12 must-do things to do in Manchester

Visiter Manchester : que faire et voir à Manchester ?

Planning a visit to Manchester? Discover our selection of must-see places to visit during a stay in this dynamic metropolis!

A major city in northwest England, Manchester boasts a rich industrial and cultural heritage. Indeed, this major metropolis was the first city in the world to plunge into the industrial revolution! With its long and rich history, Manchester is the cultural heart of the country. Travelers can discover a wealth of museums, each more fascinating than the last. Manchester is also a major footballing city. It’s home to two illustrious teams, but above all to the National Football Museum, which will immerse you in the history of this fascinating sport! The city is also known for its dynamic nightlife, thanks to its large student population.

Wondering what to do and see in Manchester? With our top 11 must-sees, you’re sure not to miss a thing during your stay!

1. Castlefield

Péniche, Castlefield

Photo credit: Shutterstock – cowardlion

This slightly eccentric district is home to the reconstructed ancient Roman fort of Mamucium, from which the town takes its name. With its many canals, waterside bars and pretty green spaces, Castelfield is a relaxed, friendly place. You’ll also find many Victorian-style houses.

You can also admire the Bridgewater Canal, the world’s first industrial canal, built in 1764! There’s also the Castlefield Bowl, which hosts rock and classical music concerts, and the HOME arts center. The latter offers film screenings, exhibitions and plays. To kick off your visit to Manchester, don’t miss this lively cultural district, day and night!

2. Manchester Museum

Manchester Museum, extérieur

Photo credit: Shutterstock – Alastair Wallace

Open to the public since the 1880s, the Manchester Museum is the country’s largest university museum. It houses almost 6 million items from all over the world. Housed in a magnificent Gothic building, it is a treasure trove of archaeology and natural history.

If you’re planning a visit to Manchester, you really shouldn’t miss it. On site, you’ll discover exhibits dedicated to the city’s natural history, a vivarium housing a fine collection of live reptiles and amphibians, and the well-preserved skeleton of Stan the T-Rex!

3. Manchester Town Hall

Manchester town Hall, Hôtel de ville de Manchester

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Manchester Town Hall, the city’s landmark, stands at its heart. The Gothic-style building dates back to 1877. Before discovering its rich interior, take time to admire this magnificent town hall from the picturesque Albert Square. You’ll be able to admire its magnificent clock tower, which soars 85 meters into the air!

The interior is also well worth a visit, with its high vaulted ceilings and superb gilded spiral staircases. You can also admire the statues and busts celebrating Manchester’s major personalities in the Sculpture Hall. If you’re visiting Manchester, this magnificent town hall is a must-see!

4. John Rylands Library

Librairie de John Rylands, Manchester

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Manchester’s most famous library! Opened to the public in 1900, it is housed in a neo-Gothic sandstone building. Part of the University of Manchester, this library is well worth a visit. Firstly, you can’t help but admire the architecture of the building. The vaulted ceilings, subdued lighting and ornate arches make this a magical place.

Secondly, it houses a number of medieval manuscripts, ancient texts and personal letters from prominent figures. Above all, this library is a haven of peace in the heart of a bustling city! It’s the ideal place to soak up history and relax.

5. Manchester Cathedral

Cathédrale de Manchester

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What to do in Manchester? Discover more illustrious buildings, of course! Built in the 15th century, Manchester Cathedral’s imposing Gothic exterior is awe-inspiring. The building is also steeped in history. First of all, the stones used to build its floors are small fossils. But it also stands in the place of a church built in 700!

Inside, you’ll be able to admire a variety of ancient artefacts and magnificent wooden sculptures. To learn more about the city’s history, don’t miss this beautiful building during your visit to Manchester!

6. Museum of Science and Industry

Musée des Sciences et de l'Industrie, Manchester

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Manchester’s rich industrial heritage is showcased in this vast and fascinating museum. Housed in the former Liverpool Street station, it bears witness to the incredible scientific, technological and industrial history of the English city. Through its various collections, you can learn more about transport, energy, the textile industry, telecommunications and computing.

This museum is especially ideal for families who want to visit Manchester in a fun way, as it includes lots of hands-on activities! You’ll be able to try out different scientific experiments, and learn more through games and virtual reality displays. To find out more about the city, its industry and its role in science, this museum is a must!

7. Chinatown

Chinatown, Manchester

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Manchester’s Chinatown is the second largest in the UK! Here you’ll find a wide variety of restaurants, stores and supermarkets. It’s a very diverse and lively area. You’ll be able to sample specialties from all over Southeast Asia! If you’re a food lover, be sure to visit and revisit Chinatown during your stay.

We also recommend a trip to the famous local market. You can buy souvenirs or toys, or ingredients to cook yourself a delicious dish at home!

Manchester Art Gallery

Photo credit: Shutterstock – Alastair Wallace

Located in the city center, this vast museum celebrates both local and international artists. Opened in 1824, it now occupies three sublime buildings. The oldest, originally the Royal Manchester Institution, was designed by Sir Charles Barry in 1824.

Inside the museum, you can admire impressive collections of objects from the fine arts, decorative arts and costume! Thousands of works of art, including 2,000 paintings and 350 sculptures, drawings, watercolors, prints and photographs, await you. The Museum of Costume, meanwhile, lets you explore Manchester through almost 21,000 items of clothing and accessories!

9. Royal Exchange Theater

Royal Exchange Theater

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The Royal Exchange is one of the city’s most popular entertainment complexes. Located in the city center, the theater is obviously the most architecturally striking building. Completed in 1921, it survived World War II bombings and a bomb attack. Considered the city’s finest theater, it produces a wide variety of shows every year. So there’s something for everyone!

In the complex, you’ll also find several cafés and restaurants to enjoy before or after a show. The building is reputed to be haunted by a few ghosts. If you’re brave enough, try looking for them! If not, you can always go to the nearby shopping center or enjoy the historic atmosphere.

10. People’s History Museum

People’s History Museum, Manchester

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This museum is simply unique and deeply instructive! The institution collects, preserves and studies the history of the working class in the UK. It offers a completely unexpected insight into the country’s history. Designed by architect Henry Price, the building housing the museum is a former water pumping station.

In this atypical museum, you’ll learn more about the history of democracy in the UK, and the daily life, work and leisure of the British people over the last 200 years. If you’re coming to visit Manchester, you really shouldn’t miss this moving discovery!

11. Heaton Park

Heaton Park, Manchester

Photo credit: Shutterstock – Katie Manchester

Still wondering what to do in Manchester? Between two cultural visits, two evenings out or two gastronomic adventures, you can discover one of Europe’s largest municipal parks. This vast green space is perfect for relaxing or picnicking away from the city for a day or half-day.

In the park, you can discover the Animal Center, built around former stables. You can also take a stroll through the forest or ride the Heaton Park Traimway, a historic tramway dating back to the 20th century. Travelers can also visit Heaton Hall, a stately home that has stood on this site since the Middle Ages! The park regularly hosts musical and cultural events. In short, there’s always something fun to do here!

12. Manchester stadium

Etihad Stadium, Manchester

Photo credit: Shutterstock – Bundit Sriusaneemorakot

To visit Manchester is to visit one of its sporting icons. Whether you’re a fan of the round ball or the oval, the Etihad Stadium offers you a cultural interlude. After all, soccer and rugby are an integral part of Manchester! While this famous stadium is the home ground of Manchester City Football Club, it also hosted the final round of the Rugby World Cup in 2015. On the Premier League podium, the Manchester stadium can accommodate up to 55,000 people!

In addition to its sporting and musical events, the venue offers a behind-the-scenes look at Manchester City Football Club. From the club’s history to the players’ anecdotes, you’ll discover a world of symbolic and unmissable places (press room, museum, dressing rooms…).

How do I get to Manchester?

From France

Manchester is just a stone’s throw from the continent! You’ll have no trouble finding an expensive direct flight from France. On average, prices range from €100 to €150 for a round trip from Paris, Lyon, Marseille and Toulouse, among others. To compare prices, you can visit the website of our partner Ulysse, which will suggest the cheapest flights according to your departure dates.

On site

Like all major European cities, Manchester has an extensive public transport network.

  • By bus or streetcar: you’ll find it easy to get around thanks to the many bus and streetcar lines on offer.
  • By bike: the city also boasts numerous cycle paths. Cycling enthusiasts will find it easy to use this environmentally-friendly means of transport!
  • By train: to reach other nearby English destinations, such as Liverpool or York, you can also take local trains from the city’s two stations.

Where to stay in Manchester?

If you’re looking to visit Manchester, you’ll have no trouble finding your dream accommodation in Manchester. Youth hostels, Airbnb or charming hotels, the possibilities are endless! Just bear in mind that accommodation in the city center can be a bit pricey, so use a hotel comparator to gauge prices. The outlying districts are home to a large number of houses and apartments, where the rent will be lower. You’ll simply have to take more public transport. In terms of neighborhoods, we particularly recommend the Northern Quarter, Spinningfields and the Fallowfield university district.

Now you know what to do in Manchester! And what are your must-sees for a stay in the metropolis?

Map of hotels and accommodation – Manchester,gb