As the sky darkens early during the autumn and winter, I need someplace to escape to that is always bright, friendly and lively. That’s the reason that I visit Manchester, England – the coolest city in the North! Manchester has everything you could want; a great music scene, fantastic nightlife, world-renown sports, museums and opera, and a lively counter-culture all surrounded by friendly natives and wonderful food!
Manchester was founded by the Roman Governor of Britannia in 79 AD and was originally called “Mamucium” or later “Mancunium”. This is the reason that Manchester residents are known as Mancunians to this day.
Colourful Manchester is fun to explore!
After World War II and especially after the loss of industries to off-shoring in the 1970s – 1980s, Manchester fell on hard times. In recent decades, however, a lot of investment and regeneration has helped hundreds of businesses to open up in Manchester, creating the fun, friendly, high-tech and lively modern city that it is today. The Commonwealth Games, held in Manchester in 2002, were the debut of the revitalised city which is now world-famous for being the home of some of the globe’s best sporting clubs, the West’s most innovative music scene and a success story of urban renewal.
Manchester Airport is one of the largest airports in England outside of London. Located just 13 kms (8 miles) from the city centre, the airport is convenient – just take the train from the airport’s own station to Manchester Piccadilly.
Townhall is a Gothic Fantasy!
Here’s a pro-tip: Mancunians are known for their friendliness. If you are lost or need some help at any point, don’t be afraid to ask – people here love seeing tourists in their city!
Here are some of the coolest things to do and great places to visit in Manchester:
- Visit Castlefield – the historical centre of Manchester. Its reconstructed Roman Fort nods to the city’s beginnings, and the restored Victorian houses are reminiscent of its heyday in the industrial revolution. It runs along the Bridgewater Canal which was built in 1761 to bring coal from the mines in nearby Worsley. While exploring the area, you can pop in for coffee at one of the many cafes located in restored warehouses!
Do you know how you get to Old Trafford? Practice!
- Take in a game at Old Trafford or the Etihad Stadium. No trip during the English Premier League season would be complete without a visit to the famous homes of Manchester United or Manchester City. Better yet, catch one of the most spectacular rivalries in sports by watching the Manchester Derby where the two teams play. It is always a raucous time!
- Visit some world-class museums. The Manchester Museum has an extensive collection of cool artefacts. The National Football Museum celebrates the beautiful game’s history. The People’s History Museum celebrates working people in Britain throughout the ages. The Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI) looks at how Manchester built on the back of the textile industry, as well as other industries that shaped Britain. The Imperial War Museum North is the sister museum of the famous London establishment, discussing everything to do with Britain’s wars.
- Watch a concert at Manchester Arena. Man Arena is the busiest concert venue in the world – beating both Madison Square Garden in New York and the O2 Stadium in London. There is always something great playing at the Man Arena during a visit! There are also smaller music venues that introduce new styles, rhythms and sounds to the world.
Explore street art in the Northern Quarter. Here you’ll find plenty of contemporary art that depicts Manchester’s modern creativity, as well as the famous Affleck’s Palace. At this covered market, you can purchase local artisanal goods.
Here’s another pro-tip: if you want to blend in with the locals, don’t wear your team’s football top. Instead, purchase a bee pin at Affleck’s and wear that instead. It’s a symbol of pride for the industrious Mancunians since the early 19th Century!
Don’t fret if you feel hungry after a busy day – Manchester is a treasure trove of delights for foodies! Here are some of my favourites:
- If you fancy a late brunch, head to Trof in the Northern Quarter. Brunch is available all day, and they’ve also earned a reputation for daily specials made of the freshest, most local ingredients possible!
Are you Curry curious?
- If you like Asian food, Curry Mile is one to check out. Manchester has a large population of citizens of South Asian descent, meaning that curries are a staple in the city! There are plenty to try on this street, but Mughli is consistently rated as one of the best restaurants in Manchester.
- For some good old fashioned “pub grub”, check out The Old Wellington. Situated in one of the oldest buildings in Manchester (it was built in 1552!), The Old Wellington serves up British staples such as fish and chips, Sunday roast dinners, and burgers.
Manchester has always had an exciting nightlife but since urban renewal, the nightlife is even better! If you’re looking to party, there’s nowhere better than Manchester. It boasts an energy that’s hard to find in other UK cities – and it’s a fraction of the price of clubbing in London. There’s everything from huge mega clubs to intimate bars, perfect for any kind of night out. Here are my favourites:
Party ‘til you drop in Manchester!
- If you are looking for a club, FAC 251 is located in a historic factory and is a fantastic place to dance the night away.
- Manchester is a very LGBTQ+ friendly city, and Gay Village has lots of bars and clubs which have been active since the end of World War II. G.A.Y is there, as well as a range of smaller venues.
- If you are looking for something smaller and more intimate, you should head to The Circus Tavern, which claims to be the smallest bar in Europe!
- For something different, head to Deansgate, home to trendy bars like MOJO and The Liar’s Club.
Here’s a final pro-tip: the dress code for nightspots is typically very glamourous – so if you want to dress up, here is your chance! Some clubs do not let people enter if they are wearing trainers or a hoodie.
When it is time to rest, Manchester offers some great hotels known for friendly hospitality and good value. Here are my top picks:
- The Lowry is a fabulous Manchester City Centre venue from the great hotelier Rocco Forte. The rooms are generous, the hospitality is cheerful and the location is excellent!
- The Midland is a 4* property with a spa and an AA Michelin Star restaurant, right in the city centre.
- Motel One Manchester Piccadilly is a great value in a prime location – just a short walk from Manchester Piccadilly – and has modern rooms with a classy bar on the ground level.
There is something for everyone in Manchester. Whatever your interest, you are sure to have a fantastic time in this northern powerhouse!