2 days in... Manchester

07 Mar 2022

You’d be forgiven for thinking that Manchester’s appeal lies solely in football, student bars and '90s Britpop, and while that’s certainly all on offer in the Capital of the North, there’s also a whole host of stargazing, history, art and culture to explore, if you know the right places to go. We’ve put together a handy itinerary to help you make the most of this vibrant city in 48 hours.


9am: Have a Bavarian breakfast at Albert’s Schloss
Begin the day with breakfast at Albert’s Schloss. Well known as a lively Bavarian-style beer hall by night -- thanks to its 900-pint copper tanks and regular live music and cabaret acts -- this Instagram favourite is surprisingly tranquil in the morning. Request a window booth if you can; they open up the front on sunny days and it’s a good spot for people-watching any time of year. We recommend the haus speciality: cruffins and cronuts -- “the unholy love children of croissants, muffins and donuts” (Manchester Evening News).

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R E A D Y T O P O P The Bank Holiday bakes are in. Caramel popcorn, chocolate & chilli and key lime pie cheesecake. Devour at will.

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10am: Swot up at The John Rylands Library
First stop after breakfast is one of the most striking buildings in Manchester, The John Rylands Library. This Grade I-listed Gothic building was commissioned in 1900 by Enriqueta Rylands in memory of her husband, and is still used as a library today. The star of the show has to be the historic Reading Room, where they have mirrors you can borrow to stop you straining your neck as you admire the Harry Potter-esque vaulted ceiling. Keep an eye on the website for details of special collections and events.

12pm: See some masterpieces at The Whitworth Art Gallery
Next, head south of the city centre, around 15 minutes by car or bus, to The Whitworth. Free to visit and open daily, this university art gallery houses a collection of over 60,000 artworks and features regular exhibitions and events. There’s also a spacious café with floor-to-ceiling windows looking out on to Whitworth Park -- a nice spot to refuel for the afternoon. You may even catch some al fresco art installations while you dine.

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🧡 #virgilmarti #bullies #gayuk #ink #art #wallpaper #instagood #thewhitworth #manchester #culture #colour #dayout #vibrant #print #prints

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3pm: Explore the Science & Industry Museum
Did you know that Manchester is considered the world’s first industrialised city? Or that the world’s first stored-program computer, called “Baby”, was invented in Manchester? Or that the world’s first intercity passenger railway ran from Liverpool to Manchester? Well you can learn about all this and more at the Science & Industry Museum, which is built on the site of that original railway line. It has a wide range of permanent galleries showcasing the city’s major role in the Industrial Revolution, most notably the textile industry, and it’s also a great day out for the little ones, with engaging exhibitions and daily family shows.

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#travelandstudy😄 #talismanschool

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6pm: Take a tipple at 20 Stories
If you fancy taking in panoramic views of the city with a cocktail in hand, then look no further than 20 Stories -- a fine-dining rooftop restaurant and bar on the 19th floor of No. 1 Spinningfields. Check the dress code before you go and be prepared to queue (especially at weekends), but if you can make it up to the garden terrace for an aperitif, it’s worth the wait.

8pm: Get your dancing shoes on for The Refuge by Volta
The brainchild of two DJs and part of a multimillion-pound restoration, The Refuge by Volta is set within the 10,000 square-foot ground floor of The Principal Manchester -- the former Refuge Assurance Building (hence the name). “It’s a jaw-dropping, dazzling tour de force”, says The Guardian, “from the glittering bar with its many on-tap ales and beers and truly fine cocktails, to the twinkling, fairylit Winter Garden.” The menu features tapas-style small plates and sharing dishes, and it’s a convenient spot to grab an early dinner if you’re seeing a show at the neighbouring Palace Theatre.

11pm: Take a snooze at a swanky Manchester crashpad
With so many reasons to visit this splendid city, there are a plethora of great hotels to choose from, and new ones cropping up all the time. If you're looking for a super-central self-sufficient stay, opt for City Suites II, the latest luxury aparthotel with all the usual contemporary comforts plus a kitchenette (or sample delicious dining in the Embankment Kitchen a quick hop downstairs). Be sure to take a dip in the sublime swimming pool hidden in the basement for residents only. If you're looking for a more buzzy bolthole, Moxy Manchester City is in the heart of the action in Spinningfields and offers modern rooms, well kitted out social spaces, and the first cocktail for free. 

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9am: Get caffeinated at The Koffee Pot
Topping the list of Time Out’s best spots for breakfast and brunch in Manchester, The Koffee Pot is “no ordinary greasy spoon”. Something of a Manchester institution, this colourful café serves filling fry-ups and classic comfort food, with lesser-seen dishes such as smoked haddock rarebit and Manchester poutine. The venue prides itself on its native breakfast specialities from all corners of the UK, with haggis, Bury black pudding, fried soda farl and laverbread cakes all gracing the menu. Wash it down with a local favourite -- hot Vimto.

10am: Wander the Northern Quarter
After breakfast, explore "Manchester's most happening area” (Time Out), the Northern Quarter. Take some time to wander around this creative part of the city, admiring the colourful street art and popping into cosy cafés, vintage shops and vinyl stores as you go. It's also home to Manchester Craft & Design Centre, which hosts exhibitions and workshops -- you can even see designers and makers at work in their studios.

12pm: Grab lunch at Mackie Mayor
Before leaving the Northern Quarter, grab a bite to eat at Mackie Mayor – a Grade II-listed Victorian market building which reopened as a food hall in 2017 (open Tuesday-Sunday). Think street food with table service; you order what you want from one of the stalls and then it’s brought to you at a long communal table on a dinner plate. Regular vendors include Honest Crust pizza and Baohouse Taiwanese steamed buns.

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It’s going to be a glorious Easter weekend here @mackiemayor #manchester #northernquarter #food #family #friends #kids #dogs #food #foodie #drinks #goodtimes 📷 @claireharry

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2pm: See the stars
Take a trip to Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre at the University of Manchester. Awarded UNESCO World Heritage Site status in July, 2019, this observatory hosts a number of radio telescopes for stargazing. You can explore the wonders of the universe and learn more about the workings of the giant Lovell Telescope.

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4pm: Stroll around Salford Quays
A short tram ride west of the city takes you to Salford Quays, home to MediaCityUK and the northern hubs of the BBC and ITV. There’s plenty to while away an afternoon here, including the Imperial War Museum North and The Lowry -- a theatre and gallery where you can admire the works of Greater Manchester-born artist LS Lowry. You can also find out what goes on behind the camera with the BBC tour or set foot on the cobbles with the Coronation Street Tour at ITV. End your trip with a thirst-quenching concoction at The Alchemist cocktail bar, perched on the edge of the water.

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7pm: Lounge in a luxe hangout with a killer cocktail list
Ducie Street Warehouse is a relative newbie on the Manchester social scene, seamlessly blending an informal working/living space where you can indulge in great coffee and cookies in the lounge, have a top-notch dinner in the restaurant, or work your way through the incredible cocktail list at the bar. With an in-house cinema, regular DJ nights and a host of supper clubs, creative workshops, and pop-up markets, there's never a dull day.

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