One Day in Manchester Itinerary – Top things to do in Manchester, United Kingdom

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.

One day in Manchester itinerary

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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?

Store your luggage: LuggageHero allows you to store your luggage for as long as you want to. If you are there only for a day, or waiting for a check-in, this sounds like a perfect option!

– The architecture around here is extremely impressive. 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.

Manchester Metro System
Manchester Metro System, Author: Smabs Sputzer, Source: Flickr

– 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

Exploring this city for just one day would be a shame. However, if you don’t have anything more than 24 hours, wake up early because you have a busy day ahead! 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.

John Rylands Library, Manchester
John Rylands Library, Manchester, Author: sergiovelayosf, Source: Flickr

The Manchester Central Library is considered one of the grand old buildings in 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.

Manchester Central Library
Manchester Central Library, Author: pedrik, Source: Flickr
Central Library, Manchester
Central Library, Manchester, Author:, Source: Flickr

MOSI, or Manchester of Science and Industry, is a free museum that 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.

Museum of Science and Industry, Manchester
Museum of Science and Industry, Manchester, Author: Gidzy, Source: Flickr

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.

Manchester Town Hall
Manchester Town Hall, Author: George M. Groutas, Source: Flickr
Albert Square, Manchester
Albert Square, Manchester, Author: Gidzy, Source: Flickr

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.

​ Shopping

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.

Northern Quarter, Manchester
Northern Quarter, Manchester, Author:, Source: Flickr
Northern Quarter, Manchester 2
Northern Quarter, Manchester, Author: KylaBorg, Source: Flickr

Food and drink

Food and drink are extremely important in Manchester. 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, so you feel welcome here in a matter of seconds! 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.

Manchester at Night
Manchester at Night, Author: Jorge Franganillo, Source: Flickr

Where to stay in Manchester?

King Street Townhouse

King Street Townhouse

10 Booth Street Manchester, Upper King Street Conservation Area

King Street Townhouse offers contemporary accommodation as a great combination of historical features and modern standards. 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 an 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 contemporary design.


ibis Styles Manchester Portland

ibis Styles Manchester Portland

3-5 Portland Street, Piccadilly Gardens, Manchester City Centre

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 a unique design, cool details and modern furnishing.


YHA Manchester

YHA Manchester

Potato Wharf, Manchester City Centre, Manchester

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 a 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.


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.


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!


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.


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.

Final Word

– 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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Best of Manchester, UK - What to do and where to stayA complete one day itinerary for Manchester, UK

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Keith Evans
Keith Evans
Travel Blogger at My Passport To Shangrila

British Born and raised in "Alice in Wonderland" country. From a small village known as Daresbury, Cheshire where the infamous story was fabricated. Traveling around the globe is not only a hobby but a true life experience. The World and Geography have always been of interest since a child and it was not uncommon for me to be seen reading atlases and maps rather than storybooks. South-East Asia is my happy place. Its where most of my memories are made. Life is a rich tapestry.


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