Manchester Travel Guide

England  #4 in Best Day Trips from London

Best Things To Do in Manchester

Manchester is passionate about football and music. You can cheer on Manchester United at Old Trafford or root for Manchester City at Etihad Stadium. As for music, there are too many venues to list, but you can check out Song Kick to find out where different bands are playing. The city also contains a number of very good museums, including the Museum of Science and Industry, the Imperial War Museum North and the Manchester Art Gallery. When it comes to shopping, the city boasts popular U.K. stores like Selfridges and Harvey Nichols, but it also has the quirky five-floor Afflecks for one-of-a-kind finds.

How we rank Things to Do
  • #1
    John Rylands Library
    View all Photos
    #1 in Manchester
    Free
    TYPE
    Half Day to Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Free
    TYPE
    Half Day to Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    The University of Manchester's John Rylands Library is known as much for its beautiful architecture as it is for its collection of rare books and manuscripts. The impressive gothic structure took 10 years to build — after plans were drawn up in 1889, the library finally opened to the public

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  • #2
    Old Trafford
    View all Photos
    #2 in Manchester
    Sports, Tours
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Sports, Tours
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    Manchester United is one of the — if notthe— world's most celebrated football (aka soccer) teams. The team's stadium is even nicknamed the "Theatre of Dreams." Picture a sea of red shirt-wearing fans spread across an oblong stadium cheering madly for a much-beloved bunch of talented athletes. Even if you

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  • #3
    Castlefield Urban Heritage Park
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    #3 in Manchester
    Parks and Gardens, Free
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Parks and Gardens, Free
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    The Castlefield Urban Heritage Park is a conservation area located on the southwest side of Manchester's city center. But first, it was the site of a Roman fort, Mamucium. Later, this area became a hub of industry with the construction of a canal and a train station. Today, the canal

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  • #4
    Manchester Art Gallery
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    #4 in Manchester
    Museums, Free
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Museums, Free
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    The Manchester Art Gallery has a collection of more than 25,000 items spread across six centuries. Of particular note is its pre-Raphaelite collection: You'll see work by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Ford Madox Brown and William Holman Hunt, among other renowned artists. The metalwork and porcelain in the museum's Decorative Arts

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  • #5
    Museum of Science and Industry
    View all Photos
    #5 in Manchester
    Museums, Free
    TYPE
    Half Day to Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Museums, Free
    TYPE
    Half Day to Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    The Museum of Science and Industry is an extensive museum spread across five buildings with exhibits that range from textiles to electricity to the railways. With its industrial history in cotton production, Manchester is a good spot for such a museum. One of the newest galleries is the interactive "Revolution

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  • #6
    Manchester Town Hall
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    #6 in Manchester
    Sightseeing, Free
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Sightseeing, Free
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    The Victorian gothic Manchester Town Hall first opened its doors in 1877, and to this day it still acts as the home of the Manchester City Council. If you visit, you should check out the Ford Madox Brown murals, as well as the Great Hall's skylight, which has the etched

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  • #7
    Imperial War Museum North
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    #7 in Manchester
    Museums, Free
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Museums, Free
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    The Imperial War Museum North, a part of the series of Imperial Museums throughout the U.K., traces Britain's involvement in different conflicts from 1914 through the present day. Exhibits include an audio-visual Big Picture Show on a variety of topics, from "Children at War" to "Al-Mutanabbi Street: A Reaction." There

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  • #8
    Greater Manchester Police Museum
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    #8 in Manchester
    Museums, Free
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Museums, Free
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    The Greater Manchester Police Museum traces the history of policing in the Victorian era. There is a replica court where mock trials are held and a charge room, not to mention numerous artifacts dating from the era, including old police uniforms. The volunteer tour guides are founts of knowledge, filling

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  • #9
    Afflecks
    View all Photos
    #9 in Manchester
    Shopping, Free
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Shopping, Free
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    Afflecks calls itself "an emporium of eclecticism" and "a totem of indie commerce." This mall, which spreads itself across four floors, is no usual shopping center — you won't find your typical British stores like John Lewis or Cath Kidston here. Instead, Afflecks' shops and stalls are filled with everything

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  • #10
    Etihad Stadium
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    #10 in Manchester
    Sports, Tours
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Sports, Tours
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    The Etihad Stadium is home to Manchester City, one of the city's much beloved football clubs (or soccer teams to Americans). This stadium is one of the U.K.'s largest, with the capacity to seat 47,805 rowdy spectators. If you're able to view a match, be sure to wear a light

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  • #11
    The Lowry
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    #11 in Manchester
    Entertainment and Nightlife, Museums, Sightseeing
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Entertainment and Nightlife, Museums, Sightseeing
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    The Lowry is a mixed-use facility — part art gallery and part theater — contained in a modern steel and glass structure. You'll find everything from a permanent exhibition showcasing the works of beloved British artist L.S. Lowry, who was born in the greater Manchester suburb of Stretford near theOld

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  • #12
    Royal Exchange Theatre
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    #12 in Manchester
    Entertainment and Nightlife, Tours
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Entertainment and Nightlife, Tours
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    The Royal Exchange Theatre is known for its compelling stage layout: None of the 760 seats are more than 30 feet from the seven-sided stage. It's also known for its impressive performances, which range from Shakespearean plays to modern works. What's more, the building used to house a different kind

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