Unlock the best of Manchester without breaking the bank with this guide of free things to do. From iconic landmarks to hidden gems, discover a wealth of no-cost experiences that showcase the city's vibrant culture. Immerse yourself in the city's charm and uncover the abundance of cost-free delights that the city has to offer.  

1. Science and Industry Museum

Explore 250 years of innovations and ideas that started life in Manchester and went on to change the world on a visit to the Science and Industry Museum. With free access to Manchester’s rich legacy of ideas and discoveries in the Revolution Manchester Gallery, discover everything from the ancestor of modern computing to one of the first Rolls-Royce motorcars. With special exhibitions for both children and adults, there is something for everyone to learn and experience. 

2. Salford Museum and Art Gallery

Salford Museum & Art Gallery is an intriguing mix of Victorian and 20th century architecture. First opened in 1850 this beautiful building now incorporates The Collections Gallery, The Victorian Gallery, temporary exhibition spaces and the Local History Library, as well as the Museum shop and Café for those needing a well-earned cup of tea and slice of cake or a perfect souvenir. Visiting Salford Museum and Art Gallery is free, and worth a visit if you’re looking for an interesting day out. 

3. Manchester Museum

Manchester Museum is the UK's largest university museum with a collection of about 4.5 million items from every continent, all on display for free. Following the reopening of Manchester Museum in February 2023, a modern extension and beautiful galleries provide opportunities for curiosity and wonder. There is a new Exhibition Hall, Belonging Gallery, Lee Kai Hung Chinese Culture Gallery and South Asia Gallery, a British Museum partnership. 

4. Rochdale Pioneers Museum

The Rochdale Pioneers Museum is widely regarded as the home of the worldwide Co-operative movement. It's the perfect place to come and see how your ancestors did their shopping. The Pioneers started a revolution in retailing which has played a significant part in our lives ever since. The ground floor faithfully recreates the original shop together with its rudimentary furniture and scales. A great place to bring your children for a day of learning and fun. 

5. Manchester Art Gallery

The Manchester Art gallery is for and of the people of Manchester. Through their collections, displays and public programmes, they work with Manchester residents to celebrate creative practice as an integral part of everyday life. This is an art school for everybody, and for life – a free and accessible institution for the city and its people. 

6. Manchester Airport Runway Visitor Park

The Runway Visitor Park is next to the busy runways of Manchester Airport with raised viewing areas so you can stand literally just a few metres from the planes as they take-off and land. You can bring your own picnic or buy food and drink in the RVP coffee house. There is a also a play area and The Aviation Shop, which stocks a range of plane-related souvenirs, suitable for children through to the more serious aircraft enthusiasts. 

7. Gallery Oldham

Gallery Oldham provides a wide range of free exhibitions and activities targeted at different audiences of all ages. Current and forthcoming exhibitions feature artworks and items from Oldham’s diverse collections alongside newly commissioned art, international work, touring exhibitions and work produced with local communities. Talks and tours, art and craft workshops, work with schools and artist residencies are all part of the gallery’s regular activities programme.