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Manchester: A Whistle-Stop Tour of one of Britain’s Coolest Cities

by Notorious Spinks on 09.26.2012

Back in the 1970s, Manchester was regarded as an example of everything that was wrong with post-industrial England. However, since then it has bounced back in style, giving birth to a world-famous music scene and establishing itself as one of the best cities in Europe to go for a night out. So, if you are thinking of paying a visit to see what all the fuss is about, you might want to check out this guide to some of the city’s most vibrant areas. For more information about hotels in Manchester, visit the Millennium & Copthorne website.

Manchester City Centre 

Manchester’s City Centre has been transformed almost beyond recognition in the past couple of decades, and is now a vibrant modern city centre packed with gleaming shopping arcades, cafes and museums. That said, some of the centre’s historic past has been lovingly preserved, such as the neo-Gothic John Rylands Library, the neoclassical Portico, and Alfred Waterhouse’s Town Hall, which contains some memorable murals by Ford Madox Ford, stunning mosaic floors, and impressive vaulted ceilings.

Northern Quarter 

Nowhere is Manchester’s reputation as an indie mecca more evident than in the trendy Northern Quarter, which is packed with vintage clothing boutiques, record shops, and cool independent pubs and cafes. These are set amidst a rag-tag mixture of 18th and 19th century warehouses, many of which have been restored to their former glory.

Canal Street, Piccadilly & Chinatown 

If you’re heading for a night out in Manchester, then you might be tempted to take a stroll down Canal Street to check out the many pubs and clubs. This cosmopolitan area is the heart of Manchester’s thriving gay scene, and is the focal point of the annual Manchester Pride festival. From here, you can stroll down to the recently-remodeled Piccadilly Gardens, which is surrounded by open-air cafes and bars with an almost continental feel, or Chinatown, a lively area that is considered one of the best places to see in the Chinese New Year.

Chinatown in the UK

Oxford Road 

With two universities within spitting distance of one another, this is widely considered to be the student quarter of Manchester, which ensures a lively bar and club scene. And with a theatres, galleries, music venues, and museums aplenty, there are lots of reasons for an avid culture vulture to visit this area.

Castlefield & Deansgate Locks 

If you need a break from all the hustle and bustle, then this quiet, historic part of town is the perfect place to spend a few hours. Once a Victorian industrial hub, its railway arches, cleaned-up canals, and cobbled streets lend this area an air of tranquility, although there are still plenty of things to see and do such as the Museum of Science and Industry, Castlefield Gallery, and the Comedy Store.

Photo: Manchester Chinatown, courtesy of Sean Dodson

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  • My best friend is from Manchester

  • That is one city we didn’t get a chance to visit on our last trip to Europe. Hopefully we will be able to take the family back for an extended visit, and try to hit all the must-sees!

    Thanks for the great article!

  • I would love to travel to as many places as possible. Britain is certainly on that list!

  • I totally want to go to England someday!

  • This is on my list of places to go!

  • Oooh. I would love to be able to visit one day!

  • I really want to visit Britain!

  • I’m adding it to my bucket list!

  • I would love to go there sometime

  • I hope to see that one day in person!

  • I would love to go there someday!

  • I should check out Manchester, it sounds like a really cool city!

  • My uncle is from Manchester but lives in FL now. I think he and my aunt need to move back so I can visit them! 😉

  • I’ve never been to Britain! I reallly want to go!

  • I want to get over to England one day, but I had never really thought about visiting Manchester – I guess I will have to add it to my places to see!

  • I’d love to visit there!

  • I’ve never been to Europe – it looks divine!

  • We’re waiting for the girls to get a little older before we travel to Europe. Manchester is definitely on our list.

  • Great history lesson here! Visiting there may have to go on the list of places to see 🙂

  • I’d love to go to Manchester! I’ve been to England, but not around as fully as I would have liked (missed a lot, too short a trip)

  • It’s been over 20 years since I’ve been to England, and I’m not sure I’ll return, but thanks for sharing. I learned a little bit of history.

  • I would love to travel there someday!

  • This is on my travel bucket list.

  • I can’t wait to go to England!

  • I would love to visit England one of these days

  • I’d really love to visit England one day!

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