Nestled in between Piccadilly train station and the Arndale Centre, the sprawling Northern Quarter consists of a network of small streets and alleyways containing an impressive array of independent bars, cafes and boutiques. Whether you’re searching for the best coffee in the city, a pint of locally brewed craft ale, or vintage garms, this is the place to head. All first-time visitors to the city should spend at least a few hours digging around in records shops, rummaging in the rabbit warren that is Affleck’s and seeking out the best pubs. Don’t neglect to admire the architecture – the area has been used as a stand-in for New York for many TV shows and Hollywood films.
Just a hop, step and a jump from the Northern Quarter, Ancoats may still be up-and-coming but it’s being touted all around the world as one of the hippest neighbourhoods in the whole of the UK. Coffee shops, hip cafes cum Thai restaurants, artist studios and independent theatre spaces seem to be popping up on a weekly basis, as more and more people become attuned to the area’s cheaper rents and rising status. Take some time to seek out the best pizza in the city and to admire the abundance of street art.
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Moving out of the city centre, the south of Manchester is home to a scattering of hip neighbourhoods, of which Chorlton is probably the most well-known. Home to one of the best vegan wholefood markets in the UK (Unicorn), an array of quirky bars and eateries and an abundance of liberal-minded residents, Chorlton has gained a reputation as the most bohemian area of the city. Take a stroll down Beech Road and into the meadows for pure escapism, or seek out some of the best bars including Mary & Archie’s and Strangebrew to sip your drink outside in the sun.
West Didsbury’s main high street (easily linked to Chorlton via the tram) is lined with gastro pubs, cocktail bars and independent shops specialising in everything from ceramics to chocolate. It may not have its finger on the pulse as much as other neighbourhoods on this list, but deserves a mention thanks to its proximity to Withington’s hip vegetarian café cum music venue Fuel and the hordes of young people who call the area home.
Just down the road from Chorlton, Whalley Range is where many young people who hang out in the aforementioned suburb call home thanks to more affordable rents. Don’t assume that this is purely a residential neighbourhood, however. Upper Chorlton Road is home to a scattering of laid-back bars (notably, the Hilary Step and Jam Street Café) and popular take-away, Tibetan Kitchen. Venture deeper into the labyrinth of tree-lined streets and you’ll stumble across the Carlton Club, a non-religious, non-political social club that’s the local favourite haunt for cheap drinks and a game of pool.
Another up-and-coming neighbourhood, Levenshulme is frequently heralded as the ‘new Chorlton’. Cheaper housing prices have seen the start of a mass migration of Manchester’s hipsters, which in turn has promoted the opening of a variety of independent eateries such as popular café and bakery, Trove. Every Saturday morning, the area comes to life with flocks of people out in force for market day – expect second-hand records, plants and Club Mate rather than old tat.