A modern, cosmopolitan city with an exciting night-life and social scene; or a city steeped in fascinating history and with an incredible array of historic sites and beautiful parks? Manchester is both… and more!
The capital of the North has an incredible mix of culture, architecture, music, art, shopping, dining and, of course, colourful characters. Manchester has something to offer everybody, and you can be assured that your stay here will be an extremely pleasurable one.
Manchester also has excellent transport links to many cities across the UK. Its great geographical location means that it is close to several major cities in the UK, such as Leeds, Liverpool, York, Nottingham, Blackpool and Sheffield. The cost of living in Manchester is relatively cheap compared to many other places in the UK. Accommodation is roughly half the cost of that in London and other cities! And of course, you shouldn’t forget that this is the city that gave birth to capitalism and the Industrial Revolution. It has no need to envy any major urban centre in Europe!
So how does a visitor get to know Manchester in all its glory? Why not visit one of the many museums and art galleries; admire Manchester Cathedral’s superb features; walk around historic Castlefield with its canals; attend a host of cultural and musical festivals; enjoy multicultural food in Chinatown or Rusholme; get lost in one of the largest shopping centres in the UK, and much more!
Here is a quick overview:
Getting Around Manchester
Manchester proudly boasts one of the largest Far Eastern communities in Europe and, as a result, there’s a huge choice of Chinese and Thai restaurants, Japanese sushi bars, Nepalese curry houses and Karaoke bars to visit. Whilst bright, neon-lit Rusholme, or ‘The Curry Mile’ as it is better known, is celebrated as being one of the biggest collections of curry houses in the whole of Europe, the city centre itself also boasts some of the best Indian restaurants in Manchester.
A city that once boasted the Twisted Wheel and The Hacienda, two of the most famous nightclubs in the world, the club scene in Manchester, as with so many British cities, is now largely made up of late night bars with dance floors. Manchester’s nightlife is practically as hectic as its daylife, with one of the strongest music clubbing scenes in the country. With one of the UK’s largest student populations, there is no end to economical student nights. In fact, you will be completely spoilt for choice!
Art Galleries & Museums
Get under the skin of Manchester’s colourful history through its quirky and cool museums – and prepare to be enchanted. Manchester proudly parades its art and culture, both historical and contemporary, in numerous wonderful museums.
Two million people a year visit Manchester’s award-winning museums and galleries, including the Manchester Art Gallery, the Imperial War Museum North, the People’s History Museum, the Museum of Science and Industry and the National Football Museum.
Infamous for its thundering traffic, Oxford Road nevertheless packs in so many galleries, museums and theatres that locals talk of it as Manchester’s ‘cultural corridor’.
At one extreme of this main arterial route to the centre of Manchester is the award winning Whitworth Art Gallery. Along the route are several theatres, the Royal Northern College of Music, which offers free lunchtime concerts, and the Manchester Museum and the University of Manchester campus; a quadrangle of Gothic buildings designed by Alfred Waterhouse.
The range of things to see and do here is enormous, ensuring any visitor will be enthralled for hours!
Birthplace of the industrial revolution, the computer, the football league and Top of the Pops, Manchester’s heritage is impressive to say the least.
Manchester can trace its origins way back to Roman times, and the city has many fine buildings from all periods of history and architecture. In many ways, its buildings give visible evidence to its history, as well as to its regional identity, its social, economic and cultural growth over the years.
A short walk through the city reveals the evident rapid growth and development that took place during the Victorian era of the nineteenth century. This was when Manchester grew up and came into its own. Fine examples of historical buildings include Manchester Cathedral, the Town Hall, St. Ann’s Church, the Central Library, John Rylands University Library, and also modern buildings like the Lowry, Urbis, the Imperial War Museum North, or the CIS Tower.
Manchester is a city which is in a state of constant renewal and reinvention – a city that is alive, organic and growing!
The Music Scene
What do Joy Division, Oasis or the Stone Roses have in common? Yes, Manchester! This city had a significant music scene in the 1960’s and early 1970’s. Subsequently ‘Madchester’ was the name given to an entire musical movement that gave birth to some of the most important bands the world has ever seen. Joy Division (later reinvented as New Order), the Stone Roses, the Happy Mondays and the Charlatans were all products of this exciting time. However, Manchester has spawned many other huge bands over the years. From the Bee Gees to Oasis and beyond, some of the best music in the world has come from Manchester. Not enough? How about Take That, the Smiths, Buzzcocks, the Monkees, Elbow, the Chemical Brothers, Simply Red and Doves? All from Manchester. You’re welcome!
Of course, great bands need great venues to play but you needn’t worry, we have it covered. Manchester Arena has more than 21,000 seats, making it the largest music venue in Europe!
Top Ten Attractions
Travel back in time and then into the future at the Museum of Science and Industry, or MOSI as it’s known by the locals. Spread over five historic industrial buildings, this fascinating attraction is full of exhibitions detailing the past, present and future of the city. Be transported into outer space at the Planetarium, engage your senses at the 4D cinema, delve into a Victorian sewer and even stand on the oldest train platform known to man; all in one day.
2. The Northern Quarter
Explore the trendy Northern Quarter, the creative district of Manchester. Packed full of bustling bars, independent eateries and boutiques selling unique clothing and local designer goodies, check out the Fashion Market on Saturdays for up-and-coming designer pieces, and take a seat in the Night and Day Café to watch emerging musical talent.
3. The Curry Mile
England is obsessed with curry, so it’s no surprise that Manchester has its very own Curry Mile. As the name suggests, this street is lined with curry restaurants sizzling with the aromas of cardamom and fresh chilli. We particularly like Mughli with its modern take on Indian cuisine. Try the highly-spiced chargrilled meats and finish with Indian pistachio ice cream. Whatever restaurant you choose, be sure to visit on a thoroughly empty stomach.
4. The Royal Exchange Theatre
Catch a play at one of Manchester’s most impressive feats of architecture. The Royal Exchange Theatre is a seven-sided, glass-walled capsule, suspended from massive marble pillars sat among the collection of Victorian Cotton Exchange Buildings in the city centre. It always has a vibrant programme of events, with everything from hit plays to iconic rock bands taking to the signature stage.
5. Manchester’s canals
Manchester is well known for its world-class football, nightlife and artistic flair but there’s something else that’s unique to Manchester – the network of canals criss-crossing the city. The first industrial capital of the world, its waterways remain a monument to this innovative yet melancholy period in history, which was brilliantly fictionalised by Dickens in Hard Times. Start your urban journey at Castlefield in the south. Here you’ll find the country’s first Urban Heritage Park, with viaducts, railway bridges and arches that give you a feel of what it was like during the Industrial Revolution. Afterwards, head to the cool bars of Deansgate Locks or visit Canal Street, the heart of the gay district.
6. Cloud 23 at Beetham Tower
For unbeatable views across the city and beyond, hop in the lift of the Beetham Tower and journey up 46 floors to Cloud 23. With floor-to-ceiling windows that boast dizzying views of the city glittering below, ultra-contemporary décor and decadent afternoon tea; it may take you a while to come back down to earth.
7. The Lowry, Salford
The Lowry consists of 2,466 tons of steel, 48,000 tons of concrete, and 5,263 sq metres of glass sitting proudly on an industrial pier. Inside you will find many more artistic spectacles in the form of dance, theatre, music and much more in the two theatres. And of course, hundreds of industrial and urban scenes by renowned local painter LS Lowry.
8. The Imperial War Museum North
The newest edition to the five venues that make up the Imperial War Museum, IWM North is made up of insightful exhibitions that reveal the harsh effects war has on people in modern society. You’ll come across a rare Soviet T-34 tank, the field gun that fired the British Army’s first shot of the World War I, hundreds of artefacts and many poignant stories. All the memorabilia is held inside an award-winning building designed by Daniel Libeskind.
9. John Rylands Library
A hangout for bookworms and architectural lovers alike, the John Rylands Library is a gargoyle-laden Victorian building that resembles something out of Harry Potter. Based within Manchester University, its creaky Victorian bookcases boast one of the most impressive collections of rare books and manuscripts in the world, with everything from 15th-century accounts of witchcraft to the St John Fragment – the oldest known piece of the New Testament.
10. Old Trafford
Manchester is home to one of the most famous sports grounds in football history with world-class football matches played out on its pitch, also known as the ‘Theatre of Dreams’. Get tickets for a match or take a tour of the stadium to get closer to this iconic football club. Find out more about the story of Manchester United, experience the stadium through the eyes of famous football players and re-live 130 years of football in the award-winning museum.
Places to see
- The Wheel of Manchester (Currently closed).
- TOP 5 for Classical Music fans
- Britain’s most famous street: Coronation Street The Tour The cobbles of Coronation Street are now open to the public for a limited time only:
- Manchester Museums and Galleries. Classic art, the campaign for social justice and the history of football. That’s just a taste of Manchester museums and galleries.
- Manchester Parks and Countryside: Fancy a ‘time out’ from urban life? There’s always somewhere you can escape. Don’t forget the spectacular Manchester countryside on our doorstep, too.
- Shopping in Manchester: Whether you’re after a bargain or want to flex your plastic to its limit on this season’s ‘must have’, Manchester offers a great shopping experience.
- Manchester Sport: Football might be our biggest export, but cycling, cricket and squash (to name a few!) are in Manchester’s blood just as much as the ‘beautiful game’.
- Heritage in Manchester: Birthplace of the industrial revolution, the computer, the football league and Top of the Pops, Manchester’s heritage is impressive to say the least.