Thursday 1 November 2018

Manchester Travel Guide - Where To Stay, What To See, Christmas Markets & More

Manchester is somewhere that I've enjoyed visiting for years now. It's one of the first places George and I went in our first year of being together and it's also the first place we ever went for a weekend away. Pretty much as soon as we got together, we had to grow up fast and then before we knew it we were at uni, then working and then looking for a place of our own. Before moving into our current flat though, we booked a little Christmas trip and it ended up being the best ever as we got engaged. It felt amazing to finally be away somewhere together even if it wasn't too far from home and obviously I had no clue how special it would end up being. Since then it's somewhere we've been back to multiple times so as I thought a little travel guide might be a good idea just like the ones I've written for York and Paris.
Manchester Albert Square

Where To Stay

There really is such a range of hotels available in Manchester whatever your budget may be. We personally love a Premier Inn, you can't go wrong with them and the particular one we like on Portland Street was renovated a few years ago so it really does feel much more luxurious than others we've stayed in and you can tell a lot of work has been done on it. It's also incredibly affordable, you can get a night for around £25 sometimes which for something basically next to the city centre, is brilliant. If you want something a bit higher end there are hotels like the Malmaison and Hotel Gotham. Manchester is great as if you just want somewhere cheap but actually nice for the night, there are loads of chains around the city, but for something a bit more special, you'll find an array of boutique hotels.
Hotel Gotham, Manchester

What To See

Arndale Centre - If you're in the city centre, then you don't want to miss a visit to the Arndale Centre. Before I first visited I wasn't expecting too much because I'd only been to the Trafford Centre before but it's actually so impressive and full of such a wide range of shops. You'll find shops like the Lindt store, Homesense, TK Maxx, Disney, Gino D'Acampo and loads more. It's just around the corner from a huge Primark too so that whole area is great for shopping.

Trafford Centre - I absolutely love a visit to the Trafford Centre. It's pretty much the Arndale but on a much bigger scale, and we never get round it all. There is a huge range of shops but the thing I love the most is the food hall. It's set out like a ship so as soon as you walk in, it just looks amazing and at Christmas they add some beautiful decorations too. 

Science & Industry Museum - If you love a museum then you'll find a few actually in Manchester. One being the Science & Industry museum which is devoted to all things science and technology with extensive displays, fun for all of the family to see. Another museum in the city is the National Football Museum which is a must for any big football fans.

Old Trafford - Sticking with a football theme, Old Trafford is a great place to visit. Not only does it look pretty special from the outside, you can also take part in stadium tours where you can walk through the players tunnel and sit in your favourite players seat. You can also do the same at the Etihad stadium too. 

Northern Quarter - The Northern Quarter in Manchester tends to be known as the trendy neighbourhood, probably somewhere not made for me. It's full of vibrant street art, buzzing restaurants and independent record stores and you'll also find some of the city's liveliest music venues there too.

Albert Square - This is basically the heart of Manchester. You'll find the Gothic style town hall and it's the hub for festive events. If you've seen pictures of the huge Santa that gets put up in Manchester each Christmas, well this is where it goes and each year they somehow manage to top the Christmas markets from the year before.

Central Library - There are quite a few libraries throughout Manchester but the main one you'll find just around from Albert Square is the Central Library. If you love a good book then this is the place for you, it's absolutely huge! There are also several events held there throughout the year and it's a place for all of the family to enjoy.

Manchester Bees - Whilst in Manchester, you've got to do a bit of beespotting. The Manchester Bees have been up around the city for a while now and when we last visited, we ended up seeing quite a few dotted around. You'll find an abundance of beautifully decorated bees in places like the Arndale Centre, Old Trafford, Central Library, Northern Quarter - pretty much everywhere you look you'll find another.
The Trafford Centre, food hall - Manchester
Manchester Bee - outside Piccadilly
The Trafford Centre, Manchester

Christmas Markets

I personally think the Christmas Markets are the best thing about Manchester. They always get it right, you just feel so festive as soon as you see all of the decorations and Albert Square always looks incredible. There are lots of different markets dotted around the city but the main one we go for is the one in Albert Square, which is where you'll find the massive Santa. It's always buzzing and as soon as you walk in, it just feels like Christmas has really started. You'll find an array of amazing food stalls, cute little homemade items, traditional wooden huts for your mulled wine and much more.
Manchester Christmas Market - Albert Square
Manchester Christmas Market - Albert Square, food stalls

Travel & Getting Around

Each time we've visited Manchester and wherever we've decided to go, it's always been extremely easy to navigate. Most places can be walked to and I wouldn't say any of the main attractions like the museums, the Arndale centre, the northern quarter etc are too far from one another so you can definitely fit a few things in during one day. For places a bit further out like the football stadiums and the Trafford Centre, there are several different buses that can get you there and from the centre you're looking at about a half an hour journey. When in the centre if you don't want to walk, there are free buses available which I found incredibly useful during our last visit. You can hop on and off whenever you see one and they basically keep going all day long so really are brilliant. I wish we had something like this in Sheffield as it's such a good idea. There are also trams throughout Manchester so plenty of public transport links for you to get around.

Whilst Manchester might not seem like the most exciting place to write a travel guide about, I loved putting this together and I hope it's useful if you're planning a visit, maybe this Christmas even. I'm really hoping we get to go back soon once the Christmas Markets start, they just do them so well and it's the perfect way to get you ready for the best time of the year!

Do you have any other ideas of things to do in Manchester?

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