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12 Best Things to Do in Manchester

2 years ago

It’s not easy to whittle down Manchester’s cultural attractions to a list of just 12 best things to do but we’ve given it a go.

There are even more activities and places to see in our Things To Do section where you can search the best attractions and experiences available in Manchester.

Here is our pick of the most beautiful, enlightening and all-round enthralling sights Manchester has to offer, from famous artworks to iconic football stadiums, to awe-inspiring architecture. They’re the places that capture the culture, spirit and history of Manchester; the places that make this city stand out.

We’ve included top things to do in neighbouring Salford and Trafford too, such as the RHS Bridgewater and the Imperial War Museum North; they’re well worth the journey time.

Whether you’re here on a short break or playing at being a tourist in your own town, here are the places to put on your Manchester visitor itinerary. You’ve got a busy few days ahead…

  • The Imperial War Museum North at Salford Quays
    Book Now Salford Quays

    Imperial War Museum North


    This quayside location in Trafford Park was bombed heavily during WW2 so it’s especially appropriate that it was chosen as the home of the Imperial War Museum North. 

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  • RHS Garden Bridgewater - one of the things to do for Mother's Day in Manchester.

    RHS Garden Bridgewater

    Parks & Gardens

    The 2021 opening of this new 154-acre garden was greeted with much excitement and long queues, and rightly so. Once a derelict and overgrown site, it’s now a major visitor attraction with plenty to offer all year round. 

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  • Manchester Museum
    Oxford Road

    Manchester Museum


    Manchester Museum reopened in February 2023 following a £15m transformation to make it more inclusive and more imaginative in how it tells its stories.

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  • Manchester City Football Club's Etihad Stadium

    Manchester City Stadium Tour


    Even if you’re not a Blue you can’t help but be impressed with the scale of the Etihad Stadium in this regenerated area of East Manchester.

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  • Statues of legendary Manchester United players outside their Old Trafford stadium
    Old Trafford

    Manchester United Museum & Stadium Tour


    Even if it’s not a match day, there’s plenty happening at the iconic Old Trafford stadium. The best way to experience it (aside from watching a game, of course) is to go on the behind-the-scenes Manchester United Museum and Stadium Tour.

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  • The Whitworth is one of Manchester's leading art galleries
    Oxford Road

    The Whitworth

    Art Galleries

    Any art lover’s trip to Manchester would not be complete without a morning or afternoon spent gazing at the walls (and wallpaper collections) of The Whitworth.

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  • Football boots on display at The National Football Museum in Manchester
    Manchester City Centre

    National Football Museum


    Where else but footy-mad Manchester to house the National Museum of the UK’s favourite sport? Explore the history of the beautiful game inside the unusual-looking Urbis building next to Manchester Victoria train station.

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  • Weddings at Victoria Baths, Manchester. Image by Samantha Broadley.
    Victoria Park

    Victoria Baths

    Historic Buildings & Sites

    Only open on Wednesdays (and closed entirely during the winter months), Victoria Baths isn’t fully geared up as a visitor attraction. But it’s still one of Manchester’s most beautiful and best-loved buildings. If you get an opportunity to see inside, take it. You’ll be smitten.

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  • The Science and Industry Museum in Manchester

    Science and Industry Museum


    Much like the once mighty industrial power of the North, Manchester’s Science and Industry Museum has shrunk noticeably over the years. But it’s still well worth a visit.

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  • The People's History Museum in Manchester.

    People’s History Museum


    The People’s History Museum tells the story of the development of democracy in Britain. It’s the only museum in the UK that focuses on the revolutionaries, reformers, workers, voters, and citizens who believed in ideas worth fighting for, like equality, social justice and co-operation.

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  • Inside the Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester city centre
    Manchester City Centre

    Royal Exchange Theatre


    Manchester’s Royal Exchange Theatre is an exciting clash of modernity and history and the same can be said of its programming.

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  • Study alcove in John Rylands Library in Manchester city centre

    John Rylands Research Institute and Library


    It’s part of the University of Manchester but you don’t have to be a scholar to enjoy this inspiring space. In fact, John Rylands Library was built to give the people of Manchester a place where they could read, create and wonder.

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