So you’ve decided to visit Manchester? Congrats! With so much on and with such a rich history, it’s impossible to run out of things to do in Manchester.
But as your stay will, of course, be limited, we put together this list of the best places to go in Manchester so you can plan and make the most of your trip.
Whether you’re an adrenaline junky, a foodie, a shopaholic, a creative, or a brainbox, there’s something in here for you! So here are the best things to do in Manchester.
Wander through the Northern Quarter
The Northern Quarter is easily one of the best places to go in Manchester thanks to it having something for everyone. Some of the city’s most beloved record shops, bars, venues, and independent restaurants are found there. We recommend just wandering around and following your heart. If you get stuck, you can always ask someone for some recommendations.
Get lost exploring Affleck's Palace
Affleck's is one of the coolest places to go in Manchester. Most Mancs would agree exploring it is one of the best things to do in Manchester. A bizarre building with multiple alternative businesses inside, you can find everything from guitars, art, tattoo and piercing shops, books, sweets, spiritual shops offering tarot readings, vintage clothing, CBD, massage parlours, bespoke jewellery, vintage games consoles, vinyl records and so much more. It’s wild how they fit it all in one building.
Splash some cash at the Trafford Centre
If you love shopping, the Trafford Centre is without a doubt the best place to go in Manchester. The massive shopping centre has just about everything from Apple to Zara, Beaverbrooks to Victoria's Secret. And if you've got kids, we guarantee they'll love Build A Bear, GAME, Kenji, or Men Kind (a shop full of cool gadgets). And there's lots more for the family., including gaming arenas, mini golf, the cinema, and laser quest. And when the hunger pangs kick in, there are over 45 food outlets to choose from. There are so many things to do in this Manchester staple.
Eat your way across the whole city
If there’s anything Mancunians love besides music, footie and a drink or two, it’s food. This paired with the city being a huge melting pot of cultures makes it fantastic for foodies. Some of our favourite places to go in Manchester to eat include Bundobust, El Gato Negro, Rudy's Neapolitan Pizza, Platzki, Sicilian NQ, Northern Soul Grilled Cheese, Crazy Pedros, Cottonopolis, Wholesome Junkies, and V Rev Vegan Diner. But there are so many places that are just too good!
Find tickets for dining experiences in Manchester - here
Tuck into a mind-blowing Sunday roast
If you’re thinking this should be lumped in with the one above, we need to emphasise that Sunday roasts command such respect that they deserve their own category on this list. Whether you’re from across the globe or London, trying a Sunday roast drenched in gravy is a must. One of the best places to go in Manchester for a roast is The Wharf. The food is delicious and bloody huge. Hawksmoor on Deansgate is also known for a cracking roast, as is Trof, Elnecot, and The Refuge.
Show your love of footie
One of the most obvious things to do in Manchester for a footie fan would be to explore the museum and Old Trafford. The National Football Museum offers free museum tours where you'll deep dive into the history of the game, get a picture with the Premier League trophy, and see some iconic memorabilia up close. You can also visit Old Trafford, Manchester United’s home, where you can see the museum and stadium, including the player's tunnel and walk beside the pitch.
Do something a bit different
Why not try something completely new? There are always lots of crazy things to do in Manchester. Axe throwing at Whistle Punks is always fun, there are lots of escape rooms all over the city, and Point Blank on Deansgate is a cocktail bar with a simulated shooting range. You could also try your hand at indoor skydiving at iFLY in Trafford Park or a two-hour zombie survival experience with real-life actors wearing SFX makeup in an abandoned 18th-century courthouse.
Feed your creative side at Manchester's art galleries
As a city with deep ties to creativity and art, there are more than enough creative places to go in Manchester, including art galleries. There's so much to see in the Whitworth Art Gallery, including sculptures, modern and contemporary art, historic fine art, and over 20,000 textiles, some dating back to the third century AD. Or check out Manchester Art Gallery for free. And if you head out of the city centre, you can visit The Lowry.
Get taken to another universe at the theatre
If you’re after other creative things to do in Manchester, the city has many shockingly beautiful theatres to explore. Fitting just under 2,000 punters in its ruby-red seats, The Palace Theatre is one of the city’s main theatres, and there's always something on. You can also check out Manchester Opera House, Royal Exchange Theatre, The Lowry, HOME, and so many others.
Find tickets for theatre shows in Manchester - here
Laugh so hard it hurts at Frog and Bucket
The Frog and Bucket is probably the funniest place to go in Manchester. An award-winning comedy club that has seen some absolute comedy legends on its stage, Frog and Bucket will never let you down. There’s an event almost every day of the week, with some days having two, and you never know if you’ll see the next Sarah Millican or Peter Kay. So grab your ticket, tuck into a pizza and a pint when you get there, laugh your socks off then maybe you could…
Find tickets for Frog and Bucket shows - here
Go on a pub crawl
Some of the best places to go in Manchester are the pubs. We have many unique and historical pubs that are great for a peaceful pint. Sinclair's Oyster Bar has been offering its delicious brews to the people of Manchester since the 16th century. The pub has a no swearing, no mobile phone policy, and a brilliant outdoor area for when the sun finally decides to make an appearance. The Wharf is another loveable pub, as is Peveril Of The Peak, The Briton's Protection, The City Arms, and Marble Arch.
Or try a few quirky bars
We don’t think there are many better things to do in Manchester than play Pacman, table tennis or eat a slice of pizza with crisps on it while you sip a drink. Crazy Pedro's has pizza (including single slices) with mad toppings such as the Mac Daddy (a cheeseburger pizza) and Got The Muncheese (a vegan pizza with beef Monster Munch crisps). There’s also Roxy Ball Room with a mini-golf/snooker hybrid game, basketball hoops, shuffleboard, and more. NQ64 is an arcade bar with game-themed cocktails and vintage video games such as Mortal Kombat, Crazy Taxi, and Dancing Stage Euromix.
Enjoy some family-friendly fun
With UV lighting and whacky decor, Junkyard Golf is a firm favourite of many looking for family-friendly things to do in Manchester. Or you can burn some rubber at TeamSport Go Karting. Just outside the city, you’ll find Inflata Nation, an inflatable theme park with obstacle courses and huge slides. And the Printworks’ Tenpin Bowling is the perfect place to show your competitive side with bowling, arcade games, table tennis, pool, and more. You can also try Crystal Maze Live, The Archetype (archery tag), Virtual Hideout, and Electric Gamebox. Just be sure to double-check the age restrictions before you head off!
Find tickets family-friendly events in Manchester - here
Hit the slopes at Chill Factore
Most people wouldn’t believe you can go skiing in Manchester, but Trafford Park is home to the UKs longest indoor ski slope! And if you’ve never skied or snowboarded before, Chill Factore offers lessons. But maybe you just want to chill (we’ll see ourselves out), you can do that too! Easily one of the best places to go in Manchester, you can slide, sledge, snow angel, or snowball fight all day long.
Marvel in the beauty of Manchester’s libraries
If you’re looking for more relaxed things to do in Manchester, look no further. John Rylands Library is truly stunning, looking like something from Harry Potter with high ceilings, stained glass windows, red carpets, and lights that look a bit like candles. From 19th May to 15th January 2023, the library will hold the British Pop Archive showcasing UK pop culture, including items relating to The Hacienda. And on St Peter's Square, there’s Manchester Central Library, where there are lots of events on (including free ones), a café, the Henry Watson music library, a children's library and lots of rare books.
Check out some live music… just about anywhere!
With music in its blood, checking out live music is definitely one of the best things to do in Manchester. This is handy as there’s live music on almost every main street. There’s Gorilla, The O2 Ritz, YES, Rebellion, Band On The Wall, Albert Hall, Blues Kitchen, the legendary Night and Day Cafe, Manchester Academy, the Star and Garter pub, The Whiskey Jar, Jimmy’s, The Bridgewater Hall, The Bread Shed and so many more. They’re all great in their own ways, so you’re best deciding what genre you’re interested in and narrowing it down from there.
Find tickets for live music in Manchester - here
Hit some clubs
Manchester is completely LGBT friendly, but if you’re part of the community, many will tell you the Gay Village is one of the best places to go in Manchester. There are lots of bars, pubs, drag acts, clubs, and more all in one area.
Alternatively, some of Manchester’s best nightclubs include Hidden, Mint Lounge, and Soup Kitchen. But if you prefer indie/alternative tunes, maybe check out 42nd Street or The Venue, or Satan’s Hollow for some metal.
Find tickets for Manchester club nights - here
Dance your troubles away at Warehouse Project
Or if you’re serious about clubbing, you have to check out Warehouse Project. WHP is a series of clubbing nights that start around August/September. These events continue through to NYE and feature the world’s best DJs.
So far on the cards for 2022 is Eric Prydz, Sonny Fodera, SHERELLE, Chase & Status, Disclosure, Andy C, Camo & Krooked, The Blessed Madonna, Little Simz, Mike Skinner, Harriet Jaxxon, and so many more.
Find tickets for Warehouse Project - here
And those are the best things to do in Manchester! There are so many places to go in Manchester that’ll blow your mind and your taste buds, and make it hard to leave. But, hey, if you run out of time, you can always come back for round two!
Check out our What's On Guide to discover even more rowdy raves and sweaty gigs taking place over the coming weeks and months. For festivals, lifestyle events and more, head on over to our Things To Do page or be inspired by the event selections on our Inspire Me page.