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14 Oct 2020 - 5 minutes

Our guide to Manchester’s top attractions

Manchester Top Attraction Heading

As the saying goes, when in Rome, do as the Romans do. But we’re not in Rome, we’re in Manchester, so do as the Mancunians do! And what is it that we do exactly? Well, when we’re not attending world-class sporting fixtures, dining in our booming restaurant scene or taking a stroll along our network of canals, we love to take a trip to some of the city’s top tourist attractions.

From the archives of the National Football Museum to the lively bars of Canal Street, Manchester has something for everyone!

Interior of the Science and Industry Museum in Manchester

The Science and Industry Museum is located on Liverpool Road, just off Deansgate. The museum is devoted to inspiring its visitors through ideas that change the world, from the Industrial Revolution to today and beyond.

In the free interactive gallery, get hands-on by staring into the mirror of infinity, find out if you have the strength to lift a Mini and watch your own skeleton ride a bicycle! Alternatively, go on a journey through Manchester’s rich legacy of industrial innovation in ‘Revolution Manchester.’ Here you can meet ‘Baby,’ a working replica of the Manchester Small-Scale Experimental Machine – the ancestor of every modern computer.

To find out more about what the museum has to offer, click here.

Manchester Cathedral in the summer with trees
Image: @mancunianphotography

Manchester’s magnificent cathedral is located in the heart of the Medieval Quarter, a historic part of the city alongside Chetham’s School of Music, Chetham’s Library and the National Football Museum.

The Grade I listed building was badly damaged during the Manchester Blitz of 1940. A German bomb exploded a few yards from the north-east corner, severely damaging the roofs and demolishing the medieval lady chapel and James Stanley’s chantry chapel. It took almost 20 years to complete the restoration.

Nowadays, the Cathedral hosts a variety of events from music concerts to food and drink fairs. The Cathedral is open Monday to Thursday 8.30am - 6.30pm, Friday and Saturday 8.30am - 5.30pm and Sunday 8.30am - 6.30pm and admission is free.

Exterior of Manchester Art gallery

Manchester Art Gallery is a publicly owned art museum on Mosley Street in the centre of the city. The main gallery is housed in a premise built for a learned society in 1823. The gallery has a collection consisting of more than 2000 oil paintings, 3000 watercolours and drawings, 250 sculptures, 90 miniatures and owns more than 13,000 decorative art objects including ceramics, glass, enamels and so on.

The gallery is free to enter and admission is by advanced booking only. Learn more here about the gallery and its current exhibitions.

External image of Imperial War Museum North at night

Imperial War Museum North is one of five branches of the Imperial War Museum, exploring the impact of modern conflicts on people and society. It is the first branch to be located in the north of England.

The museum features permanent exhibitions of chronological and thematic displays, and hosts a programme of temporary exhibitions. You are also able to immerse yourself in a 360-degree cinematic Big Pictures Show. The museum's striking design, three interlocking shards standing on the banks of Salford Quays, is a prime example of Deconstructivist architecture.

The museum is open between 10am and 5pm every day. Free tickets need to be booked in advance due to ongoing restrictions, and can be done so by visiting their website.

Exterior of the National Football Museum

Based in the Urbis building in Manchester city centre, the National Football Museum is England’s national museum of, you guessed it, football! It preserves, conserves and displays important collections of football memorabilia. With two of the country’s biggest football teams based in the city, it’s clear to see why Manchester was chosen for such a venue.

The museum is split out across 4 floors, and there is plenty for visitors to see and do. In the Pitch Gallery, see replicas of the FA Cup and Premier League trophies alongside the Hall of Fame, a full list of the museum’s inductees.

The Match Gallery houses items such as the first ever rule book from 1863, and a shirt from the first ever international football match between England and Scotland. Here you can also see the match ball from the 1966 World Cup Final with Diego Maradona’s “Hand of God Shirt.”

The Play Gallery features a variety of paid-for interactive games and the Score Gallery is a changing exhibition space that in 2018/19 hosted ‘The Game: Thirty Years Through the Lends of Stuart Roy Clarke.’

The museum is open Thursday – Sunday from 10.30am to 4pm. Book your tickets online here.

Exterior of HOME, Manchester's centre for contemporary theatre, film, art and music

HOME is Manchester’s centre for contemporary theatre, film, art, music and more. It was formed by the merger of two Manchester-based arts organisations, Cornerhouse and the Library Theatre Company. 2.9 million people have visited since 2015 to experience thrilling theatre and dance shows, great independent films from across the world and to dive into new art in its galleries.

Visit HOME’s website to find out what’s on and how to book tickets.

The front of Manchester Museum and the University of Manchester

Manchester Museum is the UK’s leading university museum and a proud part of the University of Manchester. It displays works of archaeology, anthropology and natural history. Their collection spans millennia, from dinosaur skeletons to mummies of Ancient Egypt. It would be impossible to list everything you can see and experience at the museum, but here are some of them: Ancient Egypt and Sudan, a Vivarium, Living Cultures, Earth Sciences, Money, Archaeology, Animals, Archery, Plants and Fungi and Entomology.

The museum gained worldwide interest in 2013 when a time-lapse footage showing a 10-inch Egyptian statue spinning around unaided. The university’s professor, none other than Brian Cox, suggested that “differential friction” was to blame between the glass and the shelf, possibly caused by vibrations from visitors.

The museum is open 11am-4pm Wednesday to Sunday, and you can book your free tickets here.

Exterior of The Whitworth art gallery in Manchester

As winner of Visit England’s gold prize for Large Visitor Attraction of the Year 2016 following a major £15 million redevelopment, the beautifully designed Whitworth Art Gallery is a must-visit attraction for a day out in Manchester. Located in Whitworth Park, the gallery is part of the University of Manchester and houses around 55,000 items in its collection.

The Whitworth Gallery is open from Wednesday to Sunday, 11am-4pm and free tickets can be booked on their website.

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