Last updated on August 19th, 2019
Hi guys, we just came back from a weekend in Manchester and I can’t wait to share with you the top things to do in Manchester for millennials besides football. If you’re looking for fun, trendy, hip and alternative things to do in Manchester – you’re in the right place.
Of course, I’ll mention a couple of very touristy spots that will be on the list of most travellers, but I will mainly try to focus on things that you (as a millennial) might like because we liked it too!
Manchester is a very hip and a cool city and it has its atmosphere and vibe. Manchester is famous for its food and nightlife and it might not be the prettiest or the most polished city (don’t expect something like Belgravia in London), but it has a character! If you have never been to Manchester before and you want to compare it to London, compare it to Shoreditch. Also, don’t expect amazing weather and pack an umbrella or a rain poncho. It rains A LOT in Manchester, but there are plenty of things you can do indoors as well during your weekend in Manchester.
The best time to visit Manchester
If you’re wondering what’s the best time to visit Manchester, well… Summer is great, as it’s generally warm, about 18-20 degrees, sometimes even warmer, but Autumn is also nice. November, February and March might not be the greatest idea, as the city is generally gloomy and cold in this months, however, April and May and September and October could be wonderful. As I said before, it rains a lot in Manchester and it could rain all summer, so if you want to make sure that there is no rain at all, try to plan your trip last minute.
How far is Manchester from London?
Manchester is really not too far from pretty much anywhere in England unless you’re based in Penzance. If you’re wondering, how far is Manchester from London, well, just over 2 hours by train. That’s really almost nothing, so if you really want, you can even come for a day trip to Manchester. However, I would recommend visiting Manchester for a weekend (at least). If you’re travelling with your partner or friend and you travel by train together a lot, make sure to apply for a Two Together railcard – believe me, you’ll save a lot of money.
Where to stay in Manchester?
Another question is where to stay in Manchester. If you want to splurge, stay in the King Street Townhouse – it was an amazing rooftop swimming pool. We stayed in the Lowry Hotel provided by Visit Manchester (huge thanks to Visit Manchester for organising my trip) and it was great! They even prepare you an avocado on toast in the morning, which is fabulous! Some other, more affordable, but still great options include AC Hotel Manchester Salford Quays or Roomzzz Manchester.
If you’re up for a cool hostel, then check YHA Manchester out.
Okay, enough information, let’s start with the main topic – the best things to see in Manchester for millennials (besides football).
Top things to do in Manchester for millennials (2 days in Manchester)
Admire the beautiful John Rylands library
If you’re a millennial, chances are, you like Harry Potter (or at least you’ve read the books or watched the movies). While John Rylands library only had a tiny episode in Harry Potter movies, it definitely has a Harry Potter vibe. This gorgeous library was open to the public in 1900 and it’s free to visit. It’s actually a working library, so you have to keep quiet, as some students might be studying in there.
Nonetheless, John Rylands library is a great spot for photos and it’s such a pleasure to walk around and discover the hidden gems of the library. It’s also open 7 days a week, so you can visit it during your 2 days in Manchester.
Explore the Northern Quarter
Northern Quarter used to be a very industrial part of the city, however, since all the industry closed in Manchester, the places stood empty for a while. Now Northern Quarter is one of the trendiest places in the entire Manchester – it’s home to numerous shops, stores, art spaces, co-working spots, coffee shops, bars, brunch places, restaurants and it also has some amazing street art.
Find the best street art in Manchester (with an exact location below) – Arya Stark and Eleven from Stranger Things & more
While Manchester is not the street art capital of the UK (it’s probably Bristol – you can read more about my experience looking for street art in Bristol in this post), it does have some impressive incredible street art. We haven’t followed any self-guided tour or organised a tour of street art spots in Manchester, but nonetheless, we spotted a lot of amazing street artworks and below are some of my favourite ones with an exact location.
So here’s an incredible street art of El or Eleven from the Stranger things located at the Copperas Street in the Northern Quarter.
Or Arya Stark street art in Manchester – located right at the Stevenson Square.
I also liked this bird located at the Dale street.
And this one at the Bridge Street.
And there are some more of the fine examples of street art in Manchester:
Go on a tour in Manchester
Have an authentic Taiwanese boba tea in Manchester
Another of the cool things to do in Manchester is trying an authentic Taiwanese bubble tea in Manchester. Manchester is a very international city and besides, it’s a student city, that’s why there are plenty of spots to try bubble tea (boba tea). My favourite is probably Gong Cha – an international chain that opened in Manchester a couple of months ago. Try their brown sugar pearl milk tea – if you never tried a boba tea before, you will definitely like it.
I’m somewhat crazy about bubble tea – you can even find my guide to the best bubble tea in London here.
Go shopping to Affleck’s
One of the most unique stores in Manchester is Affleck’s – located in the heart of the Northern Quarter, it’s home to over 60 different stores, ranging from local merchandise with a symbol of Manchester – the bee to tattoo studios and gothic everyday wear.
You can literally spend hours in Affleck’s and it’s a great place to buy something unique that you won’t be able to find anywhere else. It’s also a nice place to hide from the rain, so make sure to check it out!
Have brunch at Evelyn’s
Manchester has a lot of amazing brunch spots and Evelyn’s one of them. Did you know that Manchester is a vegetarian capital of the UK? Well, now you know. If you’re a veggie or a vegan, you’ll be in paradise in Manchester – there are SO MANY places that serve delicious plant-based food. If you eat everything, you will also find a lot of places. Evelyn’s is a great choice because it has a lot of plant-based dishes as well as meat/fish dishes, so everyone can find whatever they like there. Plus the place is really pretty and not expensive. Enough reasons to visit Evelyn’s?
Look for the most Instagrammable spots in Manchester
I’ll be writing a separate post about it, so once it’s finished, I’ll link it here. As I already mentioned, Manchester is not a picture-perfect polished pink city full of flowers, but there are many photogenic locations in the city. You just need to find them!
Have dinner at Mackie Mayor
One of the best and quite affordable dinner options in Manchester is heading to Mackie Mayor – a huge covered space with over 5 food stalls and 3 bars that served one of the best pizzas I’ve tried in my entire life. Actually, everything we tried there, was amazing, so I really recommend this place. As it’s a kind of street food market of Manchester (however covered), you can’t book a table and there are benches, rather than tables, so you have to be quick and grab a spot for you and your friends / partner.
Visit the Lowry (not the hotel)
If you’re interested in art, you should definitely head to the Lowry – a very modern art complex that is a must in Manchester.
The only downside is that it’s a bit far, so I suggest you ask for an Uber. There are many more art galleries and museums in Manchester, so if it’s something you like a lot, you can also visit the Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester Art Gallery, Manchester Museum or IWM North. If you only have 2 days in Manchester, you won’t be able to visit all of them, so you’ll have to pick the one that reflects your interests more than the others.
Visit a hip cocktail bar in Manchester
There are so many amazing bars in Manchester, that I just couldn’t recommend only one. Laundromat is probably the coolest bar, as it’s a secret hidden bar that looks like, well, a laundromat. You need to open the door of a massive washing machine to go in. How amazing is that?
The Alchemist in Manchester does some pretty unique cocktails, while Jane Eyre is a perhaps, a less busy, but a very nice and cosy bar.
Finally, you can head to Twenty Twenty, where you can see people, that dress up A LOT. Make sure not to show up in jeans and sneakers, as the bouncer might not let you in. The views from the top floor as absolutely fantastic though.
Of course, you can also visit the Old Trafford and the Etihad Stadium (the stadium of Manchester City), however, I promised to keep this post football-free.
I hope you enjoyed reading this post and now you know about more things to do in Manchester!