What are the best places to visit in Manchester?
Welcome to Manchester! We’re a little obsessed with our home city and just love sharing it with visitors from all over the world. It’s why we offer foodie walking tours to help visitors learn the real stories of the city and its people.
Whether it’s your first time visiting or you’re coming back for more, we want to share some of the best places to visit in Manchester. Some are the top tourist attractions that you’ll likely find on TripAdvisor and in your travel guides. But, as locals, we also have our own favourite spots we recommend you check out to get a different view of the city.
So, without further ado, some of the top places to check out when visiting Manchester…
Top Tourist Attractions in Manchester
Let’s start off talking about some of the top tourist attractions in Manchester. After all, there’s a reason these are the top spots!
We’re big fans of Castlefield and even wrote about what to do in Manchester’s Canal Basin. You’ll find fascinating history, cool cafes, endless gathering spots, and this is even where you’ll find the Science and Industry Museum (more on that later).
Whatever you’re into, Castlefield can’t be missed when you come to Manchester!
Officially named “The Cathedral and Collegiate Church of St Mary, St Denys and St George”, Manchester Cathedral is a notable landmark and well worth visiting to admire the stunning architecture for a moment of tranquility. Occasionally, there are even gigs hosted in this beautiful venue!
Old Trafford & Etihad Stadium
The historic home of Manchester United at Old Trafford is the UK’s biggest club football stadium. But don’t miss the state-of-the-art Etihad Stadium, home to Manchester City. With quite the rivalry between the teams (just reference The Derby), football is an intrinsic part of life in Manchester.
Whether you’re a fan or not, visiting the stadiums offers interesting insights and a behind-the-scenes look into two of the world’s biggest football clubs.
Manchester Town Hall
One of Manchester’s most beautiful buildings, the Town Hall is historic and architecturally significant. It’s often regarded as one of the best examples of Neo-Gothic architecture in the entire UK. The murals in the great hall depict the depth of history here in Manchester, while the clock tower is awe-inspiring.
You can learn more about the story of Manchester’s Town Hall in our blog…or get all the details during one of our Manchester food tours.
Manchester Central Library
Manchester has quite the claim to fame when it comes to libraries: Ours was the first local authority to offer a free library for the general public to access. It opened in 1852, with Charles Dickens in attendance at the opening ceremony! Learn more about the Manchester Central Library and then go visit Manchester’s Parthenon for yourself.
Favourite Local Spots in Manchester
While the top tourist attractions are certainly worth checking out, there are so many local spots in Manchester that you just have to visit! We (obviously) are partial to the food-related spots, but there are plenty of areas to check out all over the city.
Here are some of our top recommendations…
You can’t visit Manchester and skip Chinatown! As one of the largest Chinatowns in all of Europe, you’ll be spoilt for choice when looking for dining options. The Chinese New Year celebrations here are exceptional, so don’t be afraid to visit Manchester in winter!
Want to learn more? We wrote about some interesting history and gave recommendations for Manchester’s Chinatown that you should miss.
Mackie Mayor Food Hall
One of our favourite spots in Manchester! Mackie Mayor Food Hall is a must-visit in Manchester for its history and its excellent variety of food stalls. Now a Grade 2 Listed Building, this space has adapted and evolved over the centuries to accommodate the changing needs of the community. It’s one of our favourite stops during our Foodie Walking Tours of Manchester.
Altrincham Market House
Altrincham Market House is one of the best things to do in Manchester. We love that story of its revival after a rough period of decline (check out the blog for more details). Nowadays, this is a hot spot for locals with some exceptional food options, live music in the summer, and a positive vibe all around.
You can’t visit Manchester and not enjoy a night out on Canal Street. Known as the Gay Village, this area boasts plenty of bars, restaurants, and clubs for gathering with friends or making new ones. It’s the spot in town…but if you ask us during a tour, we’d be happy to share our own personal favourite nightlife options.
Manchester Free Trade Hall
This beautiful building boasts plenty of interesting history for Manchester, from corn laws to orchestras. But it might be most recognisable to music fans as the site of “that Dylan concert” that helped change the music industry. It’s now a hotel, but still worth checking out for its architectural beauty and history.
Manchester Craft and Design Centre
We don’t just support local restaurant owners and foodie creatives…we also support local artists! Explore the Northern Quarter and visit the Manchester Craft and Design Centre to purchase locally-crafted, unique items. The creativity here is astounding and it’s certainly a favourite local spot to visit in Manchester.
Top Manchester Museums to Visit
We’re never ones to stop learning, and there are tonnes of museums to visit in Manchester where you can explore everything from local history to pop culture to science and art. This is a city of innovators and creatives, so you’ll have plenty to take in whatever your interests may be!
Here are just some of the top museums we recommend visiting on your Manchester trip…
Science and Industry Museum
One of the top museums in Manchester, the Science and Industry Museum is located in Castlefield so you can enjoy two of our favourite spots. With the industrial past in this city, you can bet that innovation and invention were regular trends here. Check it all out for an educational experience.
The Manchester Museum is always popular and for good reason. Its collection is diverse and interesting, spanning from dinosaurs and mummies to beetles and frogs. It’s a great spot for families visiting Manchester, or for those inevitable rainy days.
People’s History Museum
The People’s History Museum shares fascinating information on the history of democracy. Manchester has always been a city of the people, and those people were often fighting for social justice (and often still are). Check this one out to dive deeper into Manchester’s involvement over the years in various social and legal causes.
Imperial War Museum North
Explore the history of war from the First World War through the following century. The Imperial War Museum North is one of the Imperial War Museums, which are a collection of world-class museums highlighting conflict and its impact.
Manchester Art Gallery
The Manchester Art Gallery is centrally located and offers free entry, so it’s certainly worth checking out — especially for an escape from the rain! There is quite a variety of art to enjoy from world-renowned artists.
Learn about Manchester’s Suffragettes at the Pankhurst Centre, a museum dedicated to telling the story of women’s fight for the right to vote from the building where the movement started.
National Football Museum
If you’re a football fan, beyond visiting the aforementioned stadiums, you should check out the National Football Museum. It offers insight into the history of the game and shares endless stats and details on league history. You can even test your own football skills!
So, what do you think? Are these all the best places to visit in Manchester or did we miss your favourite? We’d love to actually take you to some of our favourite spots during our Manchester foodie tours. We’re all about sharing the stories of the people behind the food, the people who make this city so great. Come join us and enjoy the best of Manchester!