Wondering what are the best things to do in Manchester? Well known for its industrial heritage, Manchester is a modern and vibrant city located in the North West of England. Having lived in Manchester for over three years, I had time to learn most of its secrets and understand how its rich history still resonates today.
Table of Contents
Things to do in Manchester
What I love the most about Manchester is how well it managed to transform its old buildings, mills and factories, into modern, cutting-edge clubs, bars, restaurants and centres. Together with its well preserved old-school pubs and impressive gothic cathedrals and universities, Manchester is a city full of character, with multiple personalities and creative layout.
Manchester Art Gallery
I used to finish my lectures early on a Thursday, hence, on my way home, I would stop and walk around the Manchester Art Gallery. Manchester Art Gallery has free admission and opens seven days a week. It houses many works of local and international significance and has a collection of more than 25,000 objects. This is definitely one of the things I miss about Manchester.
Manchester John Rylands Library
I believe that John Rylands Library acts a gateway to the world of Harry Potter. It contains some of the world's finest collections of books and manuscripts and it's sure to come in handy if you are a student in search of dissertation material. It has a very warm and welcoming setting and it feels amazing just being there. This is your chance to grab a book, relax and feel like a wizard.
The University of Manchester
One of Britain's most prestigious universities, The University of Manchester was first opened in 1824, back then known as the Manchester Mechanics Institute. According to The Sunday Times, "Manchester has a formidable reputation spanning most disciplines, but most notably in the life sciences, engineering, humanities, economics, sociology and the social sciences".
As of 2015, Manchester is ranked as the 8th, 14th and 50th most reputable university in the UK, Europe and the world respectively. It has 25 Nobel Laureates as alumni. It's an honour to be a legal alumnus myself. I've finished Law and Criminology with honours, back in 2011. If it wasn't for the University of Manchester, I would have probably lacked many skills needed to develop a flourishing career. You can read more about it here.
Manchester Royal Exchange
This one is for the theatre lovers. The Manchester Royal Exchange, now home to some of the world's most exciting art events, used to be nothing but a Cotton Exchange. You can visit the Royal Exchange arcade which is open for pedestrians only and dotted with retail shops.
I remember that I used to visit this tobacco shop just to look at their impressive collection of pipes and zippo lighters. The moment you enter the Royal Exchange, you will be impressed by the amazing colours and its very inviting classical style architecture.
Manchester Heaton Park
How would you like to visit the largest municipal park in Europe? Well, it's right in the heart of Manchester. Enjoy over 600 acres of natural beauty, including a Grade I listed building. Above all, remember that Heaton Park is home to many summer festivals and a great place for students to gather and have a laugh. Heaton Park is also very popular during the 5th of November, which is bonfire night.
Manchester China Town
The China Town in Manchester is the third largest in Europe, located right in the city centre. It features a recognisable archway and it becomes a place of celebration during the Chinese New Year. China Town is home to many very yummy restaurants so don't leave Manchester without trying a few of them.
If you are interested in Football, apart from visiting the Old Trafford, you may want to check out Urbis, a modern and unusually shaped building designed by Ian Simpson. It's made of glass and it's specifically been built to attract attention. Once you have finished admiring the outsides, take a look in the inside. You won't be disappointed.
A gothic building with medieval furnishing and origins. I discovered this Cathedral by mistake, as I was trying to find my way towards Victoria Station.
As I was on my way to work from the library, I decided to take a few minutes to look around and even step inside to admire its impressive interior. Although I'm not religious, time and time again, I returned to its quiet garden and found my inner peace, before continuing on my journey.
This site bears a great historical significance to the city of Manchester. Castlefield was one the site of the Roman era fort of Mamucium / Mancunium which gave its name to Manchester. It was also the terminus of the Bridgewater canal, built in 1764. This was the world's first industrial canal. As Manchester was at the heart of the industrial revolution, the world's first passenger railway terminated here in 1830, at Liverpool Road railway station.
Manchester St Peter Square
Sure it's no Vatican city, but I still love St Peter Square, mainly because of the impressive Manchester Central Library. Here, you can also catch the tram, one of my favourite methods of transportation in Manchester. If you are a bookworm like I am, then make your way into the Central Library. It features a neoclassical rotunda which is rather unusual in the North.
The Manchester Museum is in fact owned by the prestigious University of Manchester. It features a great deal of natural history, archaeological and anthropological work. When I started studying in Manchester, I used to pass the museum almost every day. It had a giant sea crab displayed in one of the windows towards the main street which always fascinated and intrigued me. The admission is free and in my opinion, is one of the best museums in England.
If you love natural histories, then very likely you will also enjoy visiting the Donna Nook Grey Seal Colony located in the Doona Nook Natural Reserve just three hours drive away from Manchester.
Manchester Gay Village
Gay Village or Canal Street is one of Manchester's most colourful places. Although quiet and innocent during daytime, it really lights up and comes to life after twilight. It's a great place to go out with your friends. Prices are decent and there are lots of themed nights for you to enjoy - from drag to naked. Fun, fun, fun!
Manchester Artsy Cornerhouse
If you like alternative artsy movies, good coffee and people dressed in old-school dresses, the Cornerhouse will sure catch your eye. I used to pass the Cornerhouse daily and I made a habit of stopping there a few times a week. The Cornerhouse was operated as a charity and it was open to promoting cinematic and visual arts.
Pin this now
I may be biased, but I think Manchester truly is a cool place. Although quite rainy and cold, the student life, visual arts and crazy nightlife sure make Manchester into one of Britain's most colourful and dazzling cities.
Why would you like to visit Manchester? What is your main point of interest? Let me know in the comment section below.