For high-end shops, go to The Royal Exchange, which was once the hub of the world’s cotton trade. Now there are luxury retailers, high-street brands and boutique shops.
You’ll find loads of household names at the Trafford Centre including Selfridges, John Lewis and Superdry.
Oklahoma is a huge shop for gifts and household items. It’s wonderful for unusual products including jewellery, books, retro sweets and kitchenware.
For gorgeous food, visit the Piccadilly Street Food Market open every Thursday, Friday and Saturday for food from around the world such as bread, gourmet sausages, New York fries and curries.
The Oxfam Original shop is a fabulous place for getting vintage clothes as well as designer labels at super prices. Plus you’re supporting a great cause and helping the planet by reusing existing clothes.
At least one trip to Manchester’s Chinatown is highly recommended. It’s the third largest Chinatown in Europe and has great Chinese, Thai, Korean, Japanese and Vietnamese restaurants as well as Chinese supermarkets and medicine shops. Look out for the archway on Faulkner Street which was specially built in China and is adorned with fantastic dragons and phoenixes. We recommend dinner at the Yang Sing in a beautiful Grade Two-listed building and is now run by the third generation of the Yeung family.
For fine city views, book a table at 20 Stories rooftop restaurant and cocktail bar at the top of a 20-storey building. It’s run by local celebrity chef Aiden Byrne and is a seriously cool place to eat modern British food with a twist or enjoy a drink – try the 20 Stories cocktail if you love gin.
If you’re a Man Utd fan, head a few miles west of Manchester to Worsley to eat at George’s Dining Room & Bar run by the legendary Ryan Giggs. The menu is modern British with some interesting vegetarian choices.
Manchester has several great fish and chip restaurants. A favourite is The Hip Hop Chip Shop as it’s a great place for socialising, thanks to the many events it holds. The food is hot too if you are hankering after fish and chips or a pie. There are some days when a bowl of chips, cheese and curry sauce washed down with a Manchester Bitter beer really hit the spot!
The Printworks is a buzzy entertainment hotspot open 20 hours a day. It used to be a publishing house and now has 16 bars and restaurants, an amazing Vue cinema, and gym with a pool plus events galore. What’s really cool is that the rooftop garden has beehives, beetles and an allotment. Whatever you fancy in the way of food or entertainment, be it the music at Hard Rock Cafe, German beer at The Bierkeller or Brazillian cocktails and dancing at Floripa, The Printworks delivers.
The Gay Village around the vibrant Canal Street is another amazing place for a night out with loads of restaurants, bars and clubs to meet friends. It’s certainly one of the liveliest areas of Manchester. Take your pick from a wide range of venues such as a lush cocktail at Velvet Bar, Cruz 101 for late night partying – this venue was the Babylon bar in TV show Queer As Folk – or drinks offers at “the lesbian mecca of the north”, Vanilla.
Manchester has its fair share of Victorian boozers but one of the most charming is The Peveril of the Peak which has a large selection of real ales and lagers. It’s a traditional pub with a glorious green-tiled exterior and an interior full of polished wood and stained glass.
It’s practically compulsory to go to the football or at least visit a stadium. You can take a tour of the 75,000-capacity Old Trafford stadium which includes a walk down the tunnel on to the pitch to get a feel of what it’s like to be a Manchester United superstar. Alternatively you can take a tour of the Manchester City stadium which includes a trip to the trophy room and the pitchside dugouts.
The National Football Museum in Manchester charts the history of football plus you get a chance to test your silky skills at the interactive stations.
Go to Salford Quays for a walk along the canal and a visit to the MediaCityUK for a tour of the northern headquarters of the BBC as well as the Imperial War Museum North. The Lowry arts centre is also in Salford where you can see some of his individualistic paintings as well as explore its restaurants, shops and theatre.
For something out of the ordinary, take a trek to the Grade Two-listed Monastery in Gorton. Originally built by the Franciscan brothers, the buildings of this Gothic masterpiece have been lovingly renovated. Check the website for any events such as live music and workshops.
Visit Chetham’s Library, the oldest surviving public library in the English-speaking world. The library dates from 1421 and more than half of its collection was published before 1851.