Once a city on the forefront of the industrial revolution, Manchester is now edgy, hip, and many other adjectives that balk at categorization. From world-class sports teams to history aplenty, you could spend years in Manchester and still not experience all of it’s hidden gems. If you only have one weekend to explore, here are some of the major, not-to-miss highlights.
BLACK MILK CEREAL
52 Church St, Manchester M4 1PW, United Kingdom
Start your morning on a sugar high by paying homage to your favorite breakfast food. This “build your own” restaurant features cereal bowls, porridge, and sticky toffee pudding that can be topped with a number of quirky candies and flavored with colored milk to transport you back to your childhood while testing your creativity.
The University Of Manchester, Oxford Rd, Manchester M13 9PL, United Kingdom
The Manchester Museum offers an overview of the area through a mishmash of exhibits about archaeology, anthropology and natural history. The museum features collections and galleries dedicated to animal and prehistoric life, plants, and rocks and minerals, along with a vivarium.
GRAB A BITE AT ALTRINCHAM MARKET
26 Market St, Altrincham WA14 1PF, United Kingdom
Artisanal food halls are one of our favorite ways to try a number of local specialities without missing a beat. Snack around, but be sure to hit up Honest Crust for a slice of wood-fired pizza and Hoke Pokey for homemade ice cream sandwiches for dessert. On the weekends, there are also jewelry, home décor, and fashion vendors, so you’ll have no problem finding a souvenir or two.
PAUSE FOR TEA TIME
15 Richmond St, Manchester M1 3HZ, United Kingdom
When in Manchester, do as the British do. A quintessential experience in the UK, afternoon tea is a time to rest your feet, catch up on gossip, and indulge in some sweet treats. A traditional tea service includes a pot of your favorite brew, jam, clotted cream, miniature cakes, finger sandwiches, and scones. Many places offer the experience, but our pick is the beautifully appointed Richmond Tea Rooms, which are whimsically decorated like the Mad Hatter’s table from Alice in Wonderland.
THE MANCHESTER ART GALLERY
Mosley Street, Manchester M2 3JL, United Kingdom
Continue your cultural tour at the Manchester Art Gallery. With over 25,000 pieces on display, there's a lot of art to be explored from sculptures to photography. Fashion lovers shouldn't miss the Gallery of Costume (15-minutes away), which features garb and dresses from the 1600s through present day.
MUSEUM OF SCIENCE AND INDUSTRY
Liverpool Rd, Manchester M3 4FP, United Kingdom
A hub of innovation that puts all things science and technology on display, MSI highlights 250 years of discoveries and innovations that began in Manchester. Worth seeking out are the models of atomic theory, parts of the world’s first commercially available computer, and one of the world’s largest collections of working steam mill engines.
DINNER AT THE REFUGE
Oxford Street, Manchester M60 7HW, United Kingdom
Housed within the beautiful surrounds of the Principal Manchester Hotel, the Refuge by Volta has been recently fashioned by two former DJs turned restauranteurs. Offering a small plate menu — think crispy lamb shawarma and slow-cooked ox cheek — and extensive drink options, the venue has become a must-visit destination restaurant and bar amongst locals.
GET A SUGAR HIGH AT MILKJAM
85 Oxford St, Manchester M1 6EQ, United Kingdom
A sugar shack dedicated to the decadent British dessert known as pudding, Milkjam is the place to treat ‘yo self. Separated into three stations for ice cream, cakes, and brownies that you can top with a number of decadent treats, the most difficult decision will be narrowing down the choices. Thankfully, we’re here to help: the famed peanut butter jelly pie sundae is simply to die for.
THROW YOURSELF A PUB CRAWL
Brewer St. and Oldham St. Manchester, United Kingdom
There’s no better way to explore Manchester’s bustling pub scene than to wander around and see what tickles your fancy. The Northern Quarter is a popular bohemian area with tons of indie bars to toss one back and catch live music. Some not-to-miss spots include Cottonopolis, Terrace, Soup Kitchen, The Fitzgerald, or The Abel Heywood.
1032 Stockport Rd, Manchester M19 3WX, United Kingdom
Brunch is our favorite meal of the week and Trove Cafe + Bakery is one of the best in Manchester. You’ll find an ever-changing menu of local, seasonal ingredients like black pudding pikelet with beetroot, horseradish, and a poached egg. But as good as the main courses sound, none will overshadow the freshly baked bread or flat whites.
OPT FOR A BREWERY TOUR
Manchester, United Kingdom
Craft beer is big business in Manchester, so you’ll find a good pint nearly anywhere. We say, there’s nothing quite like going straight to the source. Tip one back at the Robinsons Brewery Tour Centre, The Gasworks or Seven Bro7hers, or look out for a brew tap event where you can drinks straight from the source at the likes of Blackjack, Alphabet, and Cloudwater breweries.
ROOT FOR THE HOME TEAM
Sir Matt Busby Way, Stretford, Manchester M16 0RA, UK
Home to two award-winning soccer clubs, you’ll definitely want to catch a match if Manchester United or Manchester City is in town. The roar of the fans is unlike anything you’ve ever experienced and pulses energy throughout the stadium. For an extra special experience, you can take a behind the scenes tour of either club's locker room and field.
MAKE IT A SPLURGE MEAL
2 Watson St, Manchester M3 4LP, United Kingdom
Make your last dinner one to remember at James Martin with one of the most highly touted celebrity chefs at the helm. The a la carte menu changes seasonally, but the wagyu sirloin is a mainstay and a meal you'll remember for a long, long time.
GRAB A DRINK AT CLOUD 23
Beetham Tower, 303 Deansgate, Manchester M3 4LQ, United Kingdom
Ensure your nightcap is one for the books at the highest panoramic viewpoint in town. Modeled for the Greek Gods, the elegant setting is as refined as the cocktails are innovative. Try the signature cocktail "Up, Up & Away," dedicated to James Sadler, the first British person to make a balloon ascent (accompanied by his cat!). Or, keep it simple and toast to an amazing trip with a glass of champagne, which never goes out of style.
HOW TO DO IT AND WHERE TO STAY
Oxford Street, Manchester M60 7HA, United Kingdom
You can fly directly to Manchester from Las Vegas, Orlando, San Francisco, New York, Atlanta, or Boston via Virgin Atlantic. For an ideal base, opt to stay at the Principal Manchester, which is conveniently located near many of the city's top attractions. The property is a historic landmark that dates back to 1890 when it first opened as The Refuge Assurance Company headquarters.