Manchester has long been a powerhouse in the football and music arenas, but the city itself was known more for its industry than for its culture. Fortunately things are changing. The central part of the city has been revitalized and is now a legitimate stop for travelers looking for culture or to do a bit of shopping. But it still rains here, a lot, even during the summer, so come prepared.
What To Do
Castlefield is the site of the original Roman settlement here, built in the year 79 A.D., and it was transformed into the heart of the industrial city and its canal network. These days it’s been rejuvenated and is like a country oasis in the middle of the city. It was named Britain’s first Urban Heritage site and is a popular place for locals to go for a meal or a pint. The Godlee Observatory was built in 1902 and still functions the same today. You can get a view of the stars in good weather, but views of the city from the balcony here are worth the trip.
Of course Manchester United football club is one of the first things that comes to mind for nearly everyone so a visit to their stadium of Old Trafford is a common pilgrimage for fans. There is a large gift shop there that is open even when there is no game on. The Village is an area that is known as the center of gay nightlife in Manchester, but hardcore clubbers of all kinds can find something of interest in this rich nightlife district.
If you are already in England it’s easy to arrive in Manchester by train. Trips from London take between 2 and 3 hours depending on which service you choose. Buying tickets online ahead of time can dramatically cut the price. Otherwise, you’ll want to fly into Manchester International Airport. It’s the largest UK airport outside of London and it’s served by most major European cities as well as some services from far flung cities as well. It’s often cheaper to fly to London and take a train to Manchester, as good deals to London are easier to come by.
Where To Stay
There are several hostels in Manchester and of course quite a range of hotels and B&Bs as well. Summer is the busy time here and specifically July and August are packed so if you are coming during the peak times it really pays to book ahead.