Manchester is a wonderful city for a weekend break, according to this week’s guest author, experienced travel blogger Keith from Velvet Escape. With its wide array of restaurants, theatres, shops, museums and art galleries, plus its vibrant nightlife, the city offers something for everyone. Manchester is easily accessible from all the major cities in England and Scotland, and is just a short plane hop from the continent.
Things To Do in Manchester on a Weekend Break
I recommend a visit of at least two full days to get a feel for Manchester’s infectious energy and to enjoy its stunning sights. The city centre is pretty compact so the best way to explore the city is to walk.
Ten things to look out for on a stroll around Manchester:
1 – The magnificent Victorian architecture. The best examples can be found along Oxford Street.
2 – The Abraham Lincoln statue on Lincoln Square. Learn about Manchester’s contribution to the American Civil War.
3 – Quirky street performances along Market Street.
4 – The futuristic Urbis building.
5 – The historic Barton Arcade, with its stunning glass and iron façade.
6 – Vinyl records at the Piccadilly Store in the Northern Quarter.
7 – The gorgeous interior of the Manchester Cathedral.
8 – The world’s first train station at the Museum of Science & Industry (MOSI).
9 – Canal-side pubs and bars in the Castlefield district.
10 – The interactive exhibits at the Manchester Art Gallery. My favourite: the ‘Wish You Were Where’ wall!
Shopping in Manchester
If you love to shop, reserve your Saturday for a fun and diverse shopping experience. The top designer names can be found in Exchange Square, St. Ann’s Square, King Street and Deansgate. Market Street is the city’s main shopping avenue – you’ll find the popular high street names here.
For an indie shopping experience, head to the city’s Northern Quarter – Affleck’s is a must.
Spend a leisurely afternoon in one of Manchester’s gorgeous museums and art galleries. My favourites are the Manchester Art Gallery, the Museum of Industry & Science (MOSI), the Whitworth Art Gallery, The Lowry, the Manchester Museum and the Imperial War Museum. Don’t miss the John Ryland Library, located along Deansgate, with a dazzling interior.
Manchester also has a lively performing arts scene. The Palace Theatre is a great place to watch a musical or you can catch a ballet performance at the Opera House. In addition, Bridgewater Hall is a great venue for jazz, classical and World Music performances and also the home of the BBC Philharmonic orchestra.
For something more contemporary or experimental, head to the Contact Theatre, the Dancehouse or the Royal Exchange Theatre for comedies or dramas.
Manchester’s throbbing nightlife can best be experienced in three distinct neighbourhoods: Oxford Street, Deansgate Locks and Canal Street. Oxford Street is home to Manchester’s two universities; there’s a plethora of bars, cafés and clubs that cater for the student population and anyone young at heart. Deansgate Locks attracts a slightly older, somewhat yuppie crowd, while Canal Street is in the heart of the city’s vibrant gay quarter. I can also recommend the Circus Tavern in Portland Street – it’s one of the tiniest pubs in the United Kingdom!
For an indulgent evening with a view, visit the “Cloud 23 Skybar” at the Hilton Hotel. They serve great cocktails and the views over Manchester are terrific.
Bio: Keith Jenkins is a thirtysomething who lives in Amsterdam and writes about his travels on his Velvet Escape travel blog. In addition to being a travel blogger, Keith offers travel writing services as well as social media consultancy and marketing services.