adventures: What To Do When You’re in Manchester

Note: any images in this post that are not my own are credited via links.

For our three-year anniversary, we decided to plan a getaway for just the two of us. We couldn’t quite afford to go abroad so we looked at cities in the UK with plenty to do. Hearing great things about Manchester being a vibrant cultural hub, we booked a four night stay and packed it full of sights!

We stayed in the Ibis hotel in Princess Street so most of our planned activities were within walking distance of each other.

However for our day at Salford Quays, we opted for the Metrolink (tram) service from Deansgate – Castlefield. It took less than ten minutes and a return was only £3!

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Imperial War Museum North
The IWM takes you on a detailed journey through the history of war and conflict, with a particular focus on the effects that it has on individuals. Several times a day they project the ‘Big Picture Show’ exhibition – the stories told will completely immerse you. Despite the content, the museum is really family-friendly including their Horrible Histories: Blitzed Brits exhibit, full of interactive stuff to keep everyone busy! There is also a café and gift shop on site for your convenience.

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The Lowry Galleries
The ExtraORDINARY contemporary art exhibition (Sat 25 July – Sun 18 October) was a really engaging and innovative part of our visit. The piece that Josh and I found the most interesting was ADA by Karina Smigla-Bobinski. A three metre diameter helium balloon with three hundred sticks of charcoal on its surface. Visitors push ADA to create imprints on the walls.


ADA by Karina Smigla-Bobinski at extraORDINARY in the Lowry Galleries.

I learnt a lot at the galleries about LS Lowry, not just his style and his inspirations but also about his personal life. The paintings were really interesting and there was lots to read about. My personal favourite is called ‘Going To The Match’ – I really love all of the activity in the piece!


Not my image.
Courtesy of Amazon UK.

Northern Quarter

Packed full of shops and restaurants, the Northern Quarter is definitely a go-to for any tourist in Manchester. We wandered the curious indoor labyrinth that is the alternative shopping centre Afflecks, spent hours admiring centuries of work in the serene  Manchester Art Gallery and even popped into Spoons for a cheeky lunchtime pint.


Cute little stairway portraits in Afflecks from a project for equality.

The Manchester Museum

A building inside the University of Manchester, you’ll find this museum a little out of the centre but it’s definitely worth the extra walk. Among artifacts from ancient worlds, there are skeletons and taxidermy figures of a range of weird and wonderful animals. There are also helpful staff on hand to tell you more information about each exhibit.

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The Academy

We saw American Celtic-punk band Flogging Molly at Academy 2 with support from the social-commentary folk singer Beans on Toast. There was a lot of laughter, dancing and chanting along. The venue is a decent size but you still get the sense of an intimate performance and the drinks prices, for a music venue were pretty respectable.


Food & Drink

Healthy eating was not on the agenda on this trip. Due to the jam-packed schedule we had, the only sit down meal we had was at the awesome Black Dog Ballroom. We were not disappointed though!

Nursing a pretty hefty hangover, I chose the ‘Bacon, Bacon, Bacon’ (double Cheshire beef patty, cheese, bacon, baconnaise & crispy bacon fries) with an ice-cold pint of lemonade and Josh – the brave soul – had a ‘Graceland’ (double Cheshire beef patty, cheese, bacon & chilli peanut butter) washed down with a Banana & Vanilla Smash shake (Jim Beam Honey Bourbon, banana ice cream & vanilla ice cream). To be fair, I had a sip and it was heavenly.


Glorious burgers and a dirty shake at Black Dog Ballroom NQ.


If it’s craft ales and a relaxing atmosphere you’re after, take a trip to BrewDog where the staff really know their shit about beer. If you want a late-night cocktail bar with an eclectic range of music and a really cool crowd, it’s gotta be Mojo. For our early evening drinks, we enjoyed the atmosphere at The Garrett. Great tunes and friendly people and with the added benefit of being two blocks from our hotel of course.


Enjoying craft beer and proper cider at BrewDog.


Not my image.
Courtesy of

I would definitely go back to Manchester, perhaps next time with a group of people. There was so much to see and do without breaking the bank and people were so friendly and helpful.

Do you live in Manchester or have you also been for a short stay?

What were your favourite spots? Have I missed anything?

Leave your advice and recommendations in the comments below!


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If you liked this post, you should check out:
Scissors Christchurch Ladies Night* – Nan and I were treated to a glamorous pamper evening!
She Who Dares Wins ’15 (in pictures) – a local conference filled with inspiring businesswomen
What To Do When You’re In Dublin – our trip to Ireland and what fun we had when we were there


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