Our pick of things to do on your first trip to Manchester.
There’s no denying Manchester is a welcoming city, whether you’re here on holiday, on a day trip from a neighbouring city or absconding from the south, Manchester welcomes you with open arms. And with so many wonderful museums, restaurants, bars and clubs it’s easy to see why so many visitors often choose to become residents.
But the things that make people fall in love with our fair city can often be a bit overwhelming when you first arrive. Which is why we’ve put together a beginner’s guide to the city, with everything from where to eat to what museums to visit. So whether you’re new to Manchester or just fancy playing tourist for the day, our guide has got you covered.
(feature image @manchester_photosuk)
1. Plan Your Activities
There’s always something going on Manchester, between the pop-ups, club nights and countless new openings we’re very much spoiled for choice, not that we’re complaining. But when it comes down to it, how do you decide where to go? Fever has the solution!
Fever is a free mobile app dedicated to providing great deals and helping both visitors and locals enjoy everything Manchester has to offer. Fever is simple and effective, experts choose the best plans each week and users can book it and pay directly on the app, it’s that easy.
Fever also offers exclusive discounts to users, for example, We Are Lager Festival, the UK’s biggest lager festival, is currently available on the app for just £5 instead of £10. And tickets for The Greatest Showman sing-along club night are available on the app for just £18 instead of £24.50. Click here to download Fever.
2. Go For Breakfast At Porky Pig
Porky Pig in Manchester has come up with the ultimate breakfast and lunch crossover, a full English breakfast served in a Yorkshire pudding! The ‘meal’ consists of a giant Yorkshire pudding filled with sausage, egg, bacon, hash brown, mushrooms, grilled tomato and beans and can be yours for just £5.50. Available all-day, Monday – Saturday. 7 Cooper St, M2 2FW
3. Take Advantage Of The Free Buses
As the name suggests, the Manchester Free Bus is completely free and provides transport to all your favourite city centre locations. Buses run every ten minutes Monday to Saturday and every 15 minutes after 6.30pm. The service runs until 10pm Monday to Saturday and even has screens that provide audio and visual announcements on various aspects of the journey including places of interest and nearby businesses. And they’ve got free wifi! For more information click here.
4. Visit The Science And Industry Museum
Manchester’s Science and Industry Museum should be the first stop on everyone’s tour of the city. The museum is home to the world’s oldest surviving passenger railway station, and the world’s first railway warehouse as well as other amazing objects that tell the story of ideas that were born in Manchester and changed the world forever. Entry to the museum is free but donations are always appreciated. For more information click here. Liverpool Rd, M3 4FP
5. See The Da Vinci Drawings At Manchester Art Gallery While You Can
To say Leonardo da Vinci was a genius would be a bit of an understatement. Not only was he one of the greatest artists the world has ever known, celebrated in his day as a painter, architect and sculptor, but also a renowned scientist who made far-reaching contributions to many areas of science and technology.
To commemorate the 500th anniversary of his death, the Manchester Art Gallery is currently showing 12 drawings from The Royal Collection. The selection of works, which can only be displayed for a limited time as the paper is easily damaged by light, focus on the body and clearly demonstrate Da Vinci’s use of drawing to gain an unrivalled understanding of human anatomy. Entry to the gallery is free but a donation of £5 per person is suggested. For more information click here. Mosley St, Manchester M2 3JL
6. And The Beauty That Is The John Rylands Library
The John Rylands Library, with its glorious gothic architecture, is arguably one of Manchester’s most beautiful buildings. Named after John Rylands, who was one of Manchester’s most successful industrialists, the library was commissioned in 1890 by his wife Enriqueta Rylands following his death in 1888.
It boasts a world-class collection that includes the oldest known piece of the New Testament, the St John Fragment. Other treasures of the vast, varied collection include magnificent illuminated medieval manuscripts and a 1476 William Caxton edition of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. The library is free to visit. For more information click here. 150 Deansgate, Manchester M3 3EH
7. Go For Lunch At The UK’s First Toastie Restaurant
Frankie’s Toasties, the UK’s first toastie restaurant, promises ‘straight up’ toasties with a selection of outrageously good fillings. Diners can expect a choice of savoury fillings, including the cheap and cheeseful classic cheese toastie as well as more eccentric options, such as Bloody Mary, hot dogs, ramen, alphabet spaghetti and super noodles.
And for those with a sweet tooth (or those who fancy a second-course dessert toastie), diners can fill their sandwiches with Nutella, apple and custard, peanut butter and jam, Caramac, Mars, Galaxy, Boost and more! Check out the full menu here. 98 Portland St, Manchester M1 4GX
8. Grab A Selfie Outside Afflecks
Kill two birds with one stone and grab a selfie between two Manchester icons; the ‘God Created Manchester’ mosaic and Afflecks Palace. The mosaic lends itself perfectly to selfie-taking due to the person shaped gap between the artwork and the entrance. And after you can go for a wander through the eclectic emporium of independent shops, which offer everything from vintage clothing and vinyl to piercings and tattoos. 52 Church St, M4 1PW
9. Spend All Your Money In The Arndale’s Harry Potter Shop
Hoot, the not-for-profit Harry Potter themed gift shop is based in The Arndale’s Shopmobility store, boasts a plethora of Harry Potter merchandise, including replica wands, collectors edition brooms and even Rowena Ravenclaw’s lost diadem.
The store, which is run by Shopmobility volunteer and board member Keith Dalby-Oldham and his husband Darren, raises money for the charity which helps anyone with mobility problems get around the city, and has the backing of both Warner Brothers and J.K Rowling herself! For more information click here. Arndale Centre, L18 New Arkwright Way, M4 3AJ
10. Try Crazy Pedro’s Pizza Of The Month
The basement bar/pizza joint is famous for its wacky but delicious pizza toppings and has a different creation on offer each month. This month the ‘I’ll Have What Cheese Having’ takes centre stage, topped with the unconventional combination of corned beef, sauerkraut, swiss cheese, garlic croutons, gherkins and American mustard.
Crazy Pedro’s is open seven days a week from 12pm to 4am. There’s no bookings or table service, just head straight to the bar and order away – no drama, all chills. Hasta La Pizza baby! Short Street, M1 1JG and 55-57 Bridge St, M3 3BQ.
11. Go For Cocktails In The Secret Bar That Looks Like A Laundrette
To the casual observer, The Washhouse is just a pokey laundrette, complete with coin-operated washing machines, faded lino flooring and despondent clientele. But the typical laundry room shop front is exactly that, a front – and anyone looking a little closer might notice a few cracks in the façade.
Hidden behind the washing machine-shaped door is a modern-day speakeasy where, nestled in leather-clad booths, steeped in the lowest of low lighting, guests can live out their prohibition-era fantasies. Cocktails, ranging from the classic to the experimental, as well as spirits, beers and champagne are all served at table, to a soundtrack of dirty deep house.
Of course, one does not simply just walk through the washing machine-shaped door, there’s no entry without a reservation, and reservations must be made over the phone. So how do you book a table at a bar that doesn’t exist? Click here to find out.
What are your first day suggestions?
Also published on Medium.