance: 1.00km
Visiting The Customs House

Sandhaven Beach

South Shields Beach In Winter
Public Domain / Boffy
Sandhaven, also known as Herd Sand is an  is an awarding winning, blue flag, long sandy beach lined with impressive sand dunes, located in South Shields, England. The beautiful stretch of beach which cleaned and swept every day in the season. There are RNLI lifeguards at Sandhaven Beach from the end of May to the start […]
Location: The Sundial, South Shields NE33 2LD, UK | Hours: 24 Hours | Price: Free | Distance: 1.00km
Visiting Sandhaven Beach

Tynemouth Castle and Priory

Gun Emplacement And Tynemouth Castle
CC BY-SA 4.0 / Agnete
Tynemouth Castle and Priory are located on a rocky headland, overlooking Tynemouth Pier in the North East England. The moated castle-towers, gatehouse and keep are combined with the ruins of the Benedictine priory was once one of the largest fortified areas in England. The castle overlooks the North Sea and the River Tyne, it dominates […]
| Website | Distance: 2.10km
Visiting Tynemouth Castle and Priory

Frenchman’s Bay

South Shields Coastline
Public Domain / Paulking82
Frenchman’s Bay is a small bay between South Shields and Marsden Grotto, Tyne and Wear. It was once popular with smugglers and was named after a French ship that ran aground here in the 17th century. Alongside the coast id the Leas, a large area of land owned and maintained by the National Trust, popular […]
Location: South Shields NE34 7TJ, UK | Hours: 24 Hours | Price: Free | Distance: 2.50km
Visiting Frenchman’s Bay

Jarrow Hall Anglo-Saxon Farm Village and Bede

Jarrow
CC BY-SA 3.0 / Xaphire
Jarrow Hall is a museum in Jarrow, South Tyneside, England. Formerly called Bede’s World the museum celebrates the life of the Venerable Bede; who was a monk, author and scholar who was dubbed the “Father of English History” lived in at the Abbey Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul, Wearmouth-Jarrow. The Abbey was a […]
Location: Church Bank, Jarrow, South Tyneside, NE32 3DY | Price: Adult £5.50, Children: £3.50 | Website | Distance: 3.60km
Visiting Jarrow Hall Anglo-Saxon Farm Village and Bede

Marsden Bay and Marsden Rock

Marsden Sploosh At Dawn
CC BY-SA 2.0 / John Harvey
Marsden Bay and Marsden Rock is located just on the outskirts of South Shields, north-west of Lizard Point and close to Souter Lighthouse. The Magnesian coastline of the cliffs date back 250 million years and have been eroded by the sea to form stacks like Marsden Rock. Marsden Rock, home to one of England’s most […]
Visiting Marsden Bay and Marsden Rock

Souter Lighthouse

Souter Lighthouse
CC BY-SA 2.0 / malcolm tebbit
Souter Lighthouse is a lighthouse located in the village of Marsden in South Shields, Tyne & Wear, England.It was a life saving beacon since 1871, Souter Lighthouse was a technological marvel of its time as it was the first lighthouse in the world to be actually designed and built specifically to use alternating electric current. […]
Location: National Trust - Souter Lighthouse and The Leas Coast Rd Whitburn Sunderland SR6 7NH United Kingdom | Website | Distance: 5.10km
Visiting Souter Lighthouse

Washington Old Hall

Eagles At Washington Old Hall
Public Domain / ProhibitOnions
Washington Old Hall is a manor house located in Washington Village, Tyne and Wear, England, United Kingdom. It was the ancestral home of George Washington, the first President of the United States. Washington Old Hall is now operated by the National Trust. Visitors can explore the inside of the manor’s old Hall with its wood-panelled […]
Location: The Avenue, Washington, England, NE38 7LE, United Kingdom | Hours: 10:00 - 17:00 | Website | Distance: 12.20km
Visiting Washington Old Hall

Beamish

Beamish Museum Street Scene
CC BY-SA 3.0 / Mjobling
Beamish Museum is an open-air museum located at Beamish, England. The museum’s, which is spread over 120 hectares, intends to preserve an example of everyday life in urban and rural North East England at the height of industrialization in the early 20th century.You can travel from the Georgian period of the 1820s to the pre-World […]
Location: Beamish, the Living Museum of the North Regional Resource Centre Beamish DH9 0RG United Kingdom | Hours: 10am-5pm Easter-Oct, 10am-4pm Nov-Easter, closed Mon & Fri Jan–mid-Feb, last admission 3pm | Price: Adult/Child £19/11 | Website | Distance: 19.70km
Visiting Beamish