Manchester is the ‘uncrowned’ powerhouse and capital of the North of England, not too far from its nearest neighbor Liverpool. While most travelers make a bee-line for London to soak up the history and the hustle and bustle, the vast majority fail to even consider Manchester, the city that gave birth to the Industrial Revolution. Locals are classed as the most friendly and relaxed people within the UK and are fiercely proud of their roots. And why wouldn’t they be? The city has a rich history, promotes one of the world’s leading medical and science research facilities and sports two of the world’s largest football (soccer) teams, an ice hockey team and has hosted the Commonwealth Games.
Guest post by Keith Evans
Blog: My Passport To Shangrila
What’s the best time to visit Manchester?
Because of its geographical location in England, it is known as ‘Rain-chester’ due to the fact that it rains a lot here. The city is surrounded by hills and mountains, and the weather tends to get trapped rolling in off the Atlantic Ocean. However, this is not to say the city is grey, far from it. Its colourful and vibrant. Like anywhere in Northern Europe, the summer months between June and September are your best chance to stay dry, plus summer days are very long. The sun rises around 4am and does not set until almost 10pm!
What’s good to know about Manchester?
– Architecture! The buildings are stunning – most people tend not to look up but focus on the streets below. You miss out on so much.
– Its an incredibly easy city to get to. The city is fed by a direct train service from London Euston that takes about two hours, and outside of London Heathrow and London Gatwick boasts the country’s third largest airport with direct services from every continent in the world.
– Manchester airport is roughly 7 miles from the city centre and trains leave every few minutes.
– Navigating the city is easy. The whole city is connected by the Metro service. Bright yellow trams meander the city and are relativity cheap. Do not bother with taxis. You will be faster on foot or using the Metro service.
– If you enjoy food, music and culture, Manchester will not fail to please you. The city is divided into various districts. The CBD, The Green Quarter, The Northern Quarter, Spinningfields, Exchange Square, Albert Square and boasts one of the largest gay neighborhoods named the Gay Village.
One day in Manchester itinerary
Top things to do in Manchester, United Kingdom
To do this city in 24 hours would actually be an injustice. However, if 24 hours is all you have, then get out early and explore! Follow this guide and make the most of your trip even if you’re short on time. These are the top sights and things to do during your one day in Manchester.
Museums and Libraries
Did you know Manchester is home to some of the most beautiful libraries in the world? Of course you did not, they are underrated. Chetham’s Library is the oldest free public library in the English-speaking world. While the exact dates of construction for all of its buildings are unknown, the foundations were poured around 1080.
The John Rylands Library is breathtaking in a kind of ‘Hogwarts sort of way’. Named for John Rylands but actually founded by his wife, it is the kind of place where you never stop looking up, even when you manage to score an alcove in the soaring Reading Room for yourself.
The Manchester Central Library is considered one of the grand old buildings of Europe. Circular in design, it stands resolutely between the Midland Hotel (where Mr’s Rolls and Royce developed the car) and Manchester Town Hall. The galleries and exhibit halls flank the outside of the structure. Just downriver from the slightly more musically-famous Liverpool, other offspring of Manchester’s illustrious musical history include Morrissey, Joy Division and the Stone Roses.
MOSI, or Manchester of Science and Industry, is a free museum which displays Manchester’s rich industrial legacy explored in this excellent museum set within the enormous grounds of the old Liverpool St Station, the oldest rail terminus in the world. The large collection of steam engines and original factory machinery tells the story of the city from the sewers up, while a host of new technology talks about its future. You can access this museum by using the Metro and disembarking at Castlefields-Deansgate stop.
Manchester Town Hall is one of the most iconic landmarks in the city providing a decadent, historical setting. Catch the Metro to Albert Square. The Town Hall is regarded as one of the finest examples of neo-Gothic architecture in the United Kingdom and is one of the most important Grade 1 buildings in England. The Town Hall additionally creates an incredible backdrop to one of Europe’s biggest Christmas Markets.
Media City – Catch the Metro to MediaCityUK to discover the BBC’s Northern home. But this is just one significant element of this vast, 81-hectare site: it is also home to the set of the world’s longest running soap opera, the popular Coronation Street. At media city, you will also discover other sites such as the Imperial War Museum – a huge and beautifully designed aluminium clad building; the Lowry Theatre and Shopping Mall and from the Quayside the view of one of the biggest football clubs in the world, Manchester United.
If shopping is your thing, then you will be spoiled. There are three distinct areas all of which are accessible by foot or jumping on the relevant Metro services. If you are after Premium department stores offering lavish items, then head to King Street where you will discover Chanel, Dior, Vivienne Westwood and Louis Vuitton, along with the designer restaurants of Rosso or Gotham. Most bars and restaurants in this area are owned by celebrities, and it’s probably the best place to spot international singers/actors etc.
If you are after High Street stores then head to Market Street and Exchange Square that is home to the usual Diesel, H&M, Lacoste and 2 huge department stores Selfridges and Harvey Nichols.
The third shopping area is found in the Northern Quarter – this is probably the most relaxed area of the city and offers very independent, trendy and bohemian items. One of the best places to just loose yourself is Aflecks Palace. Floors of independent stalls selling everything from food, jewelry and clothing.
Food and drink
Food and drink is huge in this city. The locals are hard-drinkers and are ever so surprised foreigners choose this city over London. Locals have a genuine interest in knowing your business over a few beers. They have a great way of making you feel welcome. Some of the best places to sample the local brews are in the Northern Quarter, fondly known as The NQ, where most bars serve local independent beers. Some of my favourite bars here are Tib Street Tavern, Lammars, Dry Bar and The Terrace.
If you head towards the Town Hall and Albert Square, you will find numerous bars and restaurants that all offer great food and reasonably priced cocktails.
Where to stay in Manchester?
King Street Townhouse
King Street Townhouse offers contemporary accommodation as a great combination of historical features and modern standard. It is located in the center of Manchester, only 5 minutes’ walk from Manchester Town Hall. The hotel is set in an impressive Italian renaissance building, originally built in 1872. The hotel features infinity spa pool on the rooftop, a relaxation room and steam room as well as the conference and event space. The rooms provide comfort and a contemporary design.
ibis Styles Manchester Portland
ibis Styles Manchester Portland is a nicely decorated, modern stay in the heart of the city. The hotel is located only a short walk to Piccadilly Gardens. It features charming, weather-themed rooms, on site restaurant and the bar. All the facilities boast unique design, cool details and modern furnishing.
YHA Manchester is a modern and comfortable hostel stay not too far from the city center. The hostel features café bar, cinema room, communal kitchen and canal side restaurant. Bright rooms provide comfortable stay in bunk beds and are en-suite.
day trips from manchester
Yes, Manchester does have a lot to offer. However, taking a day trip from this beautiful city is also an excellent idea. There is a lot to see and explore in this part of the world, so if you have the time, it would be a shame to miss the opportunity.
Now this is a really obvious choice. Liverpool is only about 45 minutes away from Manchester and offers plenty to see. Obviously, it’s the city that gave us the Beatles, but there are so many interesting sights to see, too. Anglican Cathedral is the largest cathedral in England, but its Catholic Metropolitan counterpart is just as impressive. Apart from that, museums, galleries and stunning parks guarantee a fantastic experience.
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Because it’s less than 100 kilometers away, York is an excellent destination for a day trip from Manchester. The city was founded way back in Roman times, so it has a rich history and loads of things to see. The view from its impressive city walls will leave you speechless, and you certainly must see York Minster. Apart from those, there are plenty medieval monuments left from the age when the Normans ruled here.
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Chester is another historical English city worthy of your time. Basically on the outskirts of Liverpool, you will be absolutely stunned by the architecture characterized by white and black timber and the history this place brings. The immense Chester Cathedral and the city walls are a must, but the whole city is time machine because it too dates back to Roman times. If you can, visit it!
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This is a real foodies paradise, so if you want some fine dining just head to Knutsford. You will find all kinds of fantastic restaurants there, but you would do well to try some authentic British cuisine or simply hit one of the pubs. You know what they say, when in Rome… You can also visit the beautiful Tatton Park with its magnificent mansion. A stroll through this place will surely build up an appetite.
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If you’re a fan of architecture, you’ll love what Stockport has to offer. Loads of beautiful mansions, some of them going back centuries, are a sight to behold. Of course, their surroundings with the impeccable greenery are just as impressive. Be sure to visit Lyme Park in the nearby village of Dysley, which is a huge Tudor building. Authentic England at its best.
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– Manchester allows London to have the attention it so desires because Manchester already knows what it has. The city is just waiting for everyone else to figure this out.
– If you want the traditional English experience of castles, red tourist buses and people too socially stunted to look or speak to a stranger, stay in London. Despite the business, it really is beautiful, and everyone should go at least once.
– However, if you want the kind of city that makes you feel at home, if you want to make friends, if you want to stroll amidst gorgeous architecture and good books and better music — visit Manchester. You will be the only person you know who did.
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