Manchester: the highlights

Why visit Manchester for your weekend away

A city with a lot to offer from live music and trendy restaurants to a buzzing nightlife, where everyone dresses up and looks to have a good time. A unique mix of northern charm and city cool, Manchester is an ideal destination for a party weekend.

The Highlights

Explore the Northern Quarter

The city's most expressive and independent district is a jumbled network of streets full of cool street art, pubs, bars and clubs. With a more laid-back vibe during the day, this area comes alive at night full of people looking for live music, craft beer and good food.

Deansgate Locks

A mile-long stretch that runs through the city centre, you’ll find a vibrant selection of venues. There is also the converted arches in Deansgate Locks, full of trendy bars, lively crowds and good drink deals. The perfect setting for bar crawling with all of your friends.

Spinningfields

Spinningfields is the city’s luxury dining and drinking area and a great place to get dressed up and enjoy a cocktail or two. In the summer, enjoy Spinningfields outdoor green space by having a few drinks in the sun.

The Gay Village

Canal Street is the heart of the city's famous Gay Village; a pretty, canalside street full of bars, restaurants, outdoor seating areas and colourful characters. A great time is guaranteed for anybody here whether you're gay, straight or bisexual.

A famous music scene

With a musical legacy of Oasis and The Smiths, it’s no surprise that Manchester is still a city with a thriving music scene. Whether you’re looking for big names or local bands, you’ll be able to find great live music in venues throughout the city.

A city for shopping

Home to some great shopping areas including the Millennium Quarter and the Trafford Centre which offer all the top high street retailers. There's also Affleck's Palace in the Northern Quarter, an indoor market full of small independent shops and boutiques.

A sports mad city

Manchester is home to two of the biggest football clubs and rivals in the country. Take a tour of the famous stadiums and catch a game while you’re in the city.

For the best view of the city

Beetham Tower, Manchester's tallest tower, has one of the best views over the city. On the 23rd floor sits Cloud 23 bar, where you can enjoy afternoon tea and evening cocktails while you admire the view.

An insider’s guide to a weekend in Manchester

Manchester has enough pubs, clubs, bars and restaurants to keep things interesting for months let alone a weekend. You’ll be spoilt for choice as you pick between quiet evenings spent fine dining or wild nights at the vivacious nightspots. Famous for its musical heritage and footballing success, this is a city proud of its history but never afraid to innovate when it comes to keeping you entertained.

####Manchester at a glance:

  • Experience the hustle and bustle of this multicultural city
  • Enjoy an extensive pub crawl from the traditional pub stops around the Town Hall to the hipster hangouts of the Northern Quarter
  • Spice up your night with a visit to the famous ‘Curry Mile’, perfect for dining out in style or grabbing some post-club grub
  • Visit the trophy-laden homes of Manchester’s famous rival football clubs, United and City
  • Get ‘mad fer it’ in the home of Oasis and the Stone Roses, or snap a selfie outside the iconic Salford Lads Club made famous by The Smiths

####Local knowledge:

Northern Quarter A vibrant bohemian area and home to numerous independent bars and pubs. The Northern Quarter is also famed for its reputation in live music, playing host to both up-and-coming and established acts across a range of genres.

Manchester Town Hall Located around the Town Hall you will find a mix of traditional pubs, underground clubs and sophisticated wine bars. With something to match all tastes, this area is popular with local workers and shoppers who want to unwind after a hard day on their feet.

Oxford Road This mile-long road joins the university to the city centre, serving Europe’s largest student population (and non-academic visitors) with a host of bars and drinking venues. Expect plenty of budget-friendly drinks offers.

The Printworks & Millennium Quarter If you’re looking for indoor entertainment, head to The Printworks complex (http://www.theprintworks.com/the_place/) , which features 12 huge chain bars and clubs along with traditional pubs. If you’re feeling peckish, there’s something for everyone here, menus range from American and British to Oriental, Mediterranean and Mexican.

Deansgate & Deansgate Locks Wander the mile-long stretch that runs through the city centre and you will pass a handful of the most iconic and glamorous Manchester bars, gathered near the Phones 4u Arena and designer boutiques. At the southern end of Deansgate you will find the 10 railway arches on ‘The Locks’ which are home to further popular bar and club chains – often the go-to area for visitors to the city.

Castlefield Arguably the most beautiful part of the city centre, Castlefield boasts a range of independent bars and traditional canalside pubs, with striking new apartment blocks all around. If the weather is nice, expect a big crowd making the most of the al fresco drinking opportunities.

Peter Street & Spinningfields Another busy district, Peter Street & Spinningfields was once known for its cheesy party venues but has since been transformed into the home of stylish champagne bars and sophisticated cocktail venues. Designer shops and swanky office blocks also populate the area.

Piccadilly & Portland Street These two streets meet halfway at Piccadilly Gardens and bring together a selection of swanky hotels, reliable bar chains and other stylish but informal places to party.

Fallowfield This is student alley just four miles outside of the city centre, with a huge collection of bars and takeaways serving the huge undergrad population.

####Best bars in Manchester:

The Alchemist, New York Street This is what happens when fantastic craft beers and magically molecular cocktail-making get together to party in one of Manchester’s best looking bars. The Alchemist is brilliant, does drinks in smoking potion bottles (a lot cooler and less embarrassing than they sound) and there’s a great outdoor terrace too.https://thealchemist.uk.com/

The Liars Club, 19A Back Bridge Street Call it a Speakeasy, call it a dive, call it what you like, it’s Manchester’s premier tiki and rum bar and it lives in a basement – where else? With over 100 different rums, this is where the city’s barkeeps drink in their downtime, so it’s always good, guaranteed.www.theliarsclub.tk

Liquorice, 50 Pall Mall (off King Street) Laid back Liquorice right in the heart of the city feels more like a private club than one of the city’s most popular bars. Great selection of bottled ales and the prices are shockingly good considering the location. They even have big, squashy sofas undercover outdoors.www.liquoricebar.com

Rosso, 43 Spring Gardens, King Street You might not want Dom Perignon by the glass, but if you did, Rosso is the only Manchester bar where it’s served. Rio Ferdinand’s masterpiece of extreme decadence is also the place to find some of the world’s rarest spirits and the city’s most masterful cocktails. It looks amazing too and it’s nowhere near as expensive as you’d expect.www.rossorestaurants.com

Epernay, Great Northern Tower, Watson Street Hidden away in Manchester’s Petersfield District, Epernay is a shrine to all things acquired-taste, like fine malts, great cigars, good brandy and rare champagne. Perfect place for a grown-up gentlemen’s club vibe in sleek, designed surroundings.www.epernaychampagnebars.com

Tib Street Tavern, 74 Tib Street Big bar, comfy seats, masses of TV screens for sports and beer by the pitcher, Tib Street Tavern is a real traditional boozer. Could be why it’s one of the most popular pubs in the city – that or the monster bacon, sausage and sauce rolls.www.tibstreettavern.co.uk

Mulligans, 12 South Gate Home to the best Guinness in Manchester (yes, there are people who vote on such things) and great for Irish folk music, new local talent, live sport and a lively crowd any day or night of the week. One of the city’s traditional ‘football’ pubs.www.mulligansofdeansgate.com

Dukes 92, 18-25 Castle Street It wouldn’t be Manchester without a canal in the mix somewhere and nowhere does huge waterside beer garden, post-industrial architecture, amazing beer and hordes of thirsty Mancunians quite like Dukes 92. Perhaps the city’s busiest pub, definitely one of the biggest (thanks to the outside spread), Dukes is lazy afternoon perfect.www.dukes92.com

The Briton’s Protection, 50 Great Bridgewater Street Over 200 years old and still standing in the same spot, The Briton’s Protection is a city institution and much loved for it. Famous for its enormous whisky selection and equally vast range of real ales, this popular haunt regularly wins the ‘Best Pub in Manchester’ award.www.britonsprotection.co.uk

Black Dog Ballroom, 37–43 Oldham Street, Northern Quarter The brilliant Black Dog is open until 4am most nights and is a little bit of everything and all of it good. Great pool tables (book them all for a competitive party), excellent beer, expert cocktails and DJs bringing up the ballroom come club end.www.blackdogballroom.co.uk

####Best clubs in Manchester:

Tiger Tiger, The Printworks If you’re familiar with the nationwide bar chain Tiger Tiger, make sure you make a stop at their Manchester venue. Famous for its lively club nights and exceptional drinks offers – be sure to make the most of their cocktail hours.http://www.tigertiger.co.uk/manchester/

Sankeys, Jersey Street Another go-to venue for unforgettable dance nights, Sankeys is famous for its house DJs on Friday and Saturday nights. Ticket prices can be high, sometimes ranging from £20-40 a night but, with big name acts guaranteed you won’t be disappointed. Sankey club nights run all into the early hours so don’t be surprised if you don’t leave until 5 or 6am next day.http://www.sankeys.info/

Revolución de Cuba, Peter Street Enjoy the glitz and glamour of this dressy venue on a Friday or Saturday night. Reasonable drinks prices mean the bargain-hunting student crowds are priced out, ideal for those who want a classy evening out. Club-goers can enjoy tapas and Argentinian beer, in line with the venue’s theme, between time spent dancing.http://www.revoluciondecuba.com/bar/manchester

####Food: eat like a local:

Start at Trof (http://www.trofnq.co.uk/) in the Northern Quarter, here you can enjoy a full English breakfast in the hip surroundings of this ‘dandyish den’.

Next try a quick lunch at the unique soup bar Shlurp! (http://www.shlurp.co.uk/) on Brazennose Street, where recipes range from traditional country veg to rabbit and blackberry stew – most under a fiver.

By night, there are a selection of upmarket restaurants to pick from. The plush Australasia (http://australasia.uk.com/) in Spinningfields provides a wonderful fusion of Asian, European and Australian cuisine.

For the best steak in Manchester, don’t miss chic urban hangout Neighbourhood (http://www.neighbourhoodrestaurant.co.uk/) , on The Avenue North in plush Spinningfields.

####The best view of the city:

Look out across Manchester’s skyline from the staggering wall-to-wall windows of Cloud 23http://www.cloud23bar.com/, high up in Beetham Tower, the city’s tallest building. This serene and modern venue offers you the chance to see the best panoramic views while sipping on exquisite cocktails or sampling a tempting afternoon tea. Book in advance or expect to queue at weekends.

####Getting about:

Manchester is well connected by tram (the Metrolink), making it easy to explore each of the different quarters or head out to the stylish southern suburbs. There is also a free shuttle service (The Metroshuttle) which links the trains stations, tram stops, bus stops and car parks across the city centre. Make sure you check if the free shuttle stops near your point of interest before booking a taxi.