SelectResidential home

10 Best Things to Do in Manchester

Author: platform81

Nestled in the heart of England, the northern city of Manchester is brimming with culture and history. It’s the birthplace of suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst, writer-composer Anthony Burgess and the artistic inspiration for LS Lowry. Whether you’re into history, food, sport, music or shopping, Manchester has it all.

The Top 10 Things to Do in Manchester:

Here’s what we consider to be the top 10 things to do in Manchester.

1. Manchester Music Tours

Manchester’s musical heritage is rich and diverse. The legacy of this city covers various genres and movements from the late 1980s “Madchester” music scene with its fusion of alternative rock, indie pop, dance and others, to post-punk, Britpop, The Smiths and Morrissey, The Chemical Brothers and New Order. It’s safe to say that a Music Tour in Manchester is like nowhere else on earth.

Manchester offers music-themed bus tours and walks, including:

  • The Smiths Tour: Covering locations across Manchester that shaped their records.
  • Joy Division Tour: Covering the locations in Macclesfield where the band’s iconic music was created.
  • Oasis Tour: A 3-hour tour exploring the Gallagher brothers’ humble beginnings.
  • The Stone Roses Tour: A trip covering places that inspired their music.
  • Music Tour Special: Covering locations, hangouts and gig venues of Manchester’s finest bands.

2. Chinatown

Manchester’s Chinatown is the UK’s second-largest after London. It’s also the third-largest in Europe. The area dates back to the early 20th century when the first Chinese settlers arrived. The first Chinese restaurant opened in Oxford Street in 1948 and the scene grew in the following years as Chinese immigration grew.

You’ll find Chinatown within the city centre, close to Manchester Art Gallery. One of its most famous landmarks is the Faulkner Street archway, a paifang, which was built in China and shipped over to Manchester during the 1980s. It was a gift to the Chinese community of Manchester from Manchester City Council after the city was twinned with Wuhan.

As expected, Chinatown offers a range of restaurants, bakeries and shops offering authentic Chinese delicacies and goods. If you’re a fan of Vietnamese, Korean, Thai and Japanese cuisine, you’ll find it here too! It’s a vibrant cultural enclave that you can’t miss.

3. Manchester Museum

Fancy a bit of culture? Manchester Museum is a free museum with over 4.5 million objects on display. It’s over 130 years old and is one of the largest university museums in the country. The neo-Gothic building, designed by Alfred Waterhouse, incorporates millions of objects in its archaeology exhibits and natural history displays, anthropology areas and more. You can explore artefacts from Ancient Egypt and see fossils of prehistoric creatures all under one roof. It’s a fantastic location that caters to everyone—a must-visit destination for families and history buffs.

4. Football Stadium Tours

Manchester is home to two of the world’s most iconic football clubs: Manchester United and Manchester City. Both are popular Premier League football clubs with highly localised fanbases. Whether you’re a United or City fan or just love football, a football stadium tour is well worth your time.

The Manchester City Stadium tour is a two-hour experience of the Etihad Stadium, giving you access to the press conference room (where you can virtually field questions with Pep Guardiola), the players’ tunnel, the dug-outs, and more.

The Old Trafford Tour Experience includes exploring the players’ changing room, the press room, the players’ tunnel, the pitch and more. There are even experiences that offer a three-course meal at the end too.

5. The Northern Quarter

For the creative types among us, you can’t miss Manchester’s Northern Quarter. This eclectic district is full of vibrant street art, creative spaces, independent shops and unique cafes. It’s the N4 area of Manchester that’s centred on Oldham Street between Piccadilly station, Ancoats and Victoria station.

Once an industrial hub of warehouses and textile mills, the Northern Quarter is a great destination for anyone seeking to see a more alternative side to what Manchester has to offer.

6. The National Football Museum

It’s not surprising that Manchester is home to the National Football Museum given its two important rival teams. The museum was opened in 2001 in the iconic Urbis building in the city centre.

It’s a great spot for the whole family to learn about the sport and its history. There are interactive exhibits, memorabilia and trails. You can even have a guided tour at no extra cost. So, fancy seeing the 1966 World Cup ball or Maradona’s ‘Hand of God’ match shirt from 1986, get yourself there!

7. Heaton Park

Manchester is, unfortunately for most, infamous for its rainy weather. But should you be lucky enough to visit on a dry day (or not, if you don’t mind a bit of drizzle), Heaton Park is a large park where you can escape the city for a few hours. It has woodlands, ornamental gardens, expansive green spaces and a boating lake. The park is also home to several historic landmarks, including Heaton Hall and the Heaton Park Tramway.

8. Visit one of Manchester’s famous libraries (Portico, Chetham’s, John Rylands)

Book lovers have several renowned libraries to explore and each one has its own architectural significance and history.

Chetham’s Library on Hunts Bank is the oldest public library in the English-speaking world. It has been in continuous use for more than 350 years in a medieval building. The library is also a museum and has guided tours.

If you’re into neo-Gothic architecture, you’ll love John Rylands Research Institute and Library. This purpose-built Grade 1 building houses rare manuscripts, books and archives and was commissioned in memory of Manchester’s first multimillionaire, John Rylands, who owned the largest textile manufacturing building in the United Kingdom. Many consider the library to be one of the most beautiful libraries in the world—you may even mistake it for a church!

Finally, the Portico Library has more than 25,000 books lining its shelves. There are also free public exhibitions and artworks on display here.

9. Manchester Art Gallery

Founded in the early 19th century, the Manchester Art Gallery has a range of fine art, paintings, sculptures, ceramics and textiles from around the world and features works by renowned artists like Pre-Raphaelites and French Impressionists. There are rotating exhibitions, educational programs and interactive galleries, which make for an interesting and enriching day out.

10. The Lowry

Named after L.S. Lowry himself, The Lowry is dedicated to the visual arts, theatre and entertainment. It opened in 2000 at Salford Quays and is now known as a landmark destination for arts and culture in Greater Manchester. It’s one of Manchester’s most visited attractions.

There are a range of artistic experiences on offer. From theatre productions to contemporary art exhibitions, workshops and dance performances. The architecture of the building is pretty iconic too.