Walks and visits
If you really want to explore a city, take a walk. Beginning daily at 11 a.m. from the Alan Turing Memorial in Sackville Gardens, the Manchester Free Walking Tour tells the story of the city and gives visitors the chance to discover hidden gems. Expect to hear about “political pioneers, architectural marvels, street art and urban legends, historical stories, rave culture, football giants, industrial innovation, musical heroes and more Again”.
If a leisurely stroll is more your thing, Manchester is very easy to navigate. The city center is compact and you can walk between popular areas such as Deansgate, Spinningfields, Chinatown, the Gay Village and the Northern Quarter.
There are ‘lots’ of museums in Manchester, says Free time. Three of the best museums to visit include the People’s History Museum, which is “dedicated to the history of democracy, radicalism, equality and social justice”; the Imperial War Museum North, an “architectural marvel and world-class research facility”; and the “sprawling and swaggering” Manchester Museum, the largest university museum in the UK. Other notable museums include the Pankhurst Center and the Museum of Science and Industry.
Arts and Literature
Head to Salford Quays to visit The Lowry, home to three superb theaters and galleries. The Manchester Art Gallery, Whitworth Art Gallery and John Rylands Research Institute and Library are also must-see attractions.
As home to the Smiths, Oasis, The Stone Roses, Joy Division/New Order and the 90s rave scene, the music is woven into the fabric of Manchester. Manchester Music Tours, which was created by the late Craig Gill, drummer of the Manchester band Inspiral Carpets, offers tours to venues that “exemplify Greater Manchester’s rich musical heritage and importance”. Major venues include the AO Arena, The Met, Albert Hall and the O2 Ritz. This summer the iconic New Century Hall will reopen while next year the UK’s biggest new live venue, the 23,500 capacity Co-op Live Arena, will open for concerts and events.
The city’s two Premier League football teams, champions Man City and rivals Man Utd, are huge draws for visitors. If you can’t get match tickets, tours are available to the city’s Etihad Stadium and United’s Old Trafford. Another brilliant attraction for football fans is the National Football Museum, which opened in 2012 and has four floors of exhibits, trophies and memorabilia to explore.
It’s not just football that sports fans can enjoy in Manchester. County and Test cricket can be enjoyed at Lancashire Cricket Club’s Old Trafford cricket ground, while Sportcity, which is less than two miles from the city center, includes the UK’s National Cycling Centre, the Manchester Regional Tennis Centre, Regional Athletics Arena, National Squash Center and Etihad Stadium.