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Manchester | © Zuzanna Neziri / Flickr
Manchester | © Zuzanna Neziri / Flickr
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20 Must-Visit Attractions in Manchester

Picture of Emma Lavelle
Updated: 19 June 2017
Manchester has so much to offer – including a staggering amount of attractions for visitors to choose between. There’s so much to see that it can be overwhelming for first time visitors to decide what to prioritise. Architecture or art? Shops or sports? We’ve whittled down all of the city’s attractions into a concise list of the 20 must-see buildings, bars, shops and galleries. This is your essential guide to Manchester: print it off and carry it with you.
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Museum of Science and Industry

Manchester was the birthplace of many important discoveries and inventions, many of which are documented at the Museum of Science and Industry. Wander through the power hall, marvel at the collection of steam trains and early aircraft and take the time to work through the experiments upstairs.

Museum of Science and Industry, Liverpool Rd, Manchester, +44 161 832 2244

MOSI

MOSI | © mari / Flickr

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Whitworth Art Gallery

Recently reopened after an extensive renovation project, the Whitworth is one of the best places in the city to view a collection of exciting contemporary art. Keep your eyes peeled on their exciting events calendar, pay a visit to their stunning restaurant with panoramic views of the surrounding park and pick up a picnic basket of art supplies to spark your own creativity.

Whitworth Art Gallery, Oxford Rd, Manchester, +44 161 275 7450

The Whitworth

The Whitworth | © Bryn Roberts / Flickr

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Manchester Art Gallery

The city centre’s free-entry gallery often plays host to exciting exhibitions from world-renowned artists such as Joana Vasconcelos. Its permanent collections include an impressive array of costume, oil paintings and decorative arts, making this the perfect destination for whiling away several hours and getting inspired.

Manchester Art Gallery, Mosley Street, Manchester, +44 161 235 8888

Art Gallery

Art Gallery | © Norbert Blech / Flickr

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John Ryland’s Library

Lovers of both books and architecture will delight in one of Manchester’s most beloved buildings. This Neo-Gothic structure is filled with one of the most extensive collections of literature in the entire country, but it’s not just for academics. Spend a few hours getting lost in its many rooms, staircases and corridors to fully appreciate the attention to detail of the building.

John Ryland’s Library, 150 Deansgate, Manchester +44 161 306 0555

John Rylands

John Rylands | © Pete Birkinshaw / Flickr

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National Football Museum

Anyone with an interest in football should make a beeline to the National Football Museum, situated inside the dramatic glass building previously known as Urbis. Find out more about your favourite sport, including an extensive look at the last time England won the World Cup, and take the chance to refine your own football skills.

National Football Museum, Urbis Building, Cathedral Gardens, Todd St, City Centre, +44 161 605 8200

Football Museum

Football Museum | © David in Lisburn / Flickr

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Manchester Town Hall

Another impressive example of Neo-Gothic architecture, if you only have time to admire one building in the city, make it Manchester’s Town Hall. The ornate ceilings, mural paintings, iconic bee mosaics and instantly recognisable clock tower make this one of the best examples of architecture from this time period in the whole of the UK.

Manchester Town Hall, Albert Square, +44 161 827 7661

Town Hall

Town Hall | © Mark Andrew / Flickr

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Old Trafford

Whether you’re a fan of Manchester United or you just want to visit one of the most iconic football stadiums in the world, it’s always worth hopping on a tram to visit Old Trafford. Take a tour of the stadium, pop into the gift shop to buy a memento of your visit or simply admire the structure from the outside.

Old Trafford, Sir Matt Busby Way, Stretford, +44 161 868 8000

Old Trafford

Old Trafford | © Sean MacEntee / Flickr

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People’s History Museum

Learn more about the history of democracy and how everyone won the right to vote in one of the city’s most interesting museums. Keep your eyes peeled for revolving exhibitions that seek to inform in exciting ways, such as Never Going Underground, which demonstrates the history of LGBT+ rights.

People’s History Museum, Left Bank, Spinningfields, +44 161 838 9190

wish we had more time in here

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HOME

Manchester’s new centre of culture, HOME is the place to head to if you’re interested in cinema, theatre or art. As well as a variety of independent films, performances and exhibitions, you’ll find an impressive restaurant and cocktail bar.

HOME, 2, Tony Wilson Place, First St, Manchester, +44 161 200 1500

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Manchester Craft and Design Centre

In the heart of the Northern Quarter, you’ll find this hub of creativity inside a former Victorian fish market. Local artists and creatives have set up studios inside, creating and selling art, prints, sculptures, jewellery and ceramics from their own unique spaces. There’s also a cute little café and occasional musical performances and exhibitions.

Manchester Craft and Design Centre, 17 Oak St, Manchester, +44 161 832 4274

Craft and Design Centre

Craft and Design Centre | © Heather Cowper / Flickr

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Northern Quarter

You can’t visit Manchester without spending at least a couple of hours exploring the Northern Quarter. Pop into some of the independent shops that line the neighbourhood’s street, sample the best coffee in the city from its many cafés, admire the eclectic street art or discover a seemingly never-ending array of bars, restaurants and eateries.

Northern Quarter, Manchester

Northern Quarter

Northern Quarter | © Duncan Hull / Flickr

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Affleck’s

A local institution, Affleck’s is a mecca for Manchester’s alternative crowd, containing an impressive array of stalls selling everything from fetish gear to DIY jewellery. Pop inside to discover an eclectic array of clothing, jewellery, memorabilia and gifts before sneaking upstairs for a luxury ice-cream at Ginger’s Comfort Emporium.

Affleck’s, 52 Church St, Manchester, +44 161 839 0718

Afflecks

Afflecks | © Graham C99 / Flickr

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Manchester Museum

Attached to the University of Manchester, Manchester Museum houses an impressive collection focused around natural history. You’ll find everything from Egyptian mummies to dinosaur skeletons and unusual beetles inside. Ensure that you take time to explore the vivarium and visit the collection of rare frogs and reptiles.

Manchester Museum, The University of Manchester, The University Of Manchester, Oxford Rd, Manchester, +44 161 275 2648

Manchester Museum

Manchester Museum | © Pfauenauge *back to school…on and off*/ Flickr

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Manchester Cathedral

One of Manchester’s oldest buildings, the cathedral is a must-see for anyone with an interest in architecture. Wander around at your own pace, book onto a tour to find out more about the history or keep your eyes peeled for news of one of the occasional gigs hosted inside the cathedral.

Manchester Cathedral, Victoria St, Manchester, +44 161 833 2220

Manchester Cathedral

Manchester Cathedral | © Historic Images – Lancashire / Flickr

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Victoria Baths

This Edwardian swimming bath is currently undergoing a slow renovation which aims to get at least one of the pools and the Turkish baths eventually reopened. In the meantime, it frequently opens for guided tours and special events such as gin and beer festivals, wedding fayres and theatrical performances.

Victoria Baths, Hathersage Rd, Chorlton-on-Medlock, Manchester, +44 161 224 2020

Victoria Baths

Victoria Baths | © Rachel Docherty / Flickr

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Altrincham Market

It may be located right on the outskirts of the city, but this recently restored market is more than worth the tram fare. Having been named the best market in the UK by Observer Food Monthly, Altrincham Market certainly stands up to its accolades with its impressive selection of food and market stalls. You’ll have to fight for a seat, but once you sit down you won’t want to leave.

Altrincham Market, 26 Market St, Altrincham

Altrincham Market

Altrincham Market | © the-windowco.co.uk / Flickr | © the-windowco.co.uk / Flickr

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Chetham’s Library

This ancient building attached to the music school is rumoured to be haunted, a fact that you’ll easily believe when you step into its stalls. Literature, music and architecture lovers will delight in a visit to this prestigious library which is actually the oldest of its kind in the English speaking world.

Chetham’s Library, Long Millgate, Manchester, +44 161 834 7961

Chethams

Chethams | © Michael D Beckwith / Flickr

Paramount Bookshop

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Paramount Bookshop

Located by Shudehill bus station, you’ll likely hear the classical music blaring from its outdoor speakers before you actually see Paramount Bookshop. Inside, this haphazard second-hand store is a melting pot of literature with a particular focus on comics and sci-fi. If you see something you like, settle down on one of the sofas and get stuck into a good book.

Paramount Bookshop, 25-27 Shudehill, Manchester, +44 161 834 9509

Paramount Books

Paramount Books | © Per Gosche / Flickr

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Cloud 23

Soak in the best views of the city from the 23rd floor of the Hilton Hotel on Deansgate. The panoramic windows of the city’s most luxurious bar aren’t the only pull. The inventive cocktails here are exceptional and you may even catch a glimpse of a local celebrity or footballer.

Cloud 23, Beetham Tower, 303 Deansgate, Manchester, +44 161 870 1670

🇬🇧 As British as it gets 🍵🍰 #HighTea meetings are faves 🤓😋#Cloud23 #Manchester 😍

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Manchester House

Manchester may be currently lacking a Michelin-star eatery, but Manchester House certainly comes close with its impressive surroundings and delectable tasting menu. After dinner, take a gin and tonic out onto the glamorous balcony to admire the views of the city.

Manchester House, 18-22 Bridge St, Manchester, +44 161 835 2557

Manchester House

Manchester House | Courtesy of Manchester House