What’s it like to live in Manchester City Centre?

Bursting with life and character, Manchester City Centre has rapidly become a hub of entertainment, culture and nightlife. Drawing in millions of visitors every year, whether to experience the ever-expanding restaurant scene or watch two of the worlds most successful football teams play, there’s plenty to see and do in this metropolitan hotspot. But what’s it like to live in Manchester City Centre?

Voted in the top 15 of Time Out’s best cities in the world, Manchester is underpinned with a rich industrial and musical history. The city has birthed some of the most successful musicians, including The Stone Roses, Joy Division and Oasis. Not to mention the historic pubs and bars dotted around that now showcase the next generation of talent to come from this North West City.

Ever-changing, the city has enjoyed a recent property boom and many redevelopments of old industrial mills have turned into cultural hubs and modern apartments. Bringing an influx of young professionals and families to call the city centre home. 

Whether you are visiting Manchester as a tourist, or moving to Manchester and buying a home, you’re sure to find something to suit your taste. Our guide rounds up several of the most unmissable spots a stone’s throw from New Cross Central,  and some handy tips for living like a local while you’re here – you’ll be spoilt for choice!

Eat, drink, party, repeat

Whether you’re familiar with Manchester as a food and nightlife hotspot or not, it’s difficult to ignore the rising reputation that the food and beverage scene has seen recently. You only have to wander through the Northern Quarter to see the new bars and restaurants opening up each week. The city prides itself on its extensive range of culinary specialities, whether it’s plant-based you’re after, looking for somewhere off the beaten track, or fancy the ultimate indulgence of a Michelin star rated experience, there is something to satisfy anyone’s taste! 

There are plenty of bars to choose from throughout the city too. In the summer months, if you’re lucky enough to catch a sunny day stroll down the canal to Castlefield, where students and locals alike head in their droves to catch some sun with a few drinks. If you’re looking for something more upmarket, Spinningfields has a plethora of cocktail bars, popular with footballers and celebrities. Check out 20 Stories for 360 views of the city with a drink in hand, or The Ivy if avant-garde decor and Instagrammable drinks are your thing.

As the home of The Hacienda and The Warehouse Project don’t forget to bring your dancing shoes (or at least a comfy pair) when heading out in the city for the night. If indie bars are more your scene, stop by The Soup Kitchen or Night and Day Cafe, and maybe you’ll uncover the next big thing. Manchester City Centre also has a host of larger venues, with Manchester Arena, The Manchester Apollo, and The Etihad Stadium all hosting shows from Liam Gallagher, Taylor Swift, and Foo Fighters recently.

Shop ‘til you drop

If your money is burning a hole in your pocket, the shopping on offer in the city centre is sure to help! Whether you are interested in high-end purchases or looking for vintage treasures, you won’t be walking away empty-handed. Market Street, the spine of the city centre, is the place to go to find all the high street shops you’d come to expect, all conveniently located in the Arndale shopping centre. Walk a little further to Cathedral Street and you’ll find Harvey Nichols, Selfridges, and House of Fraser before ending in Spinningfields for designer goods.

If you’re in the mood for something a little different, head to the Northern Quarter and get lost in the wacky and wonderful Afflecks Palace, which has several floors of independent shops, cafes, and even a tattooist or two! You’ll find an abundance of vintage shops, quirky bookstores, and comic shops in the Northern Quarter too, so be sure to take a wander (if your shopping bags aren’t too heavy!).

Looking beyond the city centre, to Greater Manchester, world-renown shopping and leisure destination The Trafford Centre is just a few tram stops away via public transport or a 20-minute drive from the city centre. Artfully designed with Athenian flair, the huge mall has hundreds of shops, restaurants, and leisure facilities to keep you entertained, well worth a visit during your time here!

Job opportunities galore

We can’t cover what it’s like to live in Manchester city centre without mentioning the job market. When the BBC announced it was moving its headquarters to Media City in Salford Quays in 2011, the Manchester job market widened exponentially, attracting creatives, designers, and professionals from all over the country. Since then, the job market has shown no signs of slowing across the city, and Manchester is now considered one of the fastest-growing job markets in the country. Cultural, arts, and creative jobs make up a lot of the landscape, but there are also plenty of opportunities in finance and hospitality. With the strongest economy outside of London, you’d stand in great stead jumping on the career ladder in Manchester. 

The city has two major train stations, Manchester Piccadilly and Manchester Victoria, and is only two hours on the train from London. Both stations offer great public transport links to the rest of the UK too. There is also a regular tram service throughout the city, into the Greater Manchester boroughs.

Manchester is also a university city, with one of the largest student populations in the country, with the University of Manchester, Manchester Metropolitan University, and Salford University calling the city home.

Did we mention there’s football? (and other sports)

We couldn’t tell you what’s it like to live in Manchester city centre without mentioning the football, could we? Whether your allegiance lies with red or blue, you won’t be short of entertainment with these two world class clubs in the city. Both football grounds are located within easy distance on the tram or by Uber from the city centre. It’s definitely worth heading to the city centre when these two clubs meet, just for the atmosphere alone.

If lower league football catches your interest, Salford City, owned by United’s own Gary Neville, also play in the city and their meteoric rise through the ranks is an impressive watch.

Not forgetting the cricket either, just a stone’s throw from Manchester United’s Old Trafford, is Old Trafford cricket ground, home to Lancashire County Cricket Club. The ground hosts many One Day Internationals and matches throughout the year, and tickets can be snapped up here. The ground is also used as a music venue in the summer months, so keep an eye out for announcements.

The Countryside on your doorstep

While living in the hustle and bustle of the city centre is undoubtedly great, there’s sometimes nothing better than putting on some walking boots and heading out into the countryside for some fresh air. One of the great things about Manchester is it’s proximity to great outdoor spaces and walks. 

Nestled on the edge of the Peak District, and less than 90 minutes from the Lake District, you are never far from nature. Dovestone Reservoir is just 40 minutes away, , or get the train to Saddleworth to experience some top walking spots, not far from your home in the city. 

A hub for culture and the arts

Manchester is well known for its rich history and cultural scene, from the Northern Quarter to the Museum of Science and Industry, the city celebrates the arts, media and history in a number of unique ways. There’s always a show to watch, a gallery to attend or a museum to visit.

Whether you’re looking for inspiring theatre or off-beat comedy, Manchester’s culture scene has it all. Head to HOME just off First Street to witness some of the city’s biggest talents take the stage, or visit one of the city’s art galleries, like Whitworth Art Gallery. You could also laugh your socks off at the Frog and Bucket Comedy Club on Oldham Street. 

Find out more about Manchester’s part in the industrial revolution at the Museum of Science and Industry or immerse yourself in the story of Emmeline Pankhurst and the plight of The Suffragettes at The Pankhurst Centre

What’s it like to live in Manchester city centre from your perspective? Have you uncovered any hidden gems you think we should shout about? Let us know via Instagram. 

The Best New Restaurants in Manchester City Centre You Should Try

This year has seen us spend more time at home than we ever planned to, and hospitality has been one of the hardest-hit industries, that being said, Manchester City Centre still has one of the best food and drink scenes in the UK. 

While you may now be well acquainted with your oven, or at least your Deliveroo driver, there’s never been a better time to start planning where to head out to eat in Manchester in the coming months.

With so many great places on offer, it’s easy to get overwhelmed, luckily, we’ve taken the time to pick out some of the best new dining experiences Greater Manchester has available, whether you’re entirely plant-based, looking for somewhere off the beaten track, or fancy the ultimate indulgence of a Michelin star rated experience, there is something to satisfy anyone’s taste! 



The restaurant to finally bring a Michelin Star to Manchester. Mana, based in Ancoats, a short walk from the city centre, promises to bring the best of British produce in an exclusive setting. Focusing on natural resources to take patrons on a culinary journey in their dining room, with open kitchen, throughout the evening, the avant-garde menu is full of locally sourced ingredients which change based on seasonality.  If you’re looking for fine dining and an extensive wine list, this is it.

Mana is in high demand and there is an extensive waiting list. Make a booking enquiry here 

Update –  Mana is temporarily closed due to the tier three restrictions in Manchester, but gift vouchers are available for when they reopen.


202 Kitchen

An overnight success, 202 Kitchen has become an instant hit with influencers and celebrities local to Manchester, mainly due to it’s Barbie pink interior and Instagram-ready decor. Originally birthed from the owners of 101 nightclub in Birmingham, owners Leon Beckford, John Rambo and Panikos Parper changed their offering when the first Coronavirus lockdown hit to allow for the change in the market, and swiftly set up their restaurant offering in both cities.

Serving a ‘trapbox’ style menu – a recent food scene development where food is piled into a box and promoted on social media – and an extensive themed cocktail list, this is the place to go if you want to be seen. 

202 Kitchen is on Bridge Street – check booking availability here.


Peck & Yard

Fried chicken worth venturing to Great Ancoats Street for! Already a firm favourite at their flagship site in Chorlton, Peck & Yard has opened a second, slightly smaller site on the edge of the Northern Quarter. Forget Kentucky fried, the team offer Asian style fried chicken, with exciting flavour twists like Korean barbecue and classic salt and pepper.  There’s also plenty of vegetarian and vegan options including halloumi strips and cauliflower bites, all drenched in your choice of sauce. 

A casual setting, the site only has a few tables and will also operate as a takeaway, so don’t worry about needing to book a table. Peck & Yard is also available on Deliveroo, Uber Eats and Just Eat.


Pho Cue Kitchen

If you’re looking for something slightly off the beaten track, why not wander into Manchester’s China Town one weekend? Brilliantly named Pho Cue opened over the summer and infuses traditional Vietnamese food with some wildcard options including Vietnamese-style tacos and Katsu Curry. This place is worth the walk from New Cross Central.

Letting each dish speak for itself, the Cue family, prepare and cook each dish from scratch, just as it would be done traditionally in Vietnam. The epitome of family-run, with owner Cue being joined in the kitchen by his mum, as well as his uncle as head chef.

Update – Pho Cue Kitchen is currently offering takeaway alongside their dine-in options.


Escape To Freight Island

Another triumph of an otherwise pretty bad year for the restaurant industry, Escape to Freight Island popped up almost out of nowhere over the summer to take over the old Mayfield Depot space near Piccadilly Station. An outdoor eating and drinking space from the creators of Camden Town Brewery, the regenerated space hosts a whole load of independent food traders, including Voodoo Rays Pizza and Krum doughnuts.

Somehow, the team have managed to expand even in 2020 and have just launched their new winter ticket hall, which brings all the magic of the festive season into one place. Bringing the vibes of freight island inside to a warmer setting, the ticket hall will feature pop-ups from some of the city’s best bars and restaurants, including Sugo Pasta Kitchen and cocktail bar The Jayne Eyre. There will also be a craft beer offering from Manchester’s own Pomona Island Brewery, plus a taproom from Camden Town.

Escape To Freight Island is currently closed due to the national lockdown measures in England, we can’t wait to visit them as soon as we’re able to.

Check out Escape To Freight Island for the latest updates here.


Delhi House Cafe

Opening during the slight lockdown lift of the summer, family-owned Delhi House Cafe in the Corn Exchange is aiming to carve a niche for itself in a city full of great Indian Restaurants.

Featured in The Guardian by Jay Rayner, who gave a glowing review, Delhi House Cafe is an ambitious offering, with a mixture of Indian Tapas style dishes and larger plates. 

The Lamba family chose Manchester as their first UK spot to showcase their exciting and unique take on traditional Indian cuisine, featuring South Asian dishes with a twist, including the ‘Not My Burger’ special and other Indian street food dishes, a real treat for those who love to combine flavours of the East and West. 

Book your table here

Update: Delhi House Cafe is currently closed due to tier three restrictions in force in Manchester


Black Leaf

An extension of the already popular garden-themed bar Alvarium in the Northern Quarter, Black Leaf is offering a brand new food concept. Situated in the basement of the bar, diners can expect an exciting and adventurous plant-based menu to tickle their taste buds. Creative and innovative flavours are used in each dish, and head chef Adam Leavy has even mastered the vegan scotch egg. 

The ambitious offering takes the idealogy of the garden theme of Alvarium and transfers the decor into its menu. As one of the only spots in the city dedicated to offering a three-course plant-based menu, it’s sure to be a hit with vegans and carnivores alike.

Regulars to Alvarium will also be pleased to know the extensive plant-based cocktail menu the bar is famous for will be available in the restaurant, and there’s even a delicious dairy-free black forest gateaux on offer, so make sure to save room for dessert!

Make a booking enquiry here

Update – Black Leaf is currently running a click and collect takeaway service due to tier three restrictions in the Manchester area.


Another Heart To Feed

One of the most recent openings on our guide, this Australian inspired brunch and natural wine spot in the heart of the Northern Quarter opened its doors in September is already proving to be a hit with locals.

The second site for the team, the first being in Didsbury,  Another Heart To Feed is located in Stevenson Square and serves all the brunch classics you’d expect, like smashed avocado toast and poached eggs, inspired by travels to the brunch scene of Melbourne and Sydney. You’ll also find vibrant additions like acai bowls and their house-made beans on sourdough toast.  They also have an extensive cocktail menu for a tipple or two! 

The team doesn’t take bookings & tables are on a first come first serve basis.

Have you eaten somewhere in Manchester City Centre and think we should be shouting about it? Get in touch with us on Instagram.