In light of the current circumstances with Covid-19, travel within the UK will be an option for us all before we are able to go abroad, so I’ve taken a look at my home city of Manchester and why you should consider visiting.
Manchester has been my adopted home for over 15 years now. I moved here for a new job in 2003 and have lived here ever since. And contrary to the media, I can confirm that it doesn’t always rain here! I should probably also declare to having an invested interest (and probably being a bit biased) as I was Marketing Manager at People’s History Museum for over 10 years and more recently worked for Marketing Manchester – the regional tourist board promoting the city and region to the world.
Here’s a brief summary of some of my favourite things to see and do:
People’s History Museum (PHM) – the home of ideas worth fighting for – national museum charting 200 years of ordinary working people’s history. Really informative and thought-provoking galleries and changing exhibitions - you can easily spend a few hours in here
The Town Hall – one of my favourite buildings – very impressive both inside and out (filming often takes place in here as a replica for the Palace of Westminster in London) – currently closed for a big refurbishment which means you can’t visit and have a nosey inside which is a shame
The Whitworth – great art gallery with permanent galleries as well as changing exhibitions – recently extended and now featuring a lovely café which appears to float out amongst the trees in the park next door
Central Library – another fab building and next door to The Town Hall. The Reading Room is a circular very ornately decorated room
Midland Hotel – famous for where Mr Rolls met Mr Royce and another impressive building
King Street – mostly a pedestrianised street. Make sure to look up above the shop and restaurant fronts to see a great mixture of architecture through the ages. I’d recommend Kala or El Gato Negro for top quality food and drink.
Northern Quarter – a regenerated area of the city with tons of independent cafes, bars, restaurants and shops. Well known for its street art and alternative vibe. Check out The Castle, Cottonopolis, Tariff & Dale, Common, La Collina and Mackie Mayor.
Ancoats – probably the ‘newest’ area, just to the north of the Northern Quarter – gorgeous old buildings, warehouses and factories are being renovated and it’s a cool, laid back neighbourhood to hang out in with lots of fab cafes, bars and restaurants. My favs include Rudy’s, Elnecot, Sugo Pasta Kitchen and Hanging Ditch Wine Bar (who also have a branch next to Manchester Cathedral).
Salford Quays – home to The Lowry and Imperial War Museum North (IMWN) plus Media City and the BBC. It’s worth hopping on a tram for the short journey out of the city centre to this area. Surrounded by the old docks it’s got a bit of a different feel to it (and is often windy and a bit chilly across the water!)
Music - the city is rightly famous for its music scene (and all the bands and musicians that it’s inspired). We’ve got everything from massive venues (Manchester Arena) to intimate clubs, well-known gig locations (I like Manchester Academy, The Ritz and The Apollo as they’re much more atmospheric and you’re closer to the action) to world renown classical music halls (such as the Bridgewater Hall).
Sport - I can’t really ignore sport even though for me it’s not a big draw. The city is massively popular with sports fans - two world-famous football clubs (MUFC & MCFC), LCCC, National Cycling Centre, Manchester Aquatics Centre plus not forgetting the option of walking along the network of canals or out in the surrounding countryside. In addition, the city is home to the National Football Museum if museums are more your thing (rather than the game itself).
Accommodation - if I was visiting Manchester then I would recommend staying right in the centre so you are close to the main sights, great cafes, bars and restaurants and good transport connections. Options include The Midland, The Edwardian Manchester, Malmaison, Hotel Gotham, The Principal, King Street Townhouse, Motel One (Royal Exchange or Piccadilly). Or there are serviced apartments at Roomzzz at the Corn Exchange, Staycity at Piccadilly or Citysuites Aparthotel.
Getting here / getting around - the city is really well connected across the UK by rail, road and air. Manchester city centre is pretty compact and walkable in about 30 minutes. If you’re venturing a bit further out, say to Ancoats or down Oxford Road to the Whitworth, allow a bit more time. Metrolink is our tram system – really easy to get around – buy tickets on the platform or use contactless before you board a tram. There’s plenty of buses too.