There are so many fun touristy things to do in Manchester! Of course, there are also tonnes of non-touristy spots in the city that we think you should check out, too. Whatever you’re looking for, we’re confident you’ll find it here in Manchester.
The city is conveniently located halfway between London and Edinburgh, so you can enjoy a cheeky short break from most parts of the UK! And, if you’re doing a whole UK tour, then you can easily make sure Manchester gets added to your itinerary. Wondering what there is to do here? We’ve already covered some great places to visit in Manchester, but now we’re back with more ideas on top things to do in the city. Come see for yourself!
Things Tourists Should Know About Manchester
First things first, Manchester is a thriving city with a varied, fascinating history. You might know that Manchester has a long industrial past, but did you know that the women’s suffrage movement in the UK began here? And you might know that the city has two high-profile football teams, but did you know that the arts and music scene is just as internationally-recognized?
In fact, one of the world’s top arts festivals happens here every other year! Check out the highly-acclaimed bi-annual Manchester International Festival (MIF) and try to plan your visit to enjoy the festivities.
Speaking of festivities, did you know that the Manchester Christmas markets are some of the biggest in all of Europe? It’s true!
There’s just so much to love about Manchester, and our guides at Invisible (Manchester) walking tours would be delighted to share their Manchester with you. You can take a look at all our options and meet our guides to learn their stories. Feel free to reach out if you have any questions about our offerings!
For now, let’s take a look at some touristy things to do in Manchester that we highly recommend.
Fun Family Things to Do in Manchester
Head to MediaCityUK for a BBC Tour featuring your favourite shows and characters! Tours last around 1.5 hours and are never the same, since this is a working site. Shows like Match of the Day and Blue Peter are filmed here, alongside plenty of other BBC programming. Interesting for kids and adults alike, these tours offer a fun glimpse behind the scenes.
Another great family day out is to LEGOLAND Discovery Centre! Just check for the opening times and go enjoy a creativity-fueled day together.
We also recommend taking a Manchester Canal boat tour to see the city from a different angle. You can even take the Princess Katherine directly to Old Trafford!
Speaking of Old Trafford…
Manchester is a Football City!
Manchester is a city obsessed with football! Whilst you’re here, be sure to pop by the National Football Museum, which is free to enter.
If you’re a Manchester United fan, head over to Old Trafford to tour the museum and stadium.
For Man City fans, you’ll love getting to visit Etihad Stadium.
And Manchester Also Loves Music
If you’re into music and music history, you have to visit Manchester! Bands like The Stone Roses, Happy Mondays, Joy Division, Elbow, The Smiths, and Oasis all come from Manchester.
The city is a top spot for the biggest names in the world with the Manchester Arena and the O2 Apollo hosting headline gigs.
The live music scene in Manchester is fantastic, with venues like The Deaf Institute, The Albert Hall, The Castle Hotel, the O2 Ritz, Manchester Academy, Night and Day, and the Band on the Wall boasting the up-and-coming stars.
Museums to Visit in Manchester
Visit the free People’s History Museum to celebrate democracy and the power of the people to make progressive change. Their current exhibit focuses on migration and the importance of a multicultural society. We love this museum and everything it stands for, so please consider making a donation even though entry is free!
Visit the free Salford Museum and Art Gallery, which was the UK’s first free public library, opened in January 1850. In November 1850, the museum and art gallery opened. With several permanent and regular rotating exhibitions, there’s always something new to enjoy…including a recreated Victorian-era street!
Also be sure to visit the Manchester Museum at the University of Manchester campus for a more eclectic array of exhibits to peruse.
Get to Know the Real Manchester as a Tourist
Manchester is so much more than a touristy city. This is a living, breathing, evolving urban area filled with the stories of residents past and present. Of course, we would love it if you’d join one of our walking tours of Manchester to really get to know the city from a different perspective. But you should also check out these parts of Manchester to get better acquainted with its character.
Make sure you spend some time in the eclectic Northern Quarter. Seek out the street art, especially the world’s first permanent Lomo Wall as well as the “22 Bees” tribute to those who died in the Manchester Arena bombing of 2017.
Visit the Altrincham Market (Alty Market) for a bite to eat. We love the sense of community here, with shared spaces and tables bringing people together in a historic building designed just for such a neighbourhood connection.
Stop into Sackville Park and take a seat next to the Alan Turing statue, paying respects to the father of computer science and culture icon.
Did you know Manchester boasts the third-largest Chinatown in all of Europe? Come for Chinese New Year, if you can, but this is definitely worth a visit at any time of year.
Visit the Victoria Baths, which are undergoing restoration to eventually be used as functional public pools once again!
Head to the Pankhurst Centre to learn about the suffragette history in Manchester. We believe everyone should be a feminist, and this is the perfect place to learn more!
Go for drinks on Canal Street, a popular pedestrianised street in the heart of the Gay Village.
Still looking for more? Join us on a walking tour of Manchester to see the city from a different angle. Our guides know so much more than just the touristy highlights and they would love to share their city with you. Feel free to contact us with any questions at all!