Get your rail tickets and check out the best things to do in Manchester, UK. It's easy to reach from anywhere in the country. Manchester also offers quick transfers from London, or the airport if you're coming from abroad. With a proud football history, a buzzing nightlife, and a thriving cultural scene, Manchester is a superb British urban destination.
How to reach Manchester by train
As one of the UK's main cities, Manchester is well-connected to the rest of the country. Trains from London to Manchester usually take around 2h or so. Depart from London Euston station and you'll arrive at Manchester Piccadilly station in the heart of town.
Other journey examples include Liverpool to Manchester in 35m, Leeds to Manchester in just over an hour, and Birmingham to Manchester in 1h 30m. Some trains arrive at Manchester Victoria station, which is also very centrally located. Once you're in town, it's easy to get around by a number of means. The tram network is excellent, and the compact city centre is great for walking. Bus services will take you to the suburban areas, and it's usually easy to find taxis in the town centre too.
If you're coming from further afield, travel from Manchester Airport to Manchester Victoria station in just 30m. This is a very convenient way to transfer to the city centre after your plane lands, letting you make the most of your time in the city.
Romantic things to do in Manchester for couples
Manchester is a wonderful destination for a romantic break. It's highly cultural and features a number of world-class art galleries. Why not spend an afternoon together browsing the works at the Manchester Art Gallery, with paintings spanning 200 years? Alternatively, The Whitworth is an art museum housed in a stunning redbrick building, itself situated in a park.
The city is also famous for its picturesque canals. Go for a walk along their banks, or embark on a boat tour to see the city from another angle. Piccadilly Gardens is a major city park that's ideal for strolling through in the sunshine. Bring a picnic and enjoy the fountain show.
Heaton Park is a hidden gem, a romantic setting just outside the bustle of the city. As well as offering plenty of green space to walk through, Heaton Hall and The Orangery is a magnificent place to visit here. Heaton Hall itself is open from Easter to September, and The Temple is open year round. This is cited as the best place for views of Manchester, with wide open spaces and panoramic scenery.
The best things to do in Manchester for football fans
Two of the UK's best-known football clubs, Manchester United and Manchester City, have their home bases here in the city. Old Trafford is United's stadium, easily one of the country's most popular sports grounds. Visit for the matches, or to tour the stadium and its museum. The Etihad Stadium is Manchester City's base, located on the opposite end of town.
You'll find the National Football Museum in the city centre, close to the cathedral. It features a number of exciting exhibits for fans of the beautiful game. These include memorabilia such as iconic photos and jerseys, and even interactive football-themed games for the entire family. The gift shop has presents for footy fans back home.
For other sports, the Old Trafford Cricket Ground is another option when you're in the city. AJ Bell Stadium, also known as the Salford City Stadium, is a little further out of town, and hosts rugby games. Another quirky option for active visitors to Manchester is the centrally-located Whistle Punks. It's an axe-throwing ground, perfect for groups looking for something a little different!
The best things to do in Manchester at night
Head out for an evening of entertainment at the Northern Quarter. It's a superb place to grab a few cocktails in swish surroundings and toast a romantic trip to Manchester. Canal Street is the heart of the Gay Village and has a number of excellent nightclubs. Deansgate Locks is the place to be for dance music fans.
For a quieter night out, Manchester also has plenty of pubs around these areas, and the town centre in general. As one of the North of England's main cities, you'll find Manchester a friendly place. What better way to mingle with the locals on your trip here? The Marble Arch Inn and The Oxnoble are two excellent historic pubs. They're both located near the city centre.
Manchester also has a thriving performing arts scene. The Palace Theatre is one of the city's best, with big-name musical and dramatic performances, as well as comedy and special kids' shows. The Manchester Opera House is another centre for high culture, regarded as one of the best in the country. It also hosts ballet performances and pantomimes at Christmas, making it a well-loved local institution.
The best things to do in Manchester with kids
Manchester is a very child-friendly city, and an excellent place to take a family holiday. The Science and Industry Museum is one of the most popular places for children in the city. It has plenty of hands-on exhibits to keep everyone entertained for hours. Entry is free, and exhibits focus on Manchester's contribution to British industry and science.
Active families will love Chill Factore, an indoor skiing and snowboarding centre in Trafford. It suits everyone from complete beginners to seasoned pros, and you can opt for lessons if you're just finding your feet. Manchester is also well suited to cycling, with Bike & Go rental facilities at the train stations.
The Donkey Sanctuary is another excellent choice on holidays with kids. This innovative centre is a facility offering something called donkey-assisted therapy, which uses interactions with the animals to help children with special needs. It's open to the public at designated times. You may be inspired to sponsor one of the donkeys and help with the centre's great work!
The best things to do in Manchester for free
Many of Manchester's museums are completely free, which is a great way to spend an afternoon in the city without opening your wallet. These include the National Football Museum, Manchester Art Gallery, and Museum of Science and Industry. Another interesting choice is the John Rylands Library, part of the University of Manchester. Book-loving visitors will adore the collections and gorgeous interior.
The Fletcher Moss Park & Botanical Gardens, ideal for nature lovers, is another free option. With an exotic selection of plants, it's a relaxing place to spend an afternoon in fine weather. Pack a picnic to save some money and make the most of the beautiful surroundings.
Children and family members of all ages will love Chinatown. With vivid colours and great places to eat, it's an ever-popular stopping point for visitors to the city. It's especially great during the Chinese New Year season when the streets come alive with festivities. This is a very photogenic part of town, with a large intricate gate welcoming guests to the neighbourhood.
Manchester is famous as a vibrant, exciting city, ideal for visitors of all tastes and ages. Come with the family and learn about science and nature, or with friends for a weekend of partying. Football fans will be in for a treat in Manchester with its many stadiums and sports grounds, not to mention the National Football Museum. So what are you waiting for? Book your train tickets to Manchester today!