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Often named the Capital of the North, Manchester is one of the most dynamic and lively cities in Europe. From Chinatown to Canal Street, the Northern Quarter to Spinningfields, this is definitely a city worth visiting. And, with trains to Manchester from Leeds and Preston taking less than an hour and around 2 and half hours from Newcastle, it’s easy to explore for a day, a weekend or longer.
All TransPennine Express trains to Manchester stop at Manchester Victoria, Manchester Piccadilly or Manchester Oxford Road. You can continue your journey on free city centre buses that operate outside Manchester train stations on a regular basis. In addition, Manchester Plusbus offers unlimited bus travel around the city and can be bought with your train ticket for £3.90 (£2.60 with a Railcard). The Metrolink tram system runs through Manchester city centre and beyond, with an interchange at Manchester Piccadilly and Victoria stations.
If you want the chance to lift the Premier League trophy, make tracks to The National Football Museum, located opposite Manchester Victoria train station. Pre-Raphaelite paintings more your thing? Manchester Art Gallery has an outstanding mix of classical and contemporary art, and The Whitworth offers new, contemporary art set within a leafy park. Finally, explore a history of conflict through powerful exhibitions and interactive displays at the Imperial War Museum North – it’s free and just taking in this striking, modern building is one of most-inspiring things to do in Manchester.
Manchester now seems to have more restaurants than people, and the biggest challenge will be deciding where to try. Veggies and vegans head to The Allotment for their locally-sourced all plant based menu. The stunning interior of Dishoom is not to be missed, with original stained glass from its early days as a Freemason's Hall, it serves up traditional Bombay-irani cafe style food and is applauded for its Bacon Naan breakfasts! For post-shopping food, try The Corn Exchange, opposite Manchester Arndale and home to no less than 12 restaurants. For something more upmarket, The Bull & Bear inside The Stock Exchange Hotel is headed up by TV's Tom Kerridge. Train lovers will be at home at Escape to Freight Island, an outdoor dining destination set inside the former Mayfield Depot railway station. For after dinner entertainment, the Northern Quarter is your go-to place, try Matt and Phreds, an intimate jazz bar with live music every night of the week, or Manchester's oldest music venue, Band on the Wall with live gigs and concerts.
Manchester’s Gay Village centres on Canal Street. A haven of bars and restaurants, this is the place to put on your glad rags and let your hair down. The free Science and Industry Museum is packed with hands-on exhibitions and a huge collection of vintage engines of all types. Opened in 2021, RHS Garden Bridgewater is one of the largest garden projects in Europe, featuring beautiful gardens, woodlands and a Chinese Streamside garden-an amazing oasis just a short journey from the city centre. With retail outlets, river cruises, music venues and restaurants, The Quays is Manchester's waterfront destination. Just 15 minutes by tram from the city centre, it's an ideal destination for a day out.
Manchester Arndale is one of the UK's largest inner-city shopping complexes and it has almost everything you need under one roof. However, if you want a little bit more, opposite Manchester Arndale on Exchange Square you’ll find Harvey Nichols and Selfridges. Explore the Northern Quarter for some truly unique independent shops. At the Craft & Design Centre you’ll find it full of independent makers selling clothing, textiles, ceramics and accessories.
For more ideas of what to do in Manchester, check out Visit Manchester.
Go behind the screens of famous TV shows and films that were filmed in Manchester