So, you’re visiting Manchester for the weekend and looking for some inspiration on what to do whilst in the city? We’ve got your backs. Here’s our guide on how to spend a busy couple of days in the glorious city of Manchester.
Start your day by exploring Manchester’s coolest neighbourhood, the Northern Quarter. Here you’ll be spoilt for your choice of speciality coffee shops, excellent brunch spots, and hip bars aplenty.
This is Manchester’s coolest neighbourhood with street art round every corner and down every alley.
First things first, coffee. We’d recommend heading to Fig & Sparrow for top notch coffee, scrumptious pastries, delicious breakfast and brunch. They also have a small lifestyle and homeware shop. Coffee and shopping? You can’t go wrong with that.
Fancy heading somewhere else? Check out this guide to Manchester’s Speciality Coffee scene over on Weekend Notes.
Next, head out and start discovering the delights of the Northern Quarter, often used as New York’s double in TV and film. As you wander round you’ll see why. Perfect for photographers and keen instagrammers alike.
We’d recommend checking out the many amazing independent shops that call the Norther Quarter home. Music fans will rejoice at the selection of record shops scattered around. Be sure to check out Piccadilly Records which has won many awards over the years for its renowned record selection. Eastern Bloc specialise in drum ‘n’ bass, jungle, dubstep and house music if that’s more your jam, Vinyl Revival celebrate all things Mancunian, and Vinyl Exchange is the biggest seller and buyer of rare and second-hand records in the UK.
Next, no trip to Manchester would be complete without a trip to Affleck’s Palace, Manchester’s iconic emporium of all that’s weird and wonderful. Clothes, cafes, tattoos, tarot readings, toys, treatments – you name it they’ve got it!
Having browsed the delights of Affleck’s, head on to Oldham Street, a vintage lovers paradise. You’ll find a handful of vintage clothing shops scattered down the length of Oldham Street, from Blue Rinse to Pop Boutique. The perfect place to dig out an old pair of Levi’s or retro reeboks.
If you’re not exhausted from all the shopping, head to Oklahoma on High Street. Oklahoma’s a real celebration of all that’s bright, bold and beautiful in the world of homewares and gifts.
With all that walking and shopping you’ll no doubt have earnt your appetite. For a spot of top notch lunch head to Mackie Mayor.
This oh so beautiful Grade 2 former market has recently opened its doors and has become an instant favourite amongst Manchester’s foodies. Is there anything better than enjoying delicious food in exquisite surroundings? We think not.
Choose between a handful of lovingly curated food vendors. Expect the likes of wood-fired sourdough pizzas, bao, rotisserie chicken, fresh pasta and all the fish you could think of. Mackie Mayor haven’t just aced their food game, you can pick up a top notch beverage too. Whether you’re a wine aficionados or a stickler for good beer, you’ll find what you’re looking for. Bit early in the day? Renowned coffee merchants Atkinson’s are there to meet all your caffeine needs.
After refuelling why not head out and soak up some of Manchester’s culture? This city is home to an array of top class museums and galleries.
We’d recommend hopping on the free city centre bus (running from outside Piccadilly Train Station or Stevenson Square, NQ) which will take you to Oxford Road Station. From here, wander down Oxford Road until you reach Manchester University, home to both the Manchester Museum and the Whitworth Art Gallery.
For all you culture vultures, Manchester Museum is home to extensive and wonderful collections, from Ancient Egypt, Earth Sciences, Animals, Archaeology, Bugs and you can even find a Vivarium with real life frogs hopping round! The Whitworth Art Gallery is home to an eclectic collection of art from throughout the decades- so everyone’s happy! You’ll easily whittle away an afternoon in these glorious galleries.
Every one loves pizza, right? So why not try out what is arguably Manchester’s best pizzeria for dinner? Enter Rudy’s.
Be aware that you may have to wait a little while for a table, but we can vouch that it is worth it. Delicious, Neapolitan wood fired pizza for reasonable prices. Sounds good, doesn’t it? Find them in the city centre or Ancoats.
Alternatively, the guys over at Ply and the recently opened Noi Quattro serve up tasty pizza to give Rudy’s a good run for their money.
Bellies sufficiently filled, its time to experience Manchester’s famous bustling night-life.
If you’re a fan of good beer you’ve come to the right place. Sticking in the Northern Quarter check out the likes of Common, Terrace, Thomas St Beer House, Soup Kitchen, Port Street Beer House or Pilcrow Pub – each serving up all the craft beer and ales you could dream of.
More of a cocktail fan? The Northern Quarter boasts an enviable selectoin of stylish cocktail bars all with their own unique personalities. For the best of the bunch try out Dusk Til Pawn, Guilty by Association, Lost in Tokyo, Hula Tiki Lounge or The Fitzgerald. And that’s only naming a few!
Dance late into the night at Matt and Phreds, a well known Manchester institution that’s renowned for serving up the best of the best in the world of jazz.
Well rested? It’s time to get back out there.
Sunday’s a day well spent exploring Manchester’s historic neighbourhood, urban heritage park Castlefield.
Again, coffee’s always a good place to start. We recently discovered a real hidden gem, Mancoco, a charming little micro-roaster and coffee shop tucked away unexpectedly in a railway arch in Castlefield.
Having a roastery and cafe under one roof mean the smells you get in this place are incredible. Even better the coffee is top notch. There’s something very satisfying about knowing that the coffee in your cup was roasted on site, right next to you. Sit, sip and catch the trains go by overhead. Pure delight.
Post caffeine fix, head to the old Roman Fort remains. Manchester typically revokes imagery of a red brick industrial past, so you might be surprised to learn that you can catch a slice of the city’s older, Roman history.
From here, head down to the canal just a couple minutes walk away. It’s a beautiful spot and the perfect place to enjoy a light stroll next to the water. You’ll find a glorious combination of canal networks at your feet and a magnificent network of railway bridges overhead which make for pretty amazing photos.
It’s that time of day again, lunch time! A short walk from the canal is Dimitri’s Tapas Meze Bar. These guys serve up delicious Mediterranean and Greek food that’s bound to hit the spot.
Alternatively, check out Akbars for amazing Indian food amongst sleek, trendy interiors.
Fed and full, spend the afternoon soaking up more of Manchester’s history and heritage. Head to the Museum of Science and Industry on Liverpool Road.
Situated on the site of the oldest ever surviving passenger railway station, the Museum of Science and Industry tells the story of the science, industry, ideas and technology that have helped shape and change the world. From the Industrial Revolution right through to the present day.
As well as their permanent collections they also have constantly changing exhibitions. Right now, for example, you can go and check out Robots, (that’s right, robots!) – an exploration of the development of robots over the past 500 years.
Time in the Museum of Science and Industry seems to disappear, and that’s always a sign of a good time. An afternoon will have passed before you know it.
Why not take advantage of Castlefield’s enviable collection of great bars and pubs? Having enojoyed a leisurely stroll down the canal stop off at one of the handful of bars this area has to offer. If the sun decides to make an appearance there’s nothing better than sitting out and soaking up the rays canal side, drink in hand.
The Wharf serves a huge selection of excellent cask beers, wines, whiskies and good pub grub to top it off. Or, catch a tipple at Dukes 9, which is home to what is arguably one of Manchester’s best beer gardens situated directly next to the canal.
Fancy one for the road? Venture a short way into Deansgate to make a visit to Lock 91, another great bar with a charming waterside terrace.
For dinner, check out the speedily developing First Street area of Castlefield. Here, you’ll find WOOD Manchester, the brain child of Masterchef winner Simon Wood. Their pre theatre menu is particularly good value and with an owner like that, I’m sure I don’t need to convince you how good this place is.
This area has recently undergone a ton of work, and as buildings pop up, new and exciting bars and establishments have too.
Gas Works is a great spot filled to the brim with an excellent beer selection. You can even see them making their own home brew, so that will keep the die hard beer fans amongst us happy.
After all that exploring you may just want to kick back with a film. Luckily HOME have you covered. For lovers of international contemporary art, film and theatre, head to HOME to relax with a film or show. You’ve earnt it.