Manchester is a big city, we won’t deny that, and we’ve been guilty of wandering into the wilderness of Greater Manchester after a few drinks far more often than we’d care to admit. As a tourist you’re more than likely to spend the majority of your time in and around the centre of town, so here is a handy little guide to the most important areas of Manchester’s heart, plus a couple of others Greater Manchester spots that are of particular interest.
Manchester’s pride and joy, the Northern Quarter is, well, a quarter found in the north of the city. This is where everything happens, where you’ll find the most famous bars, pubs and restaurants, where the nightlife runs from late at night until shepherd’s delight. Oldham Street is the epicentre, itself slated to eventually make it onto the UNESCO World Heritage list. You’re going to visit the NQ, one way or another.
Next door to the Northern Quarter we find Ancoats, the ‘world’s first industrial suburb’ has been undergoing a period of gentrification for a little while now. That might inspire some rolled eyes, but it also means great coffee shops, excellent restaurants, and fantastic bars.
Absolutely beautiful. Famous for its walkability, waterways and warehouses, Castlefield might just be our favourite party of the city centre. The UK’s first urban heritage park sprung up here in 1982, along with the first industrial canal on the planet. Try to snap a photo of each of the district’s iconic bridges.
Manchester has a reputation as a gritty city, but that grime won’t be seen in Spinningfields. The financial district is a haven for class and charm, a business district that still retains that Northern soul, provided you look closely enough. It might be office blocks and banks, but there are also plenty of great restaurants here, some of the best in the city in fact, so dismiss this wealthy spot at your peril.
Who doesn’t love a Chinatown? The paifang on Faulkner Street leaves you in no doubt as to where you are. The third largest Chinatown in Europe, the area ticks all the boxes we’ve come to expect from such spots. A fine roster of South Asian cuisine, covering everything from Chinese to Vietnamese via Malaysian and Thai, and all the rest.
Not a district in itself, but Canal Street is the very centre of Manchester’s Gay Village. It is lined with bar after bar and club after club, with plenty of restaurants in between. Keep an eye out for the defaced road sign, one of our favourite civil amendments on the continent.