Manchester, the commercial and cultural capital of Lancashire, is a well-known hub for the arts, media, and higher education. It, together with Salford and eight other municipalities, makes up the metropolitan county of Greater Manchester, which today has a population of three million people.
Manchester, like its neighbouring Liverpool, has seen a rebirth with the advent of ventures such as the Castlefield project, with its many canals, and its museum complex on Liverpool Road.
The expansion of the city’s entertainment and sports facilities has also significantly increased its tourist appeal, making it one of the greatest locations to visit in northern England.
The outstanding Opera House, with its roster of theatrical and musical productions, and the exhilarating Chill Factor, Britain’s longest and largest indoor ski slope, are two notable examples.
It has also become a popular destination for shopping, because to its extensive retail offerings, which include the luxury stores of St. Anne’s Square, King Street, and the Royal Exchange, as well as the massive covered market halls of Bolton Arcade.
Read through our list of interesting things to do in Manchester to discover more about these and other attractions in this region of England.
Castlefield, designated as an Urban Heritage Park, is a great site to start exploring Manchester. A stroll through the carefully preserved Victorian mansions along the ancient canals or through the rebuilt Roman Fort is an enjoyable way to spend time.
Make a point of visiting the Bridgewater Canal. It was built in 1761 to transport coal from the Worsley mines to Manchester.
Many of the canal’s ancient warehouses have been refurbished and converted into offices, stores, hotels, and restaurants. It is strongly advised that you take a journey on one of the Bridgewater tour boats.
Other notable tourist sites include the Castlefield Art Gallery, which hosts contemporary art exhibitions, and Bridgewater Hall, which is home to the Hallé Orchestra and hosts world-class performances.
The Castlefield Bowl, which stages pop and classical events on a regular basis, is well worth a visit.
The Science and Industry Museum is housed on the grounds of the world’s oldest railroad station. The Power Hall, containing water and steam-driven equipment from the golden period of the textile industry, as well as antique made-in-Manchester automobiles, including a rare 1904 Rolls Royce, is one of the museum’s 12 galleries.
The Station Building depicts the city’s history from Roman times to the Industrial Revolution and up to the current day. Another must-see is the Air and Space Gallery. There are various antique aircraft on display, including a reproduction of A. V. Roe’s Triplane 1, the first British plane to safely fly.
Manchester’s address is Liverpool Road.
The Imperial War Museum North (IWM North) is well worth a visit, especially if you are interested in military history. This part of the Imperial War Museum, which opened in 2002, is a popular attraction due to its collections of battle vehicles and aircraft.
The audiovisual presentations and displays dealing with the history of warfare and its role in forming civilization are highlights of a visit.
There are also several static exhibitions of huge machines including tanks, planes, artillery, and portable weaponry. On the premises, there is a shop and a café.
Address: Trafford Park, Trafford Wharf Road, Stretford, Manchester
Manchester Cathedral – formally the Cathedral and Collegiate Church of St. Mary, St. Denys, and St. George – dates largely from 1422 to 1506 and was elevated to cathedral rank in 1847. Its chapels on both sides of the nave and choir are particularly appealing.
It was constructed between 1486 and 1508, with extensions and adjustments made in practically every succeeding century. The choir stalls, which include some of the most ornately adorned misericords in the country, are particularly noteworthy.
The Manchester Regiment’s church is St. John’s Chapel, and the little Lady Chapel features a 1440 wooden screen. The octagonal chapterhouse, erected in 1465, features paintings depicting Christ in contemporary attire.
Manchester’s Victoria Street address
Manchester Museum is another of the city’s outstanding university museums that you should visit. The museum is known for its natural history, archaeology, and anthropology exhibitions, with the earliest collections reaching back to 1821. (the museum itself was established in 1888).
It is notable as the biggest university museum in the United Kingdom, with a collection of approximately 4.5 million antiquities from all around the world. It is well-known for its extensive collection of Chinese cultural artefacts.
Editor’s note: The Manchester Museum will be closed until late 2022 for substantial refurbishment.
Manchester’s address is Oxford Road.
St. Mary’s Catholic Church is another religious landmark worth seeing, and it’s a bit of a hidden treasure in Manchester. It was built in 1794 and is located near to the ancient Market Hall. It is also known as “The Hidden Gem” among locals. But don’t allow the structure’s unassuming facade deter you from taking a look inside.
There are some outstanding Victorian carvings to be seen here. The marble high altar, saint sculptures, and a distinctive Expressionist-style stations of the cross are among the highlights. (There are guided tours available.)
Manchester’s address is 17 Mulberry Street.
Manchester, home to two of Europe’s best football teams – Manchester City and Manchester United – is an excellent site to pay respect to the country’s favourite sport. The National Football Museum should be your first destination.
This football shrine houses intriguing football artefacts, including the very first rulebook, as well as historic trophies and clothes.
A number of fantastic short films depict the history of the sport, while exciting hands-on (and feet-on) displays give lots of additional amusement for children. Check their website for information on upcoming special events and programmes.
It’s also worthwhile to pay a visit to one (or both) of Manchester’s home stadiums. Manchester City’s Etihad Stadium has a number of exciting tour choices, including behind-the-scenes and gourmet dinner trips.
Manchester United’s home stadium, Old Trafford, provides guided tours that include access to VIP boxes and the opportunity to walk the pitch itself.
Manchester, Urbis Building Cathedral Gardens, Todd Street
Chetham’s Hospital, located immediately north of Manchester Cathedral, was founded in 1422. Originally a priest’s house, it is currently home to a music school and Chetham Library, England’s oldest public library.
The library, which has been in continuous use since 1653, houses over 100,000 books, more than half of which were printed before 1850. Chetham’s is also well-known for hosting Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels during Marx’s visit to Manchester. There are guided tours available.
The Manchester Central Library, located next to the Town Hall, and the Portico Library, which holds the literary collection of Dalton and Joule, the founders of the Manchester Literary and Philosophical Society, are both noteworthy.
The Victorian John Rylands Library, now part of Manchester University, is well worth a visit for its numerous unique collections, which include mediaeval literature, a Gutenberg Bible, and an early printing collection by William Caxton.
Long Millgate, Manchester is the location.
The Manchester Art Gallery has one of the most extensive art collections in the United Kingdom outside of London. The gallery features paintings by the pre-Raphaelites, 17th-century Flemish painters, French impressionists such as Gauguin, Manet, and Monet, and German artists such as Max Ernst.
There are also works by well-known English artists such as Stubbs, Constable, and Turner on display. Rodin, Maillol, Jacob Epstein, and Henry Moore are among the artists represented in the gallery’s significant sculpture collection.
Check out HOME, Manchester’s worldwide centre for contemporary visual arts and independent film, for additional arts & culture tourism attractions. The theatre, located at 70 Oxford Street, is well-known for its frequent presentations of everything from musicals to comedies.
Mosley Street and Princess Street, Manchester
The Whitworth art gallery, which just underwent a substantial renovation, houses a massive collection of approximately 55,000 artworks.
The gallery’s highly contemporary facilities, named after the nearby park, are located in a combination of ancient and new buildings facing a very lovely green space.
The earliest collections date back to 1889, and its excellent collections of sculptures and largely modern artworks have continuously ranked it among Manchester’s best attractions. Watercolors, fabrics, and even wallpapers are among the other significant collections.
There are works by Francis Bacon, Vincent Van Gogh, and Pablo Picasso on display, as well as a substantial collection of outdoor art.
There is a café and a shop on the site, as well as a selection of exciting events and activities for people and families.
Manchester’s address is Oxford Road.
Chinatown, the vibrant home of one of Britain’s major Chinese populations, is just a short walk from the Manchester Art Gallery. The ornately adorned arched entrance leading into the neighbourhood is particularly eye-catching.
The various stores and restaurants here provide a wide variety of Hong Kong and Beijing gastronomic specialities. Do you like to shop? The Centre for Contemporary Chinese Art sells one-of-a-kind Chinese handicrafts and artworks (CFCCA).
Boyle Street, Cheetham, Manchester.
The majestic neo-Gothic Town Hall (1877) dominates pedestrianised Albert Square, and the tower provides great panoramic views of the city.
The Council Chamber, as well as the cycle of Ford Madox Brown murals depicting the city’s history, deserve special attention on the inside. Visit the Free Trade Hall, which inaugurated in 1951.
Throughout the year, several musical concerts are held at the centrally placed Manchester Central Convention Complex, one of the largest such locations in England. The structure is remarkable in that it was built in the midst of the historic Victorian railroad station on Windmill Street.
Manchester’s Albert Square is the location.
The People’s History Museum is the national repository for material relevant to the history of working people in the United Kingdom.
The museum, housed in a disused pumping station, exhibits the history of British democracy and its influence on the population, as well as substantial collections of trade union and women’s suffrage items.
Another nearby museum worth seeing is the Manchester Jewish Museum, which has a unique collection dealing with the city’s Jewish community.
While there are many exciting things to do in Salford for a day excursion, visitors short on time would be wise to explore one or two sites in this beautiful university town. The Salford Quays – colloquially known as “The Quays” – should undoubtedly be at the top of your list.
This newly restored region skirts the banks of the city’s ship canal and is a joy to explore on foot. It’s only a 25-minute, five-kilometer journey away by public transportation. The Lowry Arts Centre is located between the Imperial War Museum North and Old Trafford, which is home to Manchester United Football Club.
It is dedicated to the life and work of local artist L.S. Lowry and includes a performing arts complex as well as several unique works.
Heaton Park, which spans 600 acres, is Greater Manchester’s largest park and one of Europe’s largest municipal parks.
Heaton Hall, constructed in 1772, is located in the centre of the park, and while not all of it is visible to the public, it is still a sight to behold (some buildings, such as the charming Orangery, are open seasonly to the public).
The park has been thoroughly renovated and many of its old buildings and vistas have been preserved.
Sports fans will like the 18-hole golf course, driving range, mini putt, and tennis courts, while families will appreciate the boating lake, animal farm, forests, attractive gardens, observatory, and adventure playground. A volunteer-run tramway and museum are also available.
Manchester’s address is Mosley Street.
Fletcher Moss Botanical Garden is well worth a visit. This enormous green park – part botanical garden, half animal refuge – was founded in 1917 and provides an interesting contrast to the crowded city core.
There are various walking routes on the site, as well as guided “health” walks on a regular basis.
Popular activities in this area include taking a stroll or having a picnic, as well as participating in more rigorous activities such as tennis, rugby, or football. Within the grounds, there is also a beautiful café. (Dogs are permitted.)
Didsbury, Manchester, 18 Stenner Lane
Platt Hall, a magnificent Georgian home erected in 1764 and now part of the Manchester Art Gallery, provides a comprehensive overview of English fashion and costume from 1600 to the current day. It is maybe the only collection that can compete with London’s Victoria & Albert Museum.
The museum’s strengths include its many instances of daily attire, with the Gallery of Costume housing one of the greatest collections of costumes and accessories in the country.
Platt Hall in Rusholme, Manchester