For many people a holiday “in England” actually means a holiday in London. While London obviously has a lot to offer for any type of holiday, it is not the only choice for a holiday in England.
Manchester, which is about three hours northwest of London, is another great holiday destination with lots to offer in history, dining, accommodation, and activities.
The history of Manchester can be documented back to the Bronze Age and the area was dominated by the Romans during the middle of the first century. In more modern times, Manchester has played a key role in England’s industrial and transportation revolutions, both of which contributed to the city’s population growth.
Things to Do in Manchester
Sightseeing and Activities
- Football – The city is obviously extremely proud of their football team, Manchester United, one of the most respected teams in the Premier leagues. If football is not your thing, you may want to avoid visits during major matches, as hotel prices jump and bars and restaurants become more crowded.
- The Whitworth Art Gallery – A few years ago the city did some research that showed that most people visited primarily for sports, shopping, and nightlife, so the city started a project called Raising the Game. The goal was to expand and promote the city’s art galleries and creative attractions. The Whitworth Art Gallery, which recently completed an expansion, is a great example of what the city has to offer in way of the arts.
- The Manchester Museum – In the same vein, the Manchester Museum should also be part of your itinerary. The tomb-like Egyptian exhibit has more than 16,000 artefacts including about 20 mummies.
- A must for music lovers – Manchester has long had an active music scene. For those that prefer their music recorded the city has become a bit of a must visit for record collectors and music fans. The city sports a number of excellent music stores, many that specialise in vinyl and hard to find recordings.
- Festivals – Manchester is home to some of the best festivals in the world. The Manchester International Festival is a 21-day event that has featured some of the biggest stars in the music world and has featured an equally large number of early performances by soon-to-be superstars. The Manchester Jazz Festival and the Manchester Literature Festival are equally appealing. The city also has annual food and drink festivals.
Where to Eat
Every type of cuisine is easily found in Manchester, ranging from small take-away spots to highly rated and elegant restaurants. The street food and kiosk scene is especially vibrant.
- Lunya – This highly rated restaurant features Catalan food, with all ingredients sourced from Spain.
- Almost Famous – This burger spot lacks Lunya’s elegance and style, but what they do with a burger is masterful.
- Dough Pizza Kitchen – This highly rated pizza spot does pizza the right way. The prices are extremely reasonable and they offer a great variety of toppings including smoked salmon, pulled pork, and sticky BBQ chicken.
Where to Drink
As we mentioned, the city’s own research pointed out the Manchester’s nightlife was a driving force in bringing in visitors. The city is home to a number of pubs and nightclubs which range from the neighbourhood sports pubs to the posh bar “experiences.”
- The Pen & Pencil – This relatively low-key pub offers a quiet place that is becoming a favourite hangout for creative locals to relax and think.
- Rosso – Rosso is a large lavish spot located inside a 116-year-old building. Rosso has the distinction of being the only bar in Manchester to serve Dom Perignon by the glass.
- Dive NQ – This relatively new bar in the Northern Quarter has a neighbourhood feel and features live DJ’s, along with typical pub fare and drinks.
- Cirque – This champagne house is spread out over two floors and has an atmosphere that has been described as “mysterious and alluring.”
- Chaophraya – This Thai bar serves fruity cocktails in a very plush setting. Waitresses in traditional Thai dress and laid back ambient music complete the overall ambience.
Where to Stay
As with any large metropolitan area, Manchester offers accommodations that includes elegant and expensive, quirky boutique hotels, and private apartments and homes.
- Upscale – The more upscale hotels include the Adobe Manchester, Marriott Victoria & Albert, Novatel, Radisson Blu, and Malmaison.
- Mid-range – Most of the boutique hotels far into the mid-price range. Some of the boutique hotels worth checking are Abel, Le Ville, The Works, and Velvet.
- Economy – Typically you will find the best value by renting a private apartment, room, or home. The best sites to find this type of accommodation are AirBnb, and OwnersDirect.