Manchester Travel Guide
London may be the first port of call for most foreign visitors, but the Northern capital of Manchester makes for an attractive weekend break. With new restaurants and bars opening every week, England’s second city is a foodie haven, and a popular place for a good night on the town.
What to See and Do
While Manchester may not boast the iconic landmarks that London has, there are still plenty of things to do. For starters, you can visit the homes of Manchester’s two world-famous football clubs; Manchester United and Manchester City. Football fans can also visit the National Football Museum in the city centre, which is filled with football memorabilia. Take a peek inside the John Rylands library – one of the most beautiful libraries in the country – or learn all about Manchester’s industrial past at the Museum of Science and Industry. On a sunny day it’s always nice to walk along the canal near Castlefield, while in winter you can visit one of the best Christmas markets in Europe.
Where to Eat
Manchester is bursting at the seams with bars and restaurants. If you’re looking for affordable fare then the Northern Quarter is your best bet – an area of the city that has a New York-feel; choc-a-bloc with quirky restaurants and independent cafes. Home Sweet Home serves diner-style food and yummy cakes, while Solita is well known for its ‘Big Manc’ burgers. If it’s coffee you’re after, you can’t beat Takk, Federal Cafe or Foundation Coffee.
If you’re planning a more upscale evening, you can’t beat San Carlo – Manchester’s finest Italian restaurant. Popular with footballers and soap actors, the walls are adorned with photographs of celebrities and the service is always of an impeccable standard. Spinningfields is also a popular area for dining out, with high-end restaurants such as Manchester House, Australasia, Tattu, Iberica and Hawksmoor.
Where to Drink
Manchester has a reputation throughout the country for being a great city to go out in. Many people visit the city at weekends for a good night out at one of the many clubbing spots. If you prefer a more casual, hipster vibe, head to the Northern Quarter and any of the bars on Thomas Street. The Whiskey Jar has hundreds of types of whiskies from around the world for you to try, while Cane and Grain is open for rum, ribs, bourbon and beer. Terrace is always a busy spot for cocktails, and when you want to continue into the small hours, Blackdog Ballroom is open till late.
Down towards Spinningfields there are also a number of great bars, including The Oast House, The Lawn Club and The Alchemist. Crazy Pedros is a popular late night joint, serving pizza and drinks till 4am. Revolucion de Cuba is one of Manchester’s biggest venues, so you can always rely on this bar for cocktails and dancing down in the basement.
Where to Shop
Not only is Manchester a great city for nightlife, it’s also a place where you can shop-till-you-drop. The Arndale is an indoor shopping centre housing many major brands, while Market Street is the city’s main thoroughfare, featuring most high-street chains. If you’re looking for something a little more upscale, head to Selfridges or Harvey Nichols, or one of the designer stores on King Street. Barton Arcade and the Royal Exchange are filled with individual boutiques for something a little bit more unique.