As one of the most high-profile urban areas in the UK outside of London, Manchester naturally has a lot to offer. There are famous bars, there’s a wide range of live music hot spots, there are unique places for date nights out, and plenty more. But sometimes, when you visit a city, you want to hit the highlights. Particularly if you only have limited time, you may want to spend it experiencing the must-see attractions, rather than wandering about in search of the perfect little pub or the most charming side street. With this in mind, here are four of the absolute “musts” on a trip to Manchester.
In the UK more than most countries, it can be easy to get confused by the variety of cathedrals, chapels, old government buildings, city halls, and the like that there are to visit. Among the bigger cities, there’s truly a dizzying number of options in these categories. Some are well worth a traveller’s time and others can be somewhat underwhelming, but Manchester Cathedral belongs squarely in the former category. This stunning church was built up gradually over a fairly lengthy span of time, but construction began in the 1400s, making it in some respects one of the city’s oldest buildings. It stands 135 feet high, and though it’s been partially reconstructed at various points (including following damage during World War II), what you see today is still very much a version of the old structure. Some go for the architecture (it’s built in the Gothic Perpendicular style), but even if you don’t have an eye for such things you’ll appreciate its beauty and history.
In Manchester, football is bigger than any one stadium, or even one club. This single city is home to two of the most prestigious clubs in Europe (Manchester United and Manchester City), and naturally this leads to a great appreciation for “the beautiful game” more broadly. It’s common practice even for football fans who don’t attend live matches to follow the scores online, keep up with the teams and leagues that interest them, and even gather in local pubs to watch televised matches in public. It’s all quite a lot of fun to get into, but none of it compares to an actual trip to Old Trafford.
The home of Manchester United is one of the most historic football venues in Europe. It is an exceedingly special place to see the sport live. For that matter, even if you can’t secure tickets or there isn’t a match while you’re in town, you can book a tour of the stadium. It still is one of the more unique and enjoyable things to do in Manchester.
Yes, being told to visit an entire neighbourhood within a city can seem somewhat vague. At the same time though, plenty of big cities are known for specific areas that, for whatever reason, catch fire and become trendy and enchanting please, sometimes for years or decades at a time. Right now, that spot in Manchester is the Northern Quarter. It’s a lively, busy, but authentic-feeling neighbourhood, marked by coffee cafés, bars and restaurants, street art, and crowds of interesting people. Given all of this, specific experiences can vary between visitors, but it’s still wise to set aside some time to explore the area.
First opened in 2015, HOME Manchester is a full-fledged arts centre, built to showcase international film, theatre, and contemporary art. It’s a beautiful, modern construction, but also one of the most appealing places in the city for a bit of cultural tourism. HOME welcomed more than a million visitors in its first year, when it was still something of an experiment (and not well known among tourists), and it has continued to be very popular addition to the city’s arts scene. It’s well worth some of your time, particularly if you’re spending the rest of it touring around the city and you’d like to get inside and perhaps get off your feet to take in a performance or screening!
What are your favourite things to do in Manchester? I’m actually heading there tomorrow again to see the Spice Girls!
*This is a guest post