This Is How You Have To Spend 24 Hours In Manchester

Discover the city's beating heart...

Piccadilly1

There’s much more to Manchester than two football teams, memories of the Hacienda and club nights that cling desperately to the Stone Roses. 

If you only have 24 hours to explore the city, dig a little deeper and discover delicious brunches, secret libraries and bustling markets.

9am

Start the day right with breakfast and a cup of artisan coffee in one of Manchester's finest coffee houses - Icelandic-inspired Northern Quarter café Takk. Situated on a small side street in the heart of the city’s 'hipster district', you’ll find an effortlessly cool crowd working on their laptops as they sip single origin coffee exported directly from Berlin’s achingly cool roaster, The Barn. Vegetarians will adore their eggs three ways or French toast, but it’s their infamous MAC sandwich boasting layers of bacon, smashed avocado and chipotle ketchup that we recommend.

10.30am

Leaving Takk with a full belly, head over to Oldham Street for a quick browse among the horde of independent shops. Fig & Sparrow is great for gifts, Piccadilly Records is a local institution and Magma is your one-stop destination for an impressive supply of independent magazines and design books. If you’re seeking vintage, Cow and Retro Rehab are the two biggest names in the vicinity.

11.30am

Just a short walk beyond Piccadilly Gardens lies one of Manchester’s best-kept secrets. We’re famed for our libraries (check out John Ryland’s and Chetham’s if you have time), but it’s the Portico special collections library and gallery that we recommend visiting. 

Several areas of the building are restricted to members only, but if you are visiting on a Monday or Tuesday, it is possible to book onto a tour of the library where you can learn more about its collections and impressive architecture. There is also a free gallery area with a rotating series of intriguing exhibitions.

12.30pm

Feeling peckish? Head to Portland Street to seek out the newly opened Leaf for a tasty lunch. The two-story tea house, café, bar and arts space offers a variety of nibbles, sandwiches and mains alongside a mouth-watering array of cakes and an impressive collection of teas.

Did someone say brunch? We're serving brunch until 3pm all weekend! #brunchtime #manchester #mcrfoodie #mcruk 📷: @londonyblue

A photo posted by LEAF on Portland St (@leafonportlandst) on

2pm

Next on our whistle-stop tour is Victoria Baths, a Grade 2 listed building just a short taxi ride out of the city centre. 

The Edwardian swimming baths is currently undergoing a huge restoration project, beautifully preserving the original features and their three swimming pools. Although the long-term aim is to reopen the building as a Turkish bath and spa (its original purpose) it is sadly not open for that just yet. 

It is possible, however to book onto a tour of the building, and there are an array of special events hosted here throughout the year, including craft beer and gin festivals, vintage fairs and the occasional theatrical performance. 

4pm

Fancy a little fresh air? Stroll down to Oxford Road, hop on a number 42 bus and disembark the other side of Didsbury Village where Fletcher Moss awaits. The botanical gardens may be small, but the woods, meadows and river banks that lie behind them are the local’s favourites green spaces to escape the city streets. 

Beautiful in any season, whether the flowers are in full bloom or the leaves of the trees have turned a rustic golden, the area provides a welcome respite from the city centre which is quite frankly lacking a decent park.

6pm

There are plenty of eateries in Didsbury Village, but if you want to experience some place truly special, hop on a tram towards Altrincham to experience the recently refurbished market house that was awarded the Best Market in the UK by Observer Food Monthly in 2015. Inside the bustling market hall you’ll be spoilt for choice with the selection of vendors offering everything from wood-fired pizza to artisan pies and delicious cakes. 

Five days of the week there is also an intriguing outdoor market offering everything from fresh bread to mid-century furniture (depending on the day of the week.)

9pm

Feeling suitably stuffed, hop on the tram back into the city centre to end your day where you started with a couple of drinks in the Northern Quarter. There are a wide selection of traditional pubs, hipster bars, dingy basement venues and elegant cocktail bars, catering for all preferences. 

Don’t stick to the main roads, you’ll discover the best drinking dens filled with locals by investigating side streets and alleyways.

Hold Fast lurks beneath Hatter’s Hostel but it's far from your typical hostel bar, boasting live music and a wide variety of cocktails to enjoy - and the décor's inspired by the tales of Jules Verne. 

The Fitzgerald is modelled on a prohibition-era speakeasy, accessed via an unassuming doorway on an alleyway and boasting an impressive list of decadent cocktails and the occasional live jazz performance. 

Dusk Til Pawn may look upon first glance to be an old pawn shop, but it’s actually one of the area’s best kept secrets with cosy seating and inventive cocktails waiting inside. 

If you’re seeking something a little more lively, Twenty Twenty Two NQ is a large open-plan basement bar featuring colourful murals on the walls, a rotation of DJ’s playing upbeat tunes and even a room filled with ping-pong tables to hire for the evening.

READ NEXT: The Top 10 Cups of Coffee in Manchester

Written By

Emma Lavelle

Wannabe Scandinavian living in Manchester who loves discovering new places. Can usually be found drinking gin or walking her dog.

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