What To See in Manchester

What To See in Manchester

If you mention Manchester to anybody across the globe it’s likely they’ll respond with either two topics of conversation — football or music. The city’s reputation precedes itself. For good reason too. 


While they’re both a huge draw, the city offers much more than just the beautiful game or ‘Madchester’ music. A revolution has happened and Manchester is now a truly modern, global city.


Manchester City Centre is the place to be. Urban living is in vogue. Young professionals are flocking to the city. Former factories are now craft breweries or modern offices. Brownfield sites are now sleek apartment blocks. 


Neighbourhoods have been transformed with independent traders, stunning street art and more, thanks to that age-old Mancunian attitude of getting things done. Here, there’s always something going on. 


Here’s what to see in Manchester, including our favourite places, so you won’t be missing out. 


The City Centre 


Why not go on a walking tour of Manchester City Centre and look at what’s around you? The sky might be grey, but that adds to the charm. A product of the Industrial Revolution, Manchester is littered with warehouses, railway viaducts, cotton mills and canals. Each one has its own story to tell. A little piece of a larger history. 


Manchester Town Hall is a prime example of Victorian, neo-gothic architecture. Standing tall between Albert Square at the front and St. Peter’s Square to the rear, this stunning Grade I listed building, which was designed by Alfred Waterhouse, was completed in 1877.


The 85-metre-tall clock tower, which dominates the outside view, contains a bell weighing more than eight tonnes. The bell is known as Great Abel and is named after former mayor Abel Heywood.  


Along Deansgate, you’ll find John Rylands Library. Another example of Victorian, neo-gothic architecture, it opened in 1900 and is now a Grade I listed building. It’s a historical treasure trove and is free to go and wander around. The stunning Reading Room is the perfect place to go and work or study quietly. 


Manchester Cathedral stands towards the northern end of Deansgate on Victoria Street. This historic building, which dates back as far as the 7th century, is now nestled between more modern counterparts. A grade I listed building, it now hosts concerts and fairs as well as religious ceremonies.


Not far from the cathedral is Chetham’s Library, which is the oldest free public reference library in the English-speaking world. It opened in 1653 and is widely known as the meeting place of Karl Marx and Freidrich Engels, who went on to write The Communist Manifesto. 


Chetham’s stands near Urbis — a modern museum and exhibition centre which is now home to the National Football Museum. Opened in 2002, it is one of a plethora of modern buildings to gaze up at as you explore Manchester. 


The Renold Building, opened in 1962 at the University of Manchester, is a key example of Brutalist architecture and one for the modernists out there. It appeared in Season 4 of The Crown on Netflix. You also cannot miss the blue and gleaming 47-story Beetham Tower, which opened in 2006. It was the city’s tallest building until 2018.


Northern Quarter


The Northern Quarter is Manchster’s livelist neighborhood and where you’ll find lots of independent clothes and record stores, cafes and bars. It’s the place to catch live music or grab a bite to eat.


It stretches from Piccadilly Gardens northwards towards Great Ancoats Street along Oldham Street. Here are our top tips for the hangouts you’ll want to check out, starting with a Manchester drinking institution. 


For a proper pub experience, The Castle Hotel on Oldham Street cannot be beaten. Gullivers, across the road, is under the same ownership, and has almost nightly gigs worth seeking out. Try them both out, then head to the Crown & Kettle, which is across Great Ancoats Street at the end of Oldham Street. 


Port Street Beer House is a great spot for craft beer and ale lovers. While Soup Kitchen, on Spear Street, has a busy upstairs cafe and live music venue downstairs. You can catch local and international touring bands and DJs most nights of the week in its legendary basement.  


If you want a bite to eat there’s North Tea Power on Tib Street or Fig and Sparrow on Oldham Street. If you want to browse the latest vinyl records while sipping on a coffee then Eastern Bloc in Stevenson Square fits the bill. 


Street art is the order of the day in the Northern Quarter so keep an eye out and see what you spot.


Museums and galleries 


Manchester City Centre has some great art galleries and museums ideal for those with curious minds. 


Manchester Art Gallery on Portland Street has artwork spanning six centuries and a regular rotation of exhibitions. Established in 1823, the gallery is known for its collection of pre-Raphaelite works and houses over 2,000 oil paintings, as well as a growing number of contemporary works. 


Manchester Museum is owned by the University of Manchester and contains around 4.5 million items relating to natural history, archaeology and anthropology. Situated on Oxford Road this sprawling attraction is a great place to take young children. 


The Science and Industry Museum looks at the city’s innovative past in science, technology and industry. It’s a great place to learn about what makes Manchester the city it is today.


Situated on Liverpool Road, on the site of the world’s first passenger railway station, there are displays where you’ll see cars, planes and trains, as well as technology relating to textiles and computing. 



The Royal Exchange Theatre, which opened in 1921, is housed in a Grade II listed building located in St. Anne’s Square. The building was originally part of a wider commodities exchange, with trading ceasing in 1968. It remained empty until 1973 when it was first used as a theatre space.


These days, theatre productions are performed in the round, within the theatre company’s 800-seater spaceship-like structure which opened in 1976 at a total cost of £1 million. 


Other theatres in the city include The Palace Theatre on the corner of Oxford Road and Whitworth Street. Originally known as the Grand Old Lady of Oxford Road, it has an illustrious history, with Judy Garland and Laurel and Hardy treading the boards in years gone by. 


In 2019, the musical The Book of Morman ran at the Palace Theatre between June and August.


For something more leftfield, HOME Manchester, just a few minutes walk from the Palace, is a centre for international contemporary arts, theatre and film. It has two theatres — 500-seats and 150-seats — and five cinema screens plus a comfortable cafe and restaurant.


Gay Village


Canal Street is home to Manchester’s vibrant Gay Village. Lined with restaurants, bars and clubs, this pedestrianised thoroughfare provides a welcoming environment for everybody who passes through. 


Since the 1990s, it has become one of Europe’s most lively gay areas. It comes alive during the annual Manchester Pride celebrations which take place each August attracting crowds from far and wide. 


Parks and Green Spaces 


When it’s time for some respite from the city centre, you’ll find lots of green spaces including Heaton Park, which is home to a Grade I listed, neoclassical 18th century house and wonderful gardens. 


It’s the largest municipal park in Europe, making it a popular choice on a summer’s day. Also keep a look out for live events with Parklife festival and concerts taking place there each summer. Located four miles north of the city, the Metrolink from Piccadilly Station to Heaton Park takes 22 minutes. 


Fletcher Moss, in Didsbury, is home to vibrant Botanical Gardens and is a nice place to go on walks and get a breath of fresh air. A walk can easily link up with the River Mersey, which is surrounded by green spaces and a number of lush golf courses set in pleasant surroundings.  


Watch Premier League football


Are you a red or a blue? That’s a good way to start a conversation with a Mancunian in this city obsessed with football. There are smaller teams in the area but they are dwarfed by the two old rivals — United and City. 


Manchester United, who play at Old Trafford, to the south of the city, are the most successful club historically. Neighbours Manchester City, who’s stadium the Etihad is to the east of the city, have had most success in recent years. Watching one — or both — of these teams when you can is a must. 


Both cubs play at home numerous times each season. While they also run stadium and museum tours so you can compare silverware and see how these historic rivals stack up against each other. 


The National Football Museum at Urbis is the place to swat up on the history of the game in the United Kingdom. If you fancy a quick drink, the city centre is teeming with pubs that show matches on TV. 


If you’re a lower league football enthusiast fallen out of love with the game at the highest level, then you’re spoilt for choice. In Greater Manchester you can watch Salford City, F.C. United of Manchester, Oldam Athletic, Bolton Wanderers, Wigan Athletic and Altrincham, just to name a few. 


Hidden Gems 


It wouldn’t be fair of us to leave out a few hidden gems. With the following intel you’ll be ready to impress your friends with your wide-ranging knowledge of Manchester’s best kept secrets. 


The Temple Bar on Oxford Road is an underground bar in a small and narrow former public toilet. It’s worth a visit just to say you’ve been. For a late night dance you should head over to Salford to the White Hotel, which is located in a former garage in the shadows of Strangeways Prison.  


Finally, as you wander around, try and find the emblem of the city — the mighty worker bee. 


A symbol of Manchester’s hard-working industrial past, there are seven on the city’s coat of arms. You’ll see the humble bee on everything, from bollards to people’s skin in the form of tattoos.


What to see in Manchester 


Read our blog to read more on what to see in Manchester or if you uncover any hidden gems yourself, let us know via Instagram.

New Cross Creatives – Georgie Glass

A place to celebrate the brightest sparks in the local and wider Manchester area, New Cross Creatives shines a light on the creative talents that thrive here.


Whether born and raised here or have grown to call the city home, the people and businesses that form Manchester’s creative hub tell us what makes the area such a great place to hone their craft.


Most recently, we spoke to Georgie Glass, 28, a freelance professional lifestyle photographer to talk photoshoots, and why Manchester is the right place to develop her growing business.

Georgie’s focus is on commercial and editorial shots, specialising in food, drink, portraiture and location photography. Her work takes her all over the country, but she’s born and bred in Manchester.


“I was born in Heald Green, which is basically the Bermuda Triangle of Manchester, it’s not sure if it’s Manchester, Cheshire or Stockport. I was actually raised in Gatley, before moving to Hong Kong as a teenager, where my passion for photography really took off.”


Georgie continued, “when I was at uni in the Midlands, everyone who was graduating had always moved to London. They’d tell me London was where the best gigs are, or I’d never make it outside of London. Well, I’ve always been a sucker for proving people wrong. I did a couple of internships down there but didn’t like the vibe. All the hustle and bustle and long commutes just weren’t for me – so I decided to move home!”


As Georgie had lived abroad when she was a teenager, her desire to revisit her roots and move back to Manchester proved strong. 


“I love Manchester, my folks still live here and it just made sense. Luckily I moved back at the same time as the hospitality boom of 2013-14, so the rest as they say, was history!”


Since returning to the city, Georgie has seen her business go from strength to strength, so what is it about Manchester for her that has such a lasting appeal?


“The community in Manchester is like no other,” said Georgie, “The North, in general, is so welcoming and friendly. Mind you, I’d speak to a brick wall given half the opportunity, but wouldn’t most Mancunians?”


“It’s just in built in us. To chat, be kind and caring. I mean, there’s always exceptions to the rule, but I think that is why a lot of people stay here, and many Southerners come and build their roots here, it’s just a unique way of life.” 


“I’d much rather live and work somewhere where the community as a whole is caring, supportive and nurturing. Just look at how businesses and communities in Manchester supported each other this year, during the pandemic. That just gives you a snippet of how wonderful Manchester truly is.”


While the pandemic has affected many businesses and livelihoods in the creative sector, Georgie isn’t deterred.


“I’d say my favourite thing about Manchester is that is has a real sense of city culture, but within 20 minutes you can venture into South or North Manchester and you’re surrounded by suburban life. I’m a South Manchester girl myself and what i really love about this city is you can get all caught up and ‘busy’ in the City Centre (Well in a non-COVID year!) but then you can escape home for a quieter life.”


Georgie continues, “I love long weekend walks with the dog at Dunham Massey or Lyme Park, but I also love coffee at Ezra + Gil, drinks at Hold Fast and dancing the night away at Mojos – so Greater Manchester caters to every little bit of my personality!”


You can follow Georgie on Instagram @georgieglassphoto or on Twitter @georgieglass_

New Cross Creatives – Mark Lippmann

Celebrating the best and brightest of local talent, New Cross Creatives shines the spotlight on individuals who make Manchester the media, cultural and art hub it is today.

Whether they were born and raised here, or found an adoptive home in the city, the people who shape the creative skyline of Manchester tell us why the city is the perfect place to develop their talent, and create successful businesses.

We sat down with Scruff of the Neck founder and CEO Mark Lippmann to talk about taking the label from DIY beginnings to creating an award winning brand. Still proudly independent, with an emphasis on the development of new artists, Scruff of the Neck have evolved from local concert promoters to winners of the Best Small Label at AIM Awards in 2019.

Mark and the team have enabled Scruff of the Neck to go from strength to strength, creating a dynamic in-house team to handle publishing, creative and live company designed to self-serve their artists and collaborate with third parties.

“We’ve built our community by keeping focus on putting the time in with the musicians in the city,” said Mark “When I was building the company up on my own on the side whilst working in a bank, I used to make sure I added every individual band member on Facebook once I’d booked an act and set up a chat group so I got to know them before the show and then repping the gig myself. Doing this for many years led to myself and Scruff of the Neck becoming a promoter with a face and personality and we still carry on that mantra today.”

Mark continued, “a great example of our community is when we won the ‘Best Small Label’  award in London we came straight back up North and threw a massive party at our offices with loads of free booze, pizza and, of course, music. We  shared the moment with the local bands, industry, friends and family.”

Scruff of the Neck’s offices are based on Edge Street in the Northern Quarter, just a stone’s throw away from New Cross Central. We asked why it was important for the label’s headquarters to be centrally located in the city.

“We chose to set up our office here because we see it as the cultural hub of the city,” said Mark. “The music companies in the NQ vicinity include Key Music Management (Pixies, Fratellis, 808 State + more) and From the Fields (Kendal Calling, Blue Dot Festival and Off the Record) amongst other creative businesses. We’re right in the thick of it with excellent public transport links as well as a plethora of music venues and bars. Sometimes, we’ll have 5 shows in one night in the NQ all a walk from each other, I once saw 8 bands in one night (15 mins of each!).”

Mark adds, “We also feel that the NQ has its own history to be made, and we want Scruff of the Neck and our artists to be at the forefront of cultivating that scene and notoriety for the district. We’re still proudly independent and will forever be based in Manchester, regardless of where our global adventure takes us.”

Follow Scruff of the Neck on Instagram @scruffoftheneck or find Mark on social platforms using the handle @mark_lippmann