What to do and visit in Manchester? The 15 must-sees

The capital of the North of England is best known to football fans, yet Manchester has many other treasures. The traces of its rich industrial past give it an atmosphere like no other that wanders through the different districts. Its colourful architecture, its monuments and its many museums, its traditional pubs and its very lively nightlife attract many visitors who enjoy discovering this city on a human scale, ventilated by various parks and flower gardens.

1- The John Rylands Library

Opened in 1900, this university library has all the makings of a cathedral, from its Victorian Gothic architecture to its quasi-monastic atmosphere. Its reading room is certainly the most impressive room due to the size of its high vaulted ceilings and huge stained-glass windows. It preserves nearly 250,000 printed works and more than a million manuscripts, including a Gutenberg Bible, which is one of the oldest copies still in existence. Located in the heart of Manchester on Deansgate, it offers temporary exhibitions, lectures and various workshops.

2- Manchester Art Gallery

The Manchester Art Gallery is a renowned cultural institution that brings together more than 25,000 works, including a very beautiful one collection of British artists of the nineteenth centuryand century. The oldest wing, listed as a Historical Heritage, displays remarkable works as well as the largest collection of Pre-Raphaelite works in the country. Its Crafts and Design Gallery houses more than 1,000 decorative objects and its Costume Gallery displays 21,000 garments and accessories, the oldest of which date back to the 17th centuryand century.

3- National Football Museum

The National Football Museum is an exciting interactive museum that traces the evolution of British football from its beginnings to the present day. In this futuristic building in the heart of the city, you can take penalties, record your commentary for the local ‘Telefoot’ and take a selfie with the ‘Premier League’ trophy. The nostalgic will shed a small tear of emotion in front of the ball from the 1966 World Cup final or in front of the jersey that Maradona wore in 1986, during his famous “hand of God”! Book your admission ticket to the National Football Museum now!

4- Museum of Science et Industry

If you want to get to know Manchester, you have to understand its important industrial past and visit the Museum of Science & Industry, in place of the Liverpool Road railway station. The Industrial Revolution played a key role for the city and there is a fascinating exhibition that recounts the chapters of this history as well as a large collection of steam engines and locomotives and textile factory machinery. A very nice visit that has the merit of being free.

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5- People’s History Museum

The People’s History Museum has taken over an old Edwardian pumping station and you’ll have to point your entry card at an authentic factory clock to enter it. There is an important collection of popular history, particularly related to the evolution of workers’ rights in the United Kingdom. You will understand more about the British struggle for democratic rights, labour reform and fair wages, a struggle that lasted almost 200 years…

6- Manchester Cathedral

The first stones of Manchester Cathedral were laid in the 16th centuryand century; it has undergone multiple redevelopments over time, the last of which was in 1996 after the bombing claimed by the IRA. Modest in size, it is nevertheless distinguished by the size of its nave, the largest in the country, which praises its Gothic architecture influenced by the Victorian era. It has beautiful medieval woodwork, ancient misericordia and splendid modern stained-glass windows. One of its curiosities is the Angel Stone, a carved stone found in its walls that dates back to the Saxon area, around the year 700!

7- The Lowry

Opened in 2000 by Queen Elizabeth II, The Lowry embodies the modern face of the city of Manchester, a face facing the Manchester Canal from the quays of Salford. It oversees a huge cultural complex with two theatres, a café-concert and a huge contemporary art gallery. This state-of-the-art construction, designed by architect Michael Wilford, is named after the painter Laurence Stephen Lowry, known for his paintings of industrial districts partly exhibited in this futuristic complex.

8- Whitworth Art Gallery

Over 150 years old, the Whitworth Art Gallery is one of Manchester’s most visited sites. It has recently been renovated to double its exhibition space and create a beautiful garden while preserving the brick facades of this former manor house. It presents 55,000 works of modern and contemporary art, including those by renowned artists such as Francis Bacon, Pablo Picasso, William Blake and Vincent Van Gogh. Also discover its beautiful collection of old textiles, witnesses of the city’s industrial past.

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9- Old Trafford

Great Britain is the birthplace of football and Manchester is the home of both Premier League clubs, so Old Trafford is a pilgrimage! Visits are organised in this den of football so that aficionados can walk in the footsteps of the mythical team of Eric Cantona, Cristiano Ronaldo and David Beckham. Visitors will discover its museum, the players’ changing rooms and even spend a few moments on the pitch of this stadium nicknamed the “theatre of dreams”. Immerse yourself in the history of Manchester United by going behind the scenes and gaining access to exclusive areas!

10- Briton’s Protection

The Pub is to Manchester what the Bistro is to Paris: a real institution… So you will have to gather around a beer and a famous fish and chips! The Briton’s Protection is a historic pub, founded in 1811 opposite Bridgewater Hall. Behind its Victorian façade, there are several rooms with a hushed atmosphere, warmed by fireplaces. The décor is authentic and the selection of drinks traditional: it serves dozens of beers, including 5 local beers, and nearly 300 different whiskies, in other words, The Briton’s Protection has the largest collection of whiskies in the whole city.

11- St. Mary’s Church

St. Mary's Church, Manchester
St. Mary’s Church, Manchester © Imladris – Adobestock

St. Mary’s Church is a hidden gem in Manchester, known for its elegant Victorian architecture. Inside, you’ll be greeted by sculptures and a beautiful marble altar. It is the perfect place for those who love history and art. Visiting this church is a peaceful stopover away from the hustle and bustle of the city. As you walk through it, you will feel a sense of peace and tranquility. St. Mary’s is not only a place of worship, it is also a testament to Manchester’s rich history. Easy to find and pleasant to visit, this church is a must for all visitors to the city.

12- Salford Quays

Salford Quays
Salford Quays © adamrowley – Adobestock

Salford Quays is a fascinating place to explore in Manchester. Once an industrial area filled with docks, it has been transformed into a modern and attractive district. Here you’ll find the Lowry, a cultural center with avant-garde design, theater performances and art exhibitions. Not far away is the Imperial War Museum North, whose impressive architecture is well worth a visit. It’s also the perfect place for a walk along the water’s edge. For those who wish to eat or shop, the area is full of restaurants and boutiques. In the evening, Salford Quays lights up, offering a captivating visual spectacle. Set sail at Salford Quays for a cruise on the canals of Manchester!

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13- Chinatown de Manchester

Chinatown de Manchester
Chinatown de Manchester © SakhanPhotography – Adobestock

Manchester’s Chinatown is a vibrant and colourful neighbourhood, perfect for a unique cultural experience. As soon as you pass through its large decorated portal, you enter a world of flavors and colors. The streets are lined with restaurants offering delicious Chinese food and shops selling unique items. It’s the perfect place to enjoy authentic food or just to walk around and soak up the atmosphere. Manchester’s Chinatown ranks among the largest in Europe.

14- Manchester Central Library

Manchester Central Library
Manchester Central Library © dudlajzov – Adobestock

The Manchester Central Library is a treasure trove for lovers of books and history. Located in the heart of the city, its beautiful round architecture attracts passers-by. Inside, you’ll find shelves filled with books on every conceivable topic. It’s the perfect place to immerse yourself in an exciting read or to research a specific topic. The library also provides workspaces with a welcoming atmosphere. The Central Library is more than a library, it’s a vibrant cultural center where history and present meet. A visit here is a lovely way to spend time and connect with the spirit of Manchester.

15- The Monastery in Manchester

The Monastery in Manchester
The Monastery in Manchester © rabbit75_fot – Adobestock

The Monastery in Manchester is a peaceful place full of beauty. Built in the mid-19th century by Franciscan monks, this Victorian Gothic building has a rich history. After being abandoned, it was lovingly restored by volunteers. Today, it is a beautiful place known for weddings, celebrations, and activities like dancing and Tai Chi. On a guided tour, you can learn more about the monks who built it and their lives here. With its beautiful gardens and impressive architecture, The Monastery is a haven of peace in the city. It’s a unique place in Manchester, perfect for a tranquil and memorable experience.

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Mohamed SAKHRI
Mohamed SAKHRI

I am Mohamed SAKHRI, the creator and editor-in-chief of this blog, 'Discover the World – The Blog for Curious Travelers.' Join me as we embark on a journey around the world, uncovering beautiful places, diverse cultures, and captivating stories. Additionally, we will delve into mysterious and, at times, even bizarre destinations.

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