Your guide to Manchester

Our guide filled with all the best things to do in Manchester.

Whether you’re seeking culture, nightlife, history, or just good fun, there’s no question, Manchester will deliver the goods.

Not only is there an abundance of things to do in the city, but the gothic architecture and glimpses of the old way of industrial life shine throughout the city, combined with its progressive vision to be a city that is truly unique and unlike any other city in the UK.

So whatever the reason you’re heading to the northern gateway that is Manchester, our guide will help you get the most out of your visit.

When to visit Manchester

As one of the most vibrant and cosmopolitan cities in the UK, there’s always something going on in Manchester. We’ve highlighted our three favourite events to make a weekend out of…

  • Greater Manchester Fringe Festival – throughout July. A jammed packed 31-day arts festival. Expect drama, comedy, mime, children’s shows, storytelling, puppetry, visual arts, spoken word, walking tours, running tours and lots of fabulous performers; all with affordable ticket prices.
  • Manchester Pride – Friday 23rd-26th August. Manchester Pride is one of the UK’s longest-running LGBT pride festivals, held in the Gay Village every August. The 10-day celebration involves music, arts and cultural events throughout the city, all finishing with a bang at the flagship event called “The Big Weekend” over the August bank holiday.
  • Christmas Markets – run from the middle of November until just before Christmas. Manchester is the Capital of Christmas in the UK. And with more than 300 beautifully festooned stalls and chalets spread across the city, the Christmas Markets are free and accessible for everyone.

If you’re not heading up for a specific event but fancy something to do, then why not check out What’s on this weekend?

Just pop in the dates when you’re planning to visit and it’ll come up with a whole host of things for you to get your teeth sunk into whilst you’re in Manchester.

Where to stay

Greater Manchester offers a wide range of accommodation – from unique boutique hotels and luxury pads to beautiful countryside settings and cosy family hideaways – there’s something to suit every need and taste.

From the luxury hotels such as the Radisson Blu Edwardian and the newly renovated Principal Hotel, Manchester isn’t shy on hotels that ooze class and style.

For the more eclectic there’s plenty of choice too. The Great John Street Hotel, set within a former schoolhouse and the King Street Townhouse within an impressive Italian renaissance building, with rooftop infinity pool, are a couple of amazing options if you’re not worried about pushing the boat out for a one-of-a-kind experience.

Don’t worry if you’re on a budget, as there are loads of options that are great value for money and you don’t feel like you’re staying in a 4×4 box with a window. Have a look at Motel One and Roomzzz – these hotels will give you a modern city feel whilst keeping in line with your budget.

What to do in the day

  • Visit Old Trafford – whether it’s to catch a game, glimpse or even a stadium tour, for many, a trip to Manchester wouldn’t be complete without heading to the ‘Theatre of Dreams’.
  • Shopping ’til you drop – not only is Manchester known for its amazing thrift shopping, but it’s also home to the Trafford Centre, one of the largest shopping centres in the UK with a whopping 280 shops!
  • Museum of Science and Industry – Manchester’s rich industrial legacy is explored in this excellent museum set within the enormous grounds of the old Liverpool St station, the oldest rail terminus in the world.
  • National Football Museum – you don’t have to be a United or City fan to visit the National Football Museum. Charting the evolution of British football from its earliest days to the multi-billion-pound phenomenon it is today, this place is a football lover’s dream.
  • Tour the city – there’s no denying that Manchester is truly a great city, so why not go explore it? There’s plenty of guided tours, both on foot and on a variety of wheels too!

What to do at night

With a rolling calendar of events, exhibitions, concerts, markets and theatre, you’ll never be stuck for world-class entertainment.

And if the bars are more to your liking then rest assured, Manchester has plenty of them too!

The bottomless singing cinema – who doesn’t love a musical? Who doesn’t love a cheeky drink? Throw them together and you have the bottomless singing cinema! Let’s face it, this sounds like a right hoot, especially as it’s bottomless popcorn and drinks. Yes, alcohol’s included too!

Catch a show – if the Manchester theatre scene is something you’d like to explore, why not give Manchester’s historic Palace Theatre or The Lowry a visit. With a calendar of the best live music, West-End musicals, comedy, concerts and exhibitions, you’re sure to find something that takes your liking.

Head out for a drink – Manchester has a huge variety of bars, pubs and clubs dotted all around the city. But our favourite, by a country mile, is Albert’s Schloss. If you want to try out one of the wildest bars in Manchester for a quirky night out, you’d be barmy not to head there. From live entertainment down to giant steins, there’s no night quite like a night with the Schloss.

Dog Bowl – you might feel that there’s a lot of drinking options on here, but this is a bar with a twist…Open until 2am every night, Dog Bowl is great for a date night, mates nights or just a late-night craving for bowling. Drink, dine and crush some pins at this great alternative bar in Manchester.

Junkyard Golf – home to 9-hole crazy golf courses created from pre-loved and reclaimed junk, groups can be putt through their paces with a UV garage, scrapyard slides, circus freaks and jungle bathtubs bringing golf to life.

Where to eat in Manchester

The French – with Head Chef Adam Reid, winner of BBC’s Great British Menu 2016 & 2019 at the helm, The French is a definite top spot to head to, with its menu filled with modern British dishes using only the best seasonal produce around.

20 Stories – if you fancy dinner with a view this is the restaurant for you. Based on the 19th floor of No.1 Spinningfields, this glamorous rooftop restaurant gives you unparalleled 360-views of the Manchester skyline and a menu offering the best of the North West.

Mughli restaurant and Charcoal Pit – this family-run restaurant raises the standard on the famous Curry Mile, serving authentic Mughlai cuisine from the northern regions of India and Pakistan. So if you’re a fan of the spice, this place is a must.

Fazenda Rodizio Bar & Grill – this traditional Brazilian restaurant will provide you with a truly unique dining experience, showing their roots and long-lasting traditions to offer their guests the best rodizio experience. For meat lovers, this is the place for you, with a menu that just screams, or moos, with great tasting meat dishes.

Cibo – a soulful, authentic and independent Neapolitan concept in the heart of Manchester, brings you real Italian food from the heart. The lux looks and cool café style is coupled perfectly with a menu that focuses on authenticity, using traditional Italian flavours, simple cooking and the freshest local and Italian produce around.

So, there you have it…all the best things to do when you visit Manchester in one place! We hope you’ll have a fun-filled stay whilst you’re visiting.

If you’re planning a road trip to Manchester and are on a tight budget, have a look at our guide to planning a road trip on a budget. You never know, it might give you a few tips on how you save a bit of cash to spend for when you arrive.

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