Welcome to the first installment of our Discover… series, in which we take in the sights and sounds of locations in the UK and give you the lowdown on places to eat, sights to see, things to do and the best of the rest.
Today it’s the turn of Manchester, a buzzing, ‘mad fer it’ city, home to legendary music icons, a certain famous soap opera and of course, a mecca for football fans from all over the globe.
Getting to Manchester
Getting to Manchester by train is simple; the city itself is served by two main railway stations: Manchester Piccadilly and Manchester Victoria with trains from all over the country, heading in and out. Take a peek at our journey planner to find out how to get to Manchester from your local station and find the cheapest fares.
Shop ‘til you drop
Manchester has way more to offer the shopaholic than just the Arndale Shopping Centre and high street shopping. The city has a plethora of
independent record stores, craft, design and vintage shops, most of which can be found in Manchester creative heart, the Northern Quarter. Chock full of cafes, indie boutiques and hipster hang-outs, if you’re looking for a one off, then hotfoot it here. Take a look at the Oklahoma Gift Shop to pick up anything from vintage tin toys to pink, plastic flamingos and grab yourself a coffee at the same time in the Oklahoma Café situated right in the shop itself.
If you prefer your shopping experience to be more Haute Couture than hipster, then you should pay a visit to Spinningfields. This new kid on the block is a £1.5b development of high-end shops, blue chip headquarters and mouth-watering eateries.
Fill your boots
If you’ve worked up an appetite after all that shopping, you’ll not be short of options when it comes to eating out in Manchester. You could head to the city’s very own Chinatown, with the largest community outside of London. Manchester’s Chinatown may be only half a mile wide, but it’s packed full of bustling Chinese restaurants and shops, which all started from two pioneering launderettes and eateries in the early 20th century.
The Northern Quarter has really embraced the café culture so popular in other European cities, so it comes as no surprise that this area has a fair few coffee shops and cafes to cater for the burgeoning mass of hipsters, students and tourists who frequent the district. Head to Home Sweet Home for fab brunches in relaxed, welcoming surroundings.
Manchester hasn’t been left out of the recent influx of ‘meateries’, having its fair share of Veggie-shunning meccas to meat. One of the best is Red’s True BBQ, located just off St Peter Street and get ready to fill up on some of the best ribs in town. However, if you prefer your meals to be less moo and more mangetout, this city certainly doesn’t disappoint. Manchester can even boast an historic link to Veggies dating back to the mid-19th Century, as The Vegetarian Society started here in 1847, and one of city’s best vegetarian bistros is named 1847 in a nod to that fact. There are also a number of veggie/vegan-friendly eateries to enjoy, like V-Revolution, where you can grab a ‘Kevin and Peri Peri Go Large’ burger and a giant slab of homemade cake to go with your coffee to enjoy alongside your carnivorous chum.
Culture Vulture, History Hunter
Once suitably fed and watered, it’s time to head out to see what the city’s museums, galleries and historic sites have to offer. It’s worth mentioning that Manchester has a great tram system, Metrolink, which is a great way to get about the city and spot sights along the way. Find out more about Metrolink here.
Manchester boasts some of the best galleries and museums in the UK, showcasing contemporary artworks from rising stars to pieces by the celebrated Lancastrian artist, L.S Lowry, famed for his depictions of the industrial districts ofNorth West England and museum objects that range from fragments of the New Testament to
ancient Egyptian mummies. The city is even home to Chetham’s Library; the oldest public library in the English speaking world, with a book collection dating back to 1655. Head to The Lowry on Pier 8, part of The Salford Arts Centre to see the largest collection of Lowry paintings and sketches in the world or to the Manchester Art Gallery, to view its Victorian collections and contemporary exhibitions.
Bars, pubs and clubs
Music is at the heart of nightlife in Manchester. From the disco classics and pop chart-toppers booming from the clubs and bars of the famous Gay Village located on Canal Street, to post-punk and new-wave melodies drifting from indie clubs and bars in the Northern Quarter, you’re never far from an opportunity get a drink and have a dance. Head to Time Out to find listings for the weekend.
Red or Blue?
If you’re a fan of the beautiful game, then a visit to Old Trafford, home of Manchester United is a must. The football ground even has its own railway station open on match days only and tours of the ground itself can be booked here.
To the east of the city lies the Etihad stadium, home of Manchester’s other premier league club, Manchester City, with Ashburys Station being the closest station to the ground. Tours of the stadium are also available here.
So that’s just a flavour of what to expect from this ‘Capital of the North’, with so much more to discover when you visit. One thing is for sure; this is one city that is changing and growing by the day. Catch it while you can!
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