Manchester's rich industrial past has brought it an enormous amount of fame over the years. But the English city has so much more to offer than just tours of old-world industrial spaces and war museums when it comes to the prospect of having a vacation.
Repurposed warehouse districts and immaculate cityscape are obviously big draws, but Manchester is also home to graffiti-laden artsy quarters, diverse districts with a burgeoning gastronomy and laid-back suburbs centred around major sporting venues. And all it takes is one weekend-long trip to get to experience the lesser talked about side of the city.
Manchester is an expansive city but the Metrolink network ensures a hassle-free commute. It also widens your options in terms of choosing the right base for your time in the city. But we have come up with a comprehensive guide to help zero down. Here, we have listed some of the best neighborhoods of Manchester and what they might have in store for you traveler!
The city centre is quite naturally the go-to choice for many first-time travellers flying into Manchester. The neighborhood is everything that you expect from a quintessential urban downtown area, just with a few added distinctive touches that pay homage to the city's rich past as an industrial town.
Start your city tours with a trip to N.O.M.A. district, the central shopping and entertainment hub in the City Centre. The bustling neighborhood is known for its varied range of restaurants and bars, many of which are among the city's most frequented. Younger crowds also spend time rummaging through the merchandise at local stores that for most central thoroughfares.
N.O.MA. also offers a unique cityscape, one which is characterised by modern and edgy designs. The circular Hotel Indigo building, the iconic egg-shaped One Angel Square, the sandstone-and-granite-heavy Hanover Building and other eclectic mixed-used spaces including the Sadler's Yard are only a few top picks from a rather long list of must-visit places.
The appeal of an immaculate cityscape goes beyond N.O.M.A. as other parts of the city centre are just as sophisticated. Springfields, another significant business district for instance, is just as well known for housing casual eateries and drinking holes in repurposed warehouse buildings and other industrial-vibe spaces.
Manchester has always had a large working class population and such venues are the People's History Museum - located on the Left Bank - pay homage to the rich history. Also popular with the travellers is the Opera House Manchester, an old-world performance venue that made a short foray hosting opera in its early years and the Manchester Art Gallery, known for its vast collection of exhibits.
City Centre is one of the best neighborhoods in terms of accessibility as well as hotels by virtue of being the city's central business district. Hotels are in plenty and among some of the finest that the city has to offer.
While technically still a part of the city centre, the compact neighborhood of Castlefield definitely warrants a separate mention of its own. Located on the southern bank of the Irwell River, this is the one neighborhood that captures Manchester's laid-back and relaxed vibe like no other.
An extensive canal network run through the neighborhood, lending it a unique appeal both in terms of cityscape and entertainment venues. The synonymously named Castlefield Bowl is one of the major draws; it sits atop the waterfront and offers a massive live performance venue as well as an array of takeout joints and unruffled eateries in walking distance.
Castlefield has some of Manchester's finest green spaces and offers a quick change of scenery from the red brick buildings. The Castlefield Urban Heritage Park has the Reconstruction of Mamucium Roman Fort Wall, which makes it a unique experience. Lush grounds and even the smaller picnic lawns by the side of the Irwell River and the neighborhood canals are just as popular with travellers.
And even outside of the green spaces, Castlefield continues to be one of the most walkable of all Manchester neighborhoods.
Trails that run along the waterways and quaint neighborhood streets all come alive in the evening as locals and travellers drop by the several mixed-use spaces that dot the major thoroughfares.
Castlefield is fairly close to the other central subdistricts so accessibility is a non-issue; the Deansgate-Castlefield station on the Manchester Metrolink is the central transportation hub. Many of the top accommodation options are concentrated around central thoroughfares.
Located slightly north of the city centre, the hip Northern Quarter is just the place for travellers looking to experience Manchester's 24/7 lifestyle. The neighborhood was once dominated by industrial warehouses, but following extensive gentrification, began to draw in entrepreneurs and young artists looking to establish businesses away from the British high streets.
The free-spirited boho vibe - which has become synonymous with the neighborhood - developed quite organically over the years as more and more independent artists and offbeat businesses set up shop in the more affordable spaces that were being offered around the Northern Quarter.
Today, you'll find an endlessist of art galleries and exhibition halls (more on that a little later) as well as quirk cafes and restaurants. Many of the eating joints host live musicians in a bid to promote local talent. That added with bigger acts headlining some of the shows draws in huge Gen Z crowds.
Going back to the artsy side of Northern Quarter, you'll find that the neighborhood streets are covered with graffiti and street art all around. And while such venues as the Manchester Crafts Centre and the Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art are mainstream draws, make sure that you keep an eye out for more studios and galleries because there's a good chance that you'll find several worthy stopovers.
Northern Quarter is serviceable through the Market Street and Piccadilly Gardens stations, which are located close to the southern end of the neighborhood. For travel within the smaller neighborhood, you might want to prefer walking as it'll give you a chance to stumble upon some great hidden gems.
Next up on the list is a neighborhood that brings together the historic industrial and boho elements from its neighbours quite well. The Ancoats, which was once the main centre of the city's thriving textile industry, is now home to some of the most eclectic gourmet and shopping districts in all of Manchester.
Diverse populations have dwelled in the neighborhood through the years and that has translated into the gastronomy that Ancoats offers today. Starting from Little Italy to Little Vietnam to Portugal and Bengal Streeta, you'll come across several enclaves offering global cuisine corresponding to their culture. Blossom Street - the central thoroughfare - brings a little bit of everything together to offer an eclectic mix.
Cotton mills and other textile industries dominated the cityscape. And while a huge chunk have been repurposed into lofts and modern business spaces, some of them have been preserved in their original state—look up the likes of the late 18th/early 19th century-built Beehive and Murray's Mill. Tour some of these spaces - some even only accessible by peepholes - to get a glimpse of Manchester's glorious industrial past.
Among some of the other must-visit neighborhood landmarks are the Cutting Room Square, a central meeting point with open air art installations and the St. Peter's Church, a former cathedral that now functions as a recording studio and has a performance hall that hosts local talents.
Sporting fans coming to Manchester always look to stay in the southern part of the city, in close proximity to the famed duo of Trafford sporting fields - the Manchester United's Old Trafford and the Lancashire County Cricket Club's Old Trafford Cricket Ground. The latter of the two is the central draw of the eponymous neighborhood.
The second oldest ground to have hosted a Test cricket match - being the Oval Ground - the Old Trafford Ground has a lot of history for the sport's fans. Tours are available and will take you around the stadium and it's accompanying grounds. The stadium also doubles up as a live concert venue so make sure you check the scheduling well ahead.
Steakhouses, casual diners and sports bars are the norm in the streets surrounding the stadium and the lush Seymour Park - the neighbourhood's other major green space. You can easily meet and socialize with fellow cricketing fans and even watch live games; the atmosphere can be just as rapturous as it gets in the stands of the Old Trafford stadiums.
Old Trafford is an expansive neighborhood but travel remains largely hassle free given that it has multiple stations on the Metrolink network. While in the neighborhood, you might want to look for a nice homestay or a bed and breakfast for your accommodation.
Head a little southwest and you'll find yourself marvelling at the 'The Theatre of Dreams' or the Old Trafford Football stadium - a mere 0.8 kilometres from the sister cricket ground. That's when you know that you've arrived in the outdoorsy suburban neighborhood of Trafford Park.
The majestic Old Trafford stadium has hosted Manchester United games for ages now, besides also being the venue for the such major events 2012 Summer Olympics, the 1996 FIFA World Cup, 2004 Champions League Final, the 1996 Euro Cup Bon Jovia and Bruce Springsteen concerts and Rugby League matches.
Old Trafford's suburban set-up makes it the ideal choice for families, who enjoy trips to such attractions as the SEA LIFE Aquarium, the Inflata Nation Inflatable Theme Park Manchester and the Chill Factore - an indoor snowboarding and skiing venue. Shopping malls housing big brand names and local businesses also draw in big crowds, especially during the weekends.
Old Trafford also has a little bit of something to offer for the history buffs. Sitting riverside, the Imperial War Museum is known for its vast collection of artefacts detailing several 20th century wars and its the three interlocking shards design. The building itself is located in the vicinity of the historically significant Manchester Ship Canal and is a rock's throw from other cultural landmarks including the Lowry Theatre.
Trafford Park might come across as a little farther out than some of the inner city neighborhoods, but access is fairly straightforward. The neighborhood is serviceable through the newly-constructed Trafford Park Line of the Manchester Metrolink. You shouldn't have too much trouble finding a decent accomodation option in any budget range either.
And that's our complete list from Manchester. Take a look and have a great time planning your next vacation; the Warehouse City awaits!