Manchester is world renowned for many things, but most notably for its music, football and science. The spirit of these comparative advantages dominate the city, and Manchester is constantly reinventing itself. The city offers an array of fantastic attractions for visitors and locals alike, blending innovative and modern urban redevelopment with an industrial past.
In recent decades, the city has been challenging Birmingham for second-city status in the UK with a series of prestigious developments. Examples include the BBC moving a large chunk of their operations to MediaCity in Salford, as well as Manchester City rising to become a serious force in English and world football. Add in a huge student population, buzzing music scene and an ever-growing range of museums and you’ll start to understand how Manchester is taking the 21st century in its stride.
With so much going on, we’ve created a bespoke to do list with five of our highlights from the “capital of the north.”
Watch the water
Although Manchester lies just over 25 miles inland from the coast, it is still bursting with water features, from its tastefully redeveloped quays to the extensive canal system that snakes around the city.
Once a bustling dockland, Manchester’s Quays have now been transformed from an abandoned post-industrial wasteland into a glittering modern waterfront complete with ample shopping, restaurants and entertainment, all just a short walk from the city centre. A night time trip comes highly recommended, as the reflection of the lights on the water is a truly special sight.
Another aquatic relic from the city’s past is also being refreshed in the form of the canal system (once the largest of its kind in the world). Stylish waterside apartments are springing up next to the canals, and on a sunny day you can enjoy a relaxing walk down the tow paths or even book a cruise with friends.
Get lost in Manchester’s music mecca
The Smiths, Oasis and The Stone Roses are just some of the stratospheric musical successes Manchester can boast as its own, and although its music scene has had less iconic exports of late, it is still alive in the form a great gig venues & record shops.
Eastern Bloc, Vinyl Exchange and Piccadilly Records are must-sees for any music addict, sporting characteristic collections of everything from Dutch Uncles to Dire Straits. The mere fact that these institutions have weathered the turbulent transition from physical to online music consumption proves that they still offer something unique for music fans. Kingbee Records, just a short drive outside the city centre, is also a hidden gem. Get your car rental in Manchester with easyCar for the most competitive rates.
Marvel at the museums
Manchester is continuing to build up its world-class cultural portfolio with a host of museums and exhibitions to suit a variety of tastes.
History buffs won’t want to miss out on the University’s Manchester Museum, which specialises in Egyptology but also houses collections of Roman, Greek and Byzantine artefacts, as well as collections on zoology and earth sciences amongst other things.
Those more fond of aesthetics than ancients will want to head for the Whitworth Gallery, which was recently given the prestigious museum of the year award by the Art Fund. The museum hosts a variety of historic and contemporary exhibitions as well as innovative events such as “Art Picnics,” where people can “eat, chat…” and “make” together in the park (weather permitting!).
Political aficionados should visit the People’s Museum which celebrates democracy through exhibitions on human history and struggles, whilst the Imperial War Museum North takes visitors on a journey through military history and is housed in an impressive “aluminium clad” building facing the waterfront.
Enjoy afternoon tea in the Northern Quarter
London may be experiencing a coffee revolution, but up in Manchester things are more in keeping with British traditions, as tea is moving out of the living room and into stylish venues in the city’s hip Northern Quarter.
Teacup Kitchen blazed the trail after being set up by brew loving beats master Mr Scruff in 2005. Here you’ll find an exceptionally friendly atmosphere, with a more down to earth feel than its more caffeinated southern cousins and a menu offering everything from simple sourdough toast to toffee apple cake or fully blown afternoon tea.
Sugar Junction is another local favourite, boasting 25 different tea blends and opening hours lasting into the night for those looking to extend their afternoon break.
Head for the Theatre… of dreams
No guide to Manchester would be complete without a mention of the beautiful game. With the city now boasting two footballing giants in United and City, the longstanding rivalry between red and blue has never been more fierce or more competitive.
Enjoy a stadium tour of Old Trafford or the Etihad, to witness what goes on behind the scenes at championship winning clubs, or visit the National Museum of Football for an in depth journey through every aspect of the game.
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