3 Days by Train, in Manchester
We’ve got our stylish friend Clare Potts to put together an amazing 3 day Mancunian experience for you…
Day 1 - Settling into the city
Just a short walk from Manchester Piccadilly train station you’ll find the Northern Quarter, it’s packed full of independent cafes, shops and men with beards. It’s the perfect place to settle down for brunch and a cup of coffee to survey your surroundings and soak up the Manchester atmosphere before getting stuck into exploring the city.
Federal is a firm favourite for brunch (the most important meal of the day) amongst the locals, and seeing as brunch is served until 7pm, you can be as lazy as you wish. Inspired by Australia and New Zealand, the menu is classic brunch with a twist. I’d recommend the smashed avocado with all the trimmings..
Now that you’ve re-fuelled it’s time to explore the city. The centre of Manchester isn’t that big, you can easily walk anywhere in the city centre and it’s a great way to admire the architecture of the city, don’t forget to look up as you explore.
Manchester is famous for football with both United and City known all around the world, so it would be rude not to learn more about the beautiful game at the National Football Museum. It’s full of history, exhibits and games that are fun for everyone, even those who don’t like football.
After you’ve got your football fix, head over to Manchester Cathedral, just a few steps away from the National Football Museum. An absolutely stunning building, the cathedral is well worth a visit.
If you’re feeling peckish after a busy morning, stop at Propertea (right next to the cathedral) for a light bite, cake or simply a pot of tea. Or, if you’re feeling fancy, opt for traditional afternoon tea with a bottle of bubbly for £40 for two.
Next I’d recommend venturing up Deansgate to the John Rylands Library, a neo-Gothic, attention-grabbing building nestled next to the modern glass buildings of Spinningfields. Inside you’ll find hoards of history, incredible architecture and a perfectly serene reading room.
By now you’ll probably be ready for a cocktail or two, from the library head into Spinningfields to The Alchemist for some of the most interesting cocktails you’ll find, think dry ice and science experiments.
For dinner, I’d recommend Australasia if you’re in the mood for something a little upmarket (for context, David and Victoria Beckham booked out the whole place for dinner last time they were in Manchester). Described as modern Australian life with Asian influence, the menu is a mixture of incredible sushi and hearty meat dishes.
Day 2 - Exploring Greater Manchester
Time for day two and today we’ll be exploring Greater Manchester so you can discover new areas that you might not have done otherwise. To get you set up for the day head to Moose Coffee, another firm favourite amongst the locals, for an american inspired breakfast. Think stacked pancakes, french toast and seven kinds of Eggs Benedict. Yep, seven.
For a morning of culture and art, start with a quick trip to HOME. Formerly known as The Cornerhouse, HOME is a cinema, theatre and gallery space. Pop in to explore.
The recently re-opened Whitworth Gallery is easily my favourite gallery in Manchester, slightly out of the city centre towards the university area, it’s well worth the trip. Either walk, jump on the bus or hail a taxi. With wonderfully inspiring collections and changing exhibits, each visit leads to a discovery of something new and exciting. While you’re there, pop into The Modern Caterer at The Whitworth for lunch, all of the food is sourced from specialist, local suppliers and delicious.
Head back into town from the Whitworth towards Deansgate, it’s time to explore the southern tip of Greater Manchester, up and coming Altrincham. From Deansgate get the tram to Navigation Road in Altrincham, close to Cheshire this is a leafy suburb of Manchester, an ideal place to while away the afternoon and evening.
Altrincham Market is a must visit, 2015 winners of the Observer Food Monthly Best Market, it’s where you’ll find a vast selection of fresh food, drink and vintage. Each day brings something different to the market so take a look at the website to find out what’s going on when you’re visiting.
Hop on the tram back into the city centre and relax.
Day 3 – Have your cake and eat it too
Start your day right at Evelyn’s Cafe, self proclaimed ‘neighbourhood dining’ Evelyn’s is a cosy, laid back cafe with incredible, feel good food. With a plethora of foliage and hanging plants, it’s definitely one for interior inspiration and taking shots for Instagram.
Manchester is renowned for the city centre shopping, from the hustle and bustle of Market Street to the sophisticated Spinningfields. Whatever your taste, you’ll be able to find a shop that suits you. Here’s a quick guide to the different shopping areas to help point you you in the right direction:
Market Street – This is the main high street leading into The Arndale, amongst the hustle and bustle you’ll find TK Maxx, Mango, Urban Outfitters and more.
The Arndale – The main shopping centre in the city centre, The Arndale is where you’ll find the usual high street shops including Topshop, Next, Lush, Apple, Boots and everything you’d expect.
Cathedral Street – In the new and improved Cathedral Street you can find the luxury department stores Selfridges and Harvey Nichols, alongside Zara, Michael Kors and UGG.Spinningfields – The more sophisticated shopping area, Spinningfields is home to Mulberry, Flannels and Emporia Armani.
St Ann’s Square – St Ann’s Square is a beautiful area in the city centre with the stunning Barton Arcade, home to independent cafes and shops, as well as firm favourites And Other Stories and Space.nk
The Northern Quarter – The place to go for independent shops and designers, one of my favourite places is The Craft and Design Centre, a hub for designers where they have a studio and shop in one. If you’re a fan of design and stationery, visit Fred Aldous. If you’re more into comics, Travelling Man or Forbidden Planet is for you. If you love vintage, explore the wonderful world of Affleck’s Palace.
If you’ve worked up an appetite, satisfy your hunger pangs at Home Sweet Home in the Northern Quarter. Indulge in US inspired comfort food (think southern fried chicken and waffles) and the most incredible cake that you’ll see on your visit. It’s worth popping in just to catch a glimpse of the multicoloured cake counter!
If you have enough time before your train home head to Manchester Art Gallery for a peek at the recently opened Vogue 100 exhibition with free entry. Vogue 100: A Century of Style celebrates 100 years of cutting edge photography by British Vogue. A must for any fashion lover.
Manchester Art Gallery is only a short walk away from the train station so once you’ve finished exploring, head to the station and begin your journey. I hope you had a great time exploring the city of Manchester!