Manchester is one of the UK’s biggest cities, with some of its best bars and restaurants and a fantastic array of sights and attractions.
Yet it’s often overlooked by couples and families looking for city break inspiration around the country. It might not have a reputation as one of the UK’s most beautiful cities, but it’s a city on the rise with a vibrant cultural life and an evolving culinary heritage. If you’re planning a weekend in Manchester, here are our top tips.
Getting to Manchester
Thanks to its central location, Manchester is easy to get to from almost anywhere in the UK. There are regular direct trains from London Euston, with a journey time of just two hours. From Glasgow, travelling by train is more time consuming but the M6 motorway gets drivers to the city in just a few hours. If you’re further afield, Manchester Airport is one of the UK’s busiest hubs for international and domestic travel, with flights to most major cities in the UK and Ireland.
Where to stay
Thanks to its relatively compact size, it’s easy to find centrally located accommodation in Manchester. Many visitors to the city stay in the Northern Quarter, near Piccadilly Station and Piccadilly Gardens. This area can be quite lively, so if you’re looking for quieter accommodation, search elsewhere. Visit Manchester has lots of tips on where to stay in the city.
London and Glasgow may get all the glory, but there’s nothing like shopping in Manchester. In the city centre, most visitors and locals head to the Arndale Centre, which has had a fairly recent facelift, or the shops around bustling Deansgate. You’ll find a range of recognisable high street chains and department stores here; if that’s not what you’re after, the Northern Quarter is home to a range of offbeat and independent shops.
Outsde the city centre, the Trafford Centre is one of the area’s largest draws. This enormous shopping centre is one of the UK’s biggest, incorporating a cinema, a food court, a bowling alley and lots of other entertainment, in addition to a mind-boggling array of shops and boutiques. To scour every shop from end-to-end, you’ll need to spend nearly a day here, so it’s one for die-hard shopping enthusiasts.
From a great meal in Chinatown to a classic Sunday roast in a pub, Manchester’s got great food everywhere you look. As if to prove what a great place it is for foodies, London’s famous steak restaurant Hawksmoor is opening in Manchester in 2015; at the other end of the scale, TV chef Simon Rimmer’s vegetarian restaurant Greens has been delighting local meat-free diners for years, so you can be sure there’s something for everyone.
For more tips on the best places to eat in Manchester, check out tasteofmanchester.com.
For most people, Manchester means one thing: football. And for fans of the game, stadium tours of Manchester City Stadium and Old Trafford, where Manchester United play, are frequent and make great family-friendly fun. There’s even a National Football Museum in Cathedral Gardens, which is free to enter.
But don’t let a love of football blind you to Manchester’s other great attractions. Manchester Cathedral is a stunning building, and well worth visiting. The Museum of Science and Industry offers a fascinating insight into the city’s history, particularly its industrial past; and the mesmerising John Rylands Library is an absolute must for book-lovers.
What are your favourite things to see and do in Manchester?