I spend one day in Manchester (and one night) in England for a speaking event at the local ‘Travel Massive‘, a monthly meetup for anyone in the travel industry, and luckily I visited when the weather was great!
While I only had limited time in the city, I managed to do quite a bit of Manchester sightseeing, so today I’ll show you around some of my favourite parts of the city. I’ll definitely have to go back this year and add more suggestions to this blog, but I think it’s a good place to start your research for now. Enjoy!
ONE DAY IN MANCHESTER, ENGLAND ITINERARY
MORNING IN MANCHESTER
Places to visit in Manchester: Northern Quarter
The breakfast in my hostel was really quite terrible, so I just set out to walk around the lovely and quirky Northern Quarter of Manchester in search for a fun place to have breakfast. I ended up at the massive building of ‘Afflecks’, which turned out to be “An Emporium of Eclecticism“, meaning it was full of shops selling random shit, basically.
Afflecks is an indoor market with dozens of independent stalls, small shops and boutiques, some of them quite strange, but also a lot of them with awesome handmade goods.
When I was there, I stumbled on a great breakfast place called “Black Milk”, which instantly satisfied my inner hipster. I do believe that currently, they are not in Afflecks anymore, but have their own shop now at 88 Oldham Street, which is pretty much down the road from Afflecks.
Other places in Manchester to go for food at Afflecks are:
- The Beach Hut – Vegan Caribbean cuisine. They specialize in Jerk Jack fruit and ital curries and also offer patties, fresh smoothies, vegan cakes and brownies.
- Ginger’s Comfort Emporium – A great place to sit and enjoy a coffee and some great ice cream.
- Heroes Café – Homemade burgers, pies, soup, lasagne, chilli, curries and many more delicious dishes. They are also expanding selection of their Vegan dishes.
- Manchester Vegan Cafe – Home made Vegan Food
- Bad Mother Sugar – Home to some of Americas favourite sweets and drinks such as Arizona, Jolly Rancher and a huge range of different flavoured Fanta’s.
- The Vegi Hut – 100% Vegan store selling vegan & organic sandwiches, makeup, bodycare, candles and cleaning products.
When you’re happy, the shopping for weird and wonderful items continues, as Afflecks is one of the best places to go in Manchester for picking up a nice gift for someone (read: yourself)…
From Afflecks, simply wander a bit more around the Northern Quarter, or make your way over to the following spots in the Northern Part of town for more awesome things to see in Manchester:
What to see in Manchester? The Football Museum!
I must confess that I haven’t been here myself, because I’m just not really a football fan, but this museum is a Manchester must see for the fans out there. Here, you’ll find everything about the different stadiums, players and even the fans, there is a BBC Radio Commentary Collection, a Hall of Fame and cafe. There are a variety of interactive games to play, so perfect for kids (of all ages, of course). On the top floor of the museum, you’ll find ‘The Rabbit in the Moon’ restaurant of Michelin star chef Michael O’Hare.
And best of all: entrance to this museum is FREE.
Ok, now that I read this myself, I think I should have at least had a quick peek. Next time!
Manchester places to visit: The Cathedral
Right next to the Football Museum, you can find the beautiful Manchester Cathedral. While I have as much with churches as I have with football, I did have a quick look inside and the architecture was beautiful:
Places to see in Manchester: Step Back in Time at Shambles Square
When I continued walking from the cathedral back into the shopping area of the city, I stumbled upon this gorgeous square, that I later found out is called ‘Shambles Square’. This historic square is home to four main pubs and bars: The Crown & Anchor, The Old Wellington Inn, Sinclairs Oyster Bar and The Mitre Hotel. It’s a great place to have a pitstop!
The term ‘shambles’ comes from the name of the street where butchers would slaughter and sell meat.
The Old Wellington Inn and Sinclairs Oyster Bar
The Wellington Inn is one of the only surviving Tudor buildings in Manchester city center
There are many great cafes in this are as well!
Top things to do in Manchester: Shopping at the Market
Manchester is definitely a market city and there is always some sort of market going on. Make sure to check the website of the Manchester Markets for all the latest information and opening times!
Awesome Street Art in Manchester Day Walk
The Northern Quarter (and other parts of Manchester) are full of amazing street art, so if you love that and the weather is as nice as it was during my visit, have a wander around!
AFTERNOON IN MANCHESTER
Lunch & Music at Eastern Bloc
Eastern Bloc Records is a shop for drum ‘n’ bass, jungle, dubstep, house, techno and electronica records and they have a small cafe with sandwiches and coffee/tea. Enjoy some good vibes, expert advice and perhaps even sit on the outdoor terrace for some people watching.
Best things to do in Manchester:
Visit the MOSI (The Museum of Sciences and Industry)
Manchester became a center of pioneering science and engineering during the Industrial Revolution and remains so today. The MOSI tells you the story of the city’s exceptional record in innovation and invention.
I found this museum seriously one of the best museums I’ve ever been to and while I spend pretty much the entire afternoon here, I only scratched the surface of everything that you can discover and learn here.
The entry to the museum is FREE (you wouldn’t believe it) and the collection spans over 5 different buildings. There is a Air and Space Hall, Power Hall, Station Building, 1830 Warehouse and Great Western Warehouse, each with a different story to tell about the city. The museum was so big, I didn’t even make it to all the halls as I ‘just’ had one afternoon to see it all!
This museum is definitely one of the best free things to do in Manchester – by far!
Manchester what to do: Visit the MOSI!
One of my favourite parts of the museum was the section on life and work in the factories. If you didn’t yet know – I’m slightly obsessed with factories and seeing how things are made!
There was a live demonstration of the machines which was at the same time amazing to see, and also terrifying to think that people (including children) actually worked here. It’s so loud, so dirty and most of all so bloody unsafe. It makes you realize how fortunate we are that we don’t have to do this kind of work ourselves!
Another section in the museum was all about the growth and development of Manchester as a city, which was also super interesting. You can really spend a few days here and see new things each time, I suppose!
And just when you thought you’ve seen it all, there is a whole hanger full of airplanes and other machines that make you want to come back to see more next time. Trust me!
Walk around Ancient Castlefield
Castlefield is one of the most distinctive and historically significant urban landscapes in the United Kingdom. The settlement of Manchester was established in this area nearly 2000 years ago, when a village grew up beside the Roman Fort of Mamucium.
This is a reconstruction of the North Gate of the Roman Fort and the foundations of three Roman buildings, set outside the forst, next to a Roman road.
Here you see the foundations of the Roman Granary, which was used to slow down the germination of the grain through lowering the temperature of the storage room.
In the early 1880s, this are was used for open markets and fairs.
This area is full of history!
This seemed like a fun little bar, but unfortunately it was close when I walked past!
EVENING IN MANCHESTER
Mexican Vibes at Lucha Libre… or not?
I had a great mexican burrito over at the funky Lucha Libre, but when I did research for this blog post, I read that they closed their Manchester restaurant as the building they were in reopened as a big shopping center. Such a shame, because I really love Mexican food and thought the restaurant was great.
My friend did show me another similar restaurant opposite Lucha Libre, which is called ‘Revolución de Cuba’. It’s a Cuban restaurant that also serves amazing food such as enchilada, burritos and tacos, but also meals such as Caribbean chicken curry, spicy burgers and Paella, so I would definitely give it a try instead!
At least we still have the pictures….
On my way back from the South of Manchester to the Northern Quarter, I walked past Chinatown, which also seemed like a good area for food, and I also spotted ‘Circus’, The smallest bar in Europe! If you have time left, perhaps make a stop here as well. m
Things to do in Manchester at night:
Bars & Pubs in the Northern Quarter
The Northern Quarter is one of the best places to go out in Manchester as this part of town has great independent bars and traditional pubs. I went with some blogger friends to the bar below, which was a lot of fun… but for the life of me I can’t figure out where it was. I know this is terrible advice, but the sign of the pub looked like this:
Yeah, I know. Helpful.
I would just recommend heading over to the Northern Quarter and see where the atmosphere appeals to you most. You really can’t go wrong. And then I promise that next time I’m here, I’ll pay a bit more attention and will give you some better recommendations of fun things to do in Manchester for couples, groups of friends and solo travellers.
For now, I would check out Time Out Manchester, as they always have great suggestions on what’s happening in the city.
MORE TIME IN MANCHESTER?
Rochdale Canal Tow Path
From the MOSI and the Castlefields area, you can walk along the canal of Manchester back into the city center. Actually, this path goes on for miles, even outside of the city to Sowerby Bridge and it’s a route that can be exhausting because of some steep climbs. The views are supposed to be stunning!
If you have some extra time and would like to get active, check the Canal & River Trust website to find out more.
Tourism Office Websites
How to Get to Manchester?
From London’s Euston station, it’s about a two hour train ride to Manchester, which really isn’t so bad, considering that getting from East to West London can already take you over an hour. The bad news is, however, that prices in the UK for trains are insane, so if you know in advance you’ll be needing the train, BOOK AHEAD to save yourself some money.
Check the following websites for times and prices:
If you need to travel between Manchester city center and Manchester Airport easily and stress-free, perhaps you’re interested in getting a private, chauffeur driven transfer. Click here to find out more.
How to Get Around in Manchester?
I simply walked around the city center on foot, which was perfect, but when I was walking, I spotted this free bus driving around! It’s called ‘Metro Shuttle’ and they are free buses linking the main rail stations, car parks, shopping areas and businesses together. How clever is that?!
There are three routes following the main things to do in Manchester city centre (routes 1, 2 and 3).
Which Hotels in Manchester to Book?
I only stayed one night in Manchester and picked the cheapest option at the time, the ‘Hatters Hostel’. To be honest, I wasn’t too impressed with it. The building itself was pretty run down, and while I did have a nice room with a single bed (no bunk bed) and only 2 other people in the room, I just didn’t think it was that great. But to be fair with them, I guess at this point I’m just getting a bit too old for hostels, or at least when I’m not really travelling, but on a business trip, I should have just gone for a nice hotel and splurge a little. Lesson learned!
Where to go in Manchester for good food?
Here are all the hotspots I visited that I would recommend to you:
- Black Milk [website]
- Eastern Bloc Records [website]
- Manchester Markets [website]
- Afflecks [website]
- Revolución de Cuba [website]
What to Do in Manchester England?
Here are all the Manchester attractions I visited:
Other Suggestions for fun things to do in Manchester:
Check out more amazing tours & activities in Manchester:
See a map with all locations of fun things to do in Manchester England:
Helpful Travel Guides to plan your trip to Manchester and the rest of England!
Disclaimer: I visited Manchester because I was speaking at a Travel Massive event, but I paid for the trip and all the things to do in Manchester that I mentioned myself.
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