Manchester – England’s Second city (I am sure Birmingham would argue this) is located in the North West of England. Manchester has claimed the 1st top spot for the UK in the The Economist’s ‘Global Livability Index’ for 2018, and, 35th Best City in the World. In Addition Manchester was also featured in The Lonely Planets top 10 cities to visit in the World.
Manchester has a rich Industrial past which the wealth of manufacturing has fed into this city making it the diverse, forward in its approach to expansion, and, after London the next port of call for air travel. Manchester airport is the largest in the Country after both London Heathrow and London Gatwick.
Due to the city’s location it will not take long to drive to North Wales, The West-Midlands, Derbyshire, West Yorkshire and the Lake District. The people that live here are some of the friendliest in the Country – not afraid to open a conversation to a complete stranger.
Manchester – the ‘uncrowned’ capital of the North is well deserving of the title. It has a rich history and culture, easily explored in its mix of museum’s and galleries. And while history and heritage make the city interesting, its distraction’s of pure pleasure make Manchester fun: you can dine, drink and dance yourself into a merry state. Commuting throughout the city is easy with it’s network of major train station’s interlinked with the tram system.
Some Useful Information
ℹ️ Travel: Manchester is served well by Air, Road, Train and by Tram. From Manchester Airport train station (located between Terminals 1 and 2) you can access the city centre via train that arrives into Manchester Piccadilly costing around £4.00, or via the METRO (Tram- The equivalent of the london Underground) that runs the 7 miles from the airport into the city centre.
ℹ️ Currency: The British Pound (£). From 31st October 2019 The UK will no longer be a member of the EU (European Union).
ℹ️ Credit Cards and Banks: ATMs are common place in almost every shopping street, with several ‘bureau de change’ around the city centre, with almost every retailer accepting Mastercard and Visa. There is no fear of an establishment declining card payments.
ℹ️ Weather: As with all Northern European countries the Winter months are dark, cold and wet. The better time to visit is during the Summer months. Always carry an umbrella – Manchester is built at the foothill of the Pennine Hill range so often weather becomes ‘trapped’ by the hills so it rains a lot.
ℹ️ Accommodation: I live in the suburbs of this city so for me a short tram journey from my home into the city is enough. However, I have on occasions stayed in a hotel. Here are three of my preferred venues…
The 3* Holiday Inn Express City Centre located on Goadsby Street (Shude Hill tram stop opposite) costs roughly £70 p/n with breakfast.
The 4* Jurys Inn Hotel near Castlefields/Deansgate district (tram stop less than 5 mins walk) roughly costs £70 p/n with breakfast.
If there are a few of you to split costs then consider staying in an apartment with separate bedrooms and kitchen with living area. The Atana Apartments (Shude Hill tram stop is less than 5 mins) is perfect for this (and I personally have stayed here too). Apartments start from £80 p/n ranging upwards depending on the number of bedrooms required.
WHAT CAN MANCHESTER OFFER?
The Manchester Museum
A free venue – The Manchester Museum is the country’s biggest university museum with a collection of 4,500,000 items from all around the world. The museum is housed within a striking Gothic style building and showcases the best in archaeology and natural history. The museum features a number of galleries focusing on diverse topics such as fossils, the ancient world, and world culture.
John Rylands Libray
John Rylands Library is perhaps the most well known of Manchester’s famous libraries. Opened in 1900, the library exterior features beautiful Gothic style architecture popular amongst the university buildings. The library is worth a visit for the architecture alone, boasting gorgeous vaulted ceilings, soft illumination and ornate archways.
John Rylands Library is also one of the best academic libraries in the UK, featuring a number of special collections. The library houses medieval manuscripts, early printed texts, as well as personal letters from a number of notable figures.
Manchester Town Hall
Manchester Town Hall has been used to film scenes in movies, including The Iron Lady, Sherlock Holmes and Victor Frankenstein.
An iconic element of Manchester’s skyline, Manchester Town Hall is the unmissable heart of the city. Featuring dramatic Gothic style architecture that dates from 1877, spend some time admiring the Town Hall from picturesque Albert Square. The clock tower reaches 85 metres and looks out over the city. For several weeks to the lead up to Christmas the town hall falls as an impressive backdrop to the city’s Christmas markets.
Sadly, from now until 2024 you can no longer walk around inside the building as it is closed for major refurbishment.
Science and Industry Museum (MOSI)
Another free venue and one of my favourites – If there’s anything you want to know about the Industrial Revolution and Manchester’s key role in it, you’ll find the answers here among this collection of steam engines and locomotives, factory machinery from the mill’s and the excellent exhibition telling the story of Manchester from the underground sewers (there is a tour of this) up.
A unifying theme is that Manchester and Mancunians had a key role to play: this is the place to discover that Manchester was home to the world’s first stored-program computer in 1948 and that the world’s first submarine was built to the design’s of local curate Reverend George Garrett in 1880.
Manchester United Football (Old Trafford)
For football fans, a visit to Old Trafford football stadium is a must. Home to Manchester United FC since 1910, the stadium is the largest in the country and one of its most iconic.
Manchester City Football Ground
Manchester Etihad Stadium is the home ground of Manchester City Football Club. It was used for the 2002 Commonwealth Games then converted after the Games finished into a 48,000 seating capacity. The Stadium additionally becomes host to artists and musicians from around the world for concerts.
Manchester’s Chinatown is the second largest in the UK and features a variety of restaurants, supermarkets and shops. It is home to Manchester’s extensive East Asian community and marked by a large arch, raised in 1987. China Town is the place I go for all my authentic Chinese food ingredients.
Manchester Cathedral has stood since 1421, featuring a Gothic style exterior that imposes and awes. The site of the church has been used for centuries, with evidence of an ancient church existing here in 700 AD. The cathedral boasts a lot of history, even in the stone used to build its floors which are full of small fossils.
HOME is Manchester’s hub for contemporary art, film and media, featuring a theatre, cinema, gallery and studio space. HOME celebrates independent art and culture, promoting engagement and curiosity.
There is always something new and exciting to experience at HOME, with an ever-changing roster of films, exhibitions, performances and events.
Mamucium was a Roman fort founded in 79 AD, also known as Mancunium. Mamucium marked the first settlement of the Manchester area and was used in medieval times for farming purposes. Here you can see the layout of the civilian settlement that grew around the fort in Roman times.
The Northern Quarter
This is one of my favourite areas of the city. It is also the coolest district of the city. The architecture here is similar to New York City, hence why alot of filming takes place here.
The Northern Quarter is Manchester’s alternative and bohemian capital, full of independent businesses, boutiques and cafes. The Northern Quarter is a shopping haven, home to Afflecks Palace which is like the Camden Market of London.
Check out the many boutiques and fashion designers hidden in the Quarter’s back streets, or pick up some art at one of the commercial art galleries dotted around the area. After dark, the Northern Quarter boasts some of Manchester’s best nightlife scenes with jazz bars and music venues.
Manchester is home to a thriving LGBTQ scene, much of which is based in Canal Street – also called the Gay Village. The Gay Village hosts a number of annual events promoting LGBTQ culture and issues, including Manchester Pride. In addition, the nightlife here is fantastic, with a wide variety of bars and restaurants lining the canal. Visit Alter Ego for exhilarating themed nights, including 80s nights and metal nights.
The Gay Village always offers a fun, safe and welcoming night out, or come along during the day for a pleasant stroll besides the canal.
Imperial War Museum
War museum’s generally appeal to those with a fascination for military hardware and battle.
The visually stunning Imperial War Museum’s exhibits cover the main conflicts of the 20th century through a vast selection of display’s, including regular screening’s of the Big Picture Show, which include three permanent 15-minute films, and other topical one’s including (in 2014) Al-Mutanabbi Street: A Reaction, about a 2007 street bombing in Baghdad. The Museum building is extraordinary in itself due to the aluminium-clad building playing a huge part of the attraction, and the exhibition’s displayed are genuinely awe-inspiring.
Food and Drink
I don’t even know where to begin with this one. There are so many venues to choose from. Due to the ethic mix there is not a single culinary taste you will not find. There is literally anything English, Malay, Chinese, Korean, Thai, Indian, Turkish, American, French, Spanish, Eastern European, Russian, Jewish, Brazilian, African, Caribbean, Australian, Japanese to tease those taste buds.
The three venues I tend to visit are:
The Crafty Pig – www.thecraftypigmanchester.co.uk
Located on Oldham Street near Piccadilly Gardens provides great pub food and drinks at great prices. Friday and Saturday nights live music is often provided.
Mackie Mayors www.mackiemayor.co.uk
Located near the Printworks. Catch on the tram to Shudhill station and make your way to Eagle Street. Makie Mayor is found behind the The Holiday Inn Express hotel.
Once you pass through the door you will find a selection of self service eateries where you place your food order and the waiter staff will serve to your table number. Not the cheapest of places but a very ‘cool’ atmosphere. It does become very busy especially over the weekends to ensure you are able to get a table arrive before 1230pm!!
Dukes 92 – www.dukes92.com
Based in Castlefields its the areas best pub, housed in converted stables that once belonged to the duke of Bridgewater, has comfy, deep sofas inside and plenty of seating outside, overlooking Lock 92 of the Rochdale Canal – hence the name.
If it’s sunny, there’s no better spot to enjoy a pint of ale. During the Summer months enjoy an open Hog Grill on the decking area.
Manchester allows London to have the attention it so desires because Manchester already knows what it has. The city is just waiting for everyone else to figure this out.
If you want the traditional English experience of castles, red tourist buses and people too socially stunted to look or speak to a stranger, stay to London. Despite how busy London is, it really is beautiful, and everyone should go at least once.
However, if you want the kind of city that makes you feel at home, if you want to make friends, if you want to stroll amidst gorgeous architecture and good books and better music — visit Manchester. You will be the only person you know who did.