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Manchester Travel in England

I love travelling to Manchester. Back when I was 18 years old, I moved from my home city of Liverpool in the United Kingdom to Manchester to study for a 3-year degree. 5 years later, I was still there.

So what made me fall in love with Manchester United Kingdom so much that I found it almost impossible to tear myself away?

Manchester United Kingdom has a fascinating and varied social history and there are so many things to do in Manchester England. Not only was it an industrial powerhouse in the early 19th century (many of the old mills have now been converted to trendy apartments), but it was also the home of suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst, the birthplace of vegetarianism and the city where the first computer with a stored memory was developed. 

Present-day Manchester is no less exciting, there are even more things to do in Manchester England now. This thriving cultural hub is host to not one, but two premier league football teams (this would explain the rivalry that exists between Manchester and my home city of Liverpool), quirky little boutique shops, delicious eateries, countless museums, and galleries, as well as being the base of Coronation Street – Asking me about Manchester Travel is an easy task!

I don’t live there anymore, but Manchester United Kingdom will always be my second home.

Manchester England Travel Guide

Did You Get Insurance Yet?

If 2020 taught us anything, it’s that you need to be prepared for anything!

The Insurance companies I personally recommend are Hey Mondo and Safety Wing

Hey Mondo is great if you are looking for a great value flexible policy. They offer single trip cover, annual multi trip cover, and long term travel cover.

Safety Wing is great value with monthly cover starting at $39. It’s super easy to use and it just renews each month. I currently use them as they offer me free cover for my son as part of my policy.

Read my full travel insurance post here where I go into detail about the companies. 

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The Complete Guide to Manchester, England
The Complete Guide to Manchester, England

Top Things To Do in Manchester England

  1. Pay a visit to the Victoria Baths
  2. Wander around Portico library
  3. Explore the Museum of Science & Industry
  4. Return to the ‘90s in Crystal Maze
  5. Go shopping
  6. Do a Football Stadium Tour
  7. Get cultured at the Whitworth Art Gallery
  8. Spend the day at Heaton Park
  9. Sing karaoke in Chinatown
  10. Cruise the Manchester canals

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Quick Tip: Book accommodation, tours and transport ahead of time online to save money and stress. 

Best Manchester Tours: Click here to check out the top Manchester tours
Best Manchester Accommodation: Click here to check out the best accommodation in Manchester
Best Manchester Transport: Click here to book a bus, ferry, or train in Manchester

Top 10 Things of What to do In Manchester England

Old Traford Things to do in Manchester England

1. Victoria Baths

First of your Manchester UK Things to Do list should be the Victoria Baths, which is one of the must things to do in Manchester.

Originally opened in 1906 and described by designers as a “water palace”, the beautifully ornate building fell into disrepair after closure in the early 1990s. After winning a restoration grant (thanks to a reality TV show, would you believe!), the building has now been restored to its former glory and is open to the public for cultural tours, special functions (you can get married here!) and yes… even swimming.

2. Portico Library

Another Manchester UK Things to do is Portico Libary. Hidden away behind Manchester’s busiest bus and tram terminal, the Portico Library sits, almost untouched by time.

Set up in 1796, the library still holds the same 19th-century texts that it did when it first opened, including a selection of first editions. It’s a peaceful retreat back in time away from the hustle and bustle of the city center. Reading during your travel could be one of the things to do in Manchester UK right?

3. Museum of Science & Industry

Are you down for a Manchester travel guide that includes museums? There are many museums that are worthy of your time in Manchester, but my favorite has to be the Museum of Science & Industry.

This place focuses on the industrial development of the city and houses the world’s first computer with a stored program and memory, developed in Manchester in 1948. To explore the interesting world of innovation and industry, make sure to include this Museum of Science & Industry UK in your list of Manchester things to do, where you’ll find a treasure trove of knowledge and inspiration.

4. Crystal Maze

If you’re from 90’s, you definitely must visit Crystal Maze when you’re travelling to Manchester. The Crystal Maze was a TV game show that captured the imagination of an entire generation of British kids in the 90s. Well, much to my delight, the game is back and now anyone can play!

Work your way around the maze, using your skills to solve challenges and earn crystals along the way. Incredible fun and a great way to spend a few hours. This Manchester UK things to do list will leave you with unforgettable memories!

5. Go Shopping

What to do in Manchester England if you feel like shopping? Well, go shopping! From glossy designer stores to smaller, quirky independent shops, Manchester United Kingdom has it all and then some.

Browse the beautiful Barton arcade, find something truly unique in Afflecks, treat yourself to the jewelry quarter, or stick to the familiar high street names that you’re used to. If it’s raining, you might fancy staying undercover and visiting the shopping mecca that is the Trafford Centre, and if you’re up for going a bit further afield, grab yourself a bargain at designer shopping outlet Cheshire Oaks.

6. Football Stadium Tour

Travelling to Manchester won’t be complete without visiting the stadium. I’m not really a huge football fan myself, but I couldn’t write a guide to the Manchester United Kingdom without including at least one reference to a football (soccer to any of your overseas readers!) related tour!

Arguably one of the world’s most iconic football stadiums, visitors can take a tour around Old Trafford – the home of Manchester United – gaining access to areas usually only reserved for players and hearing the story of one of the world’s most popular football teams.

7. Whitworth Art Gallery

Looking for some artsy things to do in Manchester? This ‘gallery in the park’ was transformed beyond recognition in 2015 into the fantastic space you see today.

Many would consider it to be one of the best list of Manchester UK Things to Do. Situated in the grounds of Whitworth Park, events take place both outdoors and indoors and showcase everything from historic pieces to more contemporary works.

8. Heaton Park

I wouldn’t dare to miss Heaton Park in my Manchester travel guide. One of the largest municipal parks in Europe, Heaton Park covers over 600 acres and is the biggest park in Greater Manchester.

Take a picnic and enjoy the boating lake, ornamental gardens, tennis courts, and golf course. Kids especially will love the animal farm, adventure playground, and volunteer-led tramway. It’s so easy to spend the whole day here as there is just so much things to do in Manchester UK !

9. Chinatown

What to do in Manchester England if you’re looking for something oriental? Home to one of the largest Chinese communities in Britain, the incredible, richly decorated Chinese archway, indicating the entrance to Chinatown, can be found just on the outskirts of the city center.

This is the place to go if you have a craving for Chinese food and/or night-time karaoke!

10. Manchester Canals

In this Manchester UK Things to Do List, I’d have to recommend Manchester Canals. Manchester is surrounded by a maze of canals dating back to the Industrial Revolution.

They were originally built to transport coal but now act as a pleasant way to spend a few hours cruising up and down the canals, seeing the sights of Manchester, and learning about the fascinating history of this amazing Northern city. This is one of  a must things to do in Manchester England.

Mackie Mayors Manchester UK
Mackie Mayors

Food In Manchester England

Manchester has a wealth of restaurants and cafes covering pretty much every worldly cuisine you can imagine, making it a delicious part of your Manchester travel experience. It will be easy to decide your version of the best restaurants in Manchester.

Travelling to Manchester doesn’t mean that you have to spend a lot of budget for food. It’s perfectly possible to eat out on a budget, but it’s equally as easy to find somewhere to splurge your cash on an incredible fine dining for your Manchester travel experience.

If you’re still wondering what to do in Manchester England, just eat! From pop-up street food markets and pub grub through to refined afternoon tea experiences and vegetarian, vegan and halal food, they are all there! One thing is for certain: you won’t be going hungry in Manchester!

I’m currently loving all the street food options at the moment.

When I’m travelling to Manchester I would check out Mackie Mayors on the edge of the Northern Quarter. Set in a 1858 Grade II listed market building, the surroundings are every bit as impressive as the food on offer!

And if you’re getting thirsty, head on down to one of Manchester’s micro-breweries for a fresh, locally produced craft beer. Beer Nouveau and The Runaway Brewery both offer small-batch, modern brews and if you’re willing to travel a bit further out, you’ll find many more local beers worth tasting outside the city center too!

Testing various types of beer might be the best things to do in Manchester UK if you’re into beers.

Manchester UK Money Saving Tips

This Manchester travel guide will not empty your pocket. There are so many fun things to do in Manchester and many ways that you can keep costs down on your visit. Here are some financial tips for your Manchester travel:

Visit the free museums 

There are many free things to do in Manchester England. Most of the museums and galleries are free to enter. There’s so many of them to explore that you could spend a good couple of days visiting them without spending a penny! For the tours that aren’t free (such as the Old Trafford Football Stadium Tour) check online to see if you can save money by booking in advance.

Take a Free Walking Tour

Download the free Manchester Walking Tours app to know what to do in Manchester and be guided round the city at your own pace, or book yourself onto one of the free walking tours – daily at 11am.

Make the most of the free wifi

Get 30 minutes free internet on the streets of Manchester with the wifi network FreeBee (£3 for the day after your 30 minutes is up). BusyBee, within Manchester’s public buildings, offers free browsing all day, and Metrolink Wifi on the tram system is free all day.

Free Music

Your Manchester travel guide won’t be unique without this. Manchester’s music scene is pretty legendary. Want some free music? Head to Chetham’s School of Music for free lunchtime concerts during term time.

Travel by tram or bus

Travelling to Manchester is one of the easiest travel destinations when it comes to transportation. The transport network is so well connected that you’ll be able to get to most places without having to use a taxi.

Manchester England Packing Advice

You don’t really have to overthink fashion in this Manchester travel guide. Manchester has a cool, effortless city style so no need to get dressed up in anything special to go sightseeing.

Comfortable shoes are a must when you’re travelling to Manchester – there’s so much to see and do you want to make sure your feet are up for the challenge!

During your Manchester travel, a smart or casual attire is fine for most restaurants, bars, and clubs, but if you’re going somewhere, in particular, do check the dress code before you arrive. For the men out there, it’s always worth packing a pair of smart shoes as there are some places that won’t let you in if you’re wearing trainers – particularly at a weekend.

Another useful tip for your Manchester travel guide, Manchester is famous for being a rainy city. Make sure you have an umbrella or a waterproof jacket with you!

Quick Tip: View my full UK packing guide here including a downloadable checklist. And check out my UK Essentials shopping list here.

Where to Stay in Manchester UK

Since you already know the things to do in Manchester England, now you need to know where to stay. You’ll find a wide range of accommodation in Manchester and something to suit every budget.

My advice would be to stay in the city center if you want to make the most of your Manchester travel. Transport links are so good that you’ll find it easy to get around Manchester itself as well as be conveniently located for any onward travel.

Budget: Hatters Hostel

Mid Range: Velvet Hotel or Roomzzz Aparthotel

Luxury: Midland Hotel or King Street Town House

A truck cruising through the bustling city streets of Manchester, England.

Getting Around in Manchester

Since you already know what to do in Manchester, knowing how to get around in Manchester is equally important. 

It’s perfectly possible to walk to most of Manchester’s central attractions, making it one of the most relaxing things to do in Manchester England. However, if your feet are getting tired, Manchester has amazing transport links and it’s incredibly easy to get around Greater Manchester using the public transport network.

Manchester is well connected by:

  • Trams (known as the Metrolink)
  • Buses (Stagecoach and MagicBus)
  • Rail (Piccadilly Train Station is the main train station but there are also smaller stations at Oxford Road and Deansgate)

If you’re travelling to Manchester by plane and arrive in Manchester International Airport, there is a direct train from the airport to Piccadilly Train Station in the city center. It’s also possible to call an Uber or pick up a taxi from outside the airport. Many hotels also offer an airport transfer service.

Manchester England Safety Advice

Your Manchester travel will be safe as long as you take necessary precautions and do a lot of research.

Manchester has its problems just like any large city. Having said that, in the 5 years that I lived there and in all the times I’ve been back since, I have never had any issues with crime or felt intimidated in any way.

When you already know what to do in Manchester UK, you need to pay close attention to this safety advice.

Make sure you’re sensible and follow the same advice that you would for any city, anywhere in the world: keep your belongings close to you, stay in well-lit, busy areas and plan your route before you leave the hotel so you don’t end up looking lost and vulnerable. It’s always better to spend a little extra and jump in a taxi if you’re unsure of where you’re going.

The majority of places in Manchester United Kingdom will accept cards as payment, even in the bars and nightclubs, especially in Manchester travel places. You might want to double-check this for the specific venue that you’re going to, but if you can, consider paying by card rather than withdrawing large amounts of cash.

Be sensible and you’ll be golden.

It’s never a good idea to travel without travel insurance. You can read Claire’s full review of the best backpacking insurance here.

Manchester Travel Guide planning

🧳 Any recommendations on what I should pack for Manchester?

Yes! I have created a whole packing guide to Manchester which you can read here and you can also check out my packing list for Manchester on Amazon here.

🚗 Where can I book bus or private transportation while I’m in Manchester?

I strongly recommend using Bookaway. You can book almost all transport in the major tourist destinations through them online. They don’t just cover buses they also cover shuttles, ferries, and private drivers.

🎫 Where can I buy tickets for museums, attractions, and tours in Manchester?

I recommend either Viator or GetYour Guide. They have a lot of options!

👩‍⚕️ What is the best insurance to have while traveling?

I recommend using Heymondo for a great value policy. The app also offers you 24/7 Dr Chat. For Digital Nomads check out SafetyWing digital nomad insurance.

I have also written a blog post covering all my recommended travel insurance here

✈️ Any flight recommendations?

WayAWay offers you cheap flights with cashback. You can use this code CLAIRE22 to get 10% off. Otherwise Skyscanner or Expedia are my go-to flight searching platforms.

📱What do you use for internet connection while traveling?

I’m a big fan of personal WiFi devices and they have saved my ass so many times when traveling. I wrote a full review of the top travel WiFi devices you can read here. I personally use GlocalMe as I can either pop in a physical sim card or use their local carrier.

With regards to my phone connection, I use e-sims while traveling, so rather than having to swap out my regular sim card I can download the app and buy a virtual sim card. I recommend using eitherAirhub or Alosim. Both have great coverage of multiple countries and are very easy to use.

🛏️ What is the best platform to use for booking accommodation?

The 3 best platforms that I normally use are Booking.com, Hotels.com, and Expedia They offer great deals and multiple options. I always check all three to be sure of the best deals.

🛅 Do you have any luggage recommendations for traveling?

I do have a complete list of the best packing and luggage products that I recommend, you can check the list here. I’m currently traveling with this suitcase and this backpack

The Best Time To Visit Manchester

Manchester has a busy cultural calendar and there are always reasons to come and visit the city no matter what the time of year. It’s always worth checking What’s On Manchester to see what’s on.

Weather in Manchester can be pretty unpredictable – much like the rest of the UK!

It’s generally going to be a bit warmer in the spring/summer months (April – September) although we can get some pretty cold and wet weather then too! One advantage of visiting during the spring/summer period is the lighter evenings which provide more daylight for sightseeing.

Author Bio

A woman wearing a leopard print scarf and hat explores Manchester, England, searching for fun things to do and discovering the city's top attractions.

Hi! I’m Helen – proud Northerner and the founder of Venture Up North.

Disclosing local secrets to inspire unique adventures, join me on my mission to make sure that Northern England is recognized for the truly wonderful place that it is.

Find me on Pinterest: ventureupnorth
My Facebook Group 
Instagram: @ventureupnorth

What to Read in The United Kingdom

Ultimate United Kingdom Travelist is a great companion on your trip to the UK. You can get it before your trip to help you plan out all of the best places to go. It’s a go to bucket list of the not to miss places to visit in the UK.

It’s full of beautiful photography and it goes much further than just the typical tourist traps and includes everything from coastal walks, music festivals, and hidden away pubs you must visit. 

If you are interested in learning more about the upper echelons of the British aristocracy then this book abut the life of Anne Glenconner is a great read.

She has long been at the center of the royal circle as a life long friend of the Queen and her sister. Her father was the Earl of Leicester and controlled one of the largest estates  in England. 

Sadly Anne turned out to be “the greatest disappointment” to her father and she was unable to inherit his great estate and instead make her own way in the world while surviving the vipers of court life! And interesting read to see how the ‘other half’ live.

The UK that you will see today is a product of the post WWII industrial revolution.

Nineteenth-century Britain experienced an unprecedented series of changes in the wake of the war. Cities grew fast and revolutions in transports, communication, science, and the way people lived happened in quick succession. 

Added to these changes was a growing skepticism of religion, a questioning of power resulting in political and social unrest.

In spite if these turbulent times Britain remained strong on a global level which saw it quickly rise as a global leader… this was of course before Brexit!

If you are looking for a light read to accompany yo on your UK vacation then Bridget Jones’s Diary is the perfect literary companion. Even if you have watched the movie, the book is soooo much better.

Us brits are legit obsessed with manners to a fault. Seriously we love nothing more that throwing as many please and thank you’s in to a sentence as we can make fit. And don’t even get me started with our obsession with apologizing for EVERYTHING! 

But our obsession doesn’t just stop there, there is so much more to British etiquette most of which will confuse the hell out of visitors from foreign lands. 

In this book you will get an illuminating insight in to all of the social rules we are governed by, from never putting your elbows on the table to holding open doors. But this book goes deeper and shines a light on where this crazy obsession with good manners comes from. Its a interesting and quirky must read.

Looking for a novel to sink your teeth into on those long cross country train journeys in the UK. White Teeth is it.

Set against London’ s racial and cultural tapestry, venturing across the former empire and into the past as it barrels toward the future, White Teeth revels in the ecstatic hodgepodge of modern life, flirting with disaster, confounding expectations, and embracing the comedy of daily existence.

Check out My travel books

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The Solo Girls Guide to Traveling Without Fear

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The solo girls guide to becoming a digital nomad

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