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Be inspired

Quirky things to do in Manchester

Manchester, Visit England

A city’s food reveals so much about its character – and Manchester’s plate is piled high. From freakshakes at Black Milk and vegan delights at Wholesome Junkies, to the globetrotting street eats at GRUB MCR and Hatch (which has a microbrewery too), it’s chock-full of great bites. To delve deeper, Scranchester’s food tours reveal how the city’s cultural roots have inspired its eclectic cuisine, with eight tasting stop-offs along the way – none of which are revealed until the tour itself.

Ancoats is just one of Manchester’s many success stories: a neighbourhood transformed from an industrial suburb into a haven of nightlife, shopping and indie bistros. As has its neighbour, the Northern Quarter, where vinyl record shops sit between vegan cafés, art galleries and music venues. Street art walking tours delve into the district’s evocative murals too, with many of its buildings used as giant canvasses for artistic expression. Another regeneration project, the new RHS Garden Bridgewater features a leafy wild woodland and ornate ‘Paradise Garden’ to the north-west of the city, plus everything from light trails to outdoor concerts year-round.

The city’s waterways are full of surprises too. Manchester River Cruises provide numerous tours, but at the Quays, the Salford Watersports Centre offers a chance to get hands-on. Visitors can pick from wakeboarding, paddleboarding and moonlight kayaking tours – complete with head-torches and glow sticks – for a different perspective of Manchester. This lively area is also the home of MediaCityUK, where the BBC – which celebrates its centenary this year – has its flagship studios.

For music fans, a free walking tour unveils the infamous clubs and hangouts that shaped Manchester’s top bands: from The Stone Roses and Oasis to The Smiths. At Manchester Museum, the ‘Thursday Lates’ offer after-dark talks and film screenings – while on Canal Street, Alternative Manchester’s LGBT+ Tour reveals the rich tapestry of Manchester’s queer culture, and some of its hottest nightlife. Alternatively, if outrageous comedy is what visitors are after, they can party with the queens at a Bougie Drag Brunch.

Getting there and around

Situated in the North West of England, Manchester has excellent road and rail links, with regular services connecting to a number of major cities. Manchester International Airport serves international and domestic destinations alike, while direct trains from London Euston take just over two hours.

There are three free bus routes in Manchester, with services every 10-20 minutes, as well as an extensive network of trains and trams. All are wheelchair accessible. Manchester’s cycle scheme is growing too: by summer 2022, there will be 1,500 bikes and e-bikes available to hire.

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