Updated on January 25, 2023 by Axel Hernborg

Axel Hernborg

When it comes to trips to or around the United Kingdom, perhaps one of the most overlooked places to visit (at least, if you aren’t from around there) in Manchester.

Often overlooked by being in the shadow of London, Manchester has historically always been one of the biggest cities in the United Kingdom, with a long and storied history of industry and science to boot, after all, it was in Manchester that the first inter-city railway station was built, and is also where the atom was first split.

However, in the past few decades, thanks to extensive efforts to redevelop and renew this northern England urban hub, Manchester has slowly, but surely, become one of the best places in the United Kingdom to visit, whether it is for a single day, or longer stays.

There’s so much that Manchester has to offer, that it can be kind of tricky to put a schedule together for yourself, especially if you don’t know where exactly to start.

There’s so much to cover with a city this big and long a history, after all!

However, don’t worry, because we have the perfect list for your travel needs.

We’ve collected the best and most popular place to visit when coming to Manchester, for folks who have been here never, once, or even a hundred times!

Old Trafford Museum & Manchester United Football Club

Perhaps more than any other pastime, Manchester is probably best known for its long history with soccer, also better known across the world as football.

So, if you’re in Manchester, then chances are that you’re also going to want to check out what has been a cornerstone of local history and culture for over a hundred years.

Old Trafford is one of the best training grounds for talent in the world of soccer and is the home stadium of Manchester United, probably the most successful soccer team in the United Kingdom (but don’t tell Manchester City that!).

Small wonder that it is also known as the Theatre of Dreams.

First built in 1910, the stadium has a history all of its own, which is why the tour is such a great experience for history lovers, especially those who want to trace the history of this favorite pastime of many locals and sports lovers in the UK.

And, being located close to Manchester’s Chinatown, there are also plenty of nearby spots to grab a tasty meal after your tour is done!

Manchester Museum

Manchester has also long been associated with the sciences and is celebrated as a place of learning in many fields.

Perhaps one of the best examples of this can be found at the Manchester Museum, a place that is bursting at the seams with knowledge and information on Archaeology, Natural History, anthropology, and plenty of other fields of study about the natural world.

The building that the museum is housed in is already a work of art in itself, with the University of Manchester (the owners of the museum) being situated in a family of neo-Gothic architecture, with its tall arches and long lancet windows.

And, of course, that is to say, nothing of the vast contents of the museum itself!

Being part of the University of Manchester’s archives, Manchester Museum also houses plenty of the universities samples as exhibits, helping this museum total out at 4,500,000 items being stored here, from delicate imprints to massive skeletons of natural giants like T. rex, of which a skeleton hangs on display in the museum.

That’s just a taste of what’s on offer at this museum, which also boasts a wonderful little café where you can rest after searching for a few hours!

John Rylands Research Institute & Library

Following on from the last entry that focused on a place of learning, Manchester is also home to several libraries that are renowned across the country and the world.

Perhaps the most impressive and spectacular is the John Rylands Library and Research Institute.

Located on Deansgate, this next place to visit is named after the cotton merchant John Rylands, an instrumental figure in the founding of modern Manchester’s industrial heart, which was largely based on textile manufacturing from cotton across the world, and what brought so much wealth and industry to the city.

That love of history is on full display inside the library, with the John Rylands library housing some of the oldest editions and fragments of the New Testament, as well as countless manuscripts and documents from late Medieval and renaissance times too, amongst many others.

In other words, if you’re a bookworm or a lover of history, you have to check out this library!

Things To Do In Manchester On Your Trip

Manchester Cathedral

Much of Manchester’s historical buildings are either neoclassical or neo-Gothic in design, lending a very majestic, though still old feeling to the city, perhaps older than they are.

However, gothic architecture was the favored style for many churches and cathedrals throughout the Middle Ages, and there isn’t a better example of this in Manchester than in its titular cathedral, a feat of original Gothic architecture.

With the original foundations of this massive church being laid in 1215, the cathedral of St. Mary, St. Denys, and St. George is one of the oldest buildings in the city, and offers a great break from the often busy and crowded streets of Manchester, as well as serving a main service for mass when called.

Whether you are viewing from the splendid outside, or the giant, open halls of the inside, this is a site for anyone with an eye for history and architecture, or just a beautiful building in general, to behold!

Manchester Art Gallery

If you’re a lover of art, then you’ll want to take a stop at Manchester’s very own Art gallery.

Housed in a neoclassical-styled building, the gallery made from stone and mortar is itself a work of art.

Inside the gallery (which is three interconnected buildings that have since been joined together, you will find a plethora of incredible works from artists throughout the ages.

With over 25,000 items kept within its walls and archives, you’ll find some of the best works from artists like Pissarro, Holman Hunt, Lowry, and countless others who have been fortunate to have their works preserved in this prestigious art gallery.

Whether you’re taking a guided tour around the gallery, perusing through it yourself, or even taking a break in the gallery’s café, there’s plenty to see and look in awe at here!

National Football Museum

Well, if there was ever going to be a national soccer museum built in the United Kingdom, it was going to have to be located in Manchester. Well, either here, or in Sheffield.

(We’re not entirely sure whether it went to a vote, or if a committee jointly decided that Manchester was the best place.

But seeing as how Manchester is practically THE place to go in Northern England, we certainly love the convenience!)

With plenty of interesting detail not just about the formation of the sport, but also the founding of both of Manchester’s most well-known teams (Man. United and Man. City) this is an absolute must-see for any fan of soccer and sports in general.

(If you’re not the biggest fan, feel free to skip out on this one. There’s plenty else to explore in this city!)


With East Asia and East Asian descendants being a big part of Manchester’s culture, it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that the city’s Chinatown has been such a big highlight in the past 30 years, with plenty of great vendors and restaurants to try out with a staggering amount of variety in cuisines amongst them!

Gulliver’s World Theme Park

If all that culture and history sounds great, but you want a break from it all with the family, then you’ll be excited to know that Manchester has plenty of close links with many amusement parks for you to visit for a day!

One of the closest and best for taking your family to is Gulliver’s World theme park (just an hour’s drive from Manchester city center), with over 25 rides for you to get your thrills on, from roller coasters to log flumes.

This is a particularly good theme ark if you’ve got smaller children, so don’t worry about them not being able to get on most of the rides!

Manchester City Stadium 

Well, we did start this list with a soccer club stadium and tour, so we might as well finish it with its significant other!

Manchester City is the other prominent soccer club that has close ties with the city, as well as having its home stadium, with tours being offered to show you some behind-the-scenes locations, like the team dressing rooms.

Another must-stop by if you are a soccer fan, for sure!

Final Thoughts

So, there you have it!

From classical art galleries to natural history museums to gorgeous buildings a-plenty, and even theme parks, there’s more than enough to entertain and enthrall you when visiting this gorgeous city.

Of course, that only leaves one problem now.

Which of these attractions will you check out first?

11 Things to do in Manchester | UK Travel Vlog