Who is fan of soccer? Then you must know Manchester United and Manchester City for sure. To be honest, I am only a soccer fan when I am with family in Brazil. But in January we decided to check out this UK city and what it has to offer other than soccer. We had only one full day in town, so that is why I want to share with you my Manchester city guide.
So here we go…
Getting to and around the city
Airport / Train station
We took a plane from Eindhoven in the Netherlands to Manchester Airport. We chose for Ryan Air as we wanted to go on the cheap.
From the Airport you will have to take a train or tram to the center. You can prebook trains to Manchester Picadilly on here. I suggest you do this. On arrival you can go to the Train station at he airport ( about 5 minutes waling from arrival point) and go straigh to the machine for self-service and use your code to get the tickets. Offcourse you can also buy tickets there at the ticket office.
When coming from London, it takes a 2 hour train ride, getting off at Manchester Picadilly as well. If you are like me and don’t want to rush, I suggest to spend at least one night in Manchester.
The Tram Network in Manchester is pretty good, but we barely used it as we mostly took the free shuttle bus (scroll for more info).
If you do want to use the trams, you can opt for day cards. Alert: The day card is only valid for that day. Don’t make the same mistake as we did and buy one at 9 pm thinking it will be 24 hours… It is not mentioned anywhere, so keep that in mind. They also have tickets for anytime and off peak- So think about when you will be using the tram. You can check your route and prices on their site.
Manchester has a shuttle free bus service. They have 3 routes and you can hop on and hop off as many times as you like. The buses are smaller than the regular ones, and each in their own color.
Many of the attractions you can see are nearby a stop so you can really use this to the fullest if you are on a budget. Another advantage: they have free WIFI in the busses.
For more information go check out their site here.
Start your day early, because there is alot to see!
First place to visit is Castlefield.
This inner city conservation area is characterised by the canals, bridges and warehouses. It used to be an important industrial area. It was the terminus of the worlds first industrial canal built in 1764, the Bridgewater Canal. The oldest canal warehouse was built in 1779. Also worlds first passenger railway terminated here in 1830.
The name itself is the contracted version of Castle-in-the-field, referring to the former Roman fort “Mancunium”built in this area. And if you guessed it right, you now know where the name Manchester comes from… correct the same Roman fort.
It is fun to take a stroll in the area and admire the typical redstone buildings, the canals and bridges.
Free bus stop: Deansgate, Whitworth Street
John Rylands Library
Your next stop worth visiting is the John Rylands Library.
The library, that really looks like a church inside, is built in the late-Victorian neo-Gothic style. It was founded by Enriqueta Augustina Rylands, in memory for her husband John Rylands and it opened up to the public in 1900.
The inside is gorgeous! But the collection, believed to be among the largest in the UK, is as remarkable. They have many old and special collections , such as:
- Medieval illuminated manuscripts
- Examples of early European printing, including a Gutenberg bible and teh second largest colelction of printing by William Caxton.
- The Ryland Library Papyrus P52, has a claim to be the earliest extant of the New testament text.
- Several personal papers and letters of notable figures in History
Free bus stop: Hardman street
Manchester Town Hall
The Town Hall of Manchester reminds me of a smaller House of Parliament of London. But instead of red malboxes, they have golden ones which I loved.
As you can see in the pictures it was the moment where we had all the best of UK weather: rain, hail, heavy wind, snow, rain and hail again…. so we didn’t stay too long there and moved on to a place inside to shelter for a while.
Free bus stop: John Dalton Street, or walkable from the John Rylands Library.
Depending on where you are and if you love Asian food like I do, I can suggest to have lunch in China Town, which is a few minutes away by foot from the Town hall.
If don’t like Asian food, there are many restaurants around the area you can choose from.
Free bus stop: Charlotte Street
Gay Village – Canal Street
Did you know Manchester had one of the first Gay Villages in the world? You might have heard of the TV show Queer as Folk filmed in this area. Here you find many gay pubs, clubs and restaurants, but people of all preferences are welcome off course.
I especially loved the red brick building alongside the canal, decorated with rainbow flags and lights!
Free bus stop: Chorlton Street
High Tea time
Is your belly making noises again after lunch? That must be because you are in the UK, and it is tea time! So around 4 pm, if you are still in Gay Village, there is a High Tea place I can recommend you: Richmond Tea Rooms.
If you love Alice in Wonderland, you will love this place. The rooms are decorated just in that style and it is just too adorable. I loved their tea (I got a chai tea, because addiction told me to) and their Queens’s Tea High Tea menu, which was just delicious.
Talking about addictions, I now got a new one: SCONES! OMG
Free bus stop: same as Gay Village, Chorlton Street
I didn’t go to Manchester to shop, but I noticed there are many fun places to do so. One departmant store I wanted to see was Afflecks in the Northern Quarter. The place to be for Indie, alternative shops. It reminds me of Camden Town in London, which I love.
Unfortunately we were there around closing time. Next time I am definitely going back to buy some things!
Free bus stop: Stevenson Square
Mural Street Art Northen Quarter
Do you have spare time left in the Northern Quarter after some shopping? You can walk around for a bit and you will notice there are alot of street art spread around the area.
If this is more interesting to you, I suggest to skip the shopping, the library or Castlefield and stay in the city center instead to spot all the special street art.
One I wanted to see was one Manchester bee mural by Qubek. As you might remember, there was an attack during Ariana Grande’s concert on 22 May 2017. As a response to the event the artist made this piece, representing Manchester unity and strength. The Manchester Bee was already a symbol of the city, and Qubek has several other bee murals, but I liked this one as it forms a heart around the bee.
Free bus stop: Stevenson Square
Enjoy your last meal in the Northern Quarter or around the Manchester Piccadilly Station before heading back home or to the airport.
End of day
MCR you were lovely! Despite the weather, making me just want to stay in bed at first, I really had a ‘mint’ time in Manchester. I might return during summer time , and stay more than 2 nights.