There’s so much to do in Manchester and the surrounding area that it is impossible to see and do everything within a 24 hour visit. However, if you are just spending one night in the city, you can still catch a glimpse of Manchester life. Read on to discover our top tips for 24 hours in the creative Northern city – or if you have more time to explore, check out our 48 hour guide.
Assuming that you will arrive into the city by train, Piccadilly station is ideally located for a morning exploring the nearby Northern Quarter. This is the hipster neighbourhood of the city centre and should be the first stop on any itinerary if you’re at all interested in seeking out the best coffee shops, cafes, independent shops and street art.
Make a beeline for Foundation Coffee House on Lever Street for one of the best cups of coffee in town. You may be itching to explore, but take a seat for twenty minutes and admire your surroundings in one of the city’s most photogenic coffee shops. If you need to catch up with emails this is the perfect location, surrounded by freelancers.
Once you’re feeling recharged, head out into the labyrinthine streets of the Northern Quarter to explore the area. Stroll down Oldham Street, popping into shops such as Fig & Sparrow, Cow, Piccadilly Records and Magma to peruse vintage clothes, gifts, magazines and records. Wander down to Stevenson Square and admire the ever-changing street art in the centre of the square, part of the local Outhouse project. Wander around Affleck’s, an alternative department store boasting an overwhelming array of stalls selling everything from posters to fetish gear.
Once you start to feel peckish, you’ll find a staggering choice of eateries in the vicinity. Vegans should make a beeline for V Rev to try the best meat-free burgers in town with a side of chips coated in fake cheese. On the other end of the spectrum, anyone who loves chicken will feel right at home munching on buttermilk fried chicken in the hen coop themed interior of Yard & Coop. Looking for a compromise? Trof, at the top of Thomas Street offers an eclectic menu boasting everything from Asian spiced pork buns to superfood salads, vegan curries and all-day breakfasts. Once you’ve eaten, you have the whole city at your disposal and may want to alter your itinerary dependent on the weather and your interests.
If you are at all interested in football, a trip to the National Football Museum followed by a tram ride out to visit Old Trafford stadium will probably be high up on your to-do list. Equally, music lovers may have a pilgrimage to Salford Lad’s Club to honour The Smiths as the number one on their list for the city.
Manchester may not be as rainy as advertised, but showers are still pretty frequent and if your visit happens to coincide with bad weather, we recommend hopping on a bus down the busy Oxford Road corridor and visiting the Manchester Museum and Whitworth Art Gallery. The museum plays host to a variety of interesting exhibitions, the vivarium, Egyptian mummies and dinosaur skeletons being among the most interesting exhibits. The award-winning Whitworth Art Gallery showcases a variety of high-profile exhibitions and has recently boasted the works of the likes of Cornelia Parker and Andy Warhol. There’s also an excellent café here, where you can enjoy afternoon tea looking out at views of the park.
Manchester really comes to life at night, whichever area you choose to dine and drink in. While we love the Northern Quarter, we recommend booking a table at The Refuge, situated opposite Oxford Road train station, within The Principal hotel. Frequented by the city’s most glamorous and hippest crowds, this refined eatery is the perfect place to start your night. Once you’ve eaten your meal, retreat to the Winter Garden for one of their signature cocktails before hitting the town.
You’ll find the hippest bars in the Northern Quarter, along with a collection of revamped traditional pubs that now serve local craft ales. For relaxing drinks and a friendly atmosphere, head to the Castle or Gullivers, situated opposite each other on Oldham Street. Beer lovers should make a beeline for Port Street Beer House to sample their extensive beer selection, while those seeking cocktails should venture down into Hula bar for Tiki vibes.