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18 Top Things to Do in Manchester

18 Top Things to Do in Manchester 

Manchester, the ‘Capital of the North’, is more than just a city – it’s an experience. Whether you’re into football, music, or a bit of history, Manchester’s got you covered. 

New in town or just visiting? No worries, we’ve handpicked 18 cool things for you to dive into. Let’s discover Manchester together!

​​Kick off at the National Football Museum

Address: Urbis Building Cathedral Gardens, Todd St, Manchester M4 3BG, United Kingdom

Contact: +441616058200


Opening Hours: 10 AM to 5 PM

You think you know football? Wait till you step into the National Football Museum (national football museum). Nestled in one of Manchester’s architectural gems, this place is more than just a museum. 

It’s where the heartbeats of City and United fans sync up, celebrating the game’s rich history. From the iconic 1966 World Cup Final ball to the Jules Rimet Trophy, it’s a trip down memory lane, with some surprising twists and turns.

The museum beautifully captures the essence of football, from its humble beginnings to its present-day grandeur. 

Pro Tip:
When you’re done marvelling at the legendary football memorabilia, make sure to try your hand (or foot, rather!) at the Football Plus+ interactive challenges. 

Perfect to channel your inner Beckham. And if you’re into gifts, don’t miss the museum shop; it’s a treasure trove for football fanatics!

Step back in time at Manchester Museum

Address: University of, Oxford Rd, Manchester M13 9PL, United Kingdom

Contact: +441612752648


Opening Hours: Monday, closed; Tuesday, Thursday to Friday 10 AM to 5 PM; Wednesday 10 AM to 9 PM; SAturday 8 AM to 5 PM 

So, the Manchester Museum has seriously upped its game with a £15m makeover. They’ve added some snazzy new galleries and exhibitions. But honestly, it’s the oldies that are pure gold— like that vivarium full of amazing amphibians and reptiles. 

Oh, and you can’t miss Stan the T Rex; he’s basically Manchester’s dino-celeb. Plus, there’s this fresh Dinosaur display with a Tenontosaurus that’s a whopping 100 million years old! 

They’re open Tuesday to Sunday. Entry’s on the house, but heads up, some special exhibits might have a ticket fee. 

Pro Tip:
They’ve got a fantastic Ancient Worlds Gallery showcasing Egyptian artefacts. If mummies intrigue you, then this is your place! And if you fancy a quiet moment, their Living Worlds exhibit offers a tranquil, reflective experience with sounds from nature.

Take a stroll on the Castlefield Viaduct

Address: Catalan Square, Duke St, Manchester M3 4PU, United Kingdom

Contact: +443442491895


Opening Hours: 24/7

You know that feeling of being on top of the world? Castlefield Viaduct in Manchester gives you just that vibe. Picture this: an elevated park reminiscent of New York’s High Line, but with a Mancunian twist. 

It’s this cool green space right in the city centre, set on a former railway line. And the views? Absolutely epic — you get to see Manchester’s skyline in all its glory. Oh, and a shout out to the National Trust for keeping it in tip-top shape!

Pro Tip:
Don’t just walk and admire. Look around for the little plaques and signboards; they’re packed with fascinating tidbits about Manchester’s history. And if you’re lucky, you might just stumble upon one of the pop-up events or markets that occasionally grace the Viaduct!

Jam out in the Northern Quarter


The Northern Quarter is where Manchester’s pulse is most palpable. It’s a melting pot of creativity, with vintage shops, record stores, and iconic venues like Night & Day Cafe. 

What’s amazing is that Afflecks is right around the corner, where you can find a mishmash of indie traders peddling vintage threads and funky gifts. 

And if you’re into music, the local vinyl shops are like goldmines, stacked with both old-school and modern records. Oh, and when the sun dips? This district is THE place to dive into Manchester’s vibrant nightlife. 

Pro Tip:
Lost in the maze of cool places in the Quarter? Ask the locals! They’re friendly, and they’ll steer you to hidden gems. Oh, and don’t leave without checking out the murals and street art—it’s like a free art gallery!

Savour the culinary delights of Ancoats and New Islington Marina


So, Ancoats? It’s like the foodie promised land now! Those old warehouses? Boom! Transformed into some seriously cool places to grab a bite. 

Between Michelin-star vibes at Mana and mouth-watering slices at Rudy’s, you’re sorted. And if you fancy some canal-side chills, just mosey on over to New Islington Marina. Bonus points if you spot the Oasis lyrics in the canal reflections!

Pro Tip:
If you’re in the mood for coffee, Ancoats Coffee Co. is your spot—artisanal brews with beans roasted on-site. And as you wander over to New Islington Marina, look for The Counter House; it’s a brilliant spot for brunch, and their avocado toast is all the rage.

Discover the stories of conflict at The Imperial War Museum North

Address: Trafford Wharf Rd, Trafford Park, Stretford, Manchester M17 1TZ, United Kingdom

Contact: +441618364000


Opening Hours: Daily 10 AM to 5 PM

Salford Quays hides a gem: the Imperial War Museum North. It’s like stepping into a blockbuster film set of world history.

First off, you’re greeted by a US Harrier just floating there— kinda sets the adventurous tone! Inside, it’s a deep dive into tales of courage, tragedy, and hope. 

And trust us, the ceramic poppy cascade? Total tear-jerker. Whether you’re a history nerd or just keen on stories that move you, this place is a must-visit.

Pro Tip:
When exploring the museum, don’t miss the Big Picture Show, a 360-degree immersive experience that changes themes, giving you insights into different aspects of war. It’s heartrending and enlightening. 

And if you fancy a breather, their WaterShard café has views overlooking the Manchester Ship Canal—a perfect place to reflect.

Get artsy at Aviva Studios

Address: Aviva Studios, Water St, Manchester M3 4JQ, United Kingdom

Contact: N/A


Opening Hours: Monday, closed; Tuesday to Sunday 10 AM to 9 PM

Heard of Aviva Studios on Water Street? It’s Manchester’s fresh artsy hotspot! They’ve got everything from wild installations to foot-tapping performances. 

The studio is also set to be Manchester’s premier arts centre, Aviva Studios is located on Water Street. The £210m venue is built on the former site of Old Granada Studios and is part of the developing St John’s cultural quarter. 

Word around town is that it’s the new go-to for all things artsy. So, if you’re looking to soak up some culture, or just snap some cool pics, you know where to head.

Pro Tip:
Dive into their Interact Digital Art series, an immersive digital experience that’s been a hit. It feels like stepping inside a painting! 

And if you’re into live performances, their Streetwise Opera sessions are mesmerising, blending opera with stories from Manchester’s streets.

Explore the green oasis of Mayfield Park


Just a stone’s throw from Manchester Piccadilly, there’s Mayfield Park— the city’s newest breather spot. This isn’t your average park. We’re talking a sprawling 6.5-acre stretch with the coolest kids’ play area. 

Daring slides over water? Check. Inclusive play equipment? Absolutely. And after tiring yourself out (or the kiddos), mosey over to Escape to Freight Island. 

Tucked inside a revamped railway depot, it’s a foodie’s haven. Eat, play, relax— Mayfield’s got you covered.

Pro Tip:
The Pollinator Garden is a little-known spot teeming with bees and butterflies—a mini paradise. 

And if you’re visiting with kids, there’s an interactive play trail called Playcode, where they can decode symbols and unlock play features. After a day out, grab a drink at Pilcrow Pub nearby—a community-built pub offering local brews.

Relive footballing legends at the Old Trafford Museum and Tour

Address: Sir Matt Busby Way, Old Trafford, Stretford, Manchester M16 0RA, United Kingdom

Contact: +441616767770


Opening Hours: Sunday to Wednesday 9:30 AM to 4 PM; Thursday to Saturday 9:30 AM to 5 PM

Old Trafford isn’t just any football ground; it’s THE football cathedral. It’s where legends have played and dreams have come alive. But it ain’t all about the matches. 

Step into the museum and bam, you’re time-travelling through Red Devils history. And the stadium tour? Buddy, that’s your golden ticket. 

Walking through the players’ tunnel, lounging in the dugouts, and if the stars align, tales straight from the legends themselves. So even if you’re not a die-hard fan, this place has stories that’ll get you hooked.

Pro Tip:
When touring Old Trafford, request the Treble Soundtrack—a guided audio experience that takes you back to the legendary 1998-99 season.

And while there, don’t miss the Manchester United Red Café. They serve this Treble Burger inspired by the ’99 season; it’s a feast for both eyes and taste buds.

Dive into literature and history at Manchester Central Library

Address: St Peter’s Square, Manchester M2 5PD, United Kingdom

Contact: +441612341983

Website: N/A

Opening Hours: Sunday, closed; Monday to Thursday 9 AM to 8 PM; Friday to Saturday 9 AM to 5 PM

Ever walked into a place that just made you go ‘Wow’? That’s the Central Library for you. Inspired by Rome’s Pantheon, it’s a nod to Manchester’s architectural genius. But don’t get fooled by the ancient vibes. 

From soul-soothing music sessions in the Henry Watson Music Library to gripping film nights and author readings, it’s always buzzing. A bookworm’s dream, a history buff’s paradise, and a social butterfly’s hotspot— it’s basically Manchester in a building.

If you’re a fan of mingling and socialising with others, then this place also hosts a myriad of events, from film nights to author readings, ensuring there’s always something happening within its historic walls.

Pro Tip:
Head straight to the Shakespeare Hall—its stained-glass windows are stunning. The library also hosts a Digital Newspaper Archive, where you can deep dive into newspapers dating back to the 1700s! 

If you’re into old-school, the ‘Reading Room’ on the first floor is a majestic space with a domed ceiling—perfect to lose yourself in a book.

Walk the grounds of Manchester City’s home with the Etihad Stadium Tour

Address: Etihad Stadium, Etihad Campus, Manchester M11 3FF, United Kingdom

Contact: +441614441894


Opening Hours: Daily 10 AM to 3:30 PM

Here’s the deal with Etihad Stadium— it’s not just about Man City. Sure, it’s a football mecca, but it’s also hosted big music names like Taylor Swift! 

But if you’re here for the football (no judgement), get ready for a peek behind the curtains. Walk where legends have, soak in the aura, and maybe, just maybe, get a virtual chat with Pep Guardiola. 

Pro Tip:
The Tunnel Club is an exclusive part of the tour. You’ll see one-way mirrors overlooking the player’s tunnel, giving you a unique behind-the-scenes view. And if you’re into memorabilia, the club shop has this special Sergio Aguero 93:20 Collection commemorating THAT goal.

Dive into Manchester’s vibrant LGBT+ scene at Canal Street and the Gay Village


Canal Street (canal street Manchester) is literally Manchester’s rainbow heartbeat. By day, imagine chilling waterside with a drink, soaking up the sun. But by night? Oh, it’s a party. 

Bright lights, music, and dance— the energy’s infectious. And for moments of quiet, Sackville Gardens offers a tender tribute to heroes like Alan Turing. From sun-up to sundown, Canal Street promises laughter, memories, and maybe a bit of dancing.

And don’t forget to check out Kampus across the water, a budding neighbourhood with even more indie bars, including the LGBT+ cocktail bar, Red Light.

Pro Tip:
If you’re planning to party the night away, consider the after-hours spots like VOID or the morning recovery breakfasts at Oscars Bar. Canal Street’s festive vibe during the Manchester Pride in August is legendary – a must-experience event if you’re in town!

Walk through time at The People’s History Museum

Address: Left Bank, Manchester M3 3ER, United Kingdom

Contact: +441618389190


Opening Hours: Tuesday, closed; Wednesday to Monday 10 AM to 5 PM

If you’re keen on diving into Manchester’s feisty past, then The People’s History Museum is your time portal. 

From passionate protests to monumental movements, every exhibit here tells a tale of guts and gusto. It’s not just a museum; it’s Manchester’s rebel spirit in brick and mortar. Step in, and you’ll step out with tales that’ll last a lifetime.

Pro Tip:
The museum has some interactive sections that are great for kids and adults alike. If you’re a fan of quirky souvenirs, the museum shop is a haven for unique political merchandise.

Discover Manchester’s scientific legacy at the Science and Industry Museum

Address: Liverpool Rd, Manchester M3 4JP, United Kingdom

Contact: +443300580058


Opening Hours: Daily 10 AM to 5 PM

When you think of Manchester, you gotta think of innovation. And that spirit? It’s alive at the Science and Industry Museum. 

Located where the world’s first passenger railway started, this place is a cocktail of genius. Discover the city’s textile tales, gawk at the world’s first commercial computer, and feel the might of steam engines. It’s science, history, and a whole lot of Manchester, all under one roof.

Pro Tip:
Make sure you don’t miss the Power Hall showcasing Manchester’s industrial might. And if you’re visiting with kids, the Experiment gallery is a hands-on haven for budding scientists.

Watch tremendous events and plays at The Palace Theatre 

Address: 97 Oxford St, Manchester M1 6FT, United Kingdom

Contact: N/A


Opening Hours: Per event or play basis

Oxford Street’s pride, the Palace Theatre, is where drama meets dream. It’s seen the classics, the moderns, and everything in between. 

Musicals like Hamilton have echoed through its halls, and countless local productions have had their moment in the spotlight. Whether it’s a show-stopping number or a heart-tugging play, this place is a ticket to a world of wonder.

Lately, big-name shows have been making a beeline to grace its stage. And why not? It’s right in the heart of the city, and the buzz around its performances is always electric. 

Pro Tip:
Theatre buffs, here’s your hack: Seats in the circle, especially the first few rows, offer a fantastic view without breaking the bank. Check out the nearby bars for pre-show drinks; many offer discounts if you’re heading to the theatre.

Unearth the magic at Manchester Opera House

Address: 3 Quay St, Manchester M3 3HP, United Kingdom

Contact: +443330095399


Opening Hours: Per event basis

The Manchester Opera House has a way of drawing you into its world. From its days showcasing cinematic wonders to its current reign as a theatre powerhouse, every corner echoes with tales of drama, passion, and artistry. 

From its early days as a cinema, showcasing the magic of the silver screen, to its transformation into a theatre powerhouse, it’s been the stage for countless memorable moments. 

Premieres like ‘Back to the Future: The Musical’? Yep, it debuted here. So, whether you’re a theatre buff or just up for a night of culture, the Opera House has a seat with your name on it.

Pro Tip:
If you’re looking for a more intimate experience, try the Ambassador Lounge. And if you’re into celeb-spotting, many shows have star-studded premieres here. So, keep your eyes peeled!

Get up close with theatre at The Royal Exchange

Address: St Ann’s Square, Manchester M2 7DH, United Kingdom

Contact: +441618339833


Opening Hours: Per event basis

Ever been to a theatre where every seat feels like the front row? That’s the Royal Exchange Theatre (royal exchange manchester) for you. 

Have you felt like you’re in the play, not just watching it? That’s the Royal Exchange for you. 

Tucked inside an old cotton exchange, this place has a theatre-in-the-round setup, which means you’re smack dab in the middle of the action. From modern dramas to timeless classics, it’s a 360-degree theatrical ride. 

Over the years, it has also hosted performances from some of the country’s finest actors, from Maxine Peake to Julie Walters. Whether it’s a modern drama or a Shakespearean classic, the memories you make here will stay with you.

Pro Tip:
Don’t just head straight to the main theatre. The Studio space has some avant-garde performances, and the ground floor bar is an excellent spot for people-watching and soaking up that theatre ambiance.

Reflect and explore at Manchester Cathedral and Glade of Light Memorial

Address: Victoria St, Manchester M3 1SX, United Kingdom

Contact: +441618332220


Opening Hours: Daily 9 AM to 4:30 PM

You know, every time we walk into Manchester Cathedral, it feels like I’m stepping into the city’s soul. The place is massive, and honestly, breathtaking! But it’s not just about the stunning architecture. 

As you wander through, you’ll feel the stories whispering from every brick, every window pane. And hey, while you’re in the area, there’s this really touching spot called the Glade of Light. 

It’s a heartfelt tribute to the 22 beautiful souls Manchester tragically lost in 2017. Kind of breaks your heart, but at the same time, it’s a testament to Manchester’s unbreakable spirit and how the city comes together.

Pro Tip:
Don’t skip the visitor centre— it has some enlightening exhibits. And if you’re into serene moments, the daily Evensong service offers a tranquil experience amidst the city hustle.
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