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Victoria Baths | © Rachel Docherty / Flickr
Victoria Baths | © Rachel Docherty / Flickr
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Top Unusual Things to Do and See in Manchester

Picture of Emma Lavelle
Updated: 19 January 2017
A visit to Manchester may be most commonly associated with visiting your favourite football club’s stadium, indulging in a little high-end shopping or visiting the music haunts of your favourite baggy band – but there’s much more to do and see in the city if you expand your horizons. We’ve compiled a list of some of the more unusual things to do and see during your time in Manchester, helping you to see the city from a completely different point of view.

Vimto monument

Did you know that the famed grape and blackcurrant cordial was first manufactured in Manchester at the beginning of the 20th Century, as a health tonic? Whether you enjoy a drink of Vimto or not, pay a visit to the monument that sits on the sight of its creation (now in the middle of Manchester University’s northern campus). Carved out of wood and recently refurbished with a lick of paint, the statue showcases the first Vimto bottle surrounded by some of its ingredients.

Vimto Monument
Vimto Monument | © Mikey / Flickr

Boardman’s Entry

Manchester is filled with interesting alleyways, if you know where to look. You’ll find the most intriguing around St Anne’s Square with three alleyways paying respect to one of the city’s most famous scientists, John Dalton. Dalton Entry and Mulberry Passage showcase decorative signage and a plaque explaining the art works, while Boardman’s Entry is the most photogenic of the three. As you nip down the ginnel, you’ll find yourself beneath a series of metal umbrellas, paying tribute to the daily weather records of the city that Dalton kept for over fifty years.

Outhouse street art

Manchester may not have the immediate association with street art as cities such as Berlin and Reykjavik, but the thriving creative scene in the northern quarter has given way to an explosion of exciting street art that stretches through the area. Walking around the creative hub, you’ll spot gigantic murals and subtle sculptures, but it’s the Outhouse project in Stevenson Square that really grabs the attention. Once used as public toilets, the structures in the middle of the square are now the canvas of an ever-changing street art exhibition, allowing local artists the chance to display their often politically or culturally relevant work.

Outhouse Manchester
Outhouse Manchester | © Pete Birkinshaw / Flickr

Temple bar

You might come to think that Manchester has a bit of a thing for public toilets, as one of the city’s most unusual bars lies down an unassuming flight of stairs in a disused public restroom. It may be one of the smallest bars in Manchester (and is definitely one of the scruffiest), but it always seems to be full, mainly thanks to its extensive beer selection, top notch jukebox and the chance to rub shoulders with some of the city’s musical elite. If you’re an Elbow fan, it’s one of Guy Garvey’s favourite Manchester bars.

Temple Bar
Temple Bar | © Duncan Hall / Flickr

Underground canal tours

You may not associate Manchester with a vast underground network akin to that of London or New York, but there’s a whole other world just asking to be explored below the city streets. Several different tour groups allow you a glimpse at this subterranean world of Cold War nuclear bunkers, canal systems, planned tube stations and even shops. Tours are currently suspended, but will hopefully resume in 2017.

Victoria baths

It may be a little unusual to recommend an old Edwardian swimming baths as one of our Manchester top tips, but the Grade II listed building that lurks behind Manchester Royal Infirmary is one of the city’s finest buildings. Tours are offered throughout the year, allowing you to explore the swimming pools, stalls and additional rooms at your own leisure, but we recommend keeping your eye on the building’s extensive events that it hosts. From gin festivals to beer conventions, vintage wedding fairs to theatrical performances, Victoria Baths is one of the city’s most unique event spaces. Rumour has it that restoration work is underway to reopen one of the swimming pools and the Turkish spa – keep your eyes peeled!

Victoria Baths
Victoria Baths | © Rachel Docherty / Flickr