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Top 12 Things to Do Near Manchester Airport

Top 12 Things to Do Near Manchester Airport

If you find yourself with a few hours to spare during a layover at Manchester Airport, you’re in for a treat! Manchester is not just a gateway to other exciting European destinations but also a treasure trove of experiences waiting to be discovered. 

This guide is specifically curated for travellers like you—those looking to make the most of a brief layover without venturing too far from the airport. From indulging in a classic English breakfast to exploring vibrant neighbourhoods, we’ve got you covered. Read on!

Start your day with an English breakfast


If you’re looking to fuel up for a day of exploration, nothing beats a classic English breakfast. I recently had the pleasure of dining at The Koffee Pot, a Manchester staple since the ’70s. 

The café serves a traditional English breakfast with all the trimmings—sausage, bacon, baked beans, mushrooms, hash brown, and a fried egg. It’s a hearty meal that sets the tone for a day of adventure.

Tips for a Memorable Breakfast Experience:
Local Cafés Over Chains: For an authentic experience, I’d recommend local cafés like The Koffee Pot over chain restaurants.

Vegetarian Options: If you’re not a fan of meat, many places offer vegetarian or vegan alternatives.

Budget-Friendly: A satisfying breakfast doesn’t have to be expensive. My meal at The Koffee Pot was around £10, and it was worth every penny.

Explore the vibrant Northern Quarter


A great place to start a quick exploration of Manchester is the Northern Quarter, just a short walk from the café. Known for its bohemian vibe, the area is a haven for art lovers, shoppers, and coffee aficionados alike.

If shopping is on your agenda, make sure to stop by Afflecks, an iconic emporium that’s been a cornerstone of the Northern Quarter for over 40 years. From bath bombs to vinyl records, this place is a treasure trove for unique finds.

Hungry again? Wolf at the Door offers an array of small plates and an impressive wine list. What caught my eye was their £1 menu featuring tasty tacos and fluffy bao buns. Yes, you read that right—just £1!

For those looking to unwind, Flok provides a relaxed bar atmosphere with a variety of rotating beers on tap. If coffee is more your speed, the Feel Good Club offers not just great brews but also hosts events like yoga sessions and wellbeing talks.

Why the Northern Quarter is a Must-Visit:
Street Art:
The walls here are adorned with murals and graffiti that tell stories of Manchester’s rich cultural history.

Independent Shops:
Forget the high-street chains; the Northern Quarter is all about independent boutiques offering unique finds.

Coffee Culture:
If you’re a coffee lover, this area is dotted with artisanal coffee shops where you can enjoy a mid-morning pick-me-up.

Take a stroll along the Bridgewater Canal


If you find yourself with a few hours to spare during your layover, consider escaping the city’s hustle and bustle for a peaceful stroll along the Bridgewater Canal. 

Just a quick 20-minute tram ride from the Manchester Airport, this historic waterway offers a serene setting that’s perfect for a leisurely walk or a quick jog.

What makes the Bridgewater Canal special isn’t just its status as England’s first true canal, but also the charming scenery that accompanies it. 

As you walk along, you’ll notice houseboats that look like they’re straight out of a storybook, quaint cafes perfect for a coffee break, and even some local art installations that add a creative touch to the landscape.

The Bridgewater Canal isn’t just a piece of living history; it’s also a mini nature escape right in the city. Keep an eye out for local birds and perhaps even a fox or two— and if you’re feeling peckish, the cafes along the way offer the perfect pit stop.

Quick Tips for Layover Travelers:
The closest tram stop to the canal is Stretford, making it easily accessible from the city centre.

Short on time? Renting a bike can help you cover more ground quickly, allowing you to make the most of your layover.

Walk Alpacas at White Peak Alpaca Farm



Contact Details: +441565872012

Operating Hours: Daily 10 AM to 4 PM

If you’re looking for an activity that’s both unique and enjoyable, consider spending some time at White Peak Alpaca Farm. It’s located just a 20-minute drive from Manchester Airport, and this farm offers a one-of-a-kind experience that’s perfect for a short layover.

This isn’t your typical farm visit. At White Peak, you can book an Alpaca walking experience where you’ll walk one of their trusted Alpacas around the farm for 40 minutes. 

It’s a fantastic way to unwind and enjoy some fresh air before your next flight.Walking an alpaca isn’t just a fun activity; it’s also incredibly therapeutic. 

The slow pace and calming nature of alpacas can help you unwind and de-stress, making it a perfect layover activity to reset your mind before your next flight.

What’s more, the farm staff are incredibly knowledgeable and will provide you with interesting facts about alpacas, their history, and their importance in textile industries. You’ll leave not just relaxed but also a bit more educated.

Quick Tips for Alpaca Lovers on a Layover
Pre-booking is essential as it’s not a petting farm open to the public all day.

The farm is quite remote, so it’s best to arrange a taxi to pick you up and drop you off.

Solve mysteries at the Greater Manchester Police Museum



Contact Details: +441618564500

Operating Hours: Tuesdays and Thursdays only at 10:30 AM to 4 PM

If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably spent a fair amount of time binge-watching detective shows. So, when I found out about the Greater Manchester Police Museum, I knew I had to check it out—and let me tell you, it didn’t disappoint. 

The museum is set in a Victorian police station, which already sets the stage for an intriguing visit. But what really caught my attention was the interactive mock crime scene— it’s not every day you get to play detective, right?

Also, the mock crime scene is a hands-on experience that lets you engage with history in a fun way. You’ll find clues, examine evidence, and maybe even solve a ‘crime’. It’s a fantastic way to break the monotony of a layover and engage your brain.

Quick Tips for Layover Detectives:
The museum is open only on Tuesdays and Thursdays, so plan accordingly.

Admission is free, but a small donation can go a long way in supporting this unique experience.

If you’re short on time, guided tours are available to give you a quick overview.

Rejuvenate at Escape spa MCR



Contact Details: +447586478516

Operating Hours: Monday and Wednesday 8:30 AM to 7:30 PM; Tuesday 9 AM to 6 PM; Thursday 10 AM to 8 PM; Friday 10 AM to 7 PM; Saturday 24 hours; Sunday, closed

If you’re feeling a bit worn out from your travels, there’s no better place to recharge than Escape spa MCR. Conveniently located within Manchester Airport, this spa offers a range of quick treatments designed to fit into busy travel schedules.

You might feel sceptical about airport spas, but Escape spa MCR will completely change your perspective forever. 

The calming atmosphere and friendly staff will make you forget that you were in the airport. You can opt for a 15-minute neck and shoulder massage.

What sets this spa apart is its focus on quick yet effective treatments. Whether it’s a massage, a facial, or even a quick manicure, you can get pampered without worrying about missing your next flight.

Quick Tips for Spa-Goers on a Layover:
The spa offers walk-in appointments, but it’s always a good idea to book in advance if you can.

They have a range of treatments that last from 15 to 45 minutes, making it easy to fit into your layover schedule.

Don’t forget to check their website for any special offers or packages.

Get lost in Ancoats’ Street Art


One of the many reasons why Manchester is such an amazing place for a lot of people is because of its rich art history. And if you’re an art lover like me, you’ll find that Manchester’s Ancoats district is a treasure trove of street art. 

Just a short tram ride from the airport, Ancoats offers a vibrant display of murals, graffiti, and installations that can easily be explored on foot.

What makes Ancoats ideal for a quick layover is its compact size.

In just an hour, you can cover a lot of ground, snapping photos of murals and graffiti that range from political statements to pop culture references. It’s like a crash course in Manchester’s art scene, all within walking distance.

Quick Tips for a Speedy Art Tour:
The tram to Ancoats runs every 12 minutes, so you won’t waste much time waiting.

Stick to the main streets like Blossom Street and Cutting Room Square for the highest concentration of art.

Keep an eye on the time; it’s easy to lose track when you’re engrossed in the art.

Marvel at the football hall of fame gears inside the National Football Museum 



Contact Details: +441616058200

Operating Hours: Daily 10 AM to 5 PM

If you’re a football fan—or even just a sports enthusiast in general—then a visit to the National Football Museum is a must during your layover. Located in the Urbis building in Manchester city centre, the museum is a treasure trove of football history and memorabilia.

While the museum doesn’t offer a specific ‘Quick Play’ ticket, its layout allows for a self-guided, speedy tour. 

You can focus on the Hall of Fame, which features iconic jerseys, boots, and vintage match balls, all within a reasonable time frame. It’s a perfect way to immerse yourself in football history without missing your next flight.

Stepping into the Hall of Fame felt like walking into a cathedral of sports! From Pele’s jersey to Beckham’s famed boots, each item had a story to tell.

What’s particularly fascinating is the evolution of the football itself, from leather-bound antiques to modern aerodynamic designs. This is something to not miss!

Quick Tips for Football Aficionados:
The museum is just a 15-minute taxi ride from Manchester Airport, making it easily accessible.

If you’re a hardcore fan, consider taking the guided tour for a deeper dive into football history.

Don’t forget to check out the gift shop; it’s a great place to pick up unique souvenirs.

Visit LEGOLAND Discovery Centre



Contact Details: +441617492870

Operating Hours: Monday and Friday 10:30 AM to 3 PM; Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday 10:30 AM to 2 PM; Saturday and Sunday 10 AM to 6 PM

If you’re travelling with little ones, a layover can be a challenging experience. But not to worry—Manchester has got you covered. The LEGOLAND Discovery Centre is a fantastic way to keep the kids entertained while you catch a breather.

The LEGOLAND Discovery Centre is about a 20-minute taxi ride from Manchester Airport and offers a plethora of activities that can be enjoyed in a short span of time. From interactive rides to building workshops, it’s a mini-adventure that fits neatly into a layover schedule.

We had a four-hour layover, so we decided to take a quick taxi ride to the Trafford Centre. The kids were ecstatic the moment we stepped into LEGOLAND. 

They got to build their own LEGO cars and even race them. As for me, I enjoyed a much-needed coffee break at the café inside.

Quick Tips for Families on a Layover:
The Discovery Centre is about a 20-minute taxi ride from Manchester Airport.

Online ticket booking is available, and it’s advisable to book in advance, especially during peak seasons.

The centre offers a café where parents can relax while the kids play.

Unearth Manchester’s industrial past at the Museum of Science and Industry



Contact Details: +443300580058

Operating Hours: Daily 10 AM to 5 PM

The Museum of Science and Industry is a fascinating place that offers quick, interactive exhibits—perfect for a layover. You can delve into Manchester’s rich industrial history without needing to spend an entire day.

What made me love my experience was definitely the Textiles Gallery, which showcased Manchester’s pivotal role in the Industrial Revolution. The live demonstrations were a highlight, making history come alive right before my eyes.

Don’t miss the daily demonstrations; they’re a unique way to engage with the past. And if you’re feeling peckish, the museum café offers some quick and delicious options to refuel.

Smart Tips When Inside the Museum:
The museum is open daily from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm.

While admission is free, donations are welcome.

They also host special after-hours events for adults, so check their schedule if you’re interested.

Go on a shopping spree at the Arndale Centre



Contact Details: +441618339851

Operating Hours: Monday to Saturday 9 AM to 8 PM; Sunday 11:30 AM to 5:30 PM

The Arndale Centre is a shopping haven with something for everyone. With over 200 stores ranging from high-end boutiques to high-street brands, it’s a one-stop-shop for all your shopping needs—making it an ideal layover destination.

The boutique, known for its artisanal gifts and handmade products, offers a unique shopping experience. From one-of-a-kind souvenirs to a skincare line crafted in Manchester, every find feels both personal and special.

My Personal Smart Shopping Strategy:
Individual stores like Primark offer a Click & Collect service, allowing you to shop online and pick up your items in-store.

This strategy is particularly useful for those on a tight layover schedule, as it allows for quick and efficient shopping.

Discover the charms of Hale Village


Hale Village is a hidden gem just a 15-minute drive from Manchester Airport. It’s an upmarket suburb that offers a slice of traditional English life, making it a perfect layover destination for those looking to experience something beyond the usual tourist spots.

Once you’re there, you’ll find out why it’s famous for its diverse dining options and unique independent shops.

The area is a blend of traditional English charm and modern luxury, with celebrities even calling it home. Whether you’re in the mood for a casual café breakfast or a fancy Italian dinner, Hale has it all!

Smart Dining Tips:
For a casual yet delicious breakfast or lunch, consider Juniper Hale or The Garden Eatery.

If you’re in the mood for something more upscale, Cibo Hale and Victors Hale offer a fine dining experience.

Don’t miss out on WA14 Fish & Chips for a posh yet traditional English meal.

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