20 Things To Do In Manchester

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Famous for its incredible music scene, footballing prowess and vibrant culture, you’ll find plenty of interesting things to do in Manchester. The city has seen music greats such as Oasis, The Smiths and The Stone Roses work their way through the city’s clubs before making it big. Manchester’s two football clubs, Manchester City and Manchester United, have a new but fierce rivalry. This footballing culture sees many from across the world travel to the city to see these two giants play in big games in the premier league and in European cups.

Manchester has long been an important industrial centre in England with its manufacturing history in cotton and textiles production. While the city had moved on a lot since the Industrial Revolution, remnants of its factories and infrastructure have been transformed into trendy apartment buildings, cafes, bars and restaurants. This history isn’t forgotten, as many museums and galleries are dedicated to the city’s manufacturing past.

Manchester is a culturally vibrant city with influences from across the globe in its restaurants, areas and shops. One of the most popular areas in the city is Chinatown, which draws thousands of tourists each year to its streets. There are plenty of museums to visit in the city, including a mixture of the arts, sciences and of course football. The city is a university city with a young and trendy vibe that feeds into its nightlife, with people from all over the UK heading to the city on the weekend to experience Manchester at night.

Manchester isn’t just about music and nightlife, however, as there are plenty of things to do with children, including a wide range of interactive museums, parks and regular seasonal activities. If you are in Manchester or are planning on visiting soon, here are 20 things to do in Manchester you will love. 

Manchester, UK

20 Things To Do In Manchester

1- Eat Delicious Treats In Chinatown

Chinese Arch In Manchester
Exploring Chinatown is one of the fun things to do in Manchester, UK. This is where you’ll find excellent food.

Chinatown in Manchester is the second-largest in the UK, after London, and the area is filled with specialist supermarkets, bakeries, cafes and restaurants.

The centre of Chinatown is a likeable square with a large paifang in reds, greens and golds to welcome you.

The paifang was an official gift to the city from Beijing and is covered in symbols and carvings of prosperity and luck.

While in Chinatown, visit Wong Wong Bakery on Princess Street. This authentic bakery has a wide selection of delicious Chinese and Japanese treats.

Sample a soft and squishy milk loaf, indulge in a strawberry shortcake or try a red bean milk bun.

Chinatown is in the heart of Manchester and is a short walk from St Peter’s Square.

Top tour: Manchester Food and Drinks Walking Tour.

Manchester Art Gallery is housed inside a grand 200-year-old building and is filled with an impressive collection of more than 46,000 works of art, sculpture and historical artefacts.

The museum has regular temporary collections which has in the past included a look into Dandy fashion and culture, How Hot Drinks Shaped Our Lives, and Out of the Crate, a look at how the art gallery runs behind the scenes.

Inside Manchester Art Galleries’ collections are pieces from Lowry, Dutch Masters and an extensive collection of pre-Raphaelite paintings.

The museum is free to enter and holds various events for children, adult workshops and lectures throughout the year.

Manchester Art Gallery is at Manchester Art Gallery, Mosley St, Manchester M2 3JL.

Top tour: Manchester Northern Quarter Street Art Walking Tour.

3- Do Some Research In Manchester Central Library

Manchester Central Library, UK
One of the things to do in Manchester is to visit the Central Library.

Manchester Central Library is another architecturally stunning building in Manchester.

E. Vincent Harris designed the building in the 1930s with influences from Tuscany.

Explore the library’s myriad bookshelves and corridors, keeping your eyes peeled for beautiful stained glass windows, marble staircases and ornately decorated ceilings.

If you enter through the gift shop, look for the original entrance, which is filled with more stained glass, high ceilings and marble columns.

Visit the first floor and wander around the law library.

This circular room can be filled with people but is utterly silent as those present study hard.

The room centres around a grand clock in the centre and its curved walls are lined with heavy tomes.

Manchester Central Library is at St Peter’s Square, Manchester M2 5PD.

Top tour: Manchester City Bus Tour.

4- Tour Old Trafford Stadium

Manchester United. Logo Embroidered On The T-Shirt
Touring Old Trafford Stadium, home of Manchester United is one of the iconic things to do in Manchester.

Old Trafford has been Manchester United’s home for more than 100 years.

The stadium’s nickname is ‘The Theatre of Dreams’ which was given to it by Sir Bobby Charlton, a former player.

The stadium is open to the public for tours allowing visitors into exclusive areas of the club that are typically off-limits to fans.

Each tour takes in the museum filled with club memorabilia and trophies, the player’s tunnel, dressing rooms, dugouts and, of course, the pitch.

To make your time at Old Trafford even more special, book the Old Trafford Experience, which also includes an exclusive meal at the Red Café, serving a variety of dishes in a red-themed cafe filled with images of some of the club’s greatest players.

Old Trafford is at Sir Matt Busby Way, Old Trafford, Stretford, Manchester, M16 0RA. Skip the line and book your tour here.

5- Tour Etihad Stadium

Manchester Stadium Also Known Etihad Stadium
Watching a match or doing a tour of Etihad Stadium is one of the top things to do in Manchester, England.

If you are more of a Blues fan, head to the Etihad Stadium to tour the home ground of Manchester City.

The Etihad Stadium has been City’s home since 2003.

There is a range of different tour options at the Etihad Stadium, starting with an official stadium tour which includes the opportunity to question a virtual Pep Guardiola, Manchester City’s manager, in the press conference room, visit dressing rooms, walk along the player’s tunnel and of course explore the pitch.

Enjoy even more exclusive access throughout the stadium on a VIP tour, and relax and unwind in the Platinum Box with a glass of Prosecco.

The Etihad Stadium is at Etihad Campus, Manchester, M11 3FF. Skip the line and reserve your tickets here

For more ideas around England, read:

6- See The Airplanes At Runway Visitor Park

Aviation enthusiasts will love a day at Manchester’s Runway Visitor Park.

The park is next to Manchester Airport’s runway, with excellent views of planes landing and taking off.

Within the grounds, there are several retired planes to see and explore.

Inside its large hanger, the Runway Visitor Park has a Concorde G-BOAC, which can be accessed on an exclusive tour.

There is also a small museum, gift shop and restaurant.

In the visitor centre is a Fly-360 simulator allowing children and adults alike to experience the thrill of flying a fighter plane.

Runway Visitor Park is at Sunbank Lane, Altrincham, WA15 8XQ.

7- Visit The National Football Museum

Another great thing to do in Manchester for football fans, whatever your team, is to visit the National Football Museum.

The museum is packed with all things football from its lengthy and varied history.

Four galleries are filled with memorabilia dating from the game’s creation to more recent kits and trophies.

There are plenty of opportunities for photographs with replica trophies, including the Premier League and Women’s Super League.

The museum also has several interactive exhibits in its play gallery.

Take on your family in a penalty shootout, try to stop goals in Shot Stopper or fill the commentator’s shoes in a Match of the Day Commentary Challenge.

National Football Museum is at Urbis Building Cathedral Gardens, Todd Street, Manchester, M4 3BG. Skip the line and book your tickets here

8- Learn Something New At The Science and Industry Museum

If science is your preferred interest, visit the Science and Industry Museum and uncover how Manchester played a pivotal role in their modern-day developments.

The museum has science and industry innovations covering the last 250 years on display, particularly focusing on the industrial revolution in Manchester.

There are exhibitions on the city’s thriving textile industry and its musical history.

Visit the Power Up gallery to play some of the best video games of the last 50 years, or participate in one of many scientific experiments across the gallery.

Science and Industry Museum is at Liverpool Road, Manchester, M3 4FP.

9- See The Exhibits At Manchester Museum

Manchester Museum recently reopened after a two-year closure following extensive renovation works to transform the museum into a better place for visitors to experience.

The museum focuses on the city and surrounding area throughout its collections, including exhibitions focusing on the wider world.

The museum has various ever-changing free exhibitions, including The Wild Escape, a self-guided family art activity, and The Golden Mummies of Egypt, which features an incredible collection of Ancient Egyptian mummies and artefacts.

Manchester Museum offers a range of activities for children throughout school holidays and lectures, classes and after-hours tours for adults.

Manchester Museum is at the University of Manchester, Oxford Road, Manchester, M13 9PL.

10- Watch The Planes At The Airport Pub

Another great Manchester location for aviation enthusiasts or those longing to take to the skies is the Airport Pub.

The Airport Pub sits alongside the runway at Manchester Airport and has a beer garden with excellent views of the runway and planes taking off and landing.

The pub opens its Hangar Bar during the summer, where drinks and snacks are served outside.

Inside the pub is an extensive food and drinks menu, all tasty and served very quickly.

Try the Korean BBQ burger, and round off your meal with a salted caramel chocolate pot or freshly fried churros.

The Airport Pub is at Ringway Road, Manchester, M22 5WH.

Top Tours

Beautiful Blonde Girl With Hat Walking In Manchester City
Looking for things to do in Manchester UK? Here’s our pick of the top 20!

11- Soak Up The Architecture At John Rylands Research Institute and Library

The John Rylands Library Historic Reading Room, Manchester, UK
Visiting The John Rylands Library is one of the unusual things to do in Manchester UK.

Manchester Central Library offers some beautiful architecture and old books, but it pales in comparison to the collection inside John Roland’s Research Institute and Library.

Enriqueta Rolands founded the library inside a stunning Neo-Gothic building in 1888 in honour of her husband.

It officially opened to the public in 1900.

The library is home to a dedicated team of researchers, curators and conservationists who preserve its collection.

Despite the library now being a part of the University of Manchester, its collections and exhibitions are open to the public.

Experience the church-like Historic Reading Room with its stunning stained-glass windows and archways, explore the Roland’s Gallery, which houses the library’s special collections, or marvel at the building’s architecture at the historic entrance.

John Rylands Research Institute and Library is at 150 Deansgate, Manchester, M3 3EH.

12- See A Show At The Royal Exchange

Royal Exchange is Manchester’s main theatre and has held performances across a wide range of arts since 1976.

The theatre building was originally a trading centre for the cotton industry however it was severely damaged during the Blitz in WWII.

The building itself is well worth a visit to see, however if you are in the city and a show happens to be on, book tickets and enjoy the show in comfortable surroundings.

The theatre’s performance schedule changes regularly and features dramatisations of classic novels, comedy performances and dances.

A range of activities is typically offered on the weekend or during school holidays to encourage children to participate in the theatre.

Royal Exchange is at St Ann’s Square, Manchester, M2 7DH.

Whitworth Art Gallery is part of the University of Manchester and is surrounded by a beautiful green space.

The museum opened in 1889 in dedication to industrialist Sir Joseph Whitworth to provide the people of Manchester with a space to explore, learn and be surrounded by the arts.

The museum has a range of permanent and temporary exhibitions from history and the present day.

There are also numerous outdoor exhibits and events that run seasonally, including the museum’s permanent collections of outdoor sculptures.

Current temporary exhibitions at the museum include a collection on self-care, an exploration through art into the term ‘queer’ and its impact on LGBTQ+ people, and a look into the gallery’s history.

Whitworth Art Gallery is at The Whitworth, The University of Manchester, Oxford Road, Manchester, M15 6ER.

14- Have A Picnic At Heaton Park

Heaton Park is the ideal destination to get outside and spend some time in nature away from the city. 

The park is an excellent location for a picnic, an afternoon outside, or even somewhere to spend the whole day.

Inside the park is the Tram Museum, dedicated to preserving Manchester’s transport history through its collection of restored trams.

Some trams are up and running, allowing visitors to board the vehicles and go for a short ride.

Explore Heaton Hall and immerse yourself in life in Manchester in the 18th century or participate in one of the park’s many outdoor activities, including orienteering, rowing or guided nature walks.

Heaton Park is at Middleton Road, Manchester, M25 2SW.

15- Admire The Gothic Manchester Cathedral

Manchester Cathedral At Night
You’ll find plenty of things to do and see in Manchester at night. Pictured here is the lovely Manchester Cathedral.

Manchester Cathedral has stood for more than 600 years, with remnants of its history dating back as early as the 1000s.

The original church, documented in the Domesday book in 1086, was eventually destroyed and the current cathedral took its place.

Today, a small sandstone angel carving from the original is on display in the cathedral.

The Gothic cathedral has many beautiful medieval touches throughout, including its pulpit and nave roof.

Whether you are religious or not, this building is well worth a visit when in Manchester for its architecture, treasures and beautiful stained-glass windows.

Manchester Cathedral is at Victoria Street, Manchester, M3 1SX.

16- Soak Up The Serenity At Fletcher Moss Botanical Garden

Fletcher Moss Botanical Gardens is a beautiful, peaceful green space in the city centre.

The gardens are filled with narrow winding paths completely surrounded by towering trees, leafy green plants and colourful flowers.

There are plenty of places to sit and relax, including on one of the parks many carved stone benches featuring mythical beasts.

Visit the gardens in summer to see the vine tunnels fully in bloom, or in spring to see the rose garden come to life.

Explore a British wetland on the boardwalks of the Wetland Walk and enjoy the rich red leaves in the Japanese garden.

An informative visitor centre provides visitors with maps, guides, souvenirs and a cafe serving delicious snacks.

Fletcher Moss Botanical Garden is at 100 Millgate Lane, Didsbury, Manchester, M20 2SW. If you’re a green thumb, another garden you might like is the RHS Garden

17- Be Entertained At HOME

HOME is Manchester’s latest entertainment venue packing arts, theatre, cinema and more all under one roof.

This centralised location is the perfect place to spend a rainy afternoon or for some after-dinner entertainment.

HOME has three options for drinking and dining with a bar, restaurant and cafe.

The restaurant serves up a wide and varied menu, including pizzas, burgers and traditional Sunday lunches each week.

In the cafe expect to find soft and sticky cinnamon buns, cakes and barista-made coffees.

HOME’s offering changes regularly with upcoming events, including the Manchester International Festival in June, ongoing temporary art exhibitions such as collections from Tara Collette and Nick Jordan, and a range of recent releases to indie films shown at the cinema.

HOME is at 2 Tony Wilson Place, Manchester, M15 4FN.

Top tour: Manchester Silent Disco Adventure Tour.

18- Explore Roman History At Mamucium

Mamucium is the Roman settlement in Manchester, forming part of the Castlefield Urban Heritage Park.

The Romans built the fort and settlement of Mamacium in 79AD close to the rivers and essential road links to other Roman cities York and Chester.

The area was primarily used as a garrison where up to 500 soldiers could live and work.

What remained of the fort following its abandonment in the 400s was sadly destroyed during the industrial revolution.

In the 1980s, however the area was preserved and regenerated, allowing parts of the fort to be rebuilt, including some foundations and the main rampart.

Several archeological findings from the site are on display in some of Manchester’s museums.

Mamucium is at Bridgewater Street, Manchester M3 4NA.

Top tour: Welcome to Manchester Private Tour with a Local.

19- Get Creative At The Lowry

Named after one of Manchester’s most famous artists, L.S. Lowry, The Lowry serves as a creative hub within Manchester.

The hub includes a theatre that regularly shows theatrical, dance and musical performances.

Several creative studios within the complex focus on artist development across many disciplines, creative writing workshops and much more.

Part of The Lowry’s permanent collection is of course, an exhibition focusing on the work of L.S.Lowry himself.

Lowry’s work portrayed the average working-class person in Manchester during the early 20th century and beyond.

The Lowry houses around 400 of the artist’s paintings, many of which are on display.

The Lowry is at Pier 8, The Quays, Salford, M50 3AZ.

20- Celebrate Pride At The Gay Village

Manchester’s Gay Village is centred around Canal Street and is a stone’s throw from St Peters Square and Chinatown.

This vibrant, friendly and fun-filled area of the city is packed with bars, shops and restaurants, all celebrating LGBTQ+ people and businesses.

The area has become an iconic location in the UK which celebrates everyone and provides somewhere safe to be yourself.

One of the best times to visit The Gay Village is during Pride, when a massive parade through the city begins at the village.

Expect plenty of music, dancing and colour throughout the festival.

The Gay Village is at Canal Street and surrounding areas in Manchester.

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sarah holmes travel writer
Sarah Holmes is a travel and fashion writer living in the heart of England. From family adventures in numerous parts of the UK and Europe to exploring cities as an adult, Sarah has a wide knowledge of the best areas, sights and local tips that the UK and the neighbouring continent can offer. Sarah grew up in the North East of England, with incredible sights and landmarks only a short drive away. Her favourite places to visit include Seaham Beach, the Lake District and Alnwick Castle. Sarah has written for a range of fashion and travel blogs and print publications.