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Manchester is one of England’s great cities – stunning Victorian buildings, industrial heritage, vibrant arts scene, famous football teams and culinary delights. The free Metrolink bus service takes the visitor round all the centre sights.
The Gothic Victorian masterpiece Manchester Town Hall has a majestic interior and often hosts interesting exhibitions. The John Rylands Library is one of the loveliest libraries in the world and houses a priceless collection of books. The modernistic People’s History Museum tells the story of Britain’s political history in a lively and quirky way. Manchester Art Gallery has a fine collection of paintings – their Pre-Raphaelites are superb.
The entrance to China Town has the much-photographed Chinese Arch and the reconstruction of a Roman Fort can be seen at Castlefield. Children and adults love the interactive exhibits in the Museum of Science & Industry – MOSI, as it’s known locally. The Power Hall has an impressive working collection of stream engines and the sewers are fascinating – if smelly!
Manchester City fans will love the Stadium Tour. For the best view over the city take a ride on the Big Wheel in Exchange Square.
Manchester is a shopper’s paradise and all within a relatively small area. High Street stores and top brands can be found in the Arndale Centre, along Market Street and around Piccadilly Gardens. Big stores like Harvey Nichols and Selfridges, with its excellent Food Hall, are there too. King Street is home to designer names such as Vivienne Westwood and Manchester musician Liam Gallagher’s own brand, Pretty Green. The Royal Exchange has lots of trendy shops next to the Royal Exchange Theatre and Manchester’s oldest department store Kendals (now House of Fraser) is in Deansgate.
The Trafford Centre is a huge mall outside the city with the Chill Factor, an indoor ski slope, nearby. The Vintage Fashion and the Real Food Markets are held every month. Gastro’s Deli has a delicious range of international foods. A great place for gifts and creative idea is The Craft & Design Centre and musicians will find all they could wish for in Dawsons. For a truly unique shopping experience wander round the quirky stalls in Afflecks Palace selling ‘everything from Top Hats to Tattoos.’
Chinatown has some excellent places to eat – Yang Sing comes highly recommended. San Carlo’s does great Italian & seafood. Award-winning Choice is popular for a special night out and the Old Wellington Inn has well-known Sam’s Oyster Bar for something a bit different. the Radisson Edwardian Hotel was originally the Free Trade Hall, famous for Peterloo, suffragettes and where Bob Dylan was called ‘Judas’ – and now for excellent meals at the Opus One Restaurant. For more traditional British fare try Sam’s Chop House, another lovely old pub. If you love Thai food then try the Chaophraya. If you’re in a hurry then Harry Ramsdens does take-out fish & chips and for delicious sandwiches go to Katsouris Deli in Deansgate.
Manchester has a long drinking culture and with a lively student population there’s no shortage of places to drink. Try The Old Nags Head or Britons Protection for a pint and great pub atmosphere. In the Northern Quarter you can drink in the lavishly luxurious Lammars ‘in memory of the late drag queen, Foo Foo Lammar! Football fans love drinking in the Circus Tavern which displays both Manchester United and City paraphernalia. For the ultimate sky-high experience quaff a Cosmopolitan up in Cloud23 and gaze down on the lights of the city below.
Music runs through Manchester like the canals. The MEN Arena hosts international stars at massive concerts. Bridgewater Hall is home to BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, opera, brass bands, folk music and much more. Many of the bars and clubs along Canal Street have live music; at New Union you can practice your karaoke skills in one of the oldest gay pubs in the area! Jazz lovers rate the delightfully named Matt & Phred’s and for full on club experience try Revolution in Deansgate. Tiger Tiger is always lively; it’s based in The Printworks entertainment complex near the Arndale Centre.
The city has a huge network of canals – wandering along the tow paths is a lovely way to explore the city’s industrial past. There’s an easy circular walk that takes you from railway main line Piccadilly Station past many of the working locks that are so vital for the area. It meanders on to fashionable Castlefield with its soaring viaducts and urban cityscape. From there either go on to uber-trendy Salford Quays or return via bustling Piccadilly Gardens.
There are excellent top-class hotels in Manchester including the slimline Hilton and Malmaison in Piccadilly, popular with celebs and visiting bands. The Midland is an old favourite and the Great St John Street has all you’d expect from a boutique hotel. The well-known gastropub Ox in Castlefield has smart newly-refurbished rooms. For budget travellers Hatters Hostels offer excellent value as does quirky Islington Mill, near Salford Quays. There are plenty of serviced appartments; check into Easypads for city-centre chic and convenience.
Salford Quays is only a 15 minute tram ride from the centre. Old Trafford is home of Lancashire County Cricket Club. The Lowry Art & Entertainment Centre has a world-class art gallery, theatre, cafes and craft shops. MediaCityUK, new home for BBC & ITV and over the bridge is the excellent Imperial War Museum North – make sure you go up to the viewing platform. Not far is Ordsall Hall, one of England’s most haunted Tudor houses – try of their ghost nights if you dare!
The rain – Manchester is known for it so take an umbrella!