Steeped in the Industrial Revolution, football, and rock music, Manchester is undeniably a city with character! Located in the northwest of England, the second-largest city in the United Kingdom is brimming with unexpected treasures. While it may be imagined as a concrete and misty city, in reality, the city unveils a bustling center and a cosmopolitan culture bursting with colors. Whether you're exploring solo, with a partner, or as a family, Manchester stands out as an ideal city break to immerse yourself in British exoticism for a short stay. And to ensure you don't miss out on this underrated gem, discover here the must-visit sites, whether on foot, by bus, or bicycle. Enjoy!
Alternating between being a driving force of the Industrial Revolution and a fallen city, Manchester has always placed knowledge and technology at the core of its development. That's why it's impossible to pass through without delving into the richness of its heritage and its breathtaking museums, which will captivate even those who are usually averse to science and audio guides!
If choosing a natural history museum doesn't seem like the most intuitive choice to start your visit to Manchester, just step inside, and you'll undoubtedly be charmed by it. Open to the public since 1880, the Manchester Museum is nestled within the University. As the largest university museum in England, its halls will capture the attention of the whole family, given its abundance of curiosities.
Gone are the dusty statues; here, you'll encounter some 4.5 million objects and creatures from all corners of the globe. Dinosaurs, living or slightly less so, amphibians, butterflies... In this temple of preservation, you'll encounter an exceptional fauna that retraces a significant portion of the natural history of humanity.
To top it off, the Manchester Museum is housed in no less than an extraordinary site, with Gothic architecture that deserves a visit. And the cherry on top, the admission is free, as it is in most museums in the city!
Manchester Museum of Science and Industry
Continue your quest for knowledge within the unmissable MOSI. Particularly kid-friendly and suitable for rainy days, this Museum of Science and Industry is, for many, the most beautiful museum in Manchester. Located in the former terminus of the first railway line in history, Liverpool Street, the Museum of Science and Industry takes you on a journey through time!
Steam engines, weaving machines, internal combustion engines, first locomotives, or early airplanes; step by step, you'll discover how progress and technology revolutionized our world. Playful, MOSI offers numerous workshops tailored to children, allowing its visitors to explore this ever-changing world through virtual reality or small experiments. An ideal spot to immerse yourself in the history of Manchester and come out smarter than when you entered!
People's History Museum
Discovering a city also means understanding those who live there. Manchester has grasped this concept well by offering its visitors the experience of the People's History Museum. Because if Mancunians are always ready to share an anecdote over a good beer, this museum offers an alternative view of the city, its roots, and its history by retracing the daily life of the 19th-century working class, battered by social struggles.
Amid seemingly ordinary objects, you'll discover more than 600 banners bearing the demands of Manchester's inhabitants, as well as the remnants of the Suffragettes' struggle, which granted women the right to vote. Behind its museum façade, this place invites reflection and paints a unique picture of the last two centuries through the lens of a city in turmoil. You'll emerge from this reinvented former hydraulic station better enlightened about the distinctive energy that resides in Manchester and its creative force!
Shaken by so many discoveries, it's now time to lead your group to more colorful skies! Fortunately, behind its gray walls, Manchester also houses some gems for art enthusiasts...
Manchester Town Hall & Manchester Cathedral
A must-visit for anyone spending a weekend in Manchester, the Manchester Town Hall – also known as the City Hall – will inevitably cross your path to your great pleasure! Even before delving into the details of its impressive Gothic architecture, take a moment to check the time... Look up; the clock is 85 meters above you! Inside, a lavish decoration where historical pieces, high ceilings, and golden staircases intertwine. A perfect contrast to your previous visit, highlighting the contrasts of this city that isn't so easy to define!
Continue with the discovery of Manchester Cathedral, which is unmissable due to its imposing presence. Here, Gothic architecture is still celebrated. Originally built in 700, the site also houses artifacts and unusual objects related to the city's industrial past.
John Rylands Library
Return to the University campus to discover the sublime John Rylands Library. Of course, at the mention of this plan, the youngest members of your group might be a little reluctant. But, here's a compelling argument: promise them a setting worthy of Harry Potter! Because here, you'll be visually captivated. Vaulted ceilings, multicolored stained glass windows, golden arches, and soft lighting make this place a haven of peace. The curious will also take the time to explore the unpublished manuscripts and literary treasures that the site contains. It's truly magical!
It's time to get some fresh air to conclude this first day of sightseeing! Even more charming at sunset, the Castlefield district takes you back to the beginnings of Manchester, on the ruins of its Roman foundations. Just a stone's throw from the city center, this neighborhood is one of the most pleasant spots to have a drink and admire the view in former industrial warehouses turned into trendy bars.
As a family, you can also opt for a stroll along the canals, on foot or in small boats. Let time slip away, relax, enjoy. Do you hear some music in the distance? It's probably one of the many concerts held at the Casterfields Bowl, an iconic festive venue. It's definitely a sign that it's time to unleash your best dance moves!
Unless it's fans cheering for their idols! Because Manchester isn't just about revolution and industry; it's also a land of legends...
Any soccer fans in your group? You can't miss a visit to the legendary Manchester United stadium, Old Trafford. Yes, it's precisely this pitch where legends like Ronaldo, Cantona, or Beckham have trod in front of a 55,000-strong crowd. So how can you pass up the opportunity to walk in the footsteps of these penalty-kicking stars?
The football pilgrimage continues with the Manchester City Football Club, which opens the doors of its inner workings to fans, allowing you to dive into the behind-the-scenes life of your favorite players. Press room, presidential box, player anecdotes, and exclusive revelations – you'll come out of there with the enthusiasm of a sports commentator and, undoubtedly, a new Manchester-themed T-shirt!
Are you more into rock and vintage? Well, you're in the right place! Because while Manchester has hosted golden-footed stars, it has also seen the birth of exceptional musicians, whose footsteps you can still follow to awaken your groove! Head to the entrance of Salford Lads' Club for a photo in this legendary place where The Smiths shot the cover of their album "The Queen is Dead." Then, head to Johny Roadhouse. Unassuming as it may be, this little shop is where the Gallagher brothers bought their first instruments before forming the band Oasis. Or perhaps you'd prefer the Hacienda, a former railway station transformed into a nightlife hotspot where the Sex Pistols performed...
Fueled by this rebellious spirit, head to the Northern Quarter to appreciate the city's cultural richness. Between street art, vintage shops, and warehouses reimagined in honor of alternative culture, Northern Quarter reveals a more intimate side of Manchester... and some very good beers! For a vibrant musical stopover, visit the Castle, a pub renowned for its programming, which has seen the likes of Joy Division and The Simply Red perform. It's iconic and unmistakably Manchester!
Finally, to conclude this British escapade, what could be better than a final stop in Chinatown? As the second-largest Chinatown in England, it offers an exotic and yet undeniably local experience, as the city is home to a population from all corners of the globe. Chinese temples, Asian restaurants, supermarkets with a thousand scents, and souvenir shops – this lively neighborhood will delight you with its dynamism and its mini-world atmosphere within the city!
As night falls, you'll be charmed by its streets, where lanterns, giant dragons, and lion parades mingle. Exploring the streets of York Street, Portland Street, Oxford Street, and Mosley Street will leave an indelible memory for the whole family. Who knows, it might even inspire a desire to visit Asia?!
Rich, cosmopolitan, and unexpected, Manchester is perfect for a weekend off the beaten path. To fully enjoy your stay, check into our Campanile Manchester hotel. Located 1.3 km from the city center, this hotel welcomes you in a building perfectly in sync with the local architecture. By the water, the hotel offers a relaxing setting away from the city's hustle and bustle. Good news for dog owners – your furry friend is also welcome here!
Inside, you'll find charming, minimalist, and comfortable rooms to recharge your energy between visits, a small boutique, and a bar, complemented by a restaurant area where you can satisfy your appetite after a long day exploring the city. On the menu are dishes with local flavors, like the famous Fish and Chips or the Burger Fries with extra cheddar, which delight both young and old!
Here's one last tip for your stay in Manchester: with the Evasion offer, valid on weekends, school holidays, and public holidays, you can enjoy a 15% discount on your reservation for stays of two nights or more. To take advantage of it, book your dates up to three days before your arrival. Whether you're traveling alone, with a partner, or with family, there's always a place for you at Campanile! Isn't that excellent motivation to set out to conquer the world?