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What Are Some Fun Things to Do in Manchester?

With around one million visitors each year, Manchester knows how to entertain its guests. As one of the UK’s most vibrant cities, Manchester offers activities for all-comers, whether you’re travelling as part of a group or flying solo, no matter your age or interests.

Cruise on the Manchester Ship Canal

An amazing feat of 19th-century industrial engineering, the Manchester Ship Canal gave ocean-going vessels direct access to the city of Manchester, despite the city being inland.

Discover Manchester’s Sporting Greatness

Perhaps the most famous aspect of Manchester culture today is the city’s dominance in the world of football.

16 March 2022
Glasgow riverside museum

Alternative Things to Do in Glasgow

Glasgow is Scotland’s largest city and is jam-packed with a range of activities sure to excite any visitor. Home to three of the UK’s best-loved museums in the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, the Burrell Collection (set to reopen March 2022), and the Riverside Museum, Glasgow has a list of activities that tend to crop up time and again when visitors search for what to do during their stay.

The Britannia Music Hall

Exterior of The Britannia Music Hall (Photo by Keith Edkins, CC BY-SA 2.0)

St Mungo Museum of Religious Life and Art

Britain’s first Zen garden (Photo by James Allan, CC BY-SA 2.0)

The Sharmanka Kinetic Gallery

Detail from a kinetic sculpture (Photo by Dun Deagh, CC BY-SA 2.0, Flickr)

The Govan Stones

A hogback stone (Photo by Joedkins - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0)

The GFT

Glasgow at the pictures (Photo by Michi Maya, CC BY-SA 2.0, Flickr)

02 November 2021
Manchester bridge

The Ten Best Things to Do in Manchester

Manchester, a city of creativity and transformation. Since the Industrial Revolution, the city has been a factory perennially gifting the world with innovators and leaders in the fields of technology, science, sport, and music. And it's an environment that has produced more than its share of socially-minded renegades, figures like the suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst and the mathematician Alan Turing, who has become an LGBT+ icon as the story of his brilliant but tragic life has become better known.

1. Manchester Museum of Science and Industry

Manchester Museum of Science and Industry | Source

2. Take a Manchester Walking Tour

Okay, so maybe we’re biased in this choice! But at Invisible Cities we believe there is no better way for guests to discover a city than by exploring it on foot, soaking up its atmosphere and learning its stories as you go. We have a range of options for you to choose from, each entirely unique and developed by your guide, so they can share with you the topics that mean the most to them personally and where they can best let their knowledge shine.

3. People's History Museum

People’s History Museum | Source

4. Manchester Craft and Design Centre

Set within an evocative, Victorian former fish market, the Manchester Craft and Design Centre is a home for artists studios and businesses. The centre has been supporting local artists since 1982. With gifts to support every budget, this is an excellent destination for visitors hoping to pick up a unique item while at the same time supporting local artists and a great creative initiative.

5. Explore Manchester’s Football History

Manchester City players | Source

6. Manchester's Libraries

Bibliophiles will certainly be at home in Manchester. Alongside a healthy range of fine bookshops, Manchester is home to Chetham’s Library, the oldest public library in the English-speaking world, which opened its doors in 1653. Its gorgeous wooden interiors and book collections can be explored so long as a booking is made in advance.

7. Visit Chinatown

Europe’s second-largest Chinatown after Paris, Manchester’s Chinese district offers both a feast for the eyes and the stomach. Entering Chinatown through a three-tiered pagoda, visitors will be enchanted by the range of businesses and restaurants situated here. Stop for some delicious food, or simply enjoy a stroll through this unique part of town.

8. Explore Afflecks

This legendary emporium in Manchester’s Northern Quarter is home to over 73 individual businesses selling everything from sweets to vintage clothing, esoteric regalia to sportswear and secondhand records. Even if you aren’t in the mood for shopping, it’s worth visiting this Manchester institution that calls itself a ‘totem of indie commerce’. Charming and completely one of a kind.

9. Go to The Lowry

The inimitable L.S. Lowry, famous for his paintings of industrial landscapes inhabited by matchstick men, spent much of his life living in Salford. In 2000 Manchester opened The Lowry, a large museum and gallery space dedicated to his work. Containing around 4000 works from the painter, the space is a must-see for fans, while the amount of interactive material will keep even those new to his work thoroughly engaged.

10. Pankhurst Centre

Pankhurst Centre, Manchester | Source

19 October 2021
City walls

The Top 10 Things to Do and See in York

If you’ll be visiting York soon, you’re undoubtedly trying to find all the best things to do and see to make the most of your time in the city. Whether you’re a history buff, a foodie, a nature lover, or love a spot of shopping...York delivers.

1. Walk the Iconic City Walls of York

Likely the most iconic part of the city, walking the City Walls of York is ideal for visitors. If you’re really into history, take a private walking tour so you can ask every question and learn every detail. If you’re more into views and cityscapes, go ahead and stroll at your leisure. If you appreciate architecture, the City Walls offer you a glimpse of the evolution of York’s buildings over the centuries.

2. Climb Clifford’s Tower

Clifford’s Tower is another top spot in York, offering views over the city that visitors love! As the only remaining structure from the original York Castle, there has been a structure on this site since William the Conqueror built the first timber keep here around 1068.

3. Be Awed by York Minster

One of Europe’s largest medieval churches and an exceptional architectural gem, York Minster is definitely a top thing to see (and do!) in York. You can read more about the architecture and history of York Minster in our York insights for visitors.

4. Experience the JORVIK Viking Centre

Adding to the layers of culture and history in York, you can also explore the Viking history of the city. The JORVIK Viking Centre allows you to experience the sights, smells, and sounds of York...or, as the Vikings called it, Jorvik. This is definitely one of the most interesting things to do in York.

5. Explore York’s Railway Heritage

The rich railway history of York is fascinating to explore during a visit to the city. Join Gemma to learn about York’s Railway Heritage on our walking tour of the city. You’ll also have the option to add a visit to the National Railway Museum to dig even deeper into the history and significance of the railways in this region.

6. Find the York Harry Potter Street!

If you’re a fan of the series, then you’ll have to visit The Shambles to see a real-life version of Diagon Alley. Traditional shops, colourful buildings, curving cobblestone streets, you’ll truly feel transported back in time — or to an entirely different world! While visiting York, walking through The Shambles is one of the best things to do for shopping, cultural experiences, and for a cuppa.

7. Learn the History of Guy Fawkes in York

Did you know Guy Fawkes is from York? That’s right, learn about the man himself with all the tales of gunpowder and treason that all began right here in the city. Learn the real story of Guy Fawkes on a walking tour with Vicki.

8. Experience York Dungeon

Experience 2,000 years of York’s dark history, from the Vikings to plagues to the infamous people who have walked the streets over the centuries. This is an immersive, multi-sensory experience, so get ready for flashing lights and moving floors. Be sure to check their accessibility information if you need more detailed information.

9. Sample the Local York Favourite: Chocolate!

You can’t visit York without sampling our famous chocolate. The production of chocolate in York has long been a strong industry, so go ahead and support our local efforts whilst satisfying your sweet tooth. There’s even a museum dedicated to chocolate that you won’t want to miss. Check out our Beginner’s Guide to York to learn more about the history of chocolate in the city.

10. Dive Deeper into York Past and Present

With such width and depth of history, it can be overwhelming to try to take it all in during a single visit. But you can enjoy a fascinating look at the Health and Wealth of York on a walking tour with Miles.

05 October 2021
Edinburgh castle

The 5 Top Tourist Attractions in Edinburgh

Edinburgh, like all great cities, can be explored over and over again. Even long-term residents find themselves continually discovering new sides to the city. And as a diverse, vibrant capital city, Edinburgh is changing all the time, with ever more depth being added to its already (very) long story. A list like this one will always invite discussion among those who love the city, and no Edinburgh list could ever claim to be definitive.

Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh

Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art | Source

The Edinburgh Fringe Festival

Actors on the Royal Mile | Source

Arthur's Seat

Hiker on Arthur’s Seat | Source

Walking Tours in Edinburgh

View of Castle Rock | Source

The Botanics, Edinburgh

The Botanics | Source

21 September 2021
Glasgow street art

Fun and Interesting Things to do in Glasgow?

Fun and Interesting Things to do in Glasgow?

Glasgow is a big, vibrant city with no shortage of interesting things to do. However, with such an abundance of choice, visitors and locals looking to explore the city sometimes struggle to narrow their to-do list down. It’s a kind of choice paralysis and we want to help yo avoid by offering up some of Invisible Cities’ favourite things to do in Glasgow. This is not THE DEFINITIVE list, but it’s a brilliant wee collection of some of Glasgow’s best and most interesting activities! If you’d like more suggestions, check out our guide to the top attractions in Glasgow.

Take an Invisible Cities Tour in Glasgow

First off, we’d like to recommend… ourselves! Invisible Cities is a non-profit focusing on training people who have experienced homelessness, giving them the skills and confidence to be tour guides. Our tour guides are fascinating, intelligent people with a unique perspective. This makes our tours more interesting than your average tour and you have the added bonus of supporting a company dedicated to helping and offering opportunities and gainful employment to those who need it. While this is clearly a good cause, this isn’t charity as our tours are carefully designed to be fun and fascinating, offering maximum value. To find out more, take a look at ourGlasgow Walking Tours.

The Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome

Completely changing gear (sorry), you can visit the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome, Scotland’s first indoor velodrome, named after the famous Scottish olympian Sir Chris Hoy. This velodrome is used for international cycling competitions but it is also available for the public to experience what it’s like to cycle in a velodrome. Cycle where some of the greatest cyclists in the world have cycled!

Try One of Glasgow’s Many Escape Rooms

While we can’t officially recommend one of Glasgow’s Escape Rooms over others, we can say that Glasgow has several escape rooms spread throughout the city centre and that it’s a great way to spend an hour or two in the city. Flex your problem-solving and communication skills with a small group by solving a series of practical puzzles that let you escape the various devious escape rooms on offer in Glasgow. If in any doubt, consult customer reviews to see which escape room to try first.

The Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum

This huge museum is the perfect day out for families and couples. It’s the second most visited museum in the UK and it’s packed with incredible art and artefacts from all over the world. There is a particularly impressive range of art and furniture from Charles Rennie Mackintosh, as well as artworks by Van Gogh, Rembrandt, Lowry, and Salvador Dali. There is also an Egyptian section as well as an exhibition of animals, including several dinosaurs that are guaranteed to thrill children and adults alike.

The Purple Cat Café

The Purple Cat Café on High Street, in Merchant City, is Glasgow’s first cat café. While it may sound like a strange concept, cat cafés have become very popular in big cities all around the world. Originating in Taipei, Taiwan, cat cafés work because people love cats and they love coffee. Join these two activities together and you have a winner. The Purple Cat Café has a large number of cats and they take special care to ensure the welfare of their feline friends, also taking care to only ever rescue cats from sanctuaries.

Glasgow Cathedral

This huge and imposing building near Merchant City is the oldest cathedral in mainland Scotland. It is also likely to be the oldest building in Glasgow. It is believed that Glasgow Cathedral is situated where the city’s patron saint, Saint Mungo, built his church and was buried in AD 612 And this means that the history of Glasgow can be brought all the way back to the history of the cathedral, although of course much of the cathedral we see today was built later, between the 13th and 15th centuries. Because of its connection to Saint Mungo, Glasgow Cathedral is sometimes called St Mungo’s Cathedral and it is, undoubtedly, one of the best places in the city for people interested in history.

04 June 2021
Manchester bridge

Invisible Cities’ First-time Visitor’s Guide to Manchester

Invisible Cities’ First-time Visitor’s Guide to Manchester

Here at Invisible Cities, there are two stars of the show: the UK cities featured on ourlist of UK tours and our incredible tour guides — all of which have experienced homelessness. Invisible Cities is a social enterprise that trains people to be tour guides. Anyone who has been homeless at some point in their life has a unique perspective on their city and our tours are unlike anything else you’re likely to find. Previously, we wrote abeginner’s guide to visiting York and we’d like to follow it up with this first-time visitor’s guide to Manchester. If anything in this guide inspires you, check out ourManchester Walking Tours.

Travelling Around Manchester

Given the scale of the city and how difficult it is to drive in a city you don’t know very well, we can’t recommend driving around Manchester on your first visit — or any visit, to be honest. But the good news is that Manchester’s trains and buses are incredibly well managed, making it one of the most accessible cities in the UK for visitors to get around. Check outVisit Manchester’s maps if you’d like to learn more.

Manchester’s Free Museums

There are plenty of things to do in Manchester, but if your budget is tight, then make sure you put some of the city’s free museums to the top of your list. We won’t go through all 35 free museums here, but here are the three most popular options for your consideration.

See Invisible Manchester

If you’re looking for a less conventional Manchester experience, then one of our tours is almost certainly for you. We train our guides but we also encourage them to bring their own personality and creativity to the tours they create. This means that our tours are very different from the more manufactured, manicured Manchester tours. You can read even more detail about ourManchester Tours, but here are brief overviews of why you might want to see Invisible Manchester.

Discover Manchester’s History Through Ales and Alleyways

Our guide, Andy, designed this excellent tour to explore Manchester’s rock music scene in the 80s. Visit the venues that epitomised the city’s legendary music scene. It’s not all history, however: you will learn about modern Manchester while, admiring the city’s skyline, as you learn about the people, places, and stories that shaped it.

Explore Manchester “Off the Cobbles”

This thoughtful tour was created by Danny, our adopted Mancunian tour guide who spent a portion of his life living on Manchester’s street. This tour offers a unique perspective on the city, showing you where Danny’s spent his time and teaching you about the grittier aspects of the city you won’t find on the more mainstream tours.

Powerful Women of Manchester Tour

On this tour created by Laura — a transgender woman inspired by the city’s great women — you will learn about the inspirational women who have helped build and develop Manchester. The highlight for many on the tour is the discussion of Emmeline Pankhurst and the Suffragette movement, of which Manchester played a prominent role.

The Pankhurst Centre

If Laura’s tour whets your appetite for Manchester’s suffragette past, you will almost certainly want to visit the Pankhurst Centre. While only a small museum, it is well worth visiting. Exhibiting the story and legacy of Emmeline Pankhurst and the Suffragette movement as a whole, this is the perfect place to pay your respects to one of the country’s biggest political activists and folk heroes. Entrance to the Pankhurst Centre is free, making it even more difficult to find a good reason not to visit!

28 May 2021
Invisible edinburgh

Which city is better: Glasgow or Edinburgh?

Which city is better: Glasgow or Edinburgh?

The age-old debate continues! Which city is better: Glasgow or Edinburgh? Well, we certainly won’t give it all away, but we have plenty of thoughts on this debate and we’re keen to share them with you.

Why is Glasgow better than Edinburgh?

For those who say that Glasgow is better than Edinburgh, there are a few common points raised to support the theory. Glasgow is Scotland’s largest city by scale and population. It’s also the heart of live music, performing arts, and creative industries.

Why is Edinburgh better than Glasgow?

Those who say Edinburgh is better than Glasgow point to other facets of Scottish history and culture. Whilst Glasgow hosts the nation’s largest performing arts venues and is home to nearly one-third of the entire national population, Edinburgh is the nation’s capital. There are also two areas of Edinburgh that are designated UNESCO World Heritage Sites: both Old Town and New Town.

Tourism in Glasgow vs Edinburgh

Despite the fact that Glasgow is the largest city in Scotland and boasts so many wonderful cultural attractions and institutions, Edinburgh is the more popular destination among international tourists.

Edinburgh attracts international tourists due to its historical prominence and its UNESCO status for two different parts of the city. The architecture and traditions in Edinburgh are obvious and attract many international visitors. The city also boasts massive festivals throughout the year, including the largest arts festival in the world in August.

Both Edinburgh and Glasgow are home to several prominent universities and attract students from around the world. Both cities feature major industries providing jobs in everything from technology startups to financial services to aerospace, biotech, tourism, and more. With a higher population and wider array of services and amenities, the Greater Glasgow area is a popular destination for newcomers moving to Scotland.

So, which city is better?

Surely you can’t expect us to say one city is better than the other! As Glasgow and Edinburgh are so very different, they will also appeal to different people for different reasons. At Invisible Cities, we firmly believe that everyone has a unique story to tell. We don’t believe in labels or stereotypes, which is really what this debate between Glasgow and Edinburgh is about.

21 May 2021
Manchester

What are the best touristy things to do in Manchester?

What are the best touristy things to do in Manchester?

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.

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?

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.

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.

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.

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!

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.

14 May 2021
Www facebook 1

Invisible Cities Is Back — Support Our Guides by Taking a Tour


Everyone here at Invisible Cities is extremely happy to report that our tours are open again and that we can’t wait to show you around many of the UK’s most fascinating cities. The reopening of our tours is possible for two reasons:

Keeping Everyone Safe on an Invisible Cities Tour

If you need a little extra reassurance that everything is safe on our tours, we have outlined all of our safety measures in this video below.

Our safety measures include the following:

15 July 2020
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Hear it from our Guides: World Autism Day with Laura an Invisible (Manchester) Tour Guide

We met Laura, back in January 2019 when she first joined the Invisible (Manchester) Team as a trainee. It has been an incredible experience watching her grow into the exuberant and cheerful character that she is today. Her self-confidence and passion has grown every step of the way, from choosing a tour theme, delving into extensive research and offering her tour to hundreds of visitors. Today marks World Autism Day, a subject close to Laura’s heart, she has written this short piece about her new tour, how she is coping with isolation and why we should all be celebrating World Autism Day.

01 April 2020
Festival

Hear it from The Guides: Angie's Experience in Edinburgh

The reason why Invisible Cities was set up in 2016 is to support people who have experienced homelessness so they can have a voice, and become who they want to be.

19 September 2019
Laura 2
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