Top 10 things to do in Manchester

Manchester is rightly regarded as one of the most exciting, vibrant and entertaining cities in the UK. With its distinct culture formed by legendary music stars and venues, a deeply held love of sport, a top-class nightlife scene and a rich, storied history, you’ll never be bored here. For the barest glimpse of what this city has to offer, let us share our take on the top 10 things to do in Manchester and its immediate neighbours in Greater Manchester.

Manchester: A city of style and substance

It doesn’t matter whether you’re a foodie, a craft beer or gin connoisseur, a football lover, a culture vulture, or anything else. Whatever your interests and passions, Manchester has you covered. It’s the perfect blend of old and new, as Manchester’s roots go deep but it continues to expand and innovate with its entertainment and artistic scenes.

That’s without mentioning the outstanding green spaces, the café culture, and the captivating architecture that draws the eye and excites the mind. In short, Manchester is not only a great city for keeping you busy. It’s also ideal to just amble through it in your own time.

Whatever pace you want to set yourself, Manchester will provide many suitable options for things to do, see, eat, drink and enjoy.

Our list of the Top 10 things to do in Manchester

Given that everyone’s tastes are different, this list isn’t ‘ranked’ in the traditional sense. These are simply the top 10 things we love to do most when in Manchester, in no particular order.

So read on and see what strikes your fancy. The only problem you’ll have is not knowing what to try first!

Image Credit: David Dixon

1: Manchester Art Gallery

Suggested time to spend: 2 hours+

When it comes to this city’s heritage, buildings don’t get much more iconic than the Manchester Art Gallery. A central factor in city life for almost exactly 200 years (it was initiated in 1823), this is the best place to enjoy thrilling art that is accessible to everybody. Plus, it’s free entry! Alongside thousands of classic pieces, many collections and exhibitions are made up entirely of local Mancunian artists’ work, providing a current social commentary on all aspects of life.

2: Rock and Goal Walking Tour

Suggested time to spend: 2.5 hours (This is how long the tour is timed to last)

Music, football, Manchester is a titan of both. The Rock and Goal Walking Tour is the best way to get to know what makes this city tick when the working day is done. Local expert Joe shows you the top attractions but adds plenty of insider stories for flavour. Discover how the Premier League started, learn the origin story of Oasis, see the set backdrops for Peaky Blinders and Captain America. This just scratches the surface of what you can expect from the official Google number 1 ranked Manchester walking tour.

Image Credit: Wojtek Gurak

3: Imperial War Museum North

Suggested time to spend: 2 hours+

One of the five connected sites that tell the story of over a century of warfare, IWM North is a work of genius both inside and out. Its striking exterior is actually supposed to represent pieces of a shattered globe, representing the destructive power of war. Inside, it’s purposefully disorienting, with curving corridors and a confusing layout designed to remind visitors of the unsettling nature of warfare.

You’ll find the museum stuffed with real-life displays of tanks, artillery, aircraft, equipment and weaponry. Each section also includes highly innovative audio-visual displays and presentations to bring the exhibits to life.

Image Credit: KGGucwa

4: Old Trafford and Etihad Stadium – A Tale of Two City Teams

Suggested time to spend: 1 hour

We couldn’t skip over the fact that Manchester is home to not one but two world-class football teams – Manchester United and Manchester City. Their respective stadiums, Old Trafford and Etihad Stadium, are well worth a visit even if there’s no game on. In both cases, you can arrange for guided tours of the behind-the-scenes areas, the private boxes, trophy displays and more. You can even tread on the hallowed fields themselves!

Extra: For the most dedicated football fans, you can also visit the National Football Museum. It’s packed with memorabilia ranging from historic trophies and strips to the very first football rulebook.

Image Credit: David Dixon

5: Graze through the deliciousness of Ancoats

Suggested time to spend: 2 hours (leisurely brunch, dinner, or just snacking – it’s all worth taking your time over!)

Ancoats is the definition of urban regeneration done right. Wind the clock back and it used to be a rough area where you’d be hard pressed to find any tourists, except those who had gotten themselves lost. Today, Ancoats is one of the coolest ‘on-trend’ neighbourhoods in the city. This definitely applies to its culinary offering, as it’s become a premier league foodie hangout.

From delightful artisanal bakeries to outstandingly authentic Vietnamese street food, tapas and pizza by the slice, Ancoats serves up a gourmet feast on a daily basis.

Image Credit: Michael D Beckwith

6: Manchester Central Library

Suggested time to spend: 1-2 hours

Who doesn’t love to while away a bit of time surrounded by good books? Facing St Peter’s Square, the Manchester Central Library is a joy to look at even before you set foot inside. Completed in 1934, its design is loosely based on the classical Roman style, which explains the columned portico and rotunda dome. Inside, you’ll be overcome by the effortless fusing of modern stylishness and classic charm. It’s an ideal place to quietly work, research, browse or just admire your surroundings.

Image Credit: Bernard Randall

7: People’s History Museum

Suggested time to spend: 1-2 hours

Jutting out like the prow of a ship, the People’s History Museum is the national museum of democracy. As you walk through it, you’re told the fascinating, captivating story of how personal freedoms and rights have been fought for, won and enshrined in law. This is entirely in keeping with Manchester’s history as an incubator for progressive, radical ideas that could change society for the better. Explore the story of our shared past, present and future struggle for fairness.

Image Credit: Stefan Haehnel

8: Enjoy some craft beer

Suggested time to spend: Depends whether you’re sipping or having a session!

If you’ve been walking around the city, taking in its sights and delights, then you deserve a refreshing beverage! Manchester has been honing its reputation as a craft beer hub for years, and the hard work shows in every glass. Speciality bars include Piccadilly Tap, Port Street Beer House and the excellently named Beermoth. Then there are local brewery bars, such as Smithfield Market Tavern and Ancoats’ own Seven Bro7hers Bar.

Image Credit: David Dixon

9: Wander along the canals at Castlefield

Suggested time to spend: 2 hours

For a calm, quiet and reflective moment in this bustling city, you can’t beat a walk along the canal. Castlefield is a designated Urban Heritage Park that shows off Manchester’s idyllic canalside features. Look out for restored Victorian houses, a reconstructed Roman fort and old warehouses that have been turned into modern offices, apartments and independent stores.

If you have the time – or if your feet hurt – you can hop on a barge boating tour. Take it all in from the comfort of the decking, while life drifts lazily by.

Image Credit: Maksim

10: Kick it in ‘The Quays’

Suggested time to spend: Good for however long you have to spare

Salford Quays is another of Manchester’s big investment success stories. Smart apartment blocks, independent and big-name businesses and top attractions have all sprung up here. ‘The Quays’, as the cool kids call it, has enough to keep you busy all day if you want to stay in one place. Not only are there big attractions like IWM North, Old Trafford and the Lowry Centre, there’s no end of cool shopping, dining and entertainment offers to keep you on your toes.

Remember, this is just a tiny fraction of the many amazing things to do in Manchester. If the thought of buying or renting in Manchester sounds appealing, then check out our area guide below. Here you’ll find more information on the city’s history, its various districts and a full list of properties covered by HomeViews ratings and comments.

Manchester is the second largest urban area in England, and is often thought of as the UK’s second city. Located in the north west of England nestled between Liverpool and Leeds, Manchester is also reportedly the UK’s fastest growing city economically. The area’s 2.8 Read more about Manchester

HomeViews provides verified resident reviews of the UK’s housing developments. We’re working with developers, house builders, operators, housing associations and the Government to recognise high performers and help improve standards in the built environment.

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