London is great and all, but it's completely different to the North. Everything from the culture, the accent and the people changes just a mere 2 hour train ride away. So if you fancy a break or just want to see another side to the UK, head up to Manchester.
Manchester is one of the UK's largest student cities, home to two world reowned football teams and put music back on the map. Although smaller than London, Manchester has a lot to see and offer. So in a weekend you can't possibly see it all, but you can sure have a good try.
How to get there:
The easiest and quickest way of course is always by train. Virgin train services run every 20 minutes between the two urban centres, and it only takes 2 hours. To get the best deals and dates visit Trainline and book your next visit.
Wanting to save a bit of money? No worries, if you're willing to travel a bit longer you can easily get there for half the price. Check out National Express or even Megabus for a cheap deal up to Manchester and back.
What to see and do in Manchester
Honestly, who can resist the urge when on a weekend away? Manchester has a great selection of shopping that really suits anyone's taste.
Into vintage clothing, records and all things retro? Then the Northern Quarter is the place for you! Full of record shops, vintage boutiques and even one of the coolest indoor markets I have ever been to (I mean...seriously check out Allecks) you can stumble across some real gems.
Something a bit more commercial? Don't worry, the Arndale centre has you covered. With a great range of commercial shops and a food court, you'll be fighting off the urge to spend that hard earned dollar.
Want to go even further? If you're really serious about shopping and want to dedicate a whole day to it, you can easily catch the 250 bus from the centre to the Trafford Centre. Hosting a great range of shops (and activites.. seriously, I mean, trampolining!) the Trafford Centre is the ultimate day out.
I mean, you can't go to Manchester and not check out the footy. Home to two world-renowned teams (Manchester United and Manchester City, for those who didn't know), football is a massive part of the culture. So, if you're a football fan or even just want to know a bit about the culture and history, check out the following hotspots.
Manchester Football Museum
Completely free and donation dependent, the Manchester Football museum is home to some of the UK's most interesting and treasured football memorabilia. I mean, I don't even like football, and I had a great time. So, why not put your knowledge to the test, or maybe even learn something about this great nation's football history.
Matches & Stadium Tours
Although match tickets can be costly and hard to come by, why not chance it and see if you can make it to a match? If you can't, don't worry about it. 2 words: Stadium tours. Both the Eithad and Old Trafford are easy to travel to, won't break the bank and are great ways to get an insight into the teams and the Northern football culture.
Whilst you're in Manchester, checking out the uni is a must. The University of Manchester has a range of interesting and stunning architecture. It is also home to the Manchester Museum which has a great display of collections which aren't to be missed. You can also get a shameless selfie by the famous Whitworth Hall arch.
Just further down you'll find the Whitworth Art Gallery, which houses some of Manchester's finest contempary art. The beautiful building looks out onto the park and has some killer pieces that you must see.
One for the kids and definitely the adults (shhh..) is the Science and Industry Museum. Full of interesting and interactive displays, the Science and Industry Museum will explain the everyday and show you how we got here. Inspiring!
Music and television
Honestly, this is one of my favourite parts about Manchester. Although London has a fabulous music scence, it's nothing compared to the heart and soul of Manchester. With a wide range of gig venues and events, it's really worth tying your trip into a concert of any kind. If you know when you're heading up why not check out Ents24 or Songkick for all the information you'll need to hook yourself up with some sweet tunes.
Manchester really put music on the map. It's home to some of the world's most loved and treasured bands (The Smiths, Oasis & The Stone Roses) that made music come to them instead of compromising with an uproot down to London.
Really want to know more? Check out Manchester Music tours. You'll be taken on an exclusive tour and shown some of Manchester's music must-see hotspots and you'll really see how Manchester fits on the map.
Manchester is also home to MediaCity, which is home to various television networks and is only a short bus ride from the centre. Want to know the history and what goes on behind the scenes? Book yourself in for a tour with the BBC, they even have an interactive tour for kiddies.
Where to eat and drink in Manchester
Manchester isn't just a great place to visit, it's also a great place to eat. Behold some of my personal recommendations, which you should address on a must eat basis.
Northern Soul Grilled Cheese.
If you're a cheese lover or just like breathing, this is a must! In a unique little hut just north of the Arndale Centre, you'll find a homely little makeshift kitchen where you can order the best grilled cheese in Manchester or quite frankly the UK. Imagine... cheese infused bread, mac n cheese with MORE CHEESE. I'm drooling just thinking about it.
Vegan or Vegetarian? Don't worry, we got you covered. This American style diner in the heart of the Northern Quarter is so tasty that it will almost make you forget your ethical food choice. The whole menu is vegan-vegetarian... and as Tony the Tiger would say... it tastes grrreat.
Pie and Ale
Whilst you're up North, you might as well try the cuisine. Pie and Ale does exactly what it says on the tin, great pie and great ale. With Vegan and Vegetarian options, this really is a place for anyone and everyone.
The closest thing to Italy in Rainy Manchester. These are honestly the most delicious pizzas you'll find in a 60 mile radius, or however far Italy is from there. Stonebaked pizzas that don't break the bank in a homely little restaurant within walking distance of the centre, why not?
However, Rudy's is a well-known but a not so well-kept secret and doesn't take reservations. So, be prepared to wait (it'll be worth it) or you can even pop in put your name down, and they'll ring you when your table is ready. Easy peasy, you can have a drink whilst you wait.
The Curry Mile
If you didn't go to the curry mile, did you even go to Manchester? Just South of the city centre and heading past the Universities, there is the biggest host of curry and middle eastern food joints you'll find. All offering something different, this is the place to be for a good curry- not to be missed.
The Cat Café
A cat lover? Manchester has you sorted then. With lots of furry friends and a lovely indoor café, it's really hard to say no. Booking in advance assures you a place and they even do events sometimes like film screenings or yoga, so you can really be closer to your furry friends.
For later on in the night
If you're an inner party animal and want to go out on the town, you've come to the right place. The capital of the North has plenty of night-out scenes to offer, so whatever you want from a night on the town, you don't have to go far to find it. Don't worry if you end up in an area you aren't too keen on, the great thing about a small city (or any UK city that isn't London) is that you're never far away from the next one.
If you like a boogie to a commercial, mainstream beat, the docks are the right place for you. With a great range of clubs that over look the docks, you're sure to be in for one hell of a messy night.
If the finer things in life are for you, and you have a bit more money to spend, Spinningfields is the place for you. Full of great eateries and cocktail bars, this is really where Manchester's finest and richest go to wine and dine.
Not only is the Northern Quarter one of the trendiest areas of Manchester, but its nightlife isn't half bad. This area is my personal favourite as it hosts a great range of drinks and scenes all in one area. So, you're never bored for choice, and you can bar hop with variety.
Manchester is reowned for its gay village. Not only does it offer lots of choice in terms of venues, but it's open later than most other areas. So if you're heading out for a long night, this might be the place for you. Or even just go if you fancy a boogie with the drag queens that perform here.
If your on a bit of a budget and just want to dance, the student area hosts some of Manchester's messiest and funnest clubs. This way you'll sure be in for a good night without having to spend too much.
So if you're heading up to Manchester and looking for inspiration, you'll be spoilt for choice.
Photo credits: Tristan Colangelo, Samuel Zeller, Jon Tyson, Miika Laaksonen, Cathal Mac, Andrew Jay, Elli O. on Unsplash
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