Manchester is one of the most vibrant cities in England, throbbing with creativity, full of interesting architecture and home to possibly the most famous football club in the world. There truly is something for everyone in this industrial city.
If you want bars, clubs, restaurants, nightlife? then Manchester has it all. Simply the Mancs know how to party and you can enjoy a good night every day of the week (the weekend starts on Thursday). There are at least 5 different areas within the city centre for drinking, where the pubs and bars follow in quick succession.
Manchester and the surrounding area is chock full of fun and fascinating museums that keep kids of all ages – and adults for that matter, enthralled and entertained.
Where to stay?
Hotel Novotel (21 Dickinson St, Manchester M1 4LX; 0161 235 2200) is located in the heart of the city, with easy access to Piccadilly and Oxford Rd stations, Novotel Manchester Centre is ideal for business travels and meetings, a 6 min walk from Manchester Central Complex. The hotel is also convenient for family breaks and entertainment trips just 10 min walk from the stadiums. After a long day, relax and unwind at the lively eXchange Food and Drink Lounge or re-energise in the sauna and steam room.
Where to eat?
Yang-Sing Restaurant (34 Princess St, Manchester M1 4JY; 0161 236 2200) was one of the first Chinese restaurants in the city and Chinatown has very much grown around it. The substantial building consists of five floors owned by the establishment (restaurant contained to the lower and ground floor). Menu is varied and offers a fair example of westernised Cantonese cuisine. The spacious surroundings offer a lovely, calm ambience and the decor is both welcoming and decadent, and will definitely leave a good impression. The double cooked prawn dumplings in a chicken broth are a delight.
What to see?
The HSBC UK National Cycling Centre (Stuart Street, Manchester M11 4DQ; 0161 223 2244) is Britain’s first indoor Olympic cycling track, and since it opened in 1994, has become one of the World’s finest, fastest and busiest Velodrome’s in the World, and the track is in constant use, fourteen hours a day, seven days a week and, thanks to the comprehensive programme of activities for all levels of ability, from elite athletes to novices, the track offers sessions to anyone seeking to experience this exciting sport.
Regular users of the track include members of the very successful GB track cycling teams and Paralympic team, such as Jason Kenny CBE, Laura Kenny (née Trott) CBE and Jody Cundy OBE, as well as local schoolchildren and track enthusiasts.
If you’re new to track cycling, you need to be able to ride a two-wheeled bike unaided, with sufficient fitness to ride for an hour on a taster session. The experience is amazing, initially terrifying but mostly exhilarating. You are given a pair of clip shoes and a helmet and then off to change. As you step out into the velodrome, the silence is surprising, the space so spectacularly surreal. The walls bank quite steeply, it’s a weird sensation as you venture further up the banking, remembering to keep a constant pace to prevent a calamitous crash and don’t forget to pedal continuously.
Manchester Art Gallery (Mosley Street, Manchester M2 3JL; +44 161 235 8888) is tucked away near China Town behind Piccadilly Gardens. Its a lovely place with a large collection of art pieces from different artists with differing styles, a really eclectic mix which covers many centuries of art work. There a quite a few rooms to view which will keep you comfortably occupied for several hours. The highlights is the opportunity to get up close and personal with some glorious L.S. Lowery paintings. There is free entry, all they ask is if you can simply leave a donation of your choice at the entrance on leaving.
A visit to Manchester is not complete for the obsessed cyclists unless you get yourself down to Popup Bikes (Arch 5, Corporation St, Manchester M4 4DG; 0161 839 0709) the business is set within old railway arches and offers an original place to enjoy a coffee after a long ride or just simply store your bike for the day. The ethos is simple, ‘to put community before profits’ which is commendable. The open airy space is a great place to meet friends or just linger over a cappuccino whilst your bike is being repaired.
Manchester Bike Hire (198-200 Chapel Street, Salford, M3 6BY; 0161 769 5050) was started in July 2013 with a handful of hire bikes. Founder Pavol Gajdos was joined by Richard Armitage in 2014 and together they formed Cycle Waggle Ltd. The company name is a nod to the ‘waggle dance’ of the humble but energetic bee, that well-known local symbol. Manchester Bike Hire has grown to provide traditional bike hire, retail and corporate bike repair and maintenance, and guided bike tours.
They offer all types of bikes at extremely competitive rates for either sightseeing or general travel.
Manchester Airport is less than 10 miles south of the city centre and direct flights arrive there from more than 200 destinations. It is well served by transport links to the heart of the city, with the fastest option being the train from the airport station (located between Terminals 1 and 2, and connected via a walkway). Standard single tickets cost £5, anytime short distance returns cost £9.90. The journey takes around 20 minutes. Check timetables at tpexpress.co.uk.
A Metrolink line has recently opened at Manchester Airport, which will make getting there even easier. Passengers can get a direct service to Deansgate Castlefield in the city centre, which takes around 45 minutes, or can change at Cornbrook for services to Manchester Piccadilly. An adult off-peak return ticket costs £4.40.
With frequent and fast services to London Euston (around two hours), Manchester Piccadilly is the city’s busiest station. The high number of destinations served by Piccadilly and the other stations in the centre – Victoria, Oxford Road and Deansgate – make visiting Manchester by train, or using the city as a base to explore the north of the UK, a good option.