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Often named the ‘Capital of the North’, Manchester is one of the most dynamic and lively cities in Europe. From Chinatown to Canal Street, the Northern Quarter to Spinningfields, this is definitely a city worth visiting. And, with trains to Manchester from Leeds and Preston taking less than an hour and around 2 and half hours from Newcastle, it’s easy to explore for a day, a weekend or longer.
All TransPennine Express services stop at Manchester Piccadilly or Manchester Oxford Road. You can continue your journey on free city centre buses that operate outside Manchester train stations on a regular basis. In addition, Manchester Plusbus offers unlimited bus travel around the city and can be bought with your train ticket for £3.90 (£2.60 with a Railcard). The Metrolink tram system runs through Manchester city centre and beyond, with an interchange at Manchester Piccadilly and Victoria stations.
If you want the chance to lift the Premier League trophy, make tracks to The National Football Museum. Pre-Raphaelite paintings more your thing? Manchester Art Gallery has an outstanding mix of classical and contemporary art, as well as the family friendly Clore Art Studio. Finally, explore a history of conflict through powerful exhibitions and interactive displays at the Imperial War Museum North – it’s free and just taking in this striking, modern building is one of most-inspiring things to do in Manchester.
Manchester now seems to have more restaurants than people, and the biggest challenge will be deciding where to try. If organic food is your cup of (green) tea, don’t miss The 8th Day veggie café. Grafene serves modern British grub with a contemporary twist. It’s not the cheapest, but it is one of the best. For traditional cuisine, you can’t go wrong at time-warp dining room Mr Thomas’s Chop House. Then there's Almost Famous, which has put the dirty burger on the map. Juicy, stacked and full of flavour, try the Triple Nom or Johnny Mac. Room for dessert? Head next-door to Home Sweet Home for the cakeshake of your dreams!
Albert Square is dominated by the beautiful Gothic town hall and the similarly ornate Albert Memorial. Every year the square hosts the Christmas market, where you can buy hand-crafted gifts from across Europe. Manchester’s Gay Village centres on Canal Street. A haven of bars and restaurants, this is the place to put on your glad rags and let your hair down. The Museum of Science + Industry is packed with hands-on exhibitions and a huge collection of vintage. With retail outlets, river cruises, music venues and restaurants, The Quays is Manchester's waterfront destination. Just 15 minutes by tram from the city centre, it's an ideal destination for a day out.
Manchester Arndale is one of the UK's largest inner-city shopping complexes and it has almost everything you need under one roof. However, if you want a little bit more, opposite Manchester Arndale on Exchange Square you’ll find Harvey Nichols and Selfridges. Manchester’s Craft & Design Centre is the place to go if you want to discover something truly unique. You’ll find it full of independent makers selling clothing, textiles, ceramics and accessories. Finally, House of Fraser (known locally as Kendals) is a Manchester shopping classic that has all your favourite brands.
For more ideas of what to do in Manchester, check out Visit Manchester.