Get to Know Manchester
Manchester was the birthplace of the industrial revolution, and the city has a rich heritage in science, the arts and sport. Host to many events and festivals, and packed with eclectic restaurants, bars, shops, museums and galleries, Manchester is a vibrant, exciting place to visit. And the great transport links make it easy to get around the area. Here are some of our favourite things to see and explore.
Science and Industry Museum
Located in the heart of the city, this museum houses the world’s oldest surviving passenger railway station and the world’s first railway warehouse. Discover life-changing projects from machinery invented during the Industrial Revolution, to recent scientific innovations brought to life in the interactive Experiment gallery.
Photo from Science & Industry Museum, Manchester – by Valentin Petkov on Unsplash
Manchester Art Gallery
Regarded as one of the best art galleries in Manchester, this culture explosion will not disappoint. Located in the middle of the city and home to classic collections and temporary exhibitions, including the best of international contemporary art. Most recently, the 500th anniversary of Leonardo da Vinci’s death was celebrated in an exhibition of his work, part of a nationwide project to showcase his most famous pieces. As well as art, the gallery also houses collections of ceramics, glass, silver, furniture and costume.
Famous for being Manchester’s largest second-hand record shop, this is a great place to sift through old records and bring back happy memories. It’s a real treasure trove of rare and collectable CDs and vinyl, as well as DVDs. Manchester has a strong music and events reputation, so what better way to get a taste of this culture than to pay a visit to this unique store?
This is a must when visiting Manchester! Mackie Mayor Food Hall is a huge restored market building, with 400 seats and cracking food, from the likes of pizza Gods Honest Crust and fish specialists, Fin. Promising great eats, drinks and vibes, it’s the perfect place to meet with friends after a long working day, and a prime spot for a celebration!
Mackie Mayor, Manchester – Photo by Stuart Bloodworth on Unsplash
Manchester Central Library
Whether you have an assignment to complete, or you fancy some quiet alone time, this beautiful iconic building makes for a peaceful spot to switch off from the hustle and bustle of the city centre.
Manchester Central Library – Photo by Chris Curry onUnsplash
Venture through the impressive arch that marks the entrance to the UK’s second largest Chinatown, and spend a couple of hours exploring this colourful area of Manchester. Wander around the bright shops and supermarkets, and sample cuisine from all over Asia, in the quality restaurants and bakeries.
Walk around Ancoats
Take a short 40 minute walk (1.6km) that loops around the marina and Ancoats, past its historic mill buildings and lively bars and restaurants. It is a great way to unwind at the end of the week. Be sure to look out for the colourful canal boats and grab a bite from the Pollen Bakery!
Find more canal walks in and around Manchester here.
Fletcher Moss Park and Botanical Gardens
Known for being one of the prettiest places in Greater Manchester with ample nature, seasonal flowers, wildlife and more to see. This tranquil oasis is in the Didsbury area and entrance is free.
Spring flowers in Fletcher Moss Botanical Gardens – Photo by Anca Nisirius on Unsplash
If you want more than just a walk in the park, head to Heaton Park: 600 acres of green space including a golf course, boating lake, horse riding, bowling greens, an animal farm, tram museum, and a beautiful 18th century country house, Heaton Hall, which is open to the public at certain times of the year. The park hosts plenty of events including outdoor concerts and theatre, and organised activities from guided walks and orienteering to beekeeping. There are also lots of wonderful woodlands and open spaces where you can just enjoy some peace and quiet. The park is free to enter.
Local coffee roasts are treasured in Manchester, so look out for Heart and Graft and ManCoCo when ordering.
Described as a hipster hangout with minimalist arty décor, serving artisan coffee and Mediterranean sandwiches. We think it’s the best spot for a well-deserved break. This Icelandic-style joint is definitely one to try out (don’t miss the tiramisu pancakes!)
Foundation Coffee House
Another great coffee contender to visit in Manchester, which also makes for a good spot to catch up on work emails, thanks to their laptop friendly countertops.
Fig + Sparrow
Situated on Oldham Street, just off Market Street, and within walking distance of both stations, this coffee shop is great for on-the-go caffeine needs when you are commuting.
Port Street Beer House
This beer-enthusiasts’ drinking hole is known for hosting regular special events, including evenings to Meet the Brewer.
if you are looking for somewhere more chilled, then this is the place for you. This down to earth pub with an outside terrace is ideal for those summer evening drinks. Their mission is to showcase craft beers from top brewers around the UK and abroad; the pizza menu is great too with plenty of vegan options.
This hot spot has long been recognised as one of Manchester’s best bars, and the free live music may play a key part in that!
This little restaurant has been described as a ‘glorious carb-fest’, welcoming ‘all who love cheese and dough’. So, if that includes you, run don’t walk to see what all the fuss is about! The cuisine is a great mix of European pasta and dumplings (spätzle) dishes, and the décor is minimalist – it really feels like you have escaped the UK!
Offers the perfect combination of craft beers and vibrant Indian street food, with plenty of vegetarian options. There should be one in every uni town!
Vertigo First Street
This easy-going plant-based eatery serves up an all-day menu of bowls, soups, sandwiches and other comfort favourites.
Cocktail, beer, ramen + bun
You know the saying ‘save the best for last’, and we don’t want to appear biased, but this place is amazing! The name says it all – serving up delicious noodle bowls, bao buns and plenty of cocktails from the sleek bar, catering to a late-night crowd. This is the place to go!
Find out more
Other places in this series:
Get to know London
10 fun affordable things to do in & around London