Welcome to our Manchester Guide
As one of the UK’s leading cities for short breaks, Manchester is full of exciting attractions and events to keep visitors busy. Our Manchester guide can help you plan the perfect trip and discover just how amazing the city is. With such a busy centre, it’s helpful to know exactly how to make your way around and what to expect once you get there. With our Manchester guide you can learn everything you need to know about the city’s transport links, where to eat out, where the main hotspots are and all the little details that make taking a short break that bit easier.
Whether you’re a keen shopper, love your football or want to see some of the world’s leading performers, Manchester has a brilliant variety of attractions and events. The Trafford Centre has every shop you could possibly think of along with some delicious restaurants and cafes, and The Manchester MEN Arena hosts some of the biggest names in music and comedy throughout the year. Manchester’s diverse culture is also a major highlight, and using our Manchester guide you can find a whole host of great museums, art galleries and theatres to keep the whole family entertained whatever the weather. If it’s a bright, sunny day and you don’t feel like being inside, you can venture to Albert Square where it’s rarely empty and filled with bustling food festivals and, in the winter months, an enormous Christmas market.
Must do's by day
Visit Delta Force for the UK’s best paintballing
Make the kids’ day with Legoland Discovery Centre
Explore the history at the Manchester Utd Museum
Must do's by night
Get cultural at the Royal Exchange Theatre
Enjoy some laughs at The Comedy Store
Head to The Molly House for a warm welcome and chilled atmosphere
Travelling to Manchester
With one of the largest UK airports, visitors flying into Manchester can begin their holiday as soon as they take off. Excellent motorway links connect the city to roads leading in every direction across the country, and frequent and efficient rail links can get you to or from London in just over 2 hours.
With four key train stations around Manchester city centre, travelling to the city by train is a very popular choice. Deansgate, Piccadilly, Oxford Road and Victoria are the four stations, with Piccadilly bringing in most of the visitors due to its size.
Manchester’s main ring-road connects the city to motorways heading north, south, east and west across the country. These excellent links make driving to the city very easy, and each of the major attractions are well signposted so you can find them with ease.
Over 100 airlines offer flights to 190 international destinations from Manchester Airport. The airport connects visitors to more destinations in the world than any other UK airport, making it the perfect gateway to the North West of England.
Getting Around in Manchester
As Manchester’s city centre hosts most of the attractions getting around is quite simple by bike or on foot. However, the Metrolink tram system is great if you need to travel further afield, and the free Metroshuttle buses can take you to and from any of the stations.
A comprehensive network of buses links the whole of Manchester to the city centre and beyond. In the city centre, you can hop on one of the Metroshuttle buses. These are free and link to all the main rail stations, shopping districts and businesses in the city centre
Manchester is a bike-friendly city with many marked cycle lanes and dedicated routes throughout the city centre and beyond. You don’t even have to take your own bike as cycle hire points are located all around the city.
Manchester's Metrolink tram system has been developed to encourage easier and faster travel in the city centre and beyond. Connecting all major railway stations and tourist attractions, the Metrolink runs every five minutes making it the perfect mode of transport for those who don't require a strict timetable.
Getting to Manchester
Manchester is one of the UK’s busiest cities for business as well as visitor attractions, so great transport links allow people to travel to the city with ease and efficiency. With one of the largest UK airports, visitors flying into Manchester can begin their holiday as soon as they take off and when you land, trains and taxis will be waiting to take you directly to the centre of the city. Excellent motorway links connect the city to roads leading in every direction across the country, and frequent and efficient rail links can get you to or from London in just over 2 hours.
Top 3 Travel Tips
- Book your train tickets in advance to save as much money as possible
- Make sure you set off early as queues on the motorway can get bad at peak times
- If you're flying, make sure you plan your connecting transport to your hotel for when you land, although taxi's will be waiting outside if you need one
By RailThere are four main railway stations located in or around the centre of Manchester. Deansgate, Piccadilly, Oxford Road and Victoria are all busy stations, with Piccadilly transporting the majority of visitors. Virgin trains run services throughout the UK and can bring or take visitors to London in a little over two hours. TransPennine Express operates services North of Manchester to destinations such as Newcastle and Edinburgh. For shorter journeys, Northern Rail trains transport travellers around to the more nearby cities around the North.
By RoadManchester is well connected to the rest of the UK by excellent motorway links. The M6 in both north and south directions is the busiest motorway in the UK, and can bring visitors from Scotland and most cities in the Midlands. The M62 Eastbound is the main motorway with links over the Pennines to Yorkshire and Lincolnshire. National Express run coaches to Manchester from all major UK cities, so if you don’t fancy driving that’s a great option. Cheaper too!
Manchester Airport is the only ‘Global gateway’ to Northern England. One of the busiest airports in the UK, Manchester Airport is used by more than 100 airlines, connecting 22 million passengers to more destinations in the world that any other airport in the country. Flying to 190 destinations, visitors come and go from all over the world, making it really easy if you’re coming to the city from abroad. Trains run from the airport to the city centre train stations every ten minutes, and a large tai rank waits outside for passengers not wishing to take the train.
Getting Around Manchester
The city centre is very much in walking distance, although you can also hop on and off the free city shuttle buses that nip around connecting the 4 main railway stations and bus terminals. Trams traverse the city too, and passes known as 'daysavers' are available for all the principal forms of transport from £4. Free maps can be gained from tourist information centres at Piccadilly Train Station and the Town Hall Annex. Hotels will often have copies available too. The main attractions are all signposted really well so planning your trip around the sights is easy. Just pick up an all day ticket or hire a bike and head out exploring the best that Manchester has to offer.
Top 3 Travel Tips
- Book your train tickets in advance to save as much money as possible
- Make sure you set off early as queues on the motorway can get bad at peak times
- If you’re flying, make sure you plan your connecting transport to your hotel for when you land, although taxi’s will be waiting outside if you need one
By BusWhen in the city centre, you can hop on one of the Metroshuttle buses. These are free and link to all the main rail stations, shopping districts and businesses in the city centre and operate from 7am - 7pm Monday to Saturday, running approximately every 10 minutes. The Metroshuttle can take you from car parks, stations and tram stops around the city centre's main attractions so you can visit as many places as you have time for, without paying for travel.
By TaxiManchester's Metrolink tram system has been developed to encourage easier and faster travel in the city centre and beyond. Connecting all major railway stations and tourist attractions, the Metrolink runs every five minutes, making it the perfect mode of transport for those who don't require a strict timetable. Trams run from the early morning until late in the evening, and you purchase your ticket from the machine at the platform before you board. Be ready though as some ticket machines don’t accept card payment.
By BikeManchester is a bike-friendly city with many marked cycle lanes and dedicated routes throughout the city centre and beyond. With most of the main attractions and venues being around the city centre, cycling is a great way to avoid the main traffic and discover the city at your own pace. You don’t even have to take your own bike as there are numerous bike hire points around the city. The one inside Piccadilly Station is the most popular due to its convenient location.
Shopping in Manchester
With two huge shopping centres in the Arndale and Trafford Centre, shopping in Manchester can take up a lot of your time. If you love shopping, Manchester will make you feel like a child in a sweet shop. From designer labels to quirky boutiques, Manchester’s shopping scene is as varied as the rest of its attractions. There are a lot of ‘hidden gems’ to keep your eyes open for, whether it’s a cute vintage store or somewhere full of local produce there’s definitely somewhere for you to find what you’re looking for.
An utterly perfect spot for shopping for both men's and women's fashion, a plethora of designer labels and luxury brands, this store in Spinningfields is well worth the trip.
Top 5 Shopping Centres in Manchester
Trafford Centre, Barton Dock Road, Trafford Park, Manchester
A huge centre of fashion, dining and leisure including a cinema, high-ropes adventure course, laser quest and Lego DiscoveryLand
Arndale, Manchester , M4 3AQ
Every high street store you can imagine all under one roof, with delicious food courts and all in the heart of the city
The Corn Exchange, ExchangeSquare, M4 3TR
Sat in the heart of Manchester’s shopping district, this refurbished corn exchange is a haven of boutique stores and great health and beauty brands
GREATnorthern, Management Suite, 235 Deansgate, Manchester M3 4EN
A very modern complex housing cinemas, bars and bustling contemporary stores. The place to be, day or night
Manchester Fort, Cheetham Hill Road, Manchester, M8 8EP
Located just half a mile from the city centre, this late night shopping centre houses great fashion, food and fun for all the family
Top 5 Designer Shops in Manchester
Selfridges, 1 Exchange Square, M3 1BD
Selfridges offers high end and shopping on a huge five floors. Combining big-name fashion, accessories and cosmetics with the edgier high street brands, positioning it firmly ahead of other retail leaders.
Vivienne Westwood, 47 Spring Gardens, King Street, M2 2BG
The well-know, international luxury brand has expanded from its flagship store in London and opened up in fashion haven, Manchester
John Lewis, Peel Ave The Trafford Centre, Manchester M17 8JL
Whether you need clothes, home ware, electrical or beauty products, this high street leader has everything under one roof
House of Fraser, Deansgate, M3 2QG
Housed in a striking art-deco building, the store offers the best of the high street and those harder-to-find brands under one rather large roof.
Harvey Nicholls, 21 New CathedralStreet, M1 1AD
With the world’s leading designers, floor to ceiling glamour and some of the nicest food courts you’ll find, Harvey Nichols is the perfect place to go I you’re looking to splash some cash.
Top 5 Vintage Shops in Manchester
Afflecks, 52 Church St.., Manchester
Afflecks is legendary in Manchester, and for good reason. This towering indie emporium kick-started the careers of many a local entrepreneur, including Red or Dead founder Wayne Hemingway
Retro Rehab, 91 Oldham Street Manchester M1 1JR
This neat boutique stocks a good range of clothing from the '50s to the '80s, alongside its own reworked garments. There's a great choice of accessories, jewellery and bags, but dresses are the specialty.
Cow, Unit C1 City Tower, ParkerStreet, M1 4BD
Cow faces PiccadillyGardens with the boldness of a vintage American Apparel. The innumerable handbags and shoes offer an easy way to bring an edge to a modern outfit.
Pop Boutique, 34-36 Oldham Street, Manchester, M1 1JN
One of the oldest vintage shops in the Northern Quarter, Pop Boutique purveys carefully selected clothing, accessories and furniture from the 50s to the 80s across two floors.
Oxfam Originals, 51 Oldham Street, Manchester, M1 1JR
Buying fashion has never been so rewarding. Oxfam Originals sells the best of donated designer clothes so you can enjoy a one-off piece for the fraction of the price while assisting Oxfam in their good work.
Eating out in Manchester
With over 300 restaurants in Manchester city centre to choose from, eating out in the city is a real treat. A hugely diverse restaurant scene means you have pretty much every cuisine you can think of to choose from, and all in high quality and fine dining establishments. From Indian to French, Greek to Australasian, the variety in nationality is huge and gives visitors the chance to try things they may never have had before. Eat somewhere different every night and discover the taste of the world’s cuisine.
El Rincon de Rafa
Hidden off the main street, this restaurant is easily missed but is definitely worth finding. Serving what is said to be the best tapas in Manchester, El Rincon de Rafa is a basement haven with a quirky and laid back Spanish atmosphere.
Top 5 Fine Dining Restaurants in Manchester
Room, 81 King Street, Manchester, M2 4AH
2AA Rosette accredited restaurant, set in the grand surroundings of the former Reform Club, which offers classic British dishes, all produced with a unique contemporary twist.
James Martin Manchester, 2 Watson Street, Manchester, M3 4LP
Excellent value for money, plush fine dining British restaurant inside the lavish Manchester235 casino, making it one of the most impressive dining arenas in Manchester
Choice, Castle Quay, Castlefield, Manchester, M15 4NT
Excellent multi-award winning restaurant & piano bar in the beautiful Castlefield canal basin, offering local dishes with a fine-dining twist
The French, The Midland Hotel, Peter Street, Manchester, M60 2DS
A legendary restaurant, taken over by Simon Rogan in 2013 and re-established as one of the finest in the city; expect creative and highly seasonal dishes on the menu.
Evuna, 277 Deansgate, Manchester, M34
This stunning Spanish restaurant and wine bar with excellent tapas and terrific a la carte dining too - their Sea Bass is a famed speciality.
Top 5 Restaurants for International Cuisine in Manchester
The Alchemist, 3 Hardman Street, Spinningfields, Manchester, M3 3HF
Fashionable restaurant and cocktail bar, the menu features such worldly delights as Fish & Chips, Special Fried Chicken in a Basket, Mexican Fajitas, salads and fantastic breakfasts
The Armenian Taverna, 3 Princess Street, Manchester,M2 4DF
A Eurassian restaurant next to the town hall in a basement just off Albert Square, serving homely Armenian and Persian delights at great prices
Try Thai, 52-54 Faulkner Street, Manchester, M1 4FH
In the heart of the city's Chinatown, this vibrant and modern Thai restaurant is one of Manchester's favourites - try the traditional Thai dishes straight from the grill.
Rosso, 43 Spring Gardens, King Street, Manchester, M2 2BG
Rio Ferdinand's plush Italian restaurant and celebrity haunt stands proudly at the top of Manchester's prestigious King Street in a stunning 116-year-old Grade II listed building
The Rice Bowl, 33a Cross Street, Manchester, M2 1NL
A family-run Chinese restaurant that's incredibly popular with the locals, The Rice Bowl prides itself on having the best Chinese food in town.
Top 5 Family Friendly Restaurants in Manchester
Dough Pizza Kitchen, 75 - 77 High Street, Manchester,M4 1FS
Wonderful family-friendly pizzeria in the Northern Quarter, offering fresh traditional, whole-wheat, gluten-free & dairy-free pizzas. Kids eat for only £3.50
The Oast House, Crown Square, Manchester, M3 3AY
With a strong and simple menu of firm family favourites - have something special straight off the barbeque or off the rotisserie.
The Printworks, 27 Withy Grove, Manchester, M4 2BS
A huge family-friendly entertainment complex located next to the Phones 4U Arena, which is home to over fifteen restaurants, with something to savour for everyone's taste
Hard Rock Café, Exchange Square, Manchester,M4 2BS
Probably the biggest food portions in Manchester can be found at this family-friendly branch of the legendary chain. Great cocktails, grills and music next door to the MEN Arena and the shops
Sapporo Teppanyaki, 91 Liverpool Road, Castlefield, Manchester, M3 4JN
This Japanese restaurant boasts a unique dining experience with all the entertainment and theatre style of Teppanyaki cooking. Great chef shows to keep the kids entertained during meal time
Night time in Manchester usually means going out drinking and hitting the best clubs for most visitors of the city, but for those who want a more cultured and relaxed evening, there are plenty of attractions to keep you busy. Whether it’s a night of laughs in one of the many comedy clubs, a family night out at the cinema or a trip to the MEN Arena for your favourite singer, Manchester’s nightlife has something to offer everyone.
Top 10 Manchester Nightlife
Matt and Phred’s Jazz Club, 64 Tib Street, Manchester,M4 1LW
Counted as a world landmark Jazz club having played host to artistes such as Wynton Marsalis, Jamie Cullum and The Small Faces, It’s open 6 nights a week with cocktails, food and live music every night.
Royal Exchange Theatre, St. Ann's Square, Manchester M2 7DH
An award-winning Theatre in the centre of Manchester showing everything from original Shakespeare and Wilde to hundreds of brand new plays each year.
The Comedy Store, Arches 3 & 4 Whitworth Street West, Deansgate Locks, M1 5LH
The Comedy Store offers a unique blend of stand up comedy, fine dining and live music so you enjoy a full evening of great entertainment in one place
O2 Apollo, Stockport Road, Manchester, M12 6AP
Showing some of the greatest musical and comedy talent the world has to offer, this is a great place to visit for some world-class entertainment
Manchester235 Casino, 2 Watson Street, Manchester, M3 4LP
For a night of great food, quality bars and a little bit of gambling, this casino is a great venue for your whole evening’s entertainment
ODEON Manchester, 27 Withy Grove, City Centre, Manchester
Enjoy the latest cinema releases in the comfort of a high quality cinema. Whether you like a gory horror or prefer a light-hearted chick-flick there’ll be something to make your night complete.
Phones 4U Arena, Victoria Station, Hunts Bank, Manchester, M3 1AR
The biggest music, theatre and comedy stars in the world take to the stage at the Phones 4U Arena, so if you have a favourite name in pop get your tickets and head to this huge arena.
The Palace Theatre, Oxford Street, Manchester, M1 6FT
One of Manchester’s best theatres for the biggest shows on the stage. The likes of The Lion King, Madame Butterfly and Grease are showing there during 2012/2013
Manchester United at Old Trafford, Trafford Sir Matt Busby Way, Old Trafford M16 0RA
With two huge teams in the same city, competition is high and the level of anticipation makes for a great watch. Head to a night time match and see the beauty of the play under the floodlights
The Birdcage Nightclub, Withy Grove, Manchester, M4 3AQ
Famed club and cabaret bar, The Birdcage offers an experience you won't forget - if flamboyant Drag performances, showgirls and sexy male dancers are your thing, this is the place to be.
The bar scene in Manchester is one of the reasons why so many people visit the city each year. Total diversity awaits you as the vibrant and cultured night life unfolds. From reggae bars to high-class cocktail bars, real-ale pubs to live music venues, Manchester has something to offer everybody. The Northern Quarter is the place to be for a more bohemian and alternative evening, but if you head towards Deansgate, you’ll find the best cocktail bars around, as well as some high prices. Whatever your style of drink or music, there’s a huge variety waiting for you in Manchester.
Top 10 Manchester Bars
Apotheca, 17 Thomas Street, Manchester, M4 1FS
Antique pharmacy cabinets and an almost gothic feel give this Northern Quarter cocktail bar plenty of character and atmosphere for a relaxed and soulful evening
The Liar’s Club, 19A Back Bridge Street, Manchester, M3 2PB
This basement Tiki dive bar and Caribbean rum shop is packed every night of the week, selling the largest rum collection in town and some of the best tropical cocktails around.
The Alchemist, 3 Hardman Street, Spinningfields, Manchester, M3 3HF
One of the most popular cocktail bars, its drinks are carefully crafted using a variety of molecular drinks-making techniques making presentation as important as their extraordinary taste.
The Briton’s Protection, 50 Great Bridgewater Street, Manchester, M1 5LE
Winner of 'The Best Pub in Manchester' title for the past 2 years, this tardis-like haunt boasts over 200 whiskeys, great ales, a beer garden and two roaring fires
Cloud 23, Hilton Manchester, 303 Deansgate, Manchester, M3 4LQ
Located on the 23rd floor of the landmark Hilton Beetham Tower, Manchester's sophisticated sky bar offers amazing views of the city and beyond
Bakerie, 45 Lever Street, Manchester,M60 7HP
This European style bread and wine bar offers great traditional ales and an impressive wine list with over 70 styles to choose from
Dukes 92, 18-25 Castle Street, Castlefield, Manchester, M3 4LZ
Situated in a stunning position with a huge patio on the banks of the Bridgewater Canal, this Mancunian institution is without doubt Manchester's busiest bar when the sun is out
Australasia, Spinningfields, Deansgate, Manchester, M3 3AE
Located underneath the Georgio Armani store, this beautiful Pacific Rim themed cocktail bar boasts impressive drinks whilst the DJ emulator is a real talking point
Odd Bar, 30-32 Thomas Street, Manchester, M4 1ER
This great bar is an unpretentious, bohemian styled, haven to relax in, spread over three floors with regular live music and a fantastic jukebox.
Sandinista!, Old Bank Street, off St Annes Square, Manchester, M2 7PF
Central American influenced classic rock bar, which is open until 3am every night of the week, serving fantastic cocktails and an eclectic soundtrack of rock, indie, funk, soul, reggae and 80s
Manchester is full of attractions to keep visitors entertained, and the wide variety means you can do something completely different on every day of your stay. There are a lot of museums in the city, all with diverse collections of everything from industry items to prehistoric creatures, music to football. There are also some great areas around the city to visit, including the picturesque Heaton park, and some delicious dining choices down intricately designed Chinatown. Whatever you feel like doing, there’s a Manchester attraction to keep you busy.
Top 10 Manchester Attractions
Museum of Science and Industry, Liverpool Road | Castlefield, Manchester M3 4FP
Take an interesting look into the history of the city, with galleries spread across five historic buildings and collections ranging from early textile machinery to modern X-ray equipment.
The Lowry, Pier 8 | Salford Quays, Manchester M50 3AZ
Three theatres, an art gallery, bars and restaurants are all enclosed within its walls making for a great place to discover some of the country’s greatest talents.
National Football Museum, Cathedral Gardens, Manchester M4 3BG
Whether you love football or not, this museums collection of memorabilia, facts and figures and quizzes are sure to keep you entertained.
The Manchester Museum, The University of Manchester | Oxford Road, Manchester M13 9PL
His museum is home to an array of treasures from the natural world and the many cultures it is home to. Highlights include a T.rex and fossils of other pre-historic creatures.
Chinatown, Manchester Centre
Manchester’s Chinatown is one of the largest outside of China. It’s home to great shops and delicious restaurants and is the centre of the city’s Chinese community.
With Manchester City Hall and some wonderful statues, this square is a great place to see some fantastic architecture and the busy markets that fill the space.
This is a huge park with a number of facilities including a public golf course and a small farm that is great for young children. Perfect on a sunny day.
Stonerig Raceway, Unit 2 Milking Green, Hartshead Street, Lees Oldham, OL4 5EE
Great for all ages, this award winning venue hosts some of the country’s best Scalextric racing. Compete against your family on 5 full themed tracks.
John Rylands Library, 150 Deansgate, Manchester
The University Library of Manchester provides an extensive range of services and resources to actual and virtual visitors, and is one of the most popular attractions in the city.
Victoria Baths, Hathersage Road, Chorlton-on-Medlock, Manchester M13 0FE
With a beautiful, ornate interior these baths are a stunning memory of past designs. See the incredible stained glass and tile work, along with the pools themselves, and enjoy some vintage fairs.