Whether you’re coming up for a long, luxurious weekend or are looking for an overnight romance with one of the best cities in the North, there are plenty of things to do in Manchester.
As the gang here at Kampus are proud residents of Cottonopolis, we know these streets like the backs of our hands – meaning we can give you a true guide of what it’s like to live, work and play here. Even if it’s for a day, week or a only matter of hours.
You see, Manchester is all about authenticity. We don’t do fluff or frippery. It’s all about getting up close and personal with our city’s history, heritage and heroes, spanning the worlds of culture, sport, music, fashion, dining, shopping and more.
We’re London’s scrappier side, snapping at the heels of the Big Smoke. Our rebellious spirit and cosmopolitan ways have put us top of the tourism charts for years now – not to brag – with a truly stand-out collection of sights, experiences, and people to meet.
It’s not all matchstick men and matchstalk dogs and cats.
In fact, there’s so much to explore and discover that we’re cobbled together the ultimate field guide for things to do in Manchester, covering:
- How to get here
- Where to stay
- What to eat
- Things to see and do
- Ideas for weekends and one-day wonders
- And much, much more!
Stick with us, kid.
We’ll give you the ultimate roadmap to help you enjoy our city in style, whatever yours might be.
Let’s get started!
How to get to Manchester?
With a growing population and a city centre that sprawls 45 square miles, Manchester has had to step up when it comes to integrating transport links.
With trains, trams, coaches, and more, it couldn’t be easier getting in – and out – of Manny, no matter the direction you’re planning to travel from.
Manchester is served by three main stations dotted around the city centre. These are:
- Oxford Road
Manchester Piccadilly, located to the southeast of the city centre, is generally known as the ‘main’ station out of the three. It offers direct services to popular spots across the country and to its sister stations too, with a tram link situated directly beneath the main forecourt.
Initially opened as Store Street back in 1842, it was renamed Manchester London Road in 1847 and became Manchester Piccadilly in 1960.
Oxford Road sits at the junction of Whitworth Street West and Oxford Street, making it the second busiest station operating in the city. First opened in 1849 and rebuilt in 1960, the station is situated on a Grade II listed viaduct, making it one of the smaller – but no less efficient – stations used by commuters and tourists on a daily basis.
Finally, the beautiful Manchester Victoria station – which also serves as an interchange for its eponymous tramline, Victoria – is attached to the AO Area (formerly the MEN Arena).
Its Edwardian neo-Baroque facade still proudly remains attached to the major east-west interchange, with an exit that brings you out next to the National Football Museum.
Across all three, you can expect regular services from mainline operators including Avanti West Coast, TransPennine Express, Transport for Wales, Northern Rail, CrossCountry Trains, and Great Western Railway.
How long does it take to get to Manchester?
It’s practically a hop, skip, and jump to get to us from the capital. From London, you can expect to pull into any of our stations in just over two hours, with a trip hailing from Edinburgh taking three hours and fifteen. Plenty of time to eat into the book that’s been sitting on your bedside table for the past month.
For those looking for far-flung destinations, trains to Manchester Airport take fifteen minutes – so you can beat the traffic in record time and linger around Duty-Free without so much as breaking a sweat.
A total of 60 airlines connect Manchester directly with over 200 destinations around the world, with several facilities and services available to ensure a hassle-free travel experience.
All three terminals offer free WiFi for up to 60 minutes, tax and duty free savings, and Escape Lounges.
Featuring a regional railway station and a Metrolink station, Manchester Airport offers excellent connectivity to the city centre, so you can get home to a brew and a biscuit without fuss.
In the city centre, Chorlton Street Coach Station serves customers from the entire country via National Express and Megabus.
A cheap and reliable alternative to driving, Manchester’s coach station offers refreshments and services to keep travellers from all over stocked-up before going on to explore the city.
Thanks to its location sandwiched right in the middle of the UK, Manchester has excellent motorway connections to the rest of the country.
North, south, east, and west motorways are connected to the city by the M60 ring road, so it couldn’t be easier to visit us on a leisurely drive.
Top Things to Do in Manchester
Ah, onto the really juicy stuff.
Whether you’re seeking culture, nightlife, history, or old-fashioned fun with a modern twist, there are plenty of things to do in Manchester.
The team at Kampus are well-placed (literally) to give you the skinny on what’s best to do, whether you’d prefer a chilled-out exploration or a whistle-stop tour of Manchester.
To help you out, we’ve split the next section into the following topics, so everyone can get a look-in, including:
- Museum lurkers and art-world shakers
- Football fans (of all clubs and kinds)
- Walkers, hikers and amblers
- Sightseers and nightlife lovers
So what are you waiting for? Grab a pen and paper – or open the notes app – and get jotting!
Join The Culture Club
Manchester is known as a feast for the eyes and senses, even if that boils down to the places that hold some of the most interesting finds from across the city.
For striking architecture and Gothic delights, look no further than John Rylands Research Library, situated on Deansgate.
As a part of the University of Manchester, the John Rylands Research Institute and Library is a 19th century neo-Gothic building. Founded in 1900 to honour her late husband, John Rylands, Enriqueta Augustina Rylands’s library opened to the public in 1900.
Now used as an exhibition space and, of course, a research library by students of all kinds (the school of life is always taking members) – it’s a beautiful piece of history to wander and explore on a dreary Northern day.
Similarly, Manchester Cathedral has been part of the city’s rich history for over 600 years, having survived the reformation, city-wide bombings, the industrial revolution and much more – still open 7 days a week with free admission.
Here, old and new blend seamlessly into one. Make your way through mediaeval archives and queries, spot the buzzing bees on the roof (Manchester’s hard-working symbol) and listen to jazz concerts and classical compositions at artisan fairs.
Speaking of artisanal, enjoy art – both classic and modern – at Manchester Art Gallery and the Whitworth.
Manchester Art Gallery sits on Mosley Street and was first built in 1823. Today its collection occupies three connected buildings, two of which were designed by Sir Charles Barry, holding works of art from famed Mancunian LS Lowry and other esteemed artists from across the 19th Century.
The Whitworth Gallery, which can be found in the opposite direction on Oxford Road, houses a more modern selection for visitors to admire. With an impressive glass facade at the back and large, winding exhibition spaces containing about 55,000 items in its collection, it is also part of the University of Manchester.
You can easily spend full days exploring both, but if your contemporary tastes span the worlds of movement and music, why not take a look at HOME?
Founded in 1989, HOME is Manchester’s arts centre, a key part of the city’s artistic ecology, and a National Portfolio Organization for Arts Council England – try saying that four times fast.
Whether you like to see exciting new work, meet directors, writers, filmmakers, or just have a nosy – whatever your interests, you’re more than allowed to make yourself at HOME.
Finally, for the more learned among you, why not explore some of the city’s brilliant museums?
Manchester Museum proudly curates and displays works of archaeology, anthropology and natural history. Also found on Oxford Road, its unmissable neo-Gothic outlook is home to about 4.5 million items from every continent, including mummies, insects and artefacts.
The Imperial War Museum North takes us further out to Salford Quays, but still offers an incredible look at the impact of modern conflicts on people and society. It is the first branch of the Imperial War Museum to be located in the north of England, making its striking halls and exhibition spaces a must-see for those visiting Manchester.
The Beautiful Game
Reds or Blues?
No matter who you support, you’d be hard-pressed to separate the Mancs from our love of football. We’re so passionate about it, we’ve only gone and made a museum all about the subject, with the National Football Museum just a stone’s throw away from Victoria Train station.
The museum, which is open Wednesday to Sunday, is the world’s biggest and best of its kind, aiming to tell the stories of the beautiful game itself.
In the Urbis building in Manchester city centre, important collections of football memorabilia are preserved, displayed and preserved, allowing visitors to explore at their leisure or enjoy a tour led by some of the best guides in the biz.
Speaking of tours, you can also book in to explore the grounds of Manchester United at Old Trafford or Manchester City’s Etihad Stadium, with available VIP experiences for the footie fanatics among you.
Just make sure you keep an eye out for when the Derby’s on. That’s a Manchester experience you won’t forget in a hurry!
Get Yer Yomp On
For those of you who enjoy taking life at larger strides (rather you than me, mate) – then there’s plenty of beautiful walks and hikes to enjoy.
The area of Greater Manchester sits at the cusp of the Peak District and High Peak, offering a no-holds-barred view of central England’s most untamed National park.
In the park’s southern area, which is known as White Peak, you will find steep limestone valleys such as Dovedale and Lathkill Dale. Kinder Scout, the highest point in the park, marks the northern border of the Dark Peak area. It is characterised by large gritstone ridges and stark moorland plateaus, making it one of the most dramatic vistas in the country.
But there are a multitude of scenic spots to enjoy closer to the city centre, if you want to get your boots on a little closer to the action.
- Heaton Park
- Haigh Hall
- Sale Water Park
- Hollingworth Lake
Just make sure you check the forecast before heading out – Manchester is at the whims of the weather at the best of times!
Family Fun For Big (And Little) Kids
Looking to keep the small – and not so small – ones entertained? Never fear, Manny’s got you covered.
For little Einsteins, head to the Museum of Science and Industry (lovingly known as MOSI) for fun and interactive exhibits that track the development of science, technology and industry – with emphasis on our fair city’s achievements in these subjects. Look at the old steam railway, traverse the stars or marvel at some of the greatest feats of aviation all under one roof, with something for everyone to enjoy.
For the creatives in your family, LEGOLAND Discovery Centre boasts a 4D cinema, LEGO models of local landmarks and rides, with plenty of opportunity to build whatever your imagination desires.
You can even create minis of the whole family, which is sure to be a fun memento of a special day out in Manchester.
As well as parks, shopping and more, there are plenty of immersive pop-ups, theatre days out and tours that will keep the little ones entertained all day – so you can catch some shut-eye at night.
Let Us Entertain You
We’re a cultural hotspot for a reason.
Manchester is known the world over for its nightlife and top-tier entertainment options, with some of the best cinemas and theatres around. For silver screen viewings head to the EVERYMAN for indie picks and flicks, or catch a blockbuster at the Printworks IMAX and ODEON for jaw-dropping effects and comfort.
But if you prefer theatres, boy, do we have ’em. From the hallowed halls of the Palace Theatre and Opera House, to the Royal Exchange and HOME (again) – there’s so much to enjoy when the lights go down and those curtains open.
Enjoy a drink and a dance at a selection of our incredible clubs and pubs, or make your way to one of our incredible music venues for top tunes, too.
From YES bar to Freight Island, the WHP to The Blues Kitchen, there’s something for everyone.
Genuinely. We don’t have enough room to pop it all here.
If you need to walk off the night before – or enjoy the sights from the comfort of the top deck, why not book yourself on a sightseeing tour? There’s quite the number of walking tours, bus and taxi tours such as the Sightseeing Manchester Bus Tour – aptly named and well worth zipping about to get a taste of Manchester.
We’re Just The Start…
Listen, we don’t want you to go yet.
But as one of the main cities welcoming you to the North, it would make sense to get an even bigger glimpse of the beautiful landscapes and cities on offer.
We’re all about building each other up, after all.
Take a gander at the Lake District and the Peak District, before exploring our fellow sibling cities, like Leeds, Liverpool, Birmingham, York and Newcastle.
Share the love, folks. Just make sure you come back and see us soon, OK?
Longtime stay? Think KAMPUS.
Wanted to stay for dinner… but are now thinking about forever?
When it comes to finding a place of your own in Manchester, look no further than KAMPUS.
Our collection of top-level apartments blends modern style with our proud industrial city roots, offering a sanctuary right at the heart of the metropolis.
Discover us down winding stone pathways full of secret gardens, vibrant restaurants and cafes as part of a neighbourhood experience that’s just waiting for you.
- Minto & Turner
- Minshull Warehouse
- North Block
- South Block
- The Stack
With a prime canalside location and a bustling community in the middle, these gorgeous buildings are designed with you in mind.
You’re one of us, now.
Chowin’ Down: Where To Eat in Manchester
Manchester is packed to the rafters with delicious food from all over the globe. Thanks to our glorious melting pot of a city, you can expect world cuisines – from street food to gourmet offerings – just waiting to be explored by knife and fork.
In fact, according to Food and Wine magazine, we’ve been named ‘The Most Exciting Food City in the UK’. Which isn’t to be sniffed at in the slightest.
Awarded our first Michelin star in 2020, we’re going from strength to strength, with foodie picks such as Yum Cha, The Beeswing, Dishoom, Refuge by Volta, Mana and more deserving time and taste buds.
But what about the things that make us, well, us? Does it have that undeniably Mancunian taste?
Well, we’ve touched on those too.
Tuck into our next section?
Which food is famous in Manchester?
Originating from Lancashire (yes, we know this is a strictly Mancunian guide), Hotpot usually is made up of lamb or mutton and onion, topped with sliced potatoes, and baked in a heavy pot on low heat. Often served up on wintery nights, this delicious staple is a warming dish that can be found in many of the city’s glorious pubs.
Taking its name from Eccles, Greater Manchester, an Eccles cake is a small, flaky pie – similar to a turnover – filled with currants. Its dense pastry is sometimes topped with demerara sugar, making it a lovely treat to split with a friend and have with a mug of strong tea.
Although there’s no outlined recipe for Manchester Tart (oo-er), it’s generally agreed that it’s a sweet treat encased in a shortcrust pastry, topped with jam, custard, a bit of desiccated coconut, and a bright glace cherry.
Over the past few years, pastry cooks from across the city have developed their own versions of the pudding, which apparently derives from the acclaimed cookbooks of the ultimate word in Victorian baking: Mrs Beeton.
Curry from the Curry Mile
Curry Mile in Manchester is known as one of the city’s best places to find delicious food that won’t break the bank. Situated in the student area of Rusholme, the Curry Mile holds a wide range of restaurants and takeaway shops along Wilmslow Road.
Indian, Pakistani, and Middle Eastern delicacies are served at over 70 venues (many of which have won awards) – and you can tuck into mezze and mouth-watering curries with the whole family at most restaurants.
Alright. So this is a pretty tongue-in-cheek thing, but mushy peas have gained the upmarket nickname ‘Manchester Caviar’ around these parts.
Why? Because we love ’em – they’re up there next to chippy gravy. Spoon ’em next to fish or whack them on top of a steaming plate of chips with a dash of vinegar for the ultimate taste creation.
Visiting Manchester on a budget?
Listen, with a cost of living crisis on, we know that your Manchester trip might be feeling the strain of the ol’ purse strings.
Although Manchester is cheaper than London by a wide margin, coming here can still set you back a little. But don’t worry, we’ve got some tips and tricks that will help you keep those outgoings low but the spirits high.
Making small changes, such as visiting in months that are generally quieter than the high season (such as around the christmas markets) can help save those pennies. Avoiding packed weekends when the Derby is on can also shave off the spending!
The best things in life are free (or fairly cheap), yeah?
Explore the sights from the street.
The Free Manchester Walking Tour is a great way to explore Manchester if you’re fresh to Cottonopolis. The Alan Turing statue in Sackville Gardens is the location of these meetings, which convene daily at 11 am and take an exciting look at all things ‘Madchester’ without spending a penny.
The company is run by local Mancunians that know their city like no other, making sure you’re in the best of hands.
Gettin’ thrifty with it
Manchester attracts a lot of shoppers, whether it’s those who brave the crowds at the Trafford Centre on the edge of the city or those who pursue King Street, where designer stores abound.
But Manchester’s many thrift stores are also a great place to find bargains if you don’t have a lot of money to spend.
Some of the best options can be found in the Northern Quarter – but note that some stores have better stock than others. Charity shops always offer some real gems such as recognizable luxury labels. The independent Afflecks Palace, packed with boutiques and a great place for vintage fashion finds, is also great.
(Free) music to your ears
There are always places in Manchester that offer free entry for cheap nights out. A beautiful music hall upstairs at the Deaf Institute often hosts free concerts. You can also listen to free DJ sets at the Northern Quarter’s Night & Day Cafe on Saturdays.
There are also plenty of live music nights run by bars and pubs in Manchester during the week, such as acoustic sets at The Thirsty Scholar next to Manchester Oxford Road station and the toe-tapping jazz concerts at Matt & Phreds in the Northern Quarter.
Are two days enough to spend in Manchester?
A long weekend is more than enough time to take a wander and gander at the main attractions of Manchester city centre – giving you plenty of room to take the trip at your own pace. However, if you want to include other areas of Manchester like Salford, Trafford, and Altrincham, you may wish to extend the length of your trip and enjoy everything that’s on offer.
Find your haven in one of our wonderful apartments, each tucked around our Neighbourhood garden to offer inner-city sanctuary for active professionals and creatives.
Your finned, feathered, and furry pals are also welcome to join us, because of our fabulous pet-friendly policies.
We also have a tonne of social spaces and events if you enjoy nothing more than a drink with your friends, or prepare a beautiful meal in one of our bookable dining areas.
KAMPUS also comes stocked with independent stores, bars, restaurants, gathering places for people and their dogs, regular markets, locally brewed beers (such coffee and corked drinks), and much, much more – giving you everything you need to get the most out of life.