It might be a rare occasion that the sun chooses to shine in Manchester but that’s all the more reason to make the most of it. We’ve got rainy day activities nailed but when it comes to enjoying Manchester and the surrounding areas in the sunshine we’re here to lend a hand. So grab your sunglasses and SPF and check out our guide to the best things to do in Manchester on a sunny day.
1. Chill with a pint in one of Manchester’s many beer gardens
When the sun shines, Manchester really comes alive. Tables and chairs start to flood pavements and terraces once those rays hit the city and it’s the perfect excuse to enjoy an al fresco pint in the sunshine. From sunny spots in the Northern Quarter’s Stevenson Square to your classic wooden benches and parasols in a pub garden, grab your mates, order your favourite refreshing drink and soak up that sun and atmosphere before it’s gone.
2. Go for a cruise down the canal
One way to see the city from a different perspective (and won’t get you in a sweat) is by hopping on a boat tour along Greater Manchester’s waterways. You can enjoy a boat trip around Salford Quays and Manchester Ship Canal with the glowing sunshine lighting up noteworthy landmarks. Better still, you can even make it a little boozy by joining a cocktail or wine cruise.
3. Browse at the independent stalls at the Makers Market
Nobody likes shopping in the rain so when it’s sunny in Manchester it’s the perfect opportunity to make your way to your nearest Makers Market. With the sun out everyone is happy to be there and you’ll be even happier knowing you’re supporting local independent businesses. Whether it’s baked goods, plants, artwork, cards, jewellery or ornaments, you’ll be brightening up someone’s day even more. From Cutting Room Square to Stockport, there’s bound to be a Maker’s Market close to you.
4. Swing through the trees of these nearby forests
Another great sunny day activity is Treetop Trek in Manchester green space Heaton Park, which allows guests to take on 20 aerial challenges across the two-hour course, including 14 ziplines through the woods and plenty of bridges and tricky beams to climb over. Plus, a little further but definitely worth a visit is Go Ape in Delamere Forest which has both high and low obstacles to try out in the trees, alongside both big and little ziplines to cruise across.
5. Get a dose of nature at Fletcher Moss Botanical Garden
Rather than tackle the hustle and bustle of Manchester city centre instead be surrounded by beautiful plants and flowers on a sunny day. Fletcher Moss Botanical Garden in Didsbury is just a short drive or tram ride away but when you arrive you’ll have entered a botanical paradise that’s definitely worth a wander round. Turn any corner, and you’ll be greeted with a brand new picturesque setting, with some backdrops looking like a whole other country (especially with that sun) – let alone county.
6. Watch the ducks by the marina
There’s just something magical about being by the water on a warm, sunny day in Manchester. New Islington Marina is an absolute suntrap and there’s nothing quite like watching the duckies float on by as you sit with a brew (coffee or beer, your choice) in the sun. Seeing the water sparkle and the chilled vibes are likely to make all your worries disappear, plus make you realise you don’t need to jet off abroad when you have this waterside gem on your doorstep.
7. Discover the city with a walking tour
Trudging round the city in the rain is not the one but on a sunny day it’s not trudging, it’s more like wandering. The sun slows things down and with not a drop of rain in the clouds you’re more likely to appreciate all the culture, architecture and history of the city at a leisurely pace. There are so many guided walking tours that you can join, some of which are free, and on a sunny day Manchester looks undoubtedly more photo-worthy and beautiful to marvel at.
8. Make a splash with some water sports
Forget jet skiing on foreign seas or paragliding over cliffs on your holidays, we’ve got great alternatives right here in Manchester. Watersports are on a open hire basis at Salford Quays, with sailing, windsurfing, stand up paddleboarding (SUP), kayaking and canoeing on offer. If it’s outside of the summer season, you can kayak or paddleboard along the Bridgewater Canal, a stretch of water that spans across Worsley, Salford, Trafford and the Castlefield area. Plus, there’s Trafford Water Sports Centre at Sale Water Park which offers tons of fun outdoor activities to enjoy.