What to do and see in Manchester – according to Mancunians

From rival football teams and the Industrial Revolution to the world’s longest-running soap opera, Manchester is a place full of history and creativity.

We’ve got stunning buildings, buzzing nightlife and a vibrant food and drink scene, not to mention canalside walks and varied neighborhoods.

Putting the weather aside (we promise it doesn’t rain here all the time) there’s so much to see and do in this amazing city that it can be hard to know what to put on the top of your list.

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So here’s what Mancunians think are the best things to see and do in Manchester, since they know the city inside and out.

When asked about the one thing visitors to Manchester need to do, Jacqueline Woodhouse responded on Facebook: “A simple stroll to get a feel of the atmosphere plus the architecture of the buildings.

“I’ve lived here for 20 years after coming from a small city and falling in love with the city, I still get a warm feeling when going into the centre.”

Take a stroll through China Town

Some of the best places to explore on foot in Manchester are Deansgate, St Peter’s Square and St Ann’s Square and China Town, which are all within easy walking distance of each other.

Having a wander round the streets is a great way to take in the city’s buildings, one of which is particularly impressive.

Leave your top tips for those visiting Manchester in our comments below

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Responding to the question, Mags Stark said on Facebook: “Rylands Library is probably the correct answer, as well as walking around and looking at the architecture.”

The John Rylands Library is one of Manchester’s hidden gems. The neo-Gothic Grade I listed building is located in the heart of Deansgate, and you’ll feel like you’re in a Harry Potter film when you step inside.

The John Rylands Library
Wander around The John Rylands Library

When asked what the best thing to visit is, Sam Johnson suggested a visit to the Portico Library.

It’s tucked away on Mosley Street, so you’d be forgiven if you missed it, but step inside and you’ll discover a cozy space filled with books.

If all this talk of libraries doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, then head to the Northern Quarter and you might find something that is. Reader Lava Yuki recommended: “Have a coffee at Chapter One if you can get a seat”.

This kooky coffee shop is located on Lever Street and is one of the many independent cafes you can find in the area.

Affleck's Palace
Have a mooch around the Northern Quarter and visit Affleck’s Palace

The Northern Quarter is home to a quirky selection of business and very cool street art. But there’s one iconic destination you have to visit.

June Leece suggested: “Shop in Affleck’s, then go across the road to Pieminister for lunch.”

Affleck’s Palace is a department store like no other. Every floor has a range of stalls selling everything from vintage clothes to cassette tapes and Steam Punk attire – it’s a sight to behold.

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Several readers point out our fantastic museums – there’s the National Football Museum, the Imperial War Museum North and the Science and Industry Museum – so there’s something for everyone.

national football museum
Learn about the beautiful game at the National Football Museum

And what should you do on an evening? “Come and have a night out,” suggested Fiona Corfield.

You’re spoiled for choice when it comes to nightlife in Manchester. Daniel Hayes said on Facebook: “Manchester has the best pubs and bars in the world.”

There’s The Old Wellington and Sinclairs Oyster Bar in Shambles Square, two medieval pubs offering a traditional pub experience.

Or treat yourself to a cocktail in one of the city’s bars – 20 Stories in Spinningfields with its impressive views of the city, or one of the speakeasy-style bars in the Northern Quarter.

The Old Wellington
Have a paint at The Old Wellington

After a pint or two you may be feeling rather pecky, and there’s a local delicacy you can try which will help soak up the alcohol.

Asked for one thing visitors should do in Manchester, Eric Currie suggested getting a ‘Wigan Kebab’. It’s a pie sandwiched in a barm – guaranteed to satisfy your hunger.

And finally, here’s one thing you need to do when you’re in Manchester, according to Gary Bardsley – buy an umbrella. Trust us, it’ll come in handy.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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