22 Things to Do in Manchester: A Complete 2024 Guide!

The iconic Manchester Town Hall stands majestically in the evening light, surrounded by modern buildings, with the street in the foreground lined with traditional black cabs awaiting passengers

Planning your trip to one of the biggest cities in England is no easy thing! Luckily, I’ve recently visited Manchester, and I have so many fun tips and tricks on how to have the best time in this diverse city as well as a list of all the top things to do in Manchester.

Read this post for an insider’s scoop on the most exciting attractions, pubs, museums, thrift shops and many other cool activities.

I went all out and included lots of tips on how to make your holiday unforgettable! So you’ll also find some places to stay in Manchester!

This town is super alternative, and its student atmosphere (it has the largest student population after London) makes everything more thrilling!

So, get in the spirit by making a cup of tea, or just grab your pint and let’s start this fun adventure!

Note: Don’t forget to pack your raincoat or even an umbrella as Manchester is also known as Rainy City. When I was there, the city certainly lived up to this title.

If you are in a hurry

If you don’t have time to read the whole post, I’ve got you covered with the top things you need to book in advance:

And here are the best hotels: King Street Townhouse (luxury), Wilde Aparthotels (mid-range) Motel One (budget)

1. Go on a stroll on Market Street

A bustling Market Street in Manchester with pedestrians shopping and walking past high street stores like Adidas and Mango under a clear blue sky

What better place to start your holiday shenanigans than the City Centre?

Market Street is the main avenue in the area and the best place to get the pulse of the city and into its mood!

Here, you can shop all day long and also catch some fun live performances from local buskers! When I was there, I sat and listened to three different buskers, all with a completely different sound. I would’ve stayed longer, but it started pouring with rain.

The biggest attraction has to be the Manchester Arndale Mall, which not only has countless stores but is also home to Immersive Gamebox, a digital paradise combining motion sensor headgear with fun games, which span everything from Squid Game to Angry Birds.

Arndale Mall has countless shops from high-street brands to alternative clothings shops. Damaged Society was my absolute favorite place and I probably spent an hour just there browsing through all the band t-shirts (highly recommend it if you want to get one of your favorite bands).

2. Tour a football stadium

The front facade of Old Trafford, the Manchester United Football Stadium, with the statue of the 'United Trinity' in the foreground under a bright blue sky

Can you even say Manchester and not think about football?

I’m sure there are many football fans among you! If you’re in the city, you definitely have to tour the famous Manchester City Stadium (also known as Etihad Stadium) and Manchester United Stadium (also known as Old Trafford Stadium).

I only did the Manchester United Stadium tour, and it was one of the best tours I ever took! Along with our guide we got to go into the change rooms, walk through the tunnel to the pitch and just learned so much about the history of the club! This tour I took costs $36, and it lasts around 2 hours.

I found a great tour for those who want to tour the Manchester City Stadium! This one is shorter, it only lasts 75 min and costs US$33, but you get to do basically the same things like walk through the player’s tunnel, check out the change rooms and visit the press room.

And if you’re a really big football fan, I’d definitely recommend catching a match!

TOUR PRICE: from $36

3. Visit the Science and Industry Museum

The entrance of the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester, marked by a distinctive red structure with gears, on a sunny day with clear skies

Manchester takes pride in being one of the leading cities of the Industrial Revolution, and there are lots of places where you learn more about that period, including the Science and Industry Museum.

Located in Castlefield (near the Manchester Distillery), this museum has lots of exhibitions with fun topics like the history of computers, locomotives, textiles and others!

But there are also lots of fun activities that you and the kids can join! They’re super interactive and help the next generation learn all about these crucial and important moments that happened during the Industrial Revolution.


4. Check out the Manchester Museum

Interactive educational exhibit at Manchester Museum where visitors are engaged with marine animal models and fossil displays, guided by a staff member

This is the city’s best-known museum, and it is set in a gorgeous neo-Gothic building, within the campus of Manchester University, making it one of the largest university museums in England.

Famous for its newly-decorated exhibition space, the collection of human artifacts and natural history, the attraction is definitely a place that you should add to your things to do in Manchester.

Not only is the Manchester Museum super huge, but it boasts some incredible things to see, like golden mummies from Egypt, fossils from the Ice Age era and many other fascinating collections!

Spend some time to admire its gorgeous architecture before going in or maybe after your visit! Snap some pics and enjoy the gorgeous views!


5. Travel in the virtual worlds at Chaos Karts

Are you up for a fun adventure? Then you definitely need to check out this attraction! It’s like real life Mario Kart!

Located in Manchester City Centre, this new attraction is an absolute gem for those of you who like virtual reality and video games!

While here, you’ll get to race your friends, family or whoever you’re with, in a real-life video game setting!

NOTE: Only kids who are above 9 years old can participate in the races.

At Chaos Karts, they use state-of-the-art technology to make you feel like you really are in a video game! The karts have features that produce real-life sensations and reactions that will transport you immediately to a whole other world!

Of course, you’ll be driving the karts for real, while the virtual world will be projected around you! And you’ll even get to choose your weapon, how fun is that?

PRICE: from £25 (US$32)

6. Visit the National Football Museum

Visitors exploring the National Football Museum in Manchester, with colorful text describing 'Drama, History, Skill, Art, Faith, Style, Passion, Football' on the museum's exterior

I know many football fans will visit Manchester, for obvious reasons, and you definitely should check out the National Football Museum while here and learn more about this beautiful game.

The National Football Museum is set near the Victoria Manchester Station, and it has around 140,000 football-related items, including the 1966 World Cup ball! I learned so much when I was here.

This is a great place for those who want to discover more about the history of football but also try some cool interactive games! I think families will really enjoy all their activities like family competitions and other stuff like that.

PRICE: from £13 (US$17)

7. Play some mini golf at Junkyard Golf

Indoor mini-golf course at Junkyard Golf Club with eccentric decor including a clown-faced obstacle, caged lion statue, and urban-themed artwork
photo credit: @junkyardgolfclub

Who said golf can only be played in a simple outdoorsy setting?

Honestly, I don’t know, but I’m here to tell you that you can play mini-golf in Manchester City, in the Castlefield area, in one of the most exciting places ever!

Playing golf at Junkyard Golf is a must for those who want to try some fun activities! It was one of the best things I did while there. I snapped so many pics and videos.

Here, you’ll find courses themed around different things! I tried “Gary” (they have 2 more themes named Pablo and Bozo), and I absolutely loved every minute of it!

Gary, the course I was on was designed to look like a 90s garage scrapyard, and it was amazing! Each course has 9 holes, and they weren’t particularly difficult. The design of each hole was so creative. They even had one with a slide! My absolute best was the rave room hole though.

The courses also have some bars around, so you can grab some drinks while playing!

You’ll have to pick a timeslot when booking your ticket, so make sure you arrive there on time! You can also just show up there and buy your ticket on the spot, but you run the risk of the place being super full, so I’d recommend booking in advance, just to be sure.

Also, they were running a special when I was there, if you gave them a review, you got a free game! So make sure to ask about that.

PRICE: £10 (US$13)

8. Admire the architecture of the Manchester Cathedral

A woman from behind, wearing a hat, looking towards the historic Manchester Cathedral, emphasizing the blend of history and modern city life

What’s a holiday without visiting a few cathedrals and churches?

The Manchester Cathedral is set in the City Centre, and it’s one of the most beautiful buildings in the city! You can’t really not notice it! Its Gothic architecture stands out, among everything else that’s nearby.

You can visit the Cathedral for free, but sometimes they hold different events here, so I’d recommend checking their website before visiting just to be sure.

Inside, you can see the beautiful stained glass windows (these are restored versions, the original ones were destroyed during WWII) and some gorgeous arches!


9. Have a pint and watch a football match at a local pub

The bustling Old Wellington pub in Manchester with outdoor seating filled with patrons enjoying drinks in the sun

Can you really say you’ve been to Manchester (or any other place in the UK) if you haven’t done this?

It was one of th highlights of my trip, and I had such a fun time chatting to the locals, watching the game, and just immersing myself in Manchester’s football culture.

I mean, even if you’re not a big football fan, it’s worth trying this out and just enjoying the atmosphere, which is so palpable. You can really feel how strongly people from Manchester feel about this!

I went to City Road Inn pub (map), which is located in the Castlefield area, and loved it there! Everything from the vibe to the beer (they serve one of the best Guinness beers in town) to the delicious pies, made this place a must-see while in Manchester City.

If you’re looking for other cool pubs where you can watch some football or just enjoy a pint after a day of exploring the city, you can also check out Tib Street Tavern (map), The Old Wellington (map), King’s Arms, a cool Victorian pub (map), The Salisbury (map).

10. Shop until your drop at Afflecks

Afflecks and The Manchester Shop storefronts on a vibrant Manchester street, showcasing a mix of fashion items and local merchandise
photo credit: @afflecks_manchester

You definitely can’t leave the city without dropping in at Afflecks (map), a cool indoor market and any shopper’s paradise!

This is hands down my favorite thing to do in Manchester! I loved it so much that I found it hard to get out! I’m not lying when I say my brother had to drag me away.

Warning: You can easily get lost, browsing through the multitude of independent shops on all those floors! But that’s half the fun.

Afflecks has a rich history, which started in the 1860s when it was just a drapery business in the Northern Quarter. Since then, it has undergone a lot of transformation.

Now you can find thrift, alternative, hippie and eclectic mix shops! Honestly, there’s something for anyone at Afflecks. I left with a whole bag full of pins, patches and stickers. This place is the ultimate hidden gem, in my opinion.

It’s also close to some of Manchester’s best thrift shops where you can find lots of hidden gems and food markets (map) where you can enjoy some yummy street food!

11. Visit Manchester’s Gay Village

A colorful welcome sign for "Manchester's Gay Village" with a rainbow motif, with buses and cars on the street indicating a lively city area.

Offering a huge selection of LGBTQ+ bars, pubs, clubs and sex shops, the city’s Gay Village, which is centered around Canal Street, is probably one of the most lively places to visit in Manchester!

Perfect for those who want to party and dance all night long, the Gay Village is usually open for business at any time!

While here, you can just walk around the streets and admire all the street art (it’s so cool) and definitely stop by one of the bars! The Molly House (map) is a great place to start the night, and then you can go dancing at Bar Pop (map) or Via Manchester (map).

If you’re coming during the Manchester Pride festival (which usually takes place over the August bank holiday weekend, around 23-26 Aug) you should definitely attend the famous Gay Village Party (you’ll have to get tickets for it), which takes place here, right on Canal Street!

12. Take the kids to Sea Life Manchester

A child with curly hair presses hands against a large aquarium glass, mesmerized by the colorful array of tropical fish swimming inside
photo credit: @sealife_manc

Caught a rainy day in Manchester, or maybe you’ve exhausted all the fun things to do in the city with your kids?

Then head over to Sea Life Manchester! Located in Trafford Park, this attraction is home to so many underwater creatures, including sharks, turtles, seahorses and many others!

They have different zones, including a fabulous ocean tunnel that will impress every member of the family and also a rock pool where you and the little ones can see some unique sea stars and shrimps!

The Aquarium holds different events which you can join, however, some of them cost an extra fee besides the entry ticket (but you can read more about this on their official website).

PRICE: £19 (US$24)

13. Catch a show at a Manchester theater

This city seems to have it all, including some fabulous and vibrant theaters (some of the best ones in the country)!

They even have a really cool festival running every 2 years, the Manchester International Festival, where they get lots of cool artists to put on performances in the most random spaces like railway stations! The festival usually takes place in the summer months of June and July.

If you’re looking for a fun thing to do at night, then here are some cool theaters to check out:

13.1 Royal Exchange Theatre

Front view of the Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester, showing the classic architecture and entrance to this cultural venue.

Housed in a Grade ii listed building, in Manchester City Centre, this gorgeous place is one of the most popular theaters in the city (and it housed some big names like Helen Mirren). It also boasts beautiful Victorian architecture.

You can check what shows they run on their official website, but if you can’t find anything that you like, you can also just go for drinks at Rival’s Bar & Café, which is set inside the theater.

13.2 Palace Theatre

The Palace Theatre in Manchester during the day, with banners for "The Phantom of the Opera" adorning its classic yellow-brick façade.

Set on Oxford Street, in the City Centre, this theater hosts lots of musicals, opera shows, plays, and you can also see the ballet here!

Check out the schedule on their official website and take your friends, partner or family for a fun night in the town with Macbeth, Bonnie & Clyde or Aladdin!

NOTE: You can also take tours of the building if you want to check out its architecture (check out the details here)!

13.3 The Lowry

Exterior night view of The Lowry theater in Manchester, highlighted by its modern architecture with colorful lighting and a nearby waterfront

Here’s a more modern place, which was opened fairly recently compared with the other 2, in 2000.

The Lowry is home to a theater and 2 art galleries! They run lots of contemporary shows, or old ones with a twist, so if you’re looking for something different, definitely check it out!

13.4 Home Theater Manchester

Facade of HOME theater in Manchester at dusk, featuring large glass windows with bold yellow 'WELCOME HOME' letters, and a statue to the left.

This is a really special place, mostly because it also hosts 5 cinemas, a theater center, and a space for art exhibitions!

Yep, it’s a really cool place where you can catch some fab shows! Unlike the first 2, Home Theater is more modern, and it hosts lots of fun events, so definitely check it out while you’re in town if you’re looking for something different to do!

14. Spend a fun day at Legoland Discovery Center

Get ready for the ultimate adventure and some fun games at the Legoland Discovery Center!

Is there a better gift for your little ones than a few hours spent in the ultimate indoor LEGO playground? While here the kids can meet their favorite Lego Characters, join in countless activities and watch some fun movies and cartoons at the 4D Cinema.

You’ll also find a store (perfect for a quick souvenir splurge), a coffee shop and an area where they host creative workshops.

Phew, it’ll be hard to take them out of here!

P.S. Legoland also organize adult nights for those who want to feel like kids again! You can check the schedule to see when they’re on the official website.

PRICE: from £25 (US$32)

16. Check out the art galleries in town

What’s a holiday without a small (or big for those who are fans) of art? Manchester has many amazing cultural centers including some fab art galleries that you should check out while here! Visiting art galleries is one of my absolute favorite things to do when I’m in a new city.

Below, you’ll find my favorite ones:

16.1 Whitworth Art Gallery

Interior of the Whitworth Art Gallery in Manchester, showcasing an art exhibition with framed works on dark walls and a polished wooden floor

Located in Whitworth Park and part of the University of Manchester, this gallery has a huge collection of art pieces, from historic art to contemporary textiles and wallpapers.

The Gallery was involved in a huge scandal in 2003 when 3 important paintings (said to be worth around £4 million at the time), Van Gogh’s The Fortification of Paris with Houses, Picasso’s Poverty and Gauguin’s Tahitian Landscape were stolen from the gallery! They were found later with the help of an anonymous tip-off, rolled up in a public toilet!

Nowadays, the gallery still has some works by Degas, Van Gogh, Gaugain and one of my favorite British artists, William Blake!


16.2 Manchester Art Gallery

Visitors observing artworks at the Manchester Art Gallery, featuring teal walls, classical paintings, and a display case in the center of the room

Set in the City Centre, this art gallery has some fabulous exhibitions, a bit more diverse than you’d find at the Whitworth.

Here, you’ll get to see some amazing paintings by famous artists like Dante Gabriel Rossetti, John William Waterhouse and Stanhope.

P.S. Right near it, you’ll find Portico Library, which is a must-see for book lovers!


17. Go bowling at Dog Bowl

An atmospheric bowling alley with a distinctive, modern design featuring neon-lit lanes numbered one to five and the 'Dog Bowl' logo overhead
photo credit: @dogbowlmcr

After a day of getting culturalized and admiring some fine art in Manchester’s Museums there’s nothing better to balance out your day than a night of bowling!

There’s a really cool place in the city, called Dog Bowl, set near the Castlefield area, which is super big with students and pretty crowded at times!

The whole place is New York-inspired and if you want to be sure that you’ll get to play and not have to wait for others to finish, you can book a lane on their website.

You’ll also find a bar and some food on site (from Smash & Dash)! But the really cool thing is the arcade bar which has lots of retro consoles and arcades, definitely a fun way to end your night!

PRICE: from £8 (US$10)

18. Enjoy Manchester’s nightlife

Evening view of Manchester's vibrant nightlife scene with illuminated street lights reflecting on a canal, surrounded by bustling walkways and buildings

This city is renowned for its super fun nightlife (the fact that the student population is huge here, probably helps with that too)!

So, if you want to get a taste of Manchester’s nightlife, then this section is for you! There are lots of bars, nightclubs where you can spend your big night, for all tastes and preferences in this city!

You can start the night at Gorillas (map), an industrial and chic bar set near the Manchester Oxford Road train station, where you can enjoy some cocktails and listen to live music! This is perfect for those who’d prefer a more chilled environment. I had a lovely evening here, the vibes were really amazing and the staff were really friendly.

If you’d like something a bit fancier, with a fab view, Cloud 23 (map) is a great spot, set on the 23 floor (where you can also go for afternoon tea) that serves delicious cocktails

Then, after you get warmed up, you can really start the night at Warehouse Project (map) and dance until your feet hurt! This huge warehouse is such an emblem for this industrial city, and their parties are super fun!

19. Spend a day outside at RHS Garden Bridgewater

A group of people enjoying a casual outdoor gathering at a rustic garden setting in front of an old stone building with lush greenery

If you’re coming during the warmer months and want to spend some time in the great outdoors, then head to the gorgeous RHS Garden Bridgewater, which dates back to the reign of Queen Victoria and still has some elements from that period!

RHS Garden Bridgewater is one of Europe’s largest gardening projects!

NOTE: If you’re using public transport to get around the city, you can buy your tickets on the bus (you can get a single ticket or a day ticket).

Located around 1h away from the City Centre, these gorgeous gardens are pretty big so you’ll definitely spend a lot of time exploring! There’s also a cafe (map) where you can sit and enjoy a cup of tea and a shop (map) if you want to get some souvenirs.

PRICE: £15 (US$19)

20. Catch a concert at AO Arena

A dynamic concert scene with a band performing under bright stage lights, the lead singer engaging with the audience, and guitarists in action

If you’re planning this holiday way in advance, it may be a good idea to check what’s on at the AO Arena! That’s one of my favorite things to do while traveling, because you never know who might be on!

Located within the Manchester Victoria Train Station complex, near lots of great hotels, this venue hosts lots of good bands and singers.

They usually have events every month, so if you’re up for some fun and live music, definitely check out their schedule!

21. Learn new things at the Imperial War Museum

Interior of a spacious museum displaying military vehicles, including a prominent light blue tank, with white walls and modernistic lighting fixtures.

Located in Trafford Park, the Imperial War Museum is great for those who want to learn more about the world wars!

Set in a futuristic-like building, the museum will make you feel as if you’ve stepped into a time capsule! They have a timeline of the events that took place since the outbreak of WW1 up until the present day.

You’ll also get to see some collections with objects from the war, participate in different activities (this is great for families who want to keep their little ones entertained). There are  also some videos with memorable stories from the war which you can watch!


22. Go on a Coronation Street walking tour

Quaint street scene from The Coronation Street Experience in Manchester, showing a row of traditional British shops including a hardware store and a café named 'Roy's Rolls

Where are all my Coronation Street fans at?

If you’ve watched the show, you definitely need to join a tour and walk in the footsteps of your favorite characters!

I found this really amazing tour that lasts around 1h and 30 min and costs US$48. During this tour, you’ll get to explore the external sets and walk around Coronation Street, Rosamund Street, and the newly extended Victoria Street, snap a pic of the Rovers Return Inn and visit other iconic sites like the Roys Rolls cafe, and the Kabin

Your guide will walk you around all these places while also giving you a short history lesson on the much-loved TV show!


23. Take a scenic cruise along the Manchester Canal

A red and white canal boat named 'Emmeline Pankhurst' docked on the calm waters of a Manchester canal with arched brick bridges and urban buildings in the background

If you want to see the city from a different perspective then you have to join this boat trip along Manchester’s historic Ship Canal and River Irwell!

The activity lasts around 1h and costs US$15 per person! During the cruise, you’ll get to see iconic sites like Stephenson’s 1830 railway bridge, the Ordsall Chord, Imperial War Museum and old Pomona Docks.

On the tour, you’ll also learn about the city’s industrial past from the on-board commentary.

PRICE: from US$15

💯 Top attraction:Manchester Cathedral
🖼️ Best museum:Manchester Museum
🤑 Best free activity:Whitworth Art Gallery
⚽ Unique activity:Football Stadium Tour

Where to stay in Manchester

Panoramic view of Manchester's modern waterfront with architectural landmarks, featuring the striking curved bridge over the river and surrounding contemporary buildings under a blue sky with fluffy clouds

Looking for some fabulous places to stay in Manchester during your UK holiday? We’ve got a whole post on our site with the top areas in the city, but if you want a quick rundown of the best hotels, here it is!

Of course, you’ll find an option for all budgets:

  • Luxury: King Street Townhouse – Set near Albert Square and Piccadilly Gardens, this hotel comes with an infinity pool, a steam room and stylish suites.
  • Mid-range: Wilde Aparthotels – A great accommodation that has an indoor pool and a restaurant where you can enjoy afternoon tea or Sunday lunch.
  • Budget: Motel One – Here’s something a bit more affordable located near the Town Hall and Sackville Gardens that has rooms with city views and a bar.

FAQs about things to do in Manchester

A view of a Manchester street with a red brick historic building with a clock tower, a green public bus in motion, and the pedestrian walkways on a cloudy day

📅 Is 1 day enough for Manchester?

No, I don’t think 1 day is enough to explore Manchester! You’d need at least 3 to visit at least some of the attractions! In 1 day you could stay in the City Centre and maybe visit a museum or 2. I was there for 3 days and it wasn’t nearly enough time.

🔝 Is Manchester, UK worth visiting?

Absolutely! Manchester is such an amazing city, the birthplace of the suffragette movement, great football, amazing art museums and theaters!

👨‍👩‍👧 Which are some fun things to do in Manchester with the kids?

You can take the kids or young adults to the Legoland Discovery Center, to Chaos Karts, or to tour the football stadium if they’re fans!

⚽ Is Manchester famous for anything?

Yes, Manchester is famous for being the first industrialized city in the world, for its iconic football teams and also for the suffragette movement.


A bustling square in Manchester with the historic Corn Exchange building on the left and modern storefronts, against a backdrop of city architecture and grey skies

Whoa! That was a lot, but I’m glad you stayed until the end! I’m sure the section with the top hotels in the city was a much-welcomed addition to this post of things to do in Manchester!

I hope you enjoy your time here as much as I did, and try all these fun activities that will make your holiday unforgettable! I’ll definitely be heading back to this city to find and enjoy even more attractions.

Just remember that Manchester is a pretty popular holiday destination! That’s why I recommend booking your hotels, attraction tickets, or anything like that in advance!

Since I’ve already been there, I can always help you out with more details! So don’t shy away from asking me, in the cormment section below! I’d be happy to help you out!

Have an amazing holiday!

Happy Exploring,


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