Once a major industrial hub, Manchester is now one of the most modern and technologically advanced cities in the UK. Home to three universities, this city is incredibly vibrant and fun during term, with an incomparable nightlife and laid back lifestyle. I lived in Manchester for three years, during which I met some of my best friends. Although I now live in sunny Bristol, there is no day I don't think fondly of Manchester, which truly is one of the coolest cities in the UK.
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What to do in Manchester
It is tough if you only have one day to spend in Manchester because there are myriad things to see and do. I dedicated years to exploring its streets, yet even today I realise there are so many stones left unturned. Every time I visit, I always discover something new and exciting.
Manchester Town Hall
This iconic new-gothic building is one of Manchester's most impressive architectural gems. Completed in 1877, it has been in use ever since and today is open to all visitors. Although you will be blown away by the Town Hall's exterior, wait until you step indoors. To me, it feels like entering an old museum, with fairytale staircases and beautiful archway windows. Having felt like a princess just by walking around, I can most certainly understand why the Manchester Town Hall is now open for weddings and special ceremonies. Who wouldn't want to get married in such a beautiful building?
Did you know: John Ruskin referred to the Manchester Town Hall as being "The most truly magnificent Gothic apartment in Europe."
St Ann's Square
Full of brand boutiques, small passageways and narrow streets, St Ann's Square is simply fabulous for the shopaholic. This atmospheric place leads you towards Exchange Street, home of the Royal Exchange Theatre, one of the most renowned theatres in Manchester.
I believe no visit to Manchester can be complete without paying a visit to the University of Manchester. With 25 Nobel Laureates, this institution has progressed significantly over the past decades, now being one of the top universities in the world. Although the main building will make you feel as if you have stepped into Hogwarts, many of its modern extensions will more likely remind you of science fiction. This very contrast makes this beautiful building one of the coolest places to be in.
Tip: Check out The Old Quadrangle at the University of Manchester. I used to listen to music and read legal books here. This place is so close to my heart, I always return to photograph it and daydream of my student years.
Did you know: The University of Manchester's motto is: "Cognitio, sapientia, humanitas" which translates to "Knowledge, Wisdom and Humanity".
The museum offers free admission and is located right next to the University of Manchester, on Oxford Road. At the Manchester Museum, you will find impressive collections displaying works of archaeology, anthropology and natural sciences. It features a huge dinosaur skeleton and a giant sea crab, which is sure to capture your imagination for months to come. This is one of my favourite museums to visit, especially during the week when it's really quiet. At the end of your visit, you can sit at the café and enjoy some delicious handmade sandwiches.
Located in the heart of Manchester, the Exchange Square is a civil square created after the IRA Manchester bombing. Although you can just chill here with an ice cream, I recommend exploring Arndale, a major shopping centre, the Printworks, an entertainment hotspot, and the nearby pubs: The Oyster Bar and The Old Wellington.
If you are lucky enough to have sunny weather, head to The Piccadilly Gardens where tourists and locals alike tend to meet and hang out. Grab a blanket or sit on the grass, make new friends and have some fun. There are a couple of supermarkets in the proximity, hence you can grab a bite if you fancy a picnic.
Must Eat in Manchester
Located in the Northern Quarter this is my favourite place for brunch. Don't worry if it's past lunch time, Trof serves breakfast all day long. Have a full English, or better yet, order their amazing house burgers, together with a smoothie and a killer French Toast. Hungry still? How about a delicious ice cream banana sundae? Yummy!
Manchester tip for gin and whiskey lovers
Royal Exchange Arcade
Head over to the Royal Exchange Arcade where you will find a cute shop called Astons. This old independent retailer has been around for decades. Step into the world of flavoured tobacco, cool cigars and fancy beverages. Pick your favorite gin or whiskey from a wide variety of bottles available on display.
Must not miss in Manchester
Central Library Manchester
Open to the public, you can visit the Manchester Library without the need of a permit. You can pick your favorite book, sit down and read as much as you wish. If you want to borrow books, head over to the reception where friendly staff will guide you throughout the process. The Central Library in Manchester has an impressive collection of travel guides, which I used to read in my spare time. It's the perfect place to take a break whilst planning a visit to that sexy island in the Indian Ocean.
Did you know: This is the second biggest lending library in Britain, after the Birmingham Library.
Just before you leave Manchester, pay a quick visit to its vibrant Northern Quarter. This is Manchester's coolest neighbourhood, where hipsters, artists and funky students like to meet, party and have fun. Here you can find anything from awesome eateries, modern bars and street art, to crazy shops such as the Afflecks Palace.