It’s officially spring, and when we say spring we just mean it’s mild and rainy most of the time. So we thought we’d put together a list of the best places to go in Manchester to feel like you’re on holiday. Whether it be having a cheeky drink by the water or sampling the array of international cuisine the city has to offer, we’ve got you covered. All you need to do is pretend you’re off somewhere in the Canaries and block out the sound of the trams hooting at you.
1. Barca, Castlefield
Here in Manchester we’re spoilt for choice when it comes to waterside bars where you can grab a pint and kick back with the serene backdrop of a canal, pretending you’re on holiday. Barca in Castlefield is one of the best, though, with their outdoor seating spilling onto Catalan Square, making you feel as though you could be slap bang in the middle of Barcelona.
The waterside location is particularly lovely in the sun, but really as long as it isn’t raining, you’re winning. The bar is decked out in Aperol sponsorship, so you can bet your bottom dollar their range of refreshing cocktails is to die for, evoking the taste of European relaxation. Barca, 8-9 Catalan Square, Manchester, M3 4RU.
2. Mackie Mayor
One of Manchester’s favourite food halls, Mackie Mayor is the place to be if you want to sample street food from all corners of the globe. The market hall feel stems from its former life as Smithfield Market Hall, and has retained an almost indoor al fresco experience with its huge footprint and tall, character ceilings, filled with long social dining tables.
Visitors can pick from a whole host of cuisines, whether it’s Chilli B Thai, Tender Cow or Pico’s Tacos, likely providing something you haven’t tried before, just as if you were on holiday… in Manchester. We particularly recommend the Pico’s Tacos frozen margarita, especially when the sun’s out! Mackie Mayor, Smithfield Market Hall, 1 Eagle St, Manchester, M4 5BU.
3. Tatton Park Gardens
If you’ve ever wished the Gardens of Versailles was more accessible to England, you need to visit Tatton Park Gardens. Covering a huge area, Tatton Park is the perfect day out for the family, but the gardens in particular give a truly calming, tropical feel to this Cheshire paradise.
The Japanese Gardens are not only beautiful, but so serene that you may question whether you’re still actually in the British Isles, and the painstakingly landscaped Italian Garden transports you to a spot along the Amalfi Coast, or wondering if you’ve gotten lost in the grounds of a palace somewhere. Tatton Park Gardens, Knutsford, WA16 6QN.
4. The Lawn Club
Even in the depths of winter, The Lawn Club in Spinningfields delivers. But in the spring and summer, it comes into its own, sat out in the centre of the impressive hive of corporate hubs. The contrast with everything around it is properly awe-inspiring and harks back to simpler times of picnicking on the lawn in the sun. Close your eyes and you could be in a park in the south of France, sipping a gorgeous cocktail, with the option of shelter if you happen to need it. The Lawn Club, Hardman Square, Spinningfields, Manchester, M3 3HG.
5. The Didsbury beer garden
If you’ve ever dived into the Didsbury Dozen pub crawl, or happen to live locally, you’ll full well know the magic of the beer garden at the front of The Didsbury pub. Taking up the huge patio that welcomes visitors into the lovely country-style pub, the beer garden is simple but effective with lowkey furniture, garland lights and great service.
It’s also on a bend in the road, meaning you can see the expanse of luscious trees and beautiful houses in the village spanning both ways, as well as being able to hop just across the road to the lovely Ye Olde Cock Inn, of which we are big fans too! Sit back, relax and enjoy the suburban bliss. The Didsbury, 852 Wilmslow Rd, Didsbury, Manchester, M20 2SG.
6. El Gato Negro
Obviously, we had to include some form of tapas on this list, being possibly the most ‘holiday’ food, and although Manchester has its fair share, El Gato Negro is our cream of the crop. You can get all the classics from harissa-spiced chicken with mojo picón, to aged Manchego with bittersweet figs and olive torta, with wonderful surprises including chargrilled octopus, new potatoes, capers, shallots and aioli.
Not only is the food and wine absolutely top notch, but the ground floor of the retaurant offers al fresco pavement dining along with their beautiful dining room, and hidden away on the top floor is a gorgeous roof terrace with its own bar, meaning you can enjoy your incredible tapas under the beating sun when the time comes. For now, just pop a coat on and you’ll be fine… you’re in Spain after all! El Gato Negro Tapas, 52 King St, Manchester, M2 4LY.
7. Great Northern Warehouse
We don’t mean the actual warehouse, but the area in front of Great Northern Warehouse is a glorious place to be when the sun is shining. With bars and restaurants spilling out onto the terrace area, and the iconic steps dropping down allowing you t0 sit and enjoy a moment to yourself or to chat with friends, it’s a pretty underrated part of Manchester. Yes, it’s in the middle of everything, on the corner of Deansgate and Peter Street, but that’s part of the fun of it – a real city centre hub of calm.
Of course the area becomes that much more elevated when sand is poured into the sunken part of the terrace, making it really feeling like a holiday here in Manchester, and when food markets come to occupy the area and becomes a bustling epicentre. It has many lives, all of which give holiday vibes in different ways. Great Northern Warehouse, 235 Deansgate, Manchester, M3 4EN.
8. Salford Quays/Bridgewater Canal
If you, or the kids, are more into jet skiing on foreign seas or paragliding over cliffs on your holidays, we’ve got a great alternative in Manchester: Salford Quays. Watersports are on a open hire basis at the Quays, with sailing, windsurfing, stand up paddleboarding (SUP), kayaking and canoeing on offer.
These are however only available on weekends between June – August, so if you can’t wait until then, how about signing up for a British Canoeing membership and paddleboarding along the Bridgewater Canal? With countless landmarks and cosy pubs to stop off at along the 39-mile canal, including city centre spots, you can dabble in watersports alongside sightseeing and a cheeky tipple, just as though you were on your jollies!