It's hardly surprising that Manchester finds itself listed among the world's top 10 destinations. It's the UK's most visited city for overseas tourists after London. It's also England's "second city" and the unofficial "capital of the North".
Its vibrant arts scene, its stellar shopping and fine dining, its celebrity appeal, and its LGBT scene are all part of the city's charm. Manchester is also a favorite with soccer fans, who come to see its two premier league teams in action.
And of course, there's the music and nightlife scene, cultural highlights like the Whitworth Art Gallery and the HOME Arts Centre, the bars and cafes, and the festivals and events that have shaped the modern face of one of the UK's most vibrant cities. So many great reasons to plan a stay in Manchester!
Manchester's modern skyline is impressive; ultra-modern buildings like Beetham Tower and Urbis contrast with the Gothic splendor of Manchester Town Hall and Manchester Cathedral. Take a guided tour of Salford Quays to discover more of the city's historic and architectural treasures like the Imperial War Museum North.
Everyone is welcome in Manchester. The city boasts one of the largest Chinatowns in the UK and its Curry Mile is the place to try some of the nation's favorite dishes. Salt-of-the-earth northerners, students, and artists mingle in every part of the city. And, of course, Manchester's famous Gay Village is home to one of Europe's friendliest and oldest gay communities, and the area also boasts some of the city's best restaurants such Velvet on Canal Street.
Take an open-top bus tour of the city, explore the wonders of the world at the Museum of Science and Industry, or introduce the kids to culture at the interactive Clore Art Studio at Manchester Art Gallery. Discover how the law was upheld in Victorian times at the Greater Manchester Police Museum or try the Manchester Spy Mission Treasure Trail at Piccadilly Gardens.
The city's clubs and venues launched bands like Joy Division and the Smiths and gave the world Oasis and the Britpop explosion of the 1990s. Today, venues like Dry Bar, opened by Factory's Tony Wilson, and Night and Day Cafe present the latest up-and-coming local and international bands, while headline acts can be seen at Manchester Arena and the O2 Apollo.
The National Football Museum is sure to be on your agenda whether you're a City or United fan, while cricket fans can check out the Emirates Old Trafford Cricket Ground.
Since 1980, this neighborhood has been designated a conservation zone - a living museum of the city's past. An ancient Roman fort by the name of Mamucium was built here, and eventually gave the modern city of Manchester its name. Tourists can still admire its ruins. More recent developments include the Bridgewater Canal, leading to a network of quaint waterways that are now speckled with trendy bars and restaurants. Meanwhile, the Museum of Science and Industry provides historical context.
A famous sight in the heart of Manchester, this cathedral belongs to the Church of England and its grandeur lives up to that affiliation. Largely reconstructed after World War II, the building maintains its medieval atmosphere. Start at the visitor center to gain some knowledge about the towering structure beyond, before letting every detail of the vast interior wash over you. Light streams in through stained glass windows, and you can feel the historic gravity with every step.
The artwork of centuries past hangs in this extensive art gallery, which welcomes nearly half a million visitors each year. The building itself is notable, featuring both historic architectural styles as well as elaborate contemporary renovations. The result is an unforgettable space for unforgettable art, with pieces from the Dutch and English schools of European painting stealing the show. Nearby, the Manchester Town Hall is an epic neo-gothic construction that should not be missed either.
This public recreation zone could practically be considered an amusement park, what with all of the sights and attractions speckled across its premises. With a reservoir, orangery, golf course, and seemingly endless green spaces, the area is scenic and full of options. Ride the nostalgic Heaton Park Tramway and take the weight off your feet, or visit one of the delectable restaurants and indulge in some good eats. There is even boating, horse riding and bowling available!
Located in a former hydraulic pumping station, this museum delves into a wealth of material on the working classes of the UK. Ranging from political to personal contexts, exhibits paint a picture of this diverse but united class of citizens. Discover the details of "a day in the life," and read about the fight for unionization and rights. A history of democracy is the undercurrent that bonds every exhibit together, ensuring you walk away with a deeper understanding of the Labour Movement.
Summer, from May to September, is peak season in Manchester as thousands of visitors come for festivals and events such as the Parklife Music Festival in June and Manchester Pride in August. The period from December to January is also incredibly popular. Manchester's bustling Christmas Markets are among the biggest and best in Europe, while the Chinese New Year celebrations in Chinatown each January attract visitors from around the globe. Try booking a stay in spring from March to April or in fall from October to November. You'll still have all the fabulous shops and restaurants, the history and architecture, the sports venues and the Village, but with fewer crowds and lower hotel rates.
Manchester Airport is 7.5 miles south of the city center. TransPennine Express trains run regularly to Manchester Piccadilly Station and a single ticket is £5. The airport is also served by local buses (44, 45) and by a National Express coach service. The trip takes 30 minutes with National Express and tickets start at £4.30. Licensed taxis are also available and the fare to the city center is £25 to £30 depending on traffic.
Intercity trains from major UK cities like London, Glasgow, and Birmingham terminate at Manchester Piccadilly station in the south central district of the city. Good local transportation links will take you to any part of Manchester and taxis can be caught at the station taxi rank.
The M60 ring road circles the city and connects with various major roads. Take the M6 and M61 from Scotland and the north of England, or the M6 and M56 if you're coming from London and the south.
National Express and Megabus offer services from many UK cities such as London, Newcastle, Liverpool, and Edinburgh. Fares start from £7.50 for the National Express service from London Victoria to Manchester Coach Station at Chorlton Street in the city center. Megabus costs £24 if you're traveling from Edinburgh and the service terminates at the Shudehill Interchange, which is in the Northern Quarter.
Manchester boasts an impressive range of hotels to suit all tastes from the boutique hotel glamour of Roomzzz Manchester City to the traditional luxury and elegance of the Principal Manchester. There are also plenty of mid-range hotels to choose from such as the Castlefield Hotel, Britannia Sachas Hotel, and the Copthorne Hotel Manchester.
East Central - this is the sector bordered by the A62, Oxford Road, and the A57, and the heart of the city center. Notable areas include the trendy Northern Quarter, Chinatown, and the Village.
North Central - a bustling district comprised of the new Spinningfields business development, the Millennium Quarter, Deansgate, St. Ann's Square, and Albert Square.
West Central - this part of the city boasts the upscale Castlefield neighborhood, home to the Bridgewater canal, Manchester's first man-made waterway. It also includes St Peter's Field, where many of the city's conference and exhibition centers are located.
Manchester is well served by local buses, the Metrolink tram service, and an overland rail network. The System One Day Saver Ticket is the best option for visitors, and it can be used on any bus or tram in the Greater Manchester region. An adult Day Saver costs £5.60 and can be purchased online or at local stations.
Licensed taxis and mini cabs are readily available. Traditional black taxis can be found at ranks in the city center as well as at stations and at the airport. A typical five-mile trip costs £15.
Manchester is a big city and having a vehicle at your disposal means that you can explore it at your leisure. As long as you remember to stay on the left, it's incredibly easy to navigate. You can rent a car at the airport and in the city, and companies include Enterprise and Europcar. Expect to pay £18 per day for a medium-sized family car.
Explore the vintage clothes shops and record stores in the Northern Quarter or shop for leading high street brands at the Arndale Centre. If you're looking for fashion clothing and accessories, the designer boutiques and department stores of Exchange Square and New Cathedral Street are ideal. Highlights include Selfridges and Harvey Nichols. Or, venture a little further afield to the Trafford Centre, one of the largest shopping malls in Europe.
You'll find branches of Tesco, Morrisons, or Sainsbury's all over the city as well as local grocery stores and specialty outlets. A quart of whole milk costs £0.79 and a dozen eggs cost £2.45. Try pharmacy chains like Boots, Superdrug, and Lloyds for cosmetics, toiletries, and baby care.
Manchester's Chinatown is one of the largest in the country and you'll discover an impressive range of restaurants. For classic Cantonese, try Yang Sing, or visit Red Chilli for Sichuan and Beijing cuisine in an upmarket setting. If you love Indian food then local favorite Akbars and Zouk Tea Bar & Grill are sure to please. Or for something a little more special try the French at the Midland Hotel. You can expect to pay £10 for a basic meal in a diner or from £50 for dinner in a refined restaurant.