Things to Do in Manchester: Your Ultimate Guide

Things to Do in Manchester: Your Ultimate Guide

Manchester is a truly unique spot in the heart of England. Known for its dynamic musical, artistic and sports scene, the city draws millions of tourists. In fact, the town has so much to offer that a new visitor might get overwhelmed with choices. Take your time to plan out your perfect British vacation in Manchester using our list of destinations. Whether you are into art, music, cuisine or history, the city has something for you. In this guide, we will walk you through the most incredible and memorable things to do in Manchester. 


Explore Manchester: Best Things to Do in the City


1. Indulge in a Culinary Adventure around Ancoats

Ancoats, located in the heart of Manchester, has emerged as a vibrant and trendy neighborhood that is rapidly gaining recognition for its culinary scene. This formerly industrial area has undergone a transformation, with old warehouses and factories converted into stylish restaurants, cafes, and bars. The neighborhood offers a wide array of dining options to suit all tastes and preferences. Foodies can indulge in flavors from around the world, with cuisines ranging from Italian and Spanish to Middle Eastern and Asian fusion.


One of the standout features of the culinary scene in Ancoats is its emphasis on sustainability and farm-to-table practices. Many restaurants and cafes prioritize locally sourced produce, supporting local farmers and reducing their carbon footprint. This commitment to sustainability not only enhances the dining experience but also contributes to the overall charm of the neighborhood.

Ancoats is home to Rudy's Neapolitan Pizza, a beloved pizzeria that serves authentic Neapolitan-style pies. For a taste of Middle Eastern cuisine, try the acclaimed Dishoom. This restaurant pays homage to Bombay's Irani cafés, serving mouthwatering dishes like biryanis, kebabs, and flavorful curries. Travelers with a sweet tooth will enjoy Pollen Bakery, a local gem known for its artisanal bread, pastries, and cakes.


2. Discover Manchester's Literary Legacy as a UNESCO City of Literature

Manchester is renowned for its rich industrial heritage and recognized for its literary legacy as a UNESCO City of Literature. This prestigious designation highlights the city's remarkable contributions to literature and its ongoing commitment to fostering creativity, storytelling, and cultural engagement. From the works of Elizabeth Gaskell, whose novels depicted the social realities of the Victorian era, to the iconic writings of the poet William Blake, the city has inspired and nurtured countless literary talents over the years.

The city's vibrant literary scene continues to thrive with a plethora of literary festivals, bookshops, and creative writing programs. Among the most exciting things to do in Manchester is the Manchester Literature Festival that attracts prominent authors from around the world, offering a platform for literary discussions, readings, and performances. This celebration of the written word brings together local and international voices, fostering a sense of community and collaboration.

John Rylands Library

Another gem is the numerous Manchester libraries that play a significant role in its literary legacy. The iconic John Rylands Library, with its stunning architecture and rare book collections, offers a haven for scholars and book lovers alike. The Manchester Central Library is another literary gem, housing an extensive collection of books, hosting events, and providing valuable resources for writers and researchers.


3. Experience a Night to Remember at Warehouse Project

The Warehouse Project is an iconic institution in Manchester's nightlife scene, offering an unforgettable experience for music lovers. Known for its exceptional lineups and electrifying atmosphere, the Warehouse Project has become synonymous with electronic music and immersive experiences. Located in various warehouse spaces throughout the city, the Warehouse Project is one of the most fun things to do in Manchester

Warehouse Project

The Warehouse Project showcases a diverse range of musical genres, from techno and house to drum and bass, grime, and more. Internationally acclaimed DJs and artists grace the stages, delivering electrifying performances that keep the crowd dancing until the early hours of the morning. The largest appeal of the Warehouse Project is its incredible production value which includes immersive visual displays, state-of-the-art sound systems, and awe-inspiring lighting setups.

Finally, the Warehouse Project fosters a sense of community and togetherness. The crowd is made up of music enthusiasts from all walks of life, united by their love for the music and the shared experience of the night. It's a place where strangers become friends and lifelong memories are made.


4. Take a Leisurely Stroll Down Beech Road

Located in Chorlton, Beech Road is a bustling street known for a striking fusion of independent shops, trendy cafes, inviting bars, and a lively community atmosphere. The area boasts an impressive selection of cafes and restaurants. From cozy brunch spots serving artisanal coffee and mouthwatering pastries to international eateries dishing up flavors from around the world, there's something to satisfy every palate. Vegan and vegetarian options are abundant, reflecting the neighborhood's inclusive and progressive nature.

Beech Road

Beech Road is also well-known for its lively bar scene, with several establishments offering a relaxed and friendly ambiance. Enjoy a craft beer, sip on a creative cocktail, or unwind with a glass of wine while busking in the lively atmosphere and engaging with the diverse mix of locals and visitors. The neighborhood is also known for luscious festivals and other musical events that bring residents together. The Chorlton Arts Festival, for instance, showcases local talent through exhibitions, performances, and workshops, adding a creative buzz to the street.


5. Embark on a Coffee Crawl through the City

Manchester is also brimming with cozy bakeries and adorable cafes for a relaxing afternoon. For example, Ancoats Coffee Co. is a renowned specialty coffee shop that has garnered a loyal following. They roast their own beans on-site, ensuring each cup is a testament to their commitment to exceptional coffee. Another spot is Takk, a hip Scandinavian-inspired coffee house known for its welcoming atmosphere and carefully curated coffee menu. They source their beans from small-scale farms and focus on sustainability, resulting in a flavorful cup of coffee that doesn't compromise on ethics.

Richmond Tea Rooms

To add some sweet treats to your afternoon break, head to Richmond Tea Rooms, a whimsical and enchanting destination. This Alice in Wonderland-themed tearoom offers an impressive selection of teas and a delectable array of cakes, scones, and pastries. Another gem is the aforementioned Pollen Bakery in Ancoats. With its focus on artisanal bread, pastries, and viennoiseries, Pollen Bakery has gained a reputation for its outstanding baked goods. From flaky croissants to mouthwatering sourdough loaves, their creations are made with precision and passion. Take a Free Everyday Tour in Manchester to learn more about cozy local places. 


6. Browse Vinyl at Manchester's Top Record Stores

Manchester is a city with a rich and diverse musical heritage. From Joy Division and The Smiths to Oasis, this town has produced a plethora of industry-changing bands. No wonder Manchester is known for some of the best record stores in the entire county. For instance, Piccadilly Records offers an extensive collection spanning various genres, from indie and rock to electronic and world music. The knowledgeable staff and welcoming atmosphere make it a go-to destination for music enthusiasts seeking new releases, rare finds, and expert recommendations.

Piccadilly Records

Vinyl Exchange is another item on the list of musical things to do in Manchester with a vast selection of new and used records covering a diverse range of genres. The store also hosts live performances and DJ sets, further enhancing its status as a hub for music lovers. Finally, the most historic music store is Eastern Bloc Records originating in the 1980s. Specializing in electronic music, particularly techno, and house, this legendary spot offers a curated selection of vinyl, DJ equipment, and accessories.


7. Savor the Finest Craft Beers in the City

Manchester has emerged as a thriving hub for craft beer enthusiasts, offering a diverse range of breweries and bars that showcase some of the finest craft beers in the region. Cloudwater Brew Co. stands out as a pioneer in the Manchester craft beer scene. Known for its cutting-edge and meticulously crafted beers, Cloudwater has garnered a reputation for producing exceptional brews that span a wide range of styles. 

Cloudwater Brew

Another iconic location for beer lovers is Marble Brewery. This pub is renowned for its commitment to quality and range of expertly brewed ales and lagers. The pub has a welcoming atmosphere where visitors can enjoy a pint of their favorite craft beer while taking in beautiful surroundings. For an experimental brewing experience, head to the Beatnikz Republic,  an independent brewery that prides itself on its innovative approach to beer making. With a focus on pushing boundaries and using unique ingredients, the brewery produces a diverse range of beers.


8. Immerse Yourself in Spanish Culture

Weirdly enough, this British town offers a glance at the Spanish culture, right here, in the heart of the UK. One of the best ways to experience Spanish culture in Manchester is through its diverse range of Spanish restaurants and tapas bars. El Gato Negro, a renowned tapas restaurant in the city center, offers a delectable selection of dishes inspired by different regions of Spain. For a taste of Spain's famous cured meats and cheeses, La Bandera is a must-visit. This authentic Spanish restaurant prides itself on its selection of Jamón Ibérico and Manchego cheese.

El Gato Negro

To further dive into Spanish culture and explore best things to do in Manchester, keep an eye out for cultural events and festivals that celebrate Spanish traditions. The Spanish Festival, held annually in Manchester, showcases the country's vibrant music, dance, and cuisine, offering a lively and immersive experience for attendees. Finally, make a trip to the Manchester Art Gallery to explore the artworks of the most influential artists such as Picasso and Goya.


9. Fill Up on Delicious Street Food at a Local Market

Manchester's local markets are a haven for street food lovers, offering a diverse and mouthwatering array of culinary delights from around the world. One such market is the bustling and iconic Manchester Arndale Market. Here, you'll find an enticing variety of street food stalls serving up a wide range of international cuisines. From aromatic Thai curries and sizzling Korean barbecue to flavorful Mexican tacos and indulgent American-style burgers, the market caters to all tastes and dietary preferences.

Manchester Arndale Market

Another popular thing to do in Manchester is visiting Mackie Mayor, housed in a gorgeous Victorian-era building in the Northern Quarter. The market offers a vibrant selection of independent food vendors, including wood-fired pizzas, gourmet hot dogs, artisanal burgers, fresh oysters, and much more. 


10. Meet Manchester's Talented Designers and Makers

This English city is also a popular attraction for fashion lovers who like to seek out local talents. 

One of the standout brands is PrettyLittleThing, which has gained global recognition for its trendy and affordable clothing. Founded in Manchester, the brand embodies the city's dynamic energy and fashion sensibility, appealing to young people around the world.


Another notable brand is Oi Polloi, a menswear retailer known for its carefully curated selection of clothing and accessories. For travelers seeking sustainable and ethical fashion, Rapanui is a Manchester-based brand that prioritizes eco-friendly production and transparency. Their clothing is made from organic and recycled materials, providing stylish options for conscious consumers.

When in doubt about the best things to do in Manchester, head to Northern Quarter to discover an abundance of independent fashion boutiques with vintage finds, unique designs, and local designer creations.


11. Experience the Vibrant Atmosphere of Chinatown

Manchester also has a small area devoted to Chinese culture and cuisine. With its main draw being its culinary scene, Chinatown is home to a plethora of restaurants, eateries, bakeries, etc. From mouthwatering dim sum to flavorful Sichuan cuisine, there is something to satisfy every palate. Be sure to try the traditional roasted duck or crispy pork belly for a true taste of Chinese cuisine.


While in Chinatown, take the time to explore the vibrant streets adorned with red lanterns and traditional Chinese architecture. The iconic Chinatown gate marks the entrance, providing a perfect spot for a memorable photo. You can also wander through the area's many shops and markets, offering a range of Chinese products, including traditional herbs, teas, and intricate artwork.

An exciting thing to do in Manchester is visiting annual events that showcase Chinese culture, such as the colorful Chinese New Year celebrations. The streets come alive with dragon dances, live performances, and street parades, creating a lively and festive atmosphere.


12. Discover the Creative Scene of the Northern Quarter

The Northern Quarter in Manchester is renowned for its thriving creative scene, making it a haven for artists, musicians, designers, and other creative individuals. Art enthusiasts will find themselves captivated by the Northern Quarter's array of galleries and studios. The area is home to various contemporary art spaces, showcasing local and international artists, as well as emerging talents. 

Northern Quarter

Music lovers flock to the Northern Quarter to experience its dynamic live music scene. With a plethora of intimate venues and bars hosting gigs, ranging from indie rock and alternative to jazz and electronic, there is a diverse range of sounds to be discovered. The neighborhood has witnessed the rise of many successful musicians and bands.


13. Get Your Art Fix at The Lowry

The Lowry is a prominent cultural landmark located at Salford Quays in Manchester. Named after the renowned artist L.S. Lowry, the venue is dedicated to celebrating and promoting the arts. One of the primary points of attraction is the theater at The Lowry, a hub for world-class performances, hosting a variety of productions. 

The Lowry

The Lowry is also home to the LS Lowry Collection, which features an extensive display of artworks. Visitors can explore the permanent exhibition, offering insights into Lowry's distinctive style and capturing the spirit of Manchester's industrial heritage. Another incredible thing to do in Manchester is partaking in temporary art exhibitions that showcase the works of both local and international artists, providing a platform for creativity and cultural exchange.

Beyond its artistic offerings, The Lowry offers a range of educational and community programs, including workshops, classes, and outreach initiatives. These initiatives aim to engage and inspire people of all ages and backgrounds, fostering a love for the arts and encouraging creative expression.


14. Explore Natural History at Manchester Museum

Manchester Museum is a captivating institution that showcases a diverse collection spanning a wide range of disciplines, including archaeology, natural history, anthropology, and fine art. One of the highlights of the Manchester Museum is its extensive Egyptology collection, which features a remarkable display of ancient Egyptian artifacts. 

Manchester Museum

The museum also has an entire section dedicated to dinosaurs and prehistoric life. Here, visitors can encounter towering dinosaur skeletons, including a remarkable T-Rex, and learn about the fascinating world that existed millions of years ago. The interactive displays and informative signs provide a deeper understanding of these ancient creatures and the environments they inhabited.

Finally, the museum also hosts temporary exhibitions that delve into various topics, allowing visitors to engage with contemporary issues, scientific advancements, and global cultural heritage. You can also learn more about history of the city and the UK on the Morning and Afternoon Free Manchester Walking Tour


15. Learn About Manchester's Suffragette Movement at the Pankhurst Centre

The Pankhurst Centre in Manchester is a testament to the city's pivotal role in the suffragette movement, which fought tirelessly for women's rights. As the former home of Emmeline Pankhurst, one of the movement's most influential leaders, the center holds immense historical significance.

Pankhurst Centre

Here you can get a fascinating glimpse into the suffragette movement through its exhibitions, artifacts, and stories. Visitors can explore the rooms where Emmeline Pankhurst and her family lived, gaining a deeper understanding of their dedication and sacrifice in the pursuit of gender equality. The center's exhibits showcase original documents, photographs, and personal items that bring the suffragette struggle to life. From the iconic "Votes for Women" sashes to letters and pamphlets, these artifacts provide a tangible connection to the women who fought vehemently for their rights.

To this day, the Pankhurst Centre serves as a hub for promoting gender equality and social justice. It hosts events, workshops, and discussions that continue the suffragettes' mission of empowering women and advocating for equal rights.


16. Catch a Show at the Cutting-Edge Theatres in the City

Manchester boasts a number of exceptional theater venues, including the Royal Exchange Theatre, the Manchester Opera House, and the Palace Theatre. From classical dramas and beloved musicals to experimental works and contemporary adaptations, there is always something for everyone. Royal Exchange Theatre is worth visiting for the architecture alone as it is housed in a beautifully transformed Victorian cotton exchange building. 

Royal Exchange Theatre

In addition to established theaters, Manchester is also home to smaller, independent theater companies and performance spaces. HOME is a relatively newer addition to Manchester's theater scene and encompasses theater, film, visual arts, and more. Its multiple stages showcase a variety of performances, ranging from cutting-edge contemporary theater to experimental works and international productions. 


17. Immerse Yourself in Football Culture

Football (soccer) holds a special place in the heart of Manchester, making the city a hub for passionate fans, historic rivalries, and world-renowned clubs. Manchester United, often referred to as "The Red Devils," is one of the most successful and globally recognized football clubs in the world. With a rich history spanning over a century, this football club has won numerous domestic and international titles, including multiple English Premier League titles and UEFA Champions League trophies. 

Manchester City F.C. has experienced a resurgence in recent years, establishing itself as a force in both English and European football. The club has a dedicated fanbase and has enjoyed considerable success, winning multiple Premier League titles and reaching the latter stages of the Champions League. The matches between the two teams are highly anticipated and create an electric atmosphere in the city, as passionate fans put on their team's colors and fill the stadiums with chants and cheers.

Manchester City F.C.

Football in Manchester extends beyond the professional realm, with a strong grassroots and amateur football scene. The city has numerous local leagues, community teams, and youth academies, nurturing young talent and fostering a love for the sport at all levels. If you want to experience football in Manchester, look up the current games during your visit, and don’t miss an opportunity to watch the magic in real time! To learn more about the fascinating local football culture, hop on the Manchester Football Tour. 


18. Enjoy a Unique Beer-Tasting Experience at Victoria Baths

Explore the things to do in Manchester through unique beer tasting experiences at Victoria Baths. Here, you can taste a selection of craft beers from local breweries and beyond. As you sip on each beer, knowledgeable experts guide you through the tasting process, explaining the nuances of aroma, flavor, and brewing techniques. They share fascinating stories about the breweries and the inspiration behind each beer, offering a deeper appreciation for the craft and artistry involved in brewing.

Victoria Baths

The historic surroundings of Victoria Baths add an extra layer of charm to the experience. You can indulge in your beer tasting while surrounded by the majesty of this structure that conveys a unique ambiance blending history and contemporary beer culture. In addition to drinking, you can join a behind-the-scenes tour, where you can explore the architectural marvel of the building and learn about its restoration and ongoing preservation efforts.


19. Celebrate Diversity and Equality at Manchester Pride

Manchester Pride is an annual celebration of LGBTQ+ culture, diversity, and equality held in the vibrant city of Manchester. It is one of the largest Pride events in the UK and attracts people from all over the world who come together to honor the LGBTQ+ community and promote inclusivity. This year, you can witness the parade on the weekend of August 25 to 28th, 2023. 

Manchester Pride

The highlight of Manchester Pride is the colorful and lively Pride Parade, where people from all walks of life march through the streets, showcasing their pride and support for LGBTQ+ rights. Aside from the parade, another notable thing to do in Manchester is visiting a diverse program of live music performances, drag shows, comedy acts, art exhibitions, and community events. The festival features renowned artists and performers who take to the stage, entertaining the crowds and spreading messages of equality and empowerment.

Manchester Pride resides at the dedicated space called the Gay Village, located around Canal Street. This area becomes a vibrant hub during the festival, hosting street parties, club nights, and open-air performances. The Gay Village is known for its inclusive atmosphere, welcoming people from all backgrounds to celebrate together.


20. Discover New Bands in a Millennial Pink Room at YES

The Millennial Pink Room at YES is a captivating and Instagram-worthy space that has become a popular destination for creatives. As you step into the Millennial Pink Room, you are greeted by a visually stunning environment. The room is embellished with soft, blush-pink hues that create a dreamy ambiance.

The Millennial Pink Room

Beyond its visual appeal, the Millennial Pink Room also hosts various events, including pop-up shops, art exhibitions, and performances. One of the best things to do in Manchester, it serves as a versatile space that brings together artists, creatives, and like-minded individuals, fostering a sense of community and connection.


21. Dance to Live Music at Band on the Wall

One of the most unusual things to do in Manchester, Band on the Wall is an iconic live music venue that has been at the forefront of the city's music scene for over a century. The name originates from its unique stage setup, where a stage extension sticks out from the wall, creating an intimate and immersive experience for both performers and the audience. 

Band on the Wall

Band on the Wall has a rich history of promoting diverse musical genres, including jazz, reggae, funk, soul, world music, and more. Additionally, the venue's intimate setting allows for an up-close and personal experience, providing an opportunity to see established artists in a more intimate environment or discover new and emerging talents. 

In addition to its live music events, Band on the Wall also hosts workshops, masterclasses, and educational programs, nurturing the local music community and fostering the development of new talent.


22. Admire the Stunning Architecture of Manchester Town Hall

Manchester Town Hall stands as an architectural masterpiece and a symbol of civic pride. This Victorian-era building is a magnificent example of Gothic Revival architecture, designed by architect Alfred Waterhouse and completed in 1877.

Manchester Town Hall

The exterior of Manchester Town Hall features intricate stonework, gorgeous carvings, and a striking clock tower that towers above the city skyline. Inside, the town hall is equally impressive. The Great Hall is a breathtaking space decorated with magnificent stained glass windows, detailed tile work, and a stunning Minton floor.

One of the notable highlights of Manchester Town Hall is the Whitworth Hall, an elegant space with a beautiful barrel-vaulted ceiling and wood paneling. The Sculpture Hall is another gem housing a collection of sculptures and statues that pay tribute to notable figures and events in Manchester's history. 


Final Thoughts

Manchester is a city for everyone, from foodies and beer enthusiasts to creatives and fashionistas. This English cultural hub is an ideal vacation spot for people looking for creative and artistic spots. Hop on this exciting journey to explore local art, music, cuisine and meet exceptional people in Manchester.
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