Image by Manchester-based illustrator Alexandra Francis

The Insider Guide to Manchester

Welcome to the Capital of the North, birthplace of bands such as Oasis, Joy Division and the Smiths, as well as – to many a footie fan in the city – the home of British football. The question is: are you a red or a blue?

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Don’t look back in anger! The Main Attractions

Lead singer of the Stone Roses, Ian Brown, famously said: “Manchester’s got everything – except a beach.” And he’s not far wrong. You’re spoilt for choice for things to do in Manny, so zip up your parka and let’s get started. Right in the city centre, in Albert Square, is the impressive neo-gothic town hall, with the equally majestic John Rylands Library a five-minute walk away. If you think it’s striking from the outside, wait until you step inside – it’s like Hogwarts. For a spot of history, almost next door you’ll find the Manchester Art Museum, which is free to enter. It’s been open for nearly 200 years and boasts one of the UK’s finest art collections. Stroll through Spinningfields – a joy in itself, especially if you’re looking for a high-end restaurant or bar – and prepare to be gripped by ideas that changed the world at the Science and Industry Museum. Manchester Museum, the largest university museum in the country, is a half-hour’s walk south. You can’t come to Manchester without exploring the Northern Quarter (NQ), where you’ll find quirky shops such as Afflecks department store – the “emporium of eclecticism”, or, as we like to call it, a bohemian John Lewis. A tile on the side of the building reads: “...And on the sixth day, God created MANchester.” From the hip cafes and bars of the NQ, it’s a short hop to the River Irwell, where you’ll find Manchester Cathedral, and next to it, a temple to the city’s other religion: the National Football Museum. The museum delves into the history of the nation’s favourite sport, but for the real thing, no trip to the city would be complete without a visit to Manchester United’s football stadium, Old Trafford, unless you’re a Liverpool fan, of course. Read on for more insider knowledge, as brought to you by Madchester’s own.

Neighborhoods in Manchester