OK, so you have one week in the UK during your trip to Europe and you’re wondering how best to spend it. You’ve read a lot about English quaintness but also how much the Brits love to party and you’re hoping to get a real feel for this weird little Island in the week that you have. So where are you going to go? With its international cultural reputation, historical sights and famous skyline, London is the obvious choice, right? Wrong!
Recently featured on Lonely Planet’s ‘Best for 2016’ list – Manchester is fast becoming England’s newest international destination and has a growing reputation as being one of the coolest cities in Europe. For culture vultures, it has a wide selection of museums, galleries and theatres, with an unrivalled musical roster hailing from its Northern borders too (think The Smiths, Oasis, The Stone Roses). Sports fanatics will no doubt want to visit the ‘Theatre of Dreams’ AKA Old Trafford, home to Manchester United Football Club, and nature lovers can be in the beautiful Peak District only a 12 Mile drive outside the city centre or visit the Lakes a bit further North. Ranking highest on reasons to visit are the city’s bars and nightlife, which best illustrate the city’s sense of fun; Manchester has a unique personality that sums up the British humour and individuality. Have a go at following the guide below for a guaranteed good time, or just ask a friendly Mancunian local to show you where to go!
The Beetham Tower, Britain’s tallest building outside London, looms over Manchester and has a world-class Hilton hotel and Cloud 23 cocktail bar – ideal for evening drinks and panoramic city views. For an alternative stay, check out the Light Apartment Hotel or Gotham City Hotel, both in the City’s Northern Quarter. Budget travellers can have a fun stay at Hatters Hostel where they also put on great live music and DJs.
The choices are almost endless! Walk along Manchester’s old canal system, take a tour of the Coronation street set, visit HOME – Manchester’s newest art and film hub, shop in Affleck’s Palace – the indie metropolis, take a bus out to hipster Chorlton, cycle along the River Mersey, discover the City’s industrial history at the Science Museum or (my personal favourite) spend the day sampling all of Manchester best pubs and bars.
It’s very hard to narrow this down, but the best areas to drink in are the hipster Northern Quarter, the student area near All Saints Road and Canal Street – the city’s gay district. Special shout-outs go to ‘Gorilla’ for the gin connoisseurs, ‘Terrace’ for a cool wine bar with laidback tunes and ‘The Castle Hotel’ for a cosy pub vibe.
You can’t come to Manchester without sampling some of its musical fares. Peruse its many vinyl shops on Oldham Street during the day and then on any night of the week head into Night & Day Café or Soup Kitchen for some quality live acts. For bigger bands, look to The Albert Hall, which has had the most solid booking lineup of any venue in the UK since its re-opening in 2013. Electronic aficionados should save their visit for Winter when the Warehouse Project takes over the city with an almost unbelievable line-up of world-class house, techno and dub DJs.
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