Hostelworld Guide for Manchester

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Widely regarded as the North of England's capital, Manchester is one of Britain's most visited cities. And it's not hard to see why. Not only does Manchester boast an incredibly rich musical history and a thriving music scene, it's also one of the top UK cities in terms of shopping. You're never far from the nearest mall or shop-lined street. Sports fanatics will be in their element too, as this city is home to the wildly popular Manchester United soccer club. It's not all about bands, balls and bags of shopping though. Here you'll also find a large number of fascinating (and often free) museums and art galleries. It's a great city for just strolling around too, with many of the main attractions well-signposted and easily accessible on foot. If you get tired, there's a great public transport system to take advantage of. All in all, a friendly city that's definitely worth a visit.



In this Guide...      

Useful Information
After Dark
Places to Eat
Top Attractions
Budget Tips
Where to Shop

 The Essentials


Getting There

By plane: Manchester Airport, the UK's second busiest passenger airport outside of London, is located south of the city centre. Direct trains leave the airport for the city every 15 minutes and the journey takes around 20 minutes.

By train: Trains from destinations all over the UK terminate in Manchester's main train station, Piccadilly Station.

By bus: National Express operates many bus services into Manchester Piccadilly from locations across Britain.

Getting Around

By train: Manchester's Metrolink rail service, known as 'the tram', runs on two lines across the city and covers many of the main attractions.

By bus: A free 'Metroshuttle' bus service runs on three routes covering most of the city centre. It operates on Monday to Saturday from 7am-7pm and on Sunday from 10am-6pm.

On foot: Manchester has a compact city centre, with many of the main attractions within walking distance of each other.

 Manchester facts

Name: Manchester has also been known as 'Cottonopolis', as a result of the numerous cotton mills found in the area in the late 18th and 19th centuries.

Location: Manchester is situated in the north west of England.

Population: Over 460,000 people live in this city.

Area: Manchester covers an approximate area of 45 square miles.

Manchester has a temperate maritime climate, which tends to mean cool summers and mild winters. Temperatures hover around 15ºC during July and August, the warmest months of the summer. During the winter, January tends to be the coldest month with temperatures sometimes dropping below zero. The city sees quite a bit of rain each year, with over 120 millimetres falling in December, the city's wettest month. May is the month in which Manchester sees the most sun, with around 6 hours of sunshine each day.

climate chart

 Good to know...

Language: English
Currency: Pound Sterling (STG)
Electricity: 220 Volts AC/50 Hz, 3-pin plug
Area code: +44 (England), 0161 (Manchester)
Emergency codes: Ambulance 999, Fire 999, Police 999
Time Zone: Greenwich Mean Time
Central post office: 26 Spring Gardens
Main tourist office: Manchester Visitor Information Centre, Town Hall Extension, Lloyd Street


USA: +44 (0)20 7499 9000
Canada: +44 (0)20 7258 6600**
Australia: +44 (0)20 7379 4334**
South Africa: +44 (0)20 7451 7299
Germany: +44 (0)20 7824 1300
Spain: +44 (0)20 7235 5555
Italy: +44 (0)20 7312 2200
New Zealand: +44 (0)20 7930 8422**
France: +44 (0)20 7073 1000

*All embassies located in London
**High Commissions located in London

Hostelworld Guide for Manchester

 Cheap Eats

 After Dark

Café Gio, 77 Princess Street, Chinatown More than just your typical greasy spoon, this comfortable café serves up a full English breakfast at a great price. As well as a fry-up, you'll also find sandwiches, jacket potatoes and soups on the menu. Open Mon-Fri 7.30am-7.30pm, Sat-Sun 8.30am-7.30pm.

The Titchy Coffee Co, The Triangle Basement, Exchange Square, City Centre A wonderful alternative to the big chain coffee shops, this café is 100% independent. It's a great spot for breakfast, a light lunch or simply a cup of coffee and a snack. The view of the surrounding shops might not be stunning but the tasty, good value food and friendly service more than make up for it. Open Mon-Sat 8am-6pm.

The Curry Mile, Wilmslow Road, Rusholme As the name suggests, the 'Curry Mile' is a section of winding road on Wilmslow Road that is home to a huge concentration of neon-lit curry houses, Middle Eastern restaurants and Indian takeaways. Open well into the early hours of the morning, it's particularly popular with the post-club crowd.

Dough, 75-77 High Street, Northern Quarter From pasta dishes and salads to a huge selection of pizzas, including gluten and dairy free options, this large Italian restaurant offers sizeable portions at low prices. Modern and comfortable inside, you're bound to enjoy the fast, friendly service and tasty food. Open daily 12pm-11pm.

 Market fresh food

Bury Market, 1 Murray Road, Bury One of the most popular markets in the UK, the 'World Famous Bury Market' offers up a smorgasbord of locally-produced foods. From freshly caught seafood to creamy cheeses, it's the perfect spot to sample a selection of tasty delights. Open Wed and Fri 9am-4.30pm, Sat 9am-5pm.

Keko Moku South Pacific Cocktail Den, 100 High Street, Northern Quarter From Alohas to Tikis, this tiny bar really does live up to its cocktail den moniker. It's a busy spot and the barrel seats are filled with punters sipping away on a kaleidoscope of colourful concoctions. There's even a little alcove with a rug covered booth for couples who want to canoodle over a cocktail. Open Sun-Wed 5pm-12am, Thurs 5pm-1am, Fri-Sat 5pm-2am.

Revolution, 90-94 Oxford Road, Oxford Road Turning into a two-floor bar at the weekend and on Wednesdays for student night, Revolution is comfortably chic. Start the night downstairs with a few drinks and some indie music, then head upstairs to the dance floor with its cheesy tunes. Funky red seats and hanging chandeliers give the bar a fashionable air. Open daily 11.30am-2am; free WiFi available.

 Gay/Lesbian Manchester

Manchester's vibrant Gay Village, famously depicted in the TV-show Queer as Folk, is home to a huge selection of gay bars and clubs. Many of these are located along Canal Street and Princess Street and include Manto, Queer, New Union, Spirit and Club Alter Ego.

Trof, 6 Thomas Street, Northern Quarter Well-loved and rightly so, Trof is a superb spot to spend any part of your day or night. Taking up three levels, from the large ground floor bar to the cosy Montana Lounge on the top floor, the entire place is welcoming from the moment you step in the door, thanks to its friendly staff, laid back regulars and mood lighting. Open Mon-Wed & Sun 10am-12pm, Thurs-Sat 10am-1am.

Bridgewater Hall, Lower Mosley Street, Petersfield Serving up a wide variety of aural treats, this venue is the city's international concert venue. The Hall is home to 3 different orchestras, including the BBC Philharmonic, and hosts a classical music season. Open Mon-Fri 11am-3.30pm, Sat-Sun on concert nights from 5pm.

Night & Day Café, 26 Oldham Street, Northern Quarter Reminiscent of New York's Bitter End, albeit on a smaller scale, this friendly, comfortable bar has seen many a long night. At one of the tables, you can watch the stage while enjoying a beer, shooter or cocktail. An alternative stalwart, flickering fairy lights and a candle strewn bar give the rough and ready interior a softer edge. Open Mon-Sat 10am-2am, Sun 10am-11.30pm.

 Don't Miss

 Mark Your Calendar

Imperial War Museum North, Trafford Wharf Road, The Quays An interesting and moving museum, here you'll learn about people whose lives have been touched by war. Found inside a striking, award-winning building, it covers everything from art to artillery. Open daily Mar-Oct 10am-6pm, Nov-Feb 10am-5pm; admission free.

 Up, up and away

The Wheel of Manchester, Exchange Square, City Centre Stretching up 60 metres, this big wheel is a great way of seeing the city a little differently. Especially enjoyable at night, it offers stunning views of the sparkling city below. Open Sun-Thurs 10am-11pm, Fri 10am-12am, Sat 9am-12am; admission £6.50.

Manchester United Museum and Tour, Sir Matt Busby Way, Old Trafford Old Trafford, the 'Theatre of Dreams', is home to the world-famous Manchester United soccer club. The tour takes you on a trip inside the stadium, from the manager's spot on the sideline to the players' dressing room. Open daily 9.30am-5pm; admission £12.50.

Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI), Liverpool Road, Castlefield Housed in 5 listed buildings, this museum encompasses 15 different galleries displaying everything from a replica of a Victorian sewer to the first all-British aeroplane over in the Air and Space Hall. For a bit of fun, be sure to check out 'Xperiment' and its interactive exhibits. Open daily, 10am-5pm; admission free.

John Ryland's Library, 150 Deansgate, Spinningfields In the hushed, almost reverent rooms of this Gothic-style library you'll see a fascinating collection of old books. Wander under the vaulted ceilings and take a peak at titles from all over the world, including a book of fairy tales dating from 1825. Open Tues-Sat 10am-5pm, Sat-Sun 12pm-5pm; admission free.

March - Manchester Irish Festival Set around St. Patrick's Day, this festival has been running since 1996. It's a celebration of all things Irish including music, theatre, sport, art and comedy.

May - FutureEverything This well-known festival has been on the go for over 13 years. Covering digital art and music, it includes club nights, live performances, and exhibitions. Over 50,000 people attend the festival annually.

May - MAPS Festival 'MAPS', or 'Music, Art, Poetry and Stuff', is Manchester's Northern Quarter Festival. Over the course of a weekend, local musical acts, artists and poets showcase their work.

July - Manchester International Festival A relatively new festival, MIF was launched in 2007 as a way to present innovative works of art, music and performing arts. International artists and performers take part in this popular cultural event.

July - Manchester Jazz Festival Local musicians get the chance to play alongside internationally renowned artists during this popular jazz festival. Established in 1995, this event sees concerts and performances take place throughout the city.

August - Manchester Pride Festival This is Manchester's annual LGBT festival. It raises money for the LGBT community and those suffering from HIV/AIDS. Thousands of people check out the market stalls and the colourful parade.

October - Manchester Food & Drink Festival Running for more than 12 years, the Manchester Food and Drink Festival sees many well-known chefs take part in cooking demonstrations, food and drink exhibits and more.

October - Manchester Literature Festival Writers from all over the world take part in everything from readings to writing workshops during this festival's 10-day run.

October - Manchester Comedy Festival Taking place in venues across Manchester, a host of renowned comics and up-and-coming acts perform. It's very well-attended with over 28,000 tickets sold during the 2008 festival.

November-December - Manchester Christmas Markets Held annually throughout the city centre, a large number of wooden chalets are erected for these markets. Here you'll find crafts, gifts and more from all over Europe.

Hostelworld Guide for Manchester

 Neighbourhood Watch

 Retail Therapy

Northern Quarter Manchester's musical heart, the Northern Quarter, is filled with independent record stores and is the place to go for vinyl. On top of that, it's also home to a number of alternative cafés and some the best live music venues in the city. 'Trof' and the 'Night & Day Café' are a couple of the standout bars in this vibrant, friendly quarter.

Bury Right at the end of the northern-bound Metrolink line, Bury is around 25 minutes from Manchester city centre. Best known as the home of the 'World Famous Bury Market', it has a lot more to offer besides shopping. You can hop on an East Lancashire Railway steam train or visit the local museum and art gallery.

Oxford Road South of the city centre, this long stretch of road is one area of the city you should definitely check out. Not only is it home to the University of Manchester, meaning lots of students, cheap restaurants and lively bars, it's also where you'll find some of Manchester's top attractions. These include the Manchester Museum and the Whitworth Art Gallery.

 Taste of the Orient

Chinatown Home to the second largest Chinese community in the UK, Manchester has its own colourful and vibrant Chinatown. Without a doubt, the most striking sight here is the large Ming Dynasty Imperial Chinese Arch erected in 1987. With its hanging paper lanterns and colourful store fronts, this area also boasts a large number of quality Asian restaurants.

The Quays Down along the Salford Quays, you can sit and look out at the canals, wander across the patriotically-hued Trafford Road Bridge and head down to the Imperial War Museum North. If you fancy some shopping, stop by the Lowry Outlet Mall to take advantage of the great deals on offer. For sports fans, Old Trafford can also be found nearby.

Manchester Arndale, Market Street, City Centre Manchester Arndale, or the Arndale Centre as it's also known, is the UK's biggest city centre shopping mall. Home to around 240 stores, you could spend hours wandering around checking out everything from clothes to electronic goods. Open Mon-Fri 9am-8pm, Sat 9am-7pm, Sun 10am-6pm.

 Alternative chic

Affleck's, 52 Church Street, Northern Quarter Like an indoor version of London's famous Camden Market, Affleck's is an alternative haven where independent traders sell everything from jelly bracelets to army surplus gear across four floors of stalls. And if that's not enough, while you're here you can even learn your future from a tarot reader. Open Mon-Fri 10.30am-6pm, Sat 10am-6pm, closed Sundays.

Trafford Centre, Barton Dock Road, Trafford Spread across two sprawling floors, the Trafford Centre, with its almost palatial design, houses more than 230 different stores. Whether you're looking for new music or the latest fashion trends, this is the place to go. All you need is the time (and the cash) to visit them all. Open Mon-Fri 10am-10pm, Sat 10am-8pm, Sun 12pm-6pm.

The Lowry Outlet Mall, Salford Quays, The Quays If it's a bargain you're searching for, look no further than the Lowry Outlet Mall. A bright and spacious mall, there are some 80 stores filled with discounted clothes, shoes, toys, accessories and more. In fact, some of the prices are around 50% less than those on the high street. Open Mon-Wed, Fri 10am-6pm, Thurs 10am-8pm, Sat 10am-7pm, Sun 11am-5pm.

Market Street, City Centre Bustling Market Street is Manchester's main shopping street. Here's where to go if you're looking for internationally recognisable brands including HMV, H&M, Footlocker, Clarks, Schuh, Debenhams and Miss Selfridge.

 Manchester For Free

 A Day in Manchester...

Stroll around Heaton Park Heaton Park is the biggest expanse of green you'll find in Manchester and it's packed full of things to see and do. You can meet the furry creatures at the animal centre, check out the demonstration hive operated by Manchester Beekeepers or simply relax on the grass with a picnic. Open daily 8am-9.45pm.

Wander through the Manchester Art Gallery Here you'll find a huge collection of over 25,000 works of art, including paintings and objects d'art. Lots of people have attached tags to the wall of luggage in the interactive area, and these make for an interesting read. Open Tues-Sun 10m-5pm, closed Mon.

 A moment of worship

Take a look inside Manchester Cathedral Apart from the magnificent collection of stained glass windows, this cathedral isn't overly ornate inside, but it does have an open, well-used feel to it. Hymnals left out all around are a nice touch, and many musical events are held here. Open Mon-Fri 8.30am-7pm, Sat 8.30am-5pm, Sun 8.30am-7.30pm.

Check out the Manchester Museum From a giant T-Rex to ancient Egyptian mummies, this museum houses a fascinating collection of artefacts. Opened in 1888, it sees hundreds of thousands of visitors each year. It's also home to a small but interesting selection of live animals, including colourful frogs and scaly snakes. Open Tues-Sat 10am-5pm, Sun-Mon 12noon-4pm.

Marvel at the Whitworth Art Gallery Strange and unusual examples of modern art, fine art and sculpture all find a home in this eclectic gallery, which is part of the University of Manchester. While walking around the displays, you'll see everything from video installations to paintings to items of clothing. Open Mon-Sat 10am-5pm, Sun 12pm-4pm.

Start your day with breakfast in Café Gio on Princess Street and try out a famed full-English breakfast to set you up for a day of exploring.

Around the corner from here you'll find the Manchester Art Gallery (below), the Town Hall and the Chinese Arch, part of Manchester's colourful Chinatown area.

gallery pic

Walk back up towards Piccadilly Gardens, where you'll come across numerous cafés and restaurants. Here you'll have no trouble finding somewhere for lunch.

When you've refuelled, why not check out some of Manchester's shops, including those along Market Street, in Arndale and at Affleck's in the Northern Quarter.

After you've emptied your wallet, you might fancy something free of charge. Why not try the Ubris, Manchester Cathedral and John Ryland's Library.

Make the short trip downtown and head towards Oxford Road. There are plenty of places around this student stronghold to sit with a coffee or a before-dinner drink.

In the area around the city centre, notably in the Printworks entertainment complex, you'll find many restaurants serving Italian, Mexican and other types of food.

Spend some time checking out the bars in the Northern Quarter, whether you fancy seeing a live band in the Night & Day Café or sipping on a cocktail in Keko Moku.

Finish the night off in Revolution back down on Oxford Road, where you can indulge in a few drinks before heading upstairs to dance.

Hostelworld Guide for Manchester