Categories > Guides and Tips

Manchester City Centre 20 Things to Do

Manchester City Centre: 20 Things to Do

There’s no doubt about it that the Manchester City Centre is a bustling area in the UK where all the most exciting and busiest activities occur. If you happen to stumble upon this amazing city, then you know what I’m talking about when it comes to this. 

But sometimes, it’s hard to decide on the things to do while you’re in the centre. This is where I come in to tell you the most incredible activities you can do while you’re here that every curious mind will really appreciate! 


Located in the heart of the city, the Manchester Art Gallery is home to an impressive collection of British art, spanning over six centuries. 

But it’s not just a haven for art enthusiasts. With its stunning architecture and regularly rotating exhibitions, it’s a cultural hub that’s worth the visit, even if you’re not an art buff.

The gallery often features contemporary pieces, so you’re bound to stumble upon something that piques your curiosity. 

Additionally, its cosy café and gift shop make it a great place to relax and perhaps pick up a souvenir. So, whether you’re there for the art or just to soak in the ambiance, it’s a must-visit.

Wander around the Northern Quarter


Often referred to as the ‘bohemian heart’ of Manchester, the Northern Quarter is brimming with quirky boutiques, vintage shops, and indie record stores. As you stroll down its cobbled streets, you’ll be treated to a feast of street art that showcases Manchester’s vibrant urban culture.

But it’s not just about shopping and art. The Northern Quarter is also the perfect place to grab a bite or a drink. 

With a plethora of independent coffee shops, bars, and eateries, you’ll be spoilt for choice. Remember to check out Affleck’s, an iconic multi-storey emporium that offers everything from retro clothing to unique gifts.

Dive into the history at the Manchester Museum


Nestled within the University of Manchester campus, the Manchester Museum is a treasure trove of artefacts from all over the world. From its ancient Egyptian mummies to its vivacious collection of live reptiles, the museum offers a unique blend of the ancient and the living.

What sets this museum apart is its commitment to sustainability and social responsibility. Numerous exhibits and programs are designed to create awareness about global challenges. So, not only do you get a dose of history and culture, but you also leave with food for thought.

Attend a show at The Bridgewater Hall


For those who enjoy live performances, The Bridgewater Hall is the place to be. Known for its impeccable acoustics, this iconic venue hosts over 250 performances a year, ranging from classical symphonies to contemporary gigs.

As you sit back and let the music wash over you, take a moment to admire the hall’s architecture. 

Its modern design, combined with its glass and steel features, makes it a standout landmark in Manchester’s skyline. Whether you’re a music aficionado or just someone looking for a night out, The Bridgewater Hall promises an unforgettable experience.

Relish the views from the Manchester Town Hall Clock Tower


If you’re looking to get a bird’s-eye view of the city, the Clock Tower at Manchester Town Hall is the spot. 

Standing at 280 feet, it offers panoramic views that are nothing short of breathtaking. But it’s not just about the views. The Gothic architecture of the Town Hall is a sight to behold in itself.

The tower tour provides fascinating insights into the history and significance of the Town Hall. As you ascend the spiral staircase, don’t forget to stop and admire the intricate details that adorn the walls and ceilings. 

Sip a brew at the National Football Museum’s Café


Football and Manchester go hand in hand. So, it’s only fitting that you stop by the National Football Museum. Even if you’re not a football fanatic, the museum offers a rich tapestry of stories that capture the essence of the sport in the UK.

Once you’re done exploring the exhibits, head to the museum’s café. Not only does it serve delicious brews, but it also offers a fantastic view of the city’s Cathedral Gardens. 

It’s a relaxed setting, perfect for musing over the history you’ve just soaked in or planning your next Manchester adventure.

Take a stroll through Chinatown


Boasting one of the UK’s most vibrant Chinese communities, Manchester’s Chinatown is a delightful blend of the East and the West. 

As you wander through its streets, you’ll be greeted by traditional archways, Chinese supermarkets, bakeries, and a variety of restaurants offering mouth-watering dishes.

Besides its culinary delights, Chinatown hosts several events during the Chinese New Year, making it an epicentre of festivities. Even if you visit outside of the New Year season, the area’s rich cultural heritage and bustling energy make it worth the visit.

Uncover literary gems at John Rylands Library


This is not just any library—it’s a neo-Gothic masterpiece! The moment you step into the John Rylands Library, you’ll feel as if you’ve been transported to a Harry Potter set. The historic reading room, with its vaulted ceilings and stained glass windows, evokes a sense of wonder.

Beyond its architecture, the library houses an extensive collection of rare books, manuscripts, and archives. 

One of its most prized possessions is a fragment of the New Testament, believed to be one of the oldest in existence. Whether you’re a book lover or an architecture enthusiast, this library promises a magical experience.

Shop local at Manchester Craft and Design Centre


Nestled in the heart of the Northern Quarter, this former fish market has been transformed into a haven for local artisans. At the Manchester Craft and Design Centre, you can explore two floors of independent studios where artists craft and sell their unique creations.

From handmade jewellery to bespoke ceramics and textiles, each studio tells a different story. It’s a great place to pick up souvenirs or gifts that are truly one of a kind. Plus, the on-site café offers a delightful range of refreshments, making it a perfect pit stop as you explore the city.

Laugh out loud at The Comedy Store


Located in Deansgate Locks, The Comedy Store is Manchester’s go-to spot for a dose of humour. The venue hosts a slew of talented comedians from both the UK and abroad, ensuring a night filled with laughter.

With its intimate setting, you’re up close and personal with the performers, making the experience all the more memorable. If you’re looking for a light-hearted evening or simply want to end your day on a high note, this place is a must-visit.

Revel in the nightlife at Deansgate Locks


For those looking to experience Manchester’s lively nightlife, Deansgate Locks is the place to be. This series of railway arches has been transformed into one of the city’s most bustling nightlife spots, boasting a range of trendy bars, clubs, and restaurants.

The unique setting gives each venue an intimate and atmospheric vibe. Whether you’re looking to dance the night away, enjoy some live music, or simply sip on a cocktail as you watch the world go by, Deansgate Locks offers something for every nocturnal adventurer.

Experience a slice of modern Manchester at Spinningfields


Often termed as Manchester’s luxury dining and shopping quarter, Spinningfields is a testament to the city’s modern and evolving nature. With its gleaming skyscrapers, plush restaurants, and designer boutiques, it offers a stark yet beautiful contrast to Manchester’s historic architecture.

Beyond shopping and dining, Spinningfields is home to several events throughout the year, from open-air cinema screenings to artisan markets. 

The area’s green space, Hardman Square, provides a perfect respite amidst the urban setting. It’s a must-visit for those keen on experiencing the city’s contemporary side.

Discover hidden gems at the Afflecks


While we briefly mentioned this emporium in relation to the Northern Quarter, Afflecks deserves its own spotlight. This multi-storey marketplace is a labyrinth of independent stalls, ranging from vintage clothing outlets to quirky gift shops.

What’s fascinating about Afflecks is its ever-evolving nature. No two visits are the same, as new traders and artists continually set up shop. It’s a place where Manchester’s eclectic spirit truly shines, making it a must-visit for both locals and tourists alike.

Sail down the Manchester Ship Canal


For a unique perspective of Manchester, consider taking a cruise down the Manchester Ship Canal. This 36-mile waterway offers a leisurely journey through the city’s industrial heartland, providing insights into its maritime history.

Various companies offer guided tours, narrating the canal’s significance and its role in shaping Manchester’s legacy. The tranquil journey, paired with the picturesque views of the city’s landscapes and landmarks, makes it a memorable experience for all.

Unwind at the Heaton Park


Just a short tram ride from the city centre, Heaton Park offers a refreshing escape from the urban hustle. Spanning over 600 acres, it’s the largest park in Manchester and is teeming with activities.

From its historic Heaton Hall to the boating lake and the animal farm, there’s something for everyone. 

The park (sale water park) also hosts numerous events throughout the year, including concerts, festivals, and fairs. Whether you’re looking to immerse yourself in nature, enjoy a picnic, or simply take a leisurely stroll, Heaton Park is the perfect place to unwind.

Immerse yourself in Science and Industry at MOSI


The Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI) is a fascinating journey into Manchester’s rich industrial heritage. Located on the site of the world’s oldest railway station, MOSI offers interactive exhibits that delve into the city’s contributions to science, technology, and industry.

Visitors can explore the evolution of transport, delve into the wonders of textiles, and even witness live demonstrations of machinery in action. 

The museum’s Air and Space Hall showcases an impressive collection of vintage aircraft, adding another dimension to the experience. A trip to MOSI is not only educational but also a nostalgic dip into the bygone eras that shaped Manchester.

Marvel at the Manchester Cathedral


Nestled amidst the urban sprawl is the stunning Manchester Cathedral. A testament to Gothic architecture, this mediaeval church has witnessed the city’s evolution for centuries. Inside, you’re greeted by intricate wooden carvings, stained glass windows, and an awe-inspiring nave.

While the cathedral is a place of worship, it also hosts concerts, exhibitions, and cultural events, making it a vibrant part of Manchester’s arts scene. The adjoining Visitor Centre offers a deeper dive into its history, making the experience holistic and enlightening.

Step into the exotic at Manchester’s Curry Mile


If you’re a food enthusiast, the famous Curry Mile in Rusholme is a sensory extravaganza. This stretch is densely packed with restaurants, takeaways, and shisha cafes, predominantly serving Middle Eastern and South Asian cuisines.

As the tantalising aroma of spices fills the air, visitors can indulge in a plethora of dishes, from creamy tikka masalas to fiery kebabs. 

The vibrant neon lights and bustling atmosphere add to the experience, making it feel like a mini-festival every night. Whether you’re a spice aficionado or a curious traveller, the Curry Mile promises a culinary journey like no other.

Get lost in literature at Waterstones on Deansgate


While it may seem unusual to highlight a bookstore, Waterstones on Deansgate is no ordinary one. Housed in a beautiful Edwardian building, this multi-storey literary haven boasts a vast collection of books, a delightful café, and frequent author events.

The store’s historic architecture, combined with its modern interiors, provides a cosy ambiance for bibliophiles. 

Whether you’re searching for the latest bestseller, a niche indie novel, or simply want to sip coffee surrounded by books, this Waterstones outlet is a paradise for every book lover.

Revel in Manchester’s musical legacy at the Band on the Wall


Manchester’s contribution to the global music scene is undeniable, and Band on the Wall has been at the heart of it for decades. Recognized as one of the city’s oldest live music venues, it has played host to a range of artists, from jazz (jazz club Manchester) legends to emerging indie bands.

The venue, with its intimate setting and top-notch acoustics, ensures every concert is memorable. 

Beyond the music, its rich history and the stories it holds make it a landmark in Manchester’s cultural landscape. So, whether you’re catching a live gig or just soaking in the vibes, Band on the Wall is a testament to Manchester’s rhythmic soul.

Related topics