The Coolest Neighbourhoods in Manchester, UK

Manchester boasts some of the hippest neighbourhoods in the UK
Manchester boasts some of the hippest neighbourhoods in the UK | © Daniel Vernon / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Emma Lavelle
12 May 2021

Manchester, frequently hailed as one of the coolest cities in the UK, is crammed full of hip neighbourhoods. Whether you prefer the more laid-back bohemian vibe of Chorlton or the bustling city-centre environment of the Northern Quarter, there’s a district for every hipster. Where to visit first? Read on for our guide to the city’s hippest ‘hoods.

Gay Village

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United Kingdom, Manchester, the gay area of Canal street
© Hemis / Alamy Stock Photo

Manchester locals and visitors from every walk of life are warmly welcomed in the Gay Village. The pedestrian Canal Street cuts through this vibrant LGBTQ neighbourhood with cafés, clubs and international cuisine lining the Rochdale Canal. Spots like No 1 Canal Street and G-A-Y Manchester sit at the heart of the LGBTQ community, while the flavours of Jamboree Foodfest and Samsi are among the many eateries spicing up the Gay Village. Burn off the delicious calories from the Cantonese cooking classes with the Yeung family with a long night of dancing at Tribeca.

New Islington

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The industrial suburb of New Islington following an extensive regeneration project located in Ancoats, Manchester, UK.
© Russell Hart / Alamy Stock Photo

The once-industrial New Islington, right in the centre of Manchester, follows neighbouring Ancoats and the Northern Quarter in transforming from inner-city uncertainty into a prime place to be. The New Islington Marina and Cotton Field provide green space for picnics, pints and practising yoga. Lauded as one of the best places to live in England, the redeveloped community has both greasy spoons like Hip Hop Chip Shop and Michelin-star restaurants like Mana. For health nuts, eat clean at Kettlebar Kitchen; for beer nuts, the Ancoats Lad has a pint already poured. Regardless of what the schedule says, a day in New Islington must begin with a warm “cruffin” (muffin-croissant hybrid) from Pollen Bakery.

Chinatown

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Copyright Photograph by Howard Barlow Manchester s CHINATOWN
© Howard Barlow / Alamy Stock Photo

Travellers know that every city’s Chinatown is unique, and Manchester’s is no different. As the second largest in the United Kingdom, Chinatown blends Chinese culture and tradition with English influence to create a lively community. Some restaurants cook up Chinese food for the British palate, while places like Yang Sing serve up authentic traditional items like dim sum without fail. In between plates of congee and fried rice, relax the stomach and eyes at the nearby Manchester Art Gallery or Portico Library. Try to visit in February to celebrate Chinese New Year, where dancing dragons and food stalls fill the streets.

Spinningfields

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The Ivy Spinningfields Manchester at night
© Mark Waugh / Alamy Stock Photo

Spinningfields, in Manchester’s finance and commercial district, has it all: dining, shopping, entertainment and more. Hang along the River Irwell and make a day of the People’s History Museum, or spend the evening attending a performance at the Opera House. Coffee and cocktails abound at the Alchemist, Federal Cafe Bar and Sunset by Australasia. Fancy a shopping spree? Mulberry, Flannels and Emporio Armani will help you rack up those points. If you’re a digital nomad, Department XYZ is a perfect co-working space for anyone hoping to spend sunrise to sunset in Spinningfields.

The Northern Quarter

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Mackie Mayor. Northern Quarter. Manchester.
© Howard Harrison / Alamy Stock Photo
The Northern Quarter, between Piccadilly train station and the Arndale Centre, consists of a network of small streets and alleyways that feature independent bars, cafés and restaurants. Whether you’re searching for the best coffee in the city, a pint of locally brewed craft ale or local delicacies, this is the place to go. All first-time visitors to the city should spend at least a few hours digging around in records shops and indoor markets like Affleck’s, before seeking out the best pubs. Don’t forget to admire the architecture either – the area has been used as a stand-in for New York in many TV shows and Hollywood films.

Ancoats

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Murray Mills Redhill Street Ancoats Manchester England
© Peter Oliver / Alamy Stock Photo
Ancoats, just a hop, step and a jump from the Northern Quarter, may still be up-and-coming, but it has been touted as one of the hippest neighbourhoods in the whole of the UK. Coffee shops, Thai and Japanese restaurants, artist studios and independent theatre spaces are popping up practically on a weekly basis, as more and more people tune into the area’s cheaper rents and rising status. Take some time to seek out the varied cuisine and the abundance of street art.

Chorlton

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A path beside the River Mersey in Chorlton, Manchester, England, uk, is busy with walkers enjoying the sunshine on Bank Holiday Saturday afternoon, on what may be the last weekend of complete lockdown due to the Coronavirus pandemic. The uk Government has
© Terry Waller / Alamy Stock Photo
The south of Manchester is home to a scattering of hip neighbourhoods, of which Chorlton is probably the most well-known. Boasting one of the best vegan whole food 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 and Strange Brew to drink outside in the sun.

West Didsbury

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Burton Road west Didsbury, south Manchester street pavement dining
© Mark Waugh / Alamy Stock Photo
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 some of Manchester’s neighbourhoods, but it deserves a mention thanks to its proximity to Withington’s hip vegetarian café and music venue, Fuel, and the hordes of young people who call the area home.

Whalley Range

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Whalley Range, just down the road from Chorlton, is where many young people rent due to the low prices. But don’t assume this is purely a residential neighbourhood: Upper Chorlton Road boasts a scattering of laid-back bars, such as the Hilary Step and Jam Street Café, and popular take-aways like 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.

Levenshulme

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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.

Nick Dauk contributed additional reporting to this article.

These recommendations were updated on May 12, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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