10 essential things you need to do on a trip to Manchester
Manchester is a city brimming with culture and hidden gems. It’s home to two of the world’ most iconic football teams and the birthplace of musical legends like Oasis and The Smiths, meaning that sports fanatics and culture vultures alike are all sure to fall in love with this fantastic city.
With so much to do, you want to be sure you’re not missing a single thing. That’s why we’ve put together a guide of the most impressive sights and activities that Manchester has to offer, whether it’s dining with cats or dining in the sky.
1. Enjoy a drink in the Northern Quarter
Opening times: N/A
The Northern Quarter is a prime example of everything that makes Manchester such an unmissable destination. You can discover a whole new outfit in vintage shops like COW, which is stocked high with treasures. Or, dance until the sun comes up in lively jazz bars like Matt & Phreds.
Feeling peckish? Tuck into a hearty meal at all-vegan diners such as V-Rev or mouth-watering Mexican restaurants like El Capo, then wander down the street to infamous cake spot HomeSweetHome for dessert.
It’s easy to spend a whole day wandering the lively streets of the affectionately-dubbed NQ and not run out of things to do — but while you’re there, be sure to take in the views. This trendy neighbourhood is well-known for its vibrant street-art, with a popular hotspot being Out House. The disused public restroom in Stevenson Square has become a perfect photo op, as it’s frequently decorated with huge, detailed murals by local artists.
2. Learn something new at the Museum of Science and Industry
Opening times: 10:00–17:00 Daily.
It’d be impossible to learn all about Manchester’s vast history in one visit. However, if you want to take a trip through the city’s timeline — and maybe even get a glimpse of its future — then the Museum of Science and Industry is the perfect place to do it!
MoSI is jam-packed with exhibits that’ll guide you through the Cottonopolis days. It reveals how Manchester reinvented the way we travel and give you your science fiction fix in the air and space hall! For families, interactive exhibits and soft play areas mean your sprouting scientists are free to carry out their own experiments and learn all about how the world works.
Alongside their permanent features, the museum is constantly running expert-led events and temporary exhibitions that can help you get the most from your visit.
3. Take a tour of Old Trafford or the Etihad
Admission: Differs depending on your experience package.
Opening times: As above.
It goes without saying that for sports fans, Manchester is the jackpot. Housing two world-famous football teams, the city gives you the chance to see where the magic happens.
For fans of United or City, both stadiums offer experiences that let you immerse yourself in the clubs’ histories. If you’re visiting between August and May you could be lucky enough to watch a game — but the experience doesn’t have to end there. Step beyond the pitch with a tour of either of these iconic stadiums, which have housed some of the beautiful game’s best moments.
Always dreamed of meeting one of Manchester’s greatest players? Both clubs offer the opportunity to marvel at their grounds with a legend on hand to answer any burning questions. You could even get the chance to take a signed souvenir home when it’s over!
4. Treat your taste buds on the Curry Mile
Opening times: Differs depending on the restaurant.
Whether you’re a foodie or not, it’d be a crime to come to Manchester and not take some time to take in the incredible tastes on offer at the Curry Mile.
Located in the south of the city, this part of Wilmslow Road in Rusholme is rumoured to have the highest concentration of Middle Eastern restaurants outside of the Indian subcontinent. Highly rated restaurants like MyLahore and Mughli offer mouth-watering meals that cater to all tastes. From red-hot veggie curry to a mild and meaty korma, you can get it however you want it on the Curry Mile.
As a bonus, with its close proximity to the universities and Fallowfield, this area is a fan-favourite for students — meaning the prices stay low, while the quality is high!
5. Admire the work at Manchester Art Gallery
Opening times: Monday 11 am–5 pm
Tuesday-Sunday 10 am–5 pm
First Wednesday of every month open until 9 pm.
In a city full of artists, it only makes sense to get your creative juices flowing.
Manchester Art Gallery gives you the chance to marvel at the works of talented artists, some inspired by Manchester and others from further afield. Be stunned by the sculpture collection, or lose yourself in the minute details of Henry Tidmarsh’s drawings; you might recognise some of the places depicted on the canvas from your trip around the city.
Families are well catered for by the gallery, too. Creative sessions take place at the weekends which allow budding artists to build their skills. The gallery cafe is also on hand serving locally sourced food, ensuring you’re never too far from a snack once you’ve worked up an artist’s appetite.
6. Explore the studios at Media City
Opening times: N/A
Just outside of the city centre on the scenic waterside of Salford Quays sits Media City, one of the most important media locations in the country. Media City is home to both the BBC and ITV — among other global businesses — making it a must-visit location.
Media City has a lot to offer. Visitors can take a guided tour of the BBC studios and see behind the scenes of your favourite shows, or if you’re looking to bag a bargain, the Lowry Outlet hosts brilliant brands like Clarks and Cotton Traders. When you’re ready to take a breather, grab a drink with a scenic view at The Botanist or a one-of-a-kind cocktail at The Alchemist.
For those looking to learn, the International War Museum North is also located just across the footbridge from the Media City tram stop. Here you can enjoy free entry to many educational exhibitions focusing on war history through the ages. If you’re keen for culture, the iconic Lowry Theatre is constantly running shows, including comedy and interactive children’s events.
7. Dine in style at 20 Stories
What if we told you there was a way to see the whole city, all at once?
20 Stories is one of Manchester’s most impressive drinking and dining locations. Located in No1 Spinningfields, this rooftop restaurant, bar and terrace provides you with a view you simply won’t get anywhere else.
Treat yourself to a traditional Sunday roast with an unreal view and live music entertainment. Or say cheers as the sun sets over the stunning Manchester skyline with a cocktail from the eclectic collection. Either way, you’re sure to leave feeling like royalty.
8. Practise your skills at the Football Museum
Admission: Adults £10, Children £5, under 5s go free.
Opening times: Everyday 10am-5pm (last admission 4:30pm)
If you’ve still not got your sports fix, Manchester has even more to offer. The National Football Museum is the perfect place for anyone who wants to delve deep into the history of the world’s most beloved sport.
The museum offers you an insight into the beloved game, from all angles. Take a peek at some of the most recognizable shirts to ever grace the pitch, learn how the rules of the game have changed over time and discover how the media continues to transform football. Even the biggest superfan is sure to learn something new.
Want to get involved? The second floor is filled with interactive exhibits that’ll let you shoot your shot in a penalty shoot-out and perfect your passing skills — perfect for up-and-coming stars and sideline supporters alike! And for those who want to take a piece of the action home, the museum gift shop has everything you could ever need to complete your memorabilia collection.
9. Stargaze at Godlee Observatory
Opening times: Thursdays 7pm-late.
From Manchester to the stars! Hidden away at the top of a tower in the University of Manchester’s Sackville Street Building, this petite but powerful observatory is fantastic for anyone with an interest in space.
Gifted to the university by Francis Godlee in 1902, the astronomy society now runs regular meetings on Thursdays from the observatory. These meetings are open to the public, simply get in touch with the society beforehand to arrange and you’re bound to leave star struck!
10. Appreciate the architecture at Victoria Baths
Admission: Dependant on event.
Opening times: As above.
Victoria Baths is one of the most stunning pieces of history Manchester has to offer. This Edwardian Grade II listed building was left derelict for years before huge public interest led to the building beginning a multi-million-pound regeneration project in 2007.
Breathtaking stained-glass windows and detailed tiling allow you to take a trip through time, the minute you step into the baths. While the baths aren’t currently open for public swimming, events are constantly being held there which can occasionally see the baths filled ready for a dip.
If you prefer to stay on land, they also host everything from film screenings to yoga sessions.
Make your Manchester dreams a reality
This is only a fraction of what this incredible city has hidden away. If you want to be sure you don’t miss a moment of the action, why not bring your car and explore? Simply take the ferry from Dublin or Belfast and start packing. Book your trip today and let the magic begin.