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Manchester Attractions

Known as a birthplace of the industrial revolution, Manchester’s proud history and quirky culture makes it a great destination for a day out or longer

Marvellous Manchester

Home of The Hacienda, the Football League, Coronation Street and Vimto, Manchester lays claim to some of the best British inventions. The city also has a rich ancient history, with the Roman fort of Mancunium being built around 79 AD, remains of which can still be found today. Then, during the industrial revolution, textile manufacturing boomed in the city and Manchester became the world centre for this and other industries.

Now, Manchester is famous for its alternative and exciting culture. Birthplace of many indie artists, including The Smiths, The Stone Roses and Oasis, its music scene means visitors can catch a gig any night of the week. As the home to two top-flight football teams, Manchester is also a mecca for any sports fans. Plus, if you’re travelling with the family, then you’ll love the city’s friendly locals and exciting attractions, spacious parks and places to explore.

Best of Manchester

Manchester might be smaller than other UK cities, but there’s no shortage of things to do and places to explore. From the iconic and busy Albert Square and St Peter’s Square in the centre of the city, to the cultural district of Spinningfields and the buzzing nightlife of the Gay Village and Chinatown, there are attractions to keep any type of visitor entertained.

If you want to find out more about the city’s history, then there are plenty of museums to visit including the Science and Industry Museum, the Manchester Museum and the People’s History Museum. Plus, the National Football Museum is a must-visit for anyone who loves the game alongside the iconic Old Trafford Stadium. The city’s Art Gallery, Opera House and John Rylands Library are great for any culture fans and the Knowsley Safari Park and Trafford Centre are great for family days out away from the city centre.

Things to do in Manchester

Everyone’s welcome and sure to be entertained in Manchester. Whether you’re spending a day or a week in the city, there are plenty of activities to enjoy.

The famous home to Manchester City and Manchester United football teams, it’s maybe no surprise that the city also has the world's biggest collection of the game’s artefacts. At the National Football Museum, you can find out all about the social history of the game, view Premier League and FA trophies and practice your skills with interactive games. If you love one of Manchester’s teams then a tour around the Etihad or Old Trafford Stadium is essential.

If you're in the mood for some retail therapy, there are plenty of places to shop in Manchester. The two main shopping centres are the intu Trafford Centre and Manchester Arndale, both of which are accessible by public transport and have a variety of high street and upmarket shops to explore. Plus, the Trafford Centre is home to family attractions such as the SEALIFE Aquarium and LEGOLAND Discovery Centre, making it an ideal place to spend a rainy day with the kids.

For more arts and culture, there are plenty of museums and venues to visit. For fun exhibitions and child-friendly activities, the Science and Industry Museum is an ideal afternoon out. Alternatively, the Imperial War Museum and People’s History Museum are perfect for those who want to learn more about Britain and Manchester’s past. The Whitworth and Manchester Art Galleries are both great spaces to experience and hold both historical and contemporary art. To find out more about the local creative industries, take a trip to Salford to take in the entertainment headquarters at MediaCity.

For nightlife, food and music, there’s nowhere better than Manchester. Whether you’re lucky enough to catch the Manchester International Festival or not, you’ll find a music gig to suit your tastes. Venues such as Band on the Wall and the Albert Hall come highly recommended. Alternatively, get a taste of the city’s best at pizza bar The Laundrette, Chinese barbeque One Plus Restaurant, The Washhouse Bar or the Grey Horse Inn pub.

If you’re lucky enough to catch Manchester on a sunny day, then make the most of it by exploring the Fletcher Moss Park and Botanical Gardens or letting the kids run off some steam in the 600 acres of Heaton Park. Take in the Cathedral Gardens before heading out to enjoy further activities or try and spot some local wildlife with a stroll alongside riverside Chorlton Water Park.


➤ Why choose a day out in Manchester?

Despite its relatively small size, Manchester has something for everyone to enjoy thanks to its unique history and friendly locals. From cultural venues, museums and galleries to buzzing nightlife to family-friendly attractions, there’s plenty to do on a day out in Manchester.

➤ What are the best day trips from Manchester?

If you fancy taking in the northern and official capital of the UK in one day, then it's easy with Avanti. With direct trains running regularly between Manchester Piccadilly and London Euston, you could spend the morning exploring Manchester before arriving in London in just over two and a half hours ready for an afternoon of sightseeing.

➤ What to do in Manchester with children?

Give your little ones the best taste of Manchester sightseeing with a City River Tour along the ship canal. Alternatively, get stuck into some of the city’s biggest attractions at SEA LIFE or the LEGOLAND Discovery centre or get a sense of Manchester’s football fandom with a Manchester City Stadium Tour. Then, after a long day of fun, refuel yourself with a delicious meal at the Hard Rock Cafe.