If you’ve not had the pleasure of visiting Greater Manchester yet, now’s the time. To make things a little easier for first time visitors, we’ve compiled a guide of what to see and do, and how to navigate this wonderful city region. Think we’ve missed something? Leave your comments below!

Photo from Archives+, Manchester Central Library


Manchester is the birthplace of the industrial revolution, the innovator of the first computer and the first passenger railway line, the home of English football, and one of the most exciting places to visit in the UK right now.

Originally established in AD 79 as the Roman fort of Mamucium, Manchester remained a township until its astonishing expansion during the 19th Century, as a result of the Industrial Revolution.

Achieving city status in 1853, Manchester has continued to build on its modest yet solid foundations, becoming a progressive and welcoming city with a proud history in science, politics, music, arts and sport. Now jam-packed with unique and exciting restaurants, shops, museums and galleries and with a year-round cultural calendar to be proud of, Manchester is the place to be.


Thanks to an integrated transport network, Manchester is one of the most accessible cities in the UK for both national and international visitors.

With three city-centre train stations, (Piccadilly, Oxford Road and Victoria) there are direct rail services from across the country. Road access to the city is via the M60 ring road, and coach services from all over the country are regular, and the majority arrive and depart from the centrally located Chorlton Street Coach Station.

Manchester Airport is a great national and international hub, and the global gateway to the North of England. More than 60 airlines connect over 200 destinations directly to Manchester, so getting here shouldn’t be a problem.

Getting around Manchester and the surrounding areas is easy thanks to the fleet of buses, trams and trains available. Manchester is also well known for its compact nature, making it a popular city to explore by foot, and allowing visitors to explore its many hidden gems. It’s also a bike-friendly city with many marked cycle lanes and routes.

Need a hand navigating? Download one of our maps.

Photo: HOME, First Street



Greater Manchester certainly isn’t short of things to see, with a huge number of museums and galleries, many of which are free. Explore the world at Manchester Museum, see one of the country’s finest art collections at Manchester Art Gallery and explore how the Industrial Revolution started in Manchester at the Museum of Science and Industry.

Further afield, the Imperial War Museum North allows visitors to become immersed in a collection of personal stories of life on the home and fighting fronts, while The Lowry Galleries showcase changing exhibitions by one of Britain’s best loved artists, LS Lowry.

Visit the Pankhurst Centre which houses a small museum and heritage centre that remains as a legacy to the Pankhurst family and the Suffragette movement, or take in the beautiful architecture at John Rylands Library. Embrace the gallery in the park at The Whitworth, experience Manchester’s radical past at the People’s History Museum or delve into regimental collections acquired over 350 year at Bury’s Fusilier Museum.


From walking and music to history and food, the selection of tours available in and around Manchester is huge.

Discover Manchester with a hop-on hop-off bus tour or embrace the streets of Manchester with one of Discover Manchester’s daily guided walking tours. Join Skyliner and learn about the creation of the Northern Quarter and its street art with this one of a kind tour, or take like a duck to water and experience the fascinating Manchester Ship Canal Cruise, taking in spectacular scenery and learning about how the ship canal shaped the city of Manchester, and North West England.

Fancy something a little bit different? Why not try hurling axes at targets or putt your way through one of the 9-hole crazy golf courses at Junkyard Golf Club. Be the star of the 90’s classic, The Crystal Maze and take on the ultimate team challenge with friends or hit the Mancunian slopes at Chill Factore.

Step back in time and experience the sights and sounds of Britain's Home Front at Stockport Air Raid Shelters and wander round the authentically reconstructed tunnels. Book in to take a tour of the BBC at MediaCity and learn more about the world of broadcasting or stop off at contemporary arts centre, HOME – a creative space with something for everyone.

Incredibly well-known for its music scene, with names such as Oasis, The Smiths and Blossoms all hailing from the city-region, as well as the legendary Hacienda Nightclub; the city’s rich musical history has allowed for a plethora of independent music venues to continue to blossom, with the likes of the Deaf Institute, Band on the Wall and Albert Hall. Head to Manchester institution, Night and Day Cafe which has had the likes of Alex Turner, Guy Garvey and Johnny Marr grace its intimate stage, or the world landmark Jazz club, Matt and Phred’s.

Photo: Altrincham Market


Manchester’s food landscape is thriving, and with new restaurants and café’s opening almost every week, it’s hard to tire of the city’s gastronomic delights.

The food market and street food scenes are flourishing in many European cities, and Manchester certainly isn’t one to be left behind. Check out the local’s favourite, Altrincham Market with regional independent food producers lacing the food halls four corners, or the newly opened Mackie Mayor – a 1858 Grade II listed market building on the edge of Manchester’s Northern Quarter. Visiting at the weekend? Every Friday and Saturday, GRUB offer street food and craft ales, wines and spirits, DJs and good times at Fairfield Social Club.

If you’re feeling a little bit fancy and wouldn’t mind a fantastic view over the city, Cloud 23 at the Hilton is the highest point from which you can enjoy a bite to eat and a glass of fizz. Alternatively, 20 Stories offers a rooftop restaurant, grill and terrace with menus created by Aiden Byrne.

The heart of Manchester’s independent food and drink scene has long been the Northern Quarter. Also littered with a multitude of quirky shops, boutiques and shop/café hybrids, The Northern Quarter, or NQ as it’s affectionately known is fit to burst with incredible eateries. Head to Yard and Coop for delectable fried chicken, Teacup Kitchen for cakes and treats, The Bay Horse for some proper pub grub, Federal for incredible coffee and brunchin’ and V Revolution for some vegan junk food.

The Corn Exchange is home to a whole host of incredible restaurants, all under one roof. Home to Wahaca, Pho, Cabana and Mowgli to name a few, this beautiful Edwardian building has become one of Manchester’s most popular foodie destinations.


It wouldn’t be a trip to Manchester without a visit to a traditional English pub – even if it’s just for an orange juice and a chat with the locals. Albert Square Chop House is all about welcoming hospitality, a great atmosphere, and the best of British food and drink. If you’re after local ales in a beautiful setting, then head to The Oast House and for a proper Mancunian drinking experience, pay a visit to Port Street Beer House.

Locals and visitors alike are flocking to Albert’s Schloss to experience Manchester’s first Tankovna, serving the freshest Pilsner this side of the Danube. Take advantage of their ‘push for prosecco buttons, or dance on the tables when the place really comes alive with live music and ‘kabaret’!

If you’re more the cocktail type, jump on a tram to MediaCityUK and visit gigantic golden spacecraft* The Alchemist, or head to The Botanist with its selection of incredible botanical cocktails and food to match. The world-famous Canal Street is a must for any visitor to Manchester. A beacon of celebration for Manchester’s LGBT community, the Village is both party central and a living piece of social history.


Greater Manchester is a truly vibrant city region, with events and celebrations taking place year-round. Keep up to date with what’s going on in our events section, and keep an eye on our blog to find out about new openings and guides to the city.

*Not strictly a spacecraft...