Manchester is one of the principal cities and most exciting places to visit in the UK. There are many reasons to visit Manchester, but you can ask yourself three simple questions to decide: Are you a history enthusiast? Do you admire the arts and sciences? Are you a fan of sports? If the answer is yes, then commit to visiting this great city which encompasses the best of it all.
Described as a bustling cosmopolitan city, Manchester offers a world of history, art and character for visitors from all over the world. It is proud to have been the world’s first industrial city, and was recently named the European City of Science.
Visitors will delight in Manchester's architecture, canals, old industries, museums, nightlife and more, with ample offerings for all tastes. If this is your first trip to the UK, we’ve outlined reasons below of why Manchester should be on your bucket list.
There is no better way to experience the Manchester spirit than at a sporting event. Mancunians have a great passion for sports, and the city has even asked to host the Olympics in different occasions. Two incredible football (soccer) clubs from Manchester are among the best in the world - check out the Old Trafford, the stadium of dreams, just southwest of the city center. Other sports like cricket are also practiced avidly.
Explore the Manchester city centre, which shows the best of the city’s history and culture. Manchester dates back to the 1st century BC when the Romans built a fortress there (named Mamucium) to guard against the Celts in the area. Having started from such distant times, you can imagine how much history the city holds.
Start with the neo-Gothic Manchester Town Hall in Albert Square with great views of the city. Explore cobblestone streets while headed north, until you get to the Manchester Cathedral. You’ll learn that the cathedral stands on a sandstone outcrop, where a Celtic tribe called the Brigantes built a stronghold sometime around 43 AD.
You can learn more about Manchester’s history (and the rest of the world’s) at the renowned Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI), which itself is located where the world’s oldest railroad station stood. Manchester gained global fame during the Industrial Revolution for being the world’s preeminent industrial metropolis and cotton-making capital of the world, which set the tone for many more successes to come. Right across the street lies Castlefield Urban Heritage Park and the beautiful Bridgewater canal - a must-see Manchester destination. You can overlook the canal at one of the many terraces from Catalan Square.
Notable is also the University of Manchester, the second largest university in the UK that is home to 25 Nobel laureates. These include James Chadwick (for discovering the neutron) and Melvin Calvin (for his plant research).
Fun fact: Manchester is also where Henry Royce met Charles Rolls.
Foods to Try in Manchester
You can’t go wrong with having the typical English breakfast or Eggs Benedict to start your day. Fish and Chips are a favorite local dish - so much so that you can even get vegetarian fish and chips version (found at places like Fuel Cafe in Withington). A popular meal is Corned Beef Hash, and a great place for that is called Thomas’s Chop House.
Have a cold beer at The Old Wellington, a traditional British pub that you don’t want to miss. Also stop at the Altrincham Market, a famous European market selling favorite goodies. Don’t forget about the afternoon English Tea, at places like Richmond Tea Rooms in the Canal Street area. For dessert, try bread and butter pudding, or a chocolate torte from Teacup Kitchen in the heart of Northern Quarter.
Shopping and Nightlife in Manchester
Designer shops, outlet malls, and famous shopping venues are all around Manchester. That includes The Avenue in Spinningfields, a jaw drop for people who love to shop, hosting the best fashion collections from sought-after brands from all over the world. Walk around St. Anne’s Square, King Street, Royal Exchange and Bolton Arcade for more.
Football (soccer) is not the only thing Manchester is famed for. The city has a famous music scene, and nightlife you won’t forget. Devote at least one weekend night to the Canal Street area (a.k.a. Gay Village), a vibrant neighborhood with endless restaurant and nightlife options that is coined the gay capital of the UK.
Flights to Manchester
Flying to Manchester is simple, with so many legacy and low-cost carriers flying into the city. Finding cheap flights to Manchester has never been easier, especially if you use FareCompare’s search site to compare airfares and save. Don’t forget that no single airline always has the best prices, so comparing airfares is your best ticket to a deal. Tip: If you know your origin and destination, choose to set a FareCompare airfare alert for the route and you’ll start receiving information on airfare changes right to your inbox.
The Manchester Airport (MAN) is the largest airport outside of London. It services over 225 destinations across the world and it is located only 7.5 miles southwest of Manchester’s city center, in Ringway. It is the third busiest airport in the UK, flying to 225 destinations across the world. You can take a 15-30 minute train ride to Manchester Piccadilly Train Station from there, the city’s main railway station in Manchester City Centre, or to other locations like Oxford Road (a shorter alternative).
MAN is the hub for Flybe, a regional European airline with more domestic UK flights than any other carrier. The airport’s busiest routes include Dubai, Dublin, Amsterdam, and London-Heathrow. The nearby Liverpool Airport is an alternative touchdown for your Manchester trip, which lies 50 minutes by bus from the Manchester City Center. You can take the coach shuttle service to the city called Terravision.
Whether you take a direct flight to Manchester, Liverpool, or you fly first into London, Manchester is easily accessible by air or train. It’s less than 2.5 hours by train northeast from London (or a 1-hour flight away). Carriers that fly the London-Manchester route include British Airways and Aer Lingus. Flybe is a low-cost carrier alternative that flies regionally to the Liverpool Airport.
If there is room to be flexible with your travel plans, just keep in mind that a bit of inconvenience can help you save on your flights. Check flights departing from airports that lie farther away from your home, and also check bigger airports and airline hubs for any airfare deals. Connecting flights will generally always mean greater savings than nonstop flights, of course, to endure a bit longer flight and spend the extra cash you save during your vacation!
What are you waiting for? Visit FareCompare’s search site to compare, find and save on your perfect flight to Manchester. Once you arrive, Manchester makes it easy to get around with public transportation. It’s stated that Manchester led public transportation efforts in the early beginnings, offering one of the world’s first public bus services in 1824. Today, it offers a wonderful free Metroshuttle bus that goes in circular routes around major city areas, such as China Town, the Museum of Science and Industry, and Albert Square. Travel by tram also gets you to just about anywhere, and other alternatives include the city bus.
Airports near Manchester, United Kingdom
Popular flights to Manchester, United Kingdom
- From Lisbon to Manchester, United Kingdom$39RT 6/11 - 6/14
- From Porto to Manchester, United Kingdom$40RT 5/21 - 5/23
- From Barcelona, Spain to Manchester, United Kingdom$48RT 6/10 - 6/15
- From Lanzarote to Manchester, United Kingdom$50RT 4/24 - 4/27
- From Palma, Spain to Manchester, United Kingdom$51RT 5/28 - 6/15
- From Dalaman to Manchester, United Kingdom$184RT 5/24 - 6/7