THE ONLY GUIDE YOU’LL EVER NEED TO HAVE THE BEST TIME IN MANCHESTER, ENGLAND (FROM AN EX-LOCAL)

Forget London, the capital of the North is wayyyy cooler!

The lovely gothic Town Hall in Albert Square

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The second city of the United Kingdom and the capital of Northern England, this city has so much on offer that it will easily rival its southern cousin, London! With great restaurants as well as a renowned music and nightlife scene, Manchester has come a long way in the last two hundred years, meaning that it definitely needs to be on your bucket list! Oh, and did I mention I was born here? Even more reason to visit!

A rare sunny day in Autumn in the city centre

There is so much about Manchester that folks don’t know, such as it being the birthplace of suffragette Emily Pankhurst or the place where the Industrial Revolution began. It is also where the first computer was invented, the first splitting of the atom and where Rolls met Royce!
I’m going to share with you ways to make the most out of this fantastic city and show it off in all its glory. I have put together many of my favourite places to visit, from museums to gardens and places of interest. So, grab a cup of tea, and let’s start exploring!

WHERE HAVE I STAYED?

The Midland Hotel. One of the top places to stay in Manchester

I was born and raised in Manchester and spent over thirty years of my life living there. So I’m sure it will come as no surprise that I have never needed to spend the night in a hotel. Except for one very special occasion – my wedding day. We stayed at the awesome Copthorne Hotel, right on the water at Salford Quays, just outside of the city centre. It’s a fantastic hotel. Its upmarket interior does nothing to undermine its comfort and the views from the room were amazing.

Out hotel room. I’m sure you can appreciate that after the best day of my life, taking great photos of our accommodation wasn’t a high priority.

The food here is excellent too, especially the massive breakfast we had the next morning. I would highly recommend staying here as it is conveniently located right near all the bars, restaurants and museums of Salford Quays. If you want to head into Manchester city centre, simply hop on the Metrolink service, conveniently located out the front of the hotel.

Wonna stay here too? CLICK HERE to check out the Copthorne Hotel’s, (part of the Millennium Hotels and resorts) rates!

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WHERE TO EAT & DRINK?

Sharing platter at the Hard Rock Café, Manchester. Yummmm! Just looking at this makes me drool

You are truly spoilt for choice when it comes to finding some quality Manchester scran (Manc slang for Food). Whether its vegan, gluten-free, or the fact that you only eat purple food, you will find somewhere that you’ll love. Here’s a quick rundown of some of the places I’ve sampled and where to find them:

DIMITRI’S

I was missing Greek food after having holidayed there a few months earlier when I discovered this little gem. This is one of my favourite restaurants in the city centre. If you love Greek food along with a great atmosphere, you’ll love it here.

1-3 Campfields Arcade, 322 Deansgate, Manchester M3 4FN | www.dimitris.co.uk

MANCHESTER HARD ROCK CAFÉ

Check out our enormous dessert. Is was so good!

What makes a big fat juicy burger even better? A side of Rock Music and paraphernalia! I went with my family a few years back and really enjoyed it. But be warned, the desserts are so colossal that it might be best to wear your elasticated pants if you intend to finish it. There were three of us, and we still struggled to finish their delicious Hot Fudge Brownie. I managed to steal the cherry on top though, so technically I ate some fruit too. That counts towards my five-a-day, right?

The Printworks, Manchester M4 2BS | www.hardrockcafe.com/location/manchester

Book your table here at Manchester’s Hard Rock Cafe here through Tripening!

CABANA BAR

I love this place. I definitely did NOT fall out of the hammocks. If anyone tells you any different they are lying!

When a good friend of mine first told me about a bar with hammocks hanging from the ceiling instead of boring old chairs, I thought she was having me on. But it’s true! Cabana is an awesome Latino inspired bar with funky décor. Nowhere else lets you lie down in a hammock while sipping on a cocktail. I love it here! The only problem is getting so comfy that you don’t want to leave.  Until you embarrassingly fall off, then it might be time to head home!

Unit 10 The Corn Exchange, Exchange Square, Manchester M4 3TR

MOOSE COFFEE

Now I love a good pancake, and the best pancakes in town are at Moose Coffee. Yum yum! I had the blueberry pancakes, which came with Canadian maple syrup and butter. Vegan options are available. Oh, and they also make really great coffee!

20 York Street, Manchester M2 3BB | www.moosecoffee.co

THINGS TO SEE & DO

MANCHESTER CATHEDRAL

Our wonderful Cathedral – defiantly worth a look inside!

Manchester’s beautiful cathedral may be one of the few places to find a little tranquility in such a bustling city. My husband and I found ourselves needing to escape the bitterly cold Christmas weather when we found this perfect little refuge. From the moment we walked in, the interior had such a lovely cosy atmosphere, with its medieval-style chequered floors, ornate wood carvings on the walls and a large Christmas tree covered in twinkling lights.

Part of the beautiful interior

We started to do a little exploring and wandered along the darkened corridors of the Cathedral. Suddenly, a scary and powerful voice came from behind us and started shouting that we were not supposed to be down here! Startled, we run away back up the dark corridors from where we had just come. Obviously we had accidentally stumbled upon an area not open to the public. So despite the lack of signage, be careful you don’t go wandering into any no-go areas! [Click Here For Full Articles]

Victoria St, Manchester M3 1SX, United Kingdom | www.manchestercathedral.org

PRINTWORKS

A great option for a bite to eat or a night on the town

Housing Manchester’s Hard Rock Café at the foot of its main entrance, the Printworks is an excellent place to head for a simple bite to eat or a cracking night out. While shopping in town, I would typically stop in here for a decent meal, as many of the bars and restaurants have good lunchtime specials.

With Chiquito’s for your Mexican fix, Nando’s for the chicken lovers, and Wetherspoons for a budget-friendly pub lunch, the possibilities seem almost endless.

Complete with cobblestones and faux shop fronted bars, It looks like an old street set which has come together perfectly for that typical industrial Manchester look. Best of all it’s completely undercover, making it a great choice for when the weather is rubbish!

27 Withy Grove, Manchester M4 2BS, United Kingdom | www.printworks-manchester.com

THE TRAFFORD CENTRE

The Trafford Centre, Manchester made from Lego.

A stunning glass-filled shopping center adorned with marble and tropical palms (yep – palm trees in Manchester, that’s a thing!), this dazzling mall of luxury flagship stores and affordable fashion is a shopper’s paradise. It’s so large that you can even stay in a hotel on sight called the Coach House Inn, so that you can get a good night’s sleep and do it all again the next day.

If hitting the shops isn’t your thing, then head up to the top floor where you can play laser tag, mini-golf or watch a movie. If time isn’t a concern, you can even check out Legoland or the Aquarium. When your tummy starts to rumble, head on over to The Orient Food Court, where there are plenty of restaurants and takeout options for even the fussiest eater. [>>>>> Full Article Click Here <<<<<]

The Orient, Trafford Park, Stretford, Manchester M17 8AA | www.intu.co.uk/traffordcentre

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MANCHESTER MUSEUM

The full-size replica T-Rex in the Fossils area

Located on Oxford Road, this beautiful building felt more like I was walking through a stunning Victorian shopping plaza than a museum. Exhibits are displayed in glass cases, and there is even a giant spider crab in the window to entice you to enter (or put you off!). However, the main attraction is the impressive replica of an enormous T-Rex, located towards the back of the Fossils section. If you have children with you, they are going to love this!

Make sure to check out the great Egyptian section in the museum

Comprising of mummies, coffins, and other fascinating treasures, the museum also houses a small, yet impressive, Egyptian collection. Check out the unassuming small statue that caused quite a stir a couple of years back when it was thought to be haunted because it would often turn around in the night. After an investigation, it was discovered that the vibrations from the heavy traffic on Oxford Road gradually helped the statue rotate. [>>>>> Full Article Click Here <<<<<]

University of Manchester, Oxford Rd, Manchester M13 9PL | www.museum.manchester.ac.uk

JOHN RYLANDS LIBRARY

You will be amazed at the interior in the John Rylands Library!

I must have passed this building thousands of times in my life before venturing inside. At first glance, it looks like a medieval church, but once inside, you will find one of the most stunning interiors in all of Manchester. The corridors are lined with decorative arches and stained-glass windows, and there’s a beautiful ornate stone staircase through the back of the library that will make you feel as though you have stepped straight into a Harry Potter book.

The stunning interior which looks like a castle

The main library itself looks like it was inspired by Walt Disney and reminds me of the Great Hall of a castle. Despite the statues and carved stone works, there still remains a surprisingly cosy feel about the place. All that’s missing is a big roaring fire so that I could curl up with a book; then I’m pretty sure that I wouldn’t move from here all day.  [>>>>> Full Article Click Here <<<<<]

150 Deansgate, Manchester M3 3EH | www.library.manchester.ac.uk/rylands/visit/

TOWN HALL AND & ALBERT SQUARE

The beautiful interior of the Town Hall

Standing tall and proud in Albert Square, this beautiful Gothic-style revival structure has been the place where Mancunions gather to either share their joys, or grieve together side by side. As you may recall, this spot was where locals gathered after the horrific Manchester Bomb attack back in May 2017 to show solidarity against hatred. However, for me and many other proud Manc’s, we will always associate this area with happier times, such as the magical Christmas Markets held every year. They serve up delicious treats from German-style taverns, ranging from the well-known crepes with Nutella and banana, right through to traditional Italian treats and Bratwurst sausages. Yum!

As well as trying the beautiful food on display at the Manchester Christmas Markets, be sure to pick up some wonderful Christmas decorations to take home with you. There are so many to choose from.

The Town Hall interior is full of Kingly looking statues and beautiful tiled floors, making it look more medieval than Victorian. Make sure to check out the awe-inspiring navy-blue ceiling painted with gold stars, which looks considerably like King Henry VIII’s Chapel at Hampton Court Palace. [>>>>> Full Article Click Here <<<<<] It really is stunning.

Lloyd Street Albert Square, Manchester, M60 2LA

NATIONAL FOOTBALL MUSEUM

One of my favourite museums

When I heard that the National Football Museum was moving to Manchester – the home of football – I could have cried with happiness. Up-yours London! This fabulous museum has to be on your Manchester Bucket List. If you have no allegiance to any specific clubs and are just curious about seeing the museum for what it is, I’m sure you will still love it.

When you first enter, huge TV screens wrap around the foyer, showing images of influential UK players throughout history. Obviously they knew I was coming that day, because old Manchester United players started appearing on the screens as soon as I walked in. Being a die-hard fan, this suckered me in straight away! You will see tonnes of historical memorabilia from Manchester’s top club on display here, which brought back many happy memories for me.

The Gary Lineker hologram on the right presenting a mock episode of Match of the Day

A fantastic World Cup section shows memorabilia, film clips, posters and famous photographs from throughout the competition’s history. Don’t leave without visiting my favourite display, a hologram of Gary Lineker presenting a mock episode of Match of the Day on the first floor. It’s incredible! [>>>>> Full Article Click Here <<<<<]

Urbis Building Cathedral Gardens, Todd St, Manchester M4 3BG | www.nationalfootballmuseum.com

SEALIFE MANCHESTER

Despite being a little over-priced the Sealife Centre, Trafford Centre is a great little attraction.

It’s more expensive to explore this aquarium than it is to visit the Vatican Museums. Despite this, it’s an excellent little aquarium! Before you enter, you’ll watch a lovely presentation about turtle conservation, right before the appearance of an illuminated turtle in the sand called Ernie. He’s the star attraction, and rightly so as he is impressive. You will get to see the wonderful Ernie in action, swimming amongst sharks and other large fish towards the end. If you’re brave enough, you can pay to go into the tank and dive with Ernie and the sharks. Erm… No thank you!

This enormous tank is at the end of the aquarium. Look through the round peep holes to get a fish eye view of the whole exhibit. So cool!

There are tunnels to walk through and windows to peer in while learning from the information displays dotted throughout. Be sure not to miss the awesome jellyfish area. Watching them move is something I find so relaxing. There are also talks given by the staff, which are great. During one such talk, I was able to hold a rather large looking shrimp. Do you remember Jacques from Finding Nemo? Just like in the film, he actually tried to clean my nail polish off!

Barton Square, Trafford Centre, Manchester M17 8AS, | www.visitsealife.com

SALFORD QUAYS

The Light Waves Festival

Just a 10-minute Metrolink ride from Manchester city centre lies Salford Quays. This excellent spot has lots of very walkable paths along the river, as well as great bars, restaurants, museums and an outlet shopping mall.

Salford Quays

I’ve visited here several times, and in December 2016, I was here to attend the Light Waves festival. Despite the bone-chilling cold, it was a fantastic night and lots of fun. The free festival has illuminated colourful displays, which look so beautiful against the water’s backdrop. 

Salford Quays, Salford, Manchester | www.thequays.org.uk

IMPERIAL WAR MUSEUM NORTH

This wonderful Museum is free and defiantly worth a visit

This is definitely one of my favourite museums in Manchester. Located on Salford Quays, it’s housed in a wonderfully futuristic building that looks like a puzzle that has been oddly slotted together. It also houses an observatory at the top with cracking views right across the Quays.

Inside is full of some really thought-provoking displays, such as the Crusader Cross, which looks like it has been created from thousands of spikes, or the wall built from evacuee suitcases, some of which still had their original owners’ addresses printed on them. The saddest part for me was seeing a section of twisted metal frames that turned out to be part of the former World Trade Centre’s original building. It was extremely confronting.

The wall of evacuee suitcases

Every half hour or so, mini-movies are projected onto the walls around the room. They vary from a variety of past wars but mainly focus on World War II. Take a seat, put your camera away, and watch stories from survivors who came home with tales from the front-line.

Trafford Wharf Rd, Trafford Park, Stretford, Manchester M17 1TZ | www.iwm.org.uk

THE LOWRY MUSEUM

I visited here with a friend, and there was a contemporary section where you could take cool arty photos. So when in Rome… we decided to have a go!

It would be unthinkable to come to this city and not learn about the famous S.F Lowry and see some of his beautiful paintings. He was born and raised in Manchester, and for me, his work symbolises what this city would have been like back in the day. Your typical week would be working Monday-Friday, usually at the local mill or factory, before heading home to your two-up and two-down terraced house. Then on Saturday afternoon would come the highlight of your week – watching your local football (soccer) team play. This whole scenario is captured perfectly in Lowry’s painting, ‘Going to the Match,’ which is on display here. He was great at showing the gritty side of Manchester life, with his own unique stick figure-style people, and football would often feature in his paintings. We live, eat, and breathe football in Manchester. That’s why so many of us can relate to Lowry’s paintings. 

Why???? One of the more modern displays of giant ants crawling up the walls. Again… why?????

He doesn’t just paint about football, but also life in general. You’ll find a great selection here. It’s simply a must if you are visiting the Quays. There are some other artworks on display here too, but they usually border on the contemporary side, and if you are familiar with any of my previous posts, you will know that I really don’t like modern art! So I generally skip the rest.

The Quays, Salford, M50 3AZ | www.thelowry.com

MANCHESTER UNITED FOOTBALL GROUND (OLD TRAFFORD)

You must come and pay homage to the best club in the world. It’s the law!

If you are a Manchester United fan, you must, must, must visit here! The main entrance is on the road called Sir Matt Busby Way. What a fitting name, right? If you don’t know who Sir Matt is, he took the club to Europe and helped United win their first-ever European Cup trophy. 

You can also take a stadium tour here. Any fan will love this. It’s been a few years since I did it, but I thought it was amazing. I have spoken to several people who have recently done it, and they all said it’s a cracking day out.

The Busby Babes. Their last team photo

Of course, we have to honour the Busby Babes from the terrible Munich Air Disaster back in 1958. There is a clock permanently displayed with the date and time of the accident; as well as their last team photo together, taken at the game the day before many of them sadly perished.

Sir Matt Busby Way, Old Trafford, Manchester, M16 0RA | www.manutd.com

TATTON PARK

The sensational Japanese Gardens, Tatton Park.

The first time I came to this park, I arrived through the Knutsford village entrance. As soon as I entered, I came face to face with some not so friendly deer, who looked like they were going to charge at me! As beautiful as they were, I felt it was absolutely necessary to keep my distance. Thank God for my zoom lens camera!

There is a beautiful walking path up to the main house, which is a good 30-minutes on foot if you enter the park the same way as I did. It’s worth doing though, as it is such a pretty walk, meandering past lakes and forests until you arrive at the Mansion.

Enjoying the beautiful walk up to the big house


I came here on a public holiday and it was swarming with people, so I decided to check out the beautiful gardens instead, which were surprisingly much quieter. The gardens opposite Tatton Park House are in an Elizabethan style, which is absolutely stunning. After looking around here, follow the Alice-in-Wonderland style gap in the hedges to explore the gardens beyond.

The crowning glory of the entire park is the Japanese Gardens. They are truly beautiful with traditional stone and wooden archways, a shrine, Japanese inspired wooden buildings, ornaments and plenty of beautifully themed plants and flowers. I didn’t want to leave! [>>>>> Full Article Click Here <<<<<]

Tatton Park Gardens, Mereheath Dr, Knutsford WA16 6SG | www.tattonpark.org.uk

LEGOLAND, TRAFFORD CENTRE

I loved it here, despite how incredibly busy it was.

Located in The Trafford Centre, right next door to Sealife Manchester, is Legoland. I visited on a public holiday around Easter one year and didn’t realise how chaotic it would be! Rookie mistake!
There is a large open space in the main area where kids can play with Lego blocks or explore the fun playground, which was extremely busy. I would try and visit first thing in the morning or mid-week when it should be less hectic.

Legoland, Trafford Centre

The Lego exhibits are fantastic. I loved the large scene from Coronation Street, a very popular TV show filmed in Manchester, set up with the rows of terraced houses as well as Jack and Vera Duckworth’s yellow and blue house in the middle. Next to the Trafford Center model, they had built the City Centre of Manchester showing some very happy-looking shoppers and a wonderful Salford Quays. They even included the Chester Rows with the famous Eastgate Clock and Blackpool Pleasure Beach theme park.
A great feature is seeing the exhibits change from night to day, with twinkling lights appearing above to simulate night time and set the scene. It was really cool! [>>>>> Full Article Click Here <<<<<]

Unit D5, Barton Square, Trafford Centre, Manchester M17 8AS | www.manchester.legolanddiscoverycentre.co.uk

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MUSEUM OF SCIENCE AND INDUSTRY (MOSI)

This free museum really is a winner

This is a great museum dedicated to the Industrial Revolution, which started right here in Manchester and showed what life was like here back in the day. Don’t miss your chance to upload a selfie on arrival, which is then displayed onto the big screens within the foyer.

There are exhibits of old cotton mills, showing what the working conditions would have been like for the workers back then. I was quite curious about this area because my lovely Gran worked in a cotton mill in the 1940s, which led to a semi-loss of her hearing from the machines’ constant noise. No health and safety back then!

Loved this section of an old cotton mill


If you are into your engines and planes, the Locomotive section will be just up your street. There are several aircraft that were over one hundred years old, in addition to old spitfire planes from World War II.
My favourite section was the working-class neighbourhood showing how Mancunians used to live. You can walk around the old-fashioned houses and sewage exhibits. I know I’m not really selling this right now talking about sewers, but trust me, it’s worth checking out! [>>>>> Full Article Click Here <<<<<]

Liverpool Rd, Manchester M3 4FP | www.scienceandindustrymuseum.org.uk

MANCHESTER ART GALLERY

This museum was a nice surprise for me, as I didn’t expect too much and it’s got some cracking pieces on display.

A good friend asked me if I wanted to check out this museum one afternoon. How could I refuse? It’s conveniently located on Mosley Street, just a short walk from Piccadilly Gardens and housed in a grand building, with Neoclassical-style stonework and columns at the entrance. 

However, its the interior of the museum that is the real winner. The stunning staircase is lined with beautifully patterned wallpaper, displaying floral motifs in red and bordered with Greek-style patterns. Don’t forget to look up! Otherwise you’ll miss the gorgeous coffered ceiling in green and gold.

This area is just stunning. Check out that coffered ceiling

I loved the art on display here, especially the Lowry paintings, including his famous “Coming Home from The Mill.” Some works from the 1800s painted by Joseph Perry showed village festivals and house scenes from Eccles, in Greater Manchester. I was particularly interested in one such piece, “Racing for The Smock,” as I have family from this area and spent lots of time here as a child, so it had special meaning to me. It’s definitely worth checking out, and it’s free! [>>>>> Full Article Click Here <<<<<]

Manchester Art Gallery, Mosley St, Manchester M2 3JL | www.manchesterartgallery.org

The ‘Love Bridge’ as I call it, located on Oxford Road

Thanks so much for reading my Manchester Travel Guide from an Ex-Local. I hope you have found it helpful in planning your awesome trip here. It’s a wonderful city to explore with so much to do, that I doubt you will be able to fit it all into a single weekend. That just gives you the perfect excuse to go back though, doesn’t it? I can’t wait to visit in the future and check out even more places which I have added to my ever growing bucket list! Have I inspired you to check out my old home town? Are you planning a future trip here? Leave me a comment below as I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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Am I lost? Are we in Oxford? Nope, this shot was taken at the side of the Manchester Library

4 Comments Add yours

  1. Margarida Vasconcelos says:

    Can you believe it that I lived over 20 years in London and never visited Manchester/! It seems I was missing out, thank you for sharing this, very informative.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Really? I reckon when the borders open again, it might be the perfect excuse to go back 🙂 Mind you, I didn’t visit Edinburgh until I was 34 😮

      Like

  2. Hemi says:

    Nice article and lovely pictures! Wish you all the best in your travel adventures.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much hemi! And you too my dear 🙂

      Like

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