Manchester is a bustling city full of history and a great place to visit, but you don’t always need to be balling (as the cool kids say) to have a good time. Here’s 10 fabulous places to visit for free in Cottonopolis.
The Science & Industry Museum
Open daily from 10 till 5, the Science & Industry Museum (previously MOSI) celebrates Manchester’s role in the industrial revolution, as well as how science and industry are involved in the city’s present. The site is impressive, set across five listed buildings, and houses a collection of Victorian steam machinery.
Do be aware that the museum often hosts visiting exhibitions which may charge, but these never take up much room and there’s plenty to see outside of them. Other costs you can opt to pay are the steam railway and the café (open weekdays 8 to 5 and weekends 9 to 5.)
Website: Science and Industry Museum
Address: Liverpool Road, Manchester M3 4FP
Next to the Science and Industry Museum, Castlefield is one of the largest conservation sites in Manchester. It dates back to Roman times and the remains of a Roman fort are interesting to walk around, while the grassed area makes it a perfect picnicking spot when the weather is good. If not, then there’s plenty of cafes dotted around the fort and along the canal side.
Website: Castlefield – Manchester City Guide
Address: Castlefield, Manchester M3 4FP
With a history dating back to 700AD, the Cathedral is one of only 15 grade I listed buildings in Manchester. Built in a perpendicular gothic style, the Cathedral was damaged during the Manchester Blitz and IRA bombing, but has since been painstakingly repaired. You can attend a guided tour of the Cathedral by one of the knowledgeable volunteers or simply explore at your own pace. There is also a visitor centre where you can find out more about the history of the Cathedral and view the ancient monument – The hanging bridge.
Website: Manchester Cathedral
Address: Victoria St, Manchester M3 1SX
Manchester Town Hall
Situated in Albert Square, Manchester Town Hall is one of the most revered Grade I listed building in the UK. Built in 1987, the Town Hall is famous for its Neo-Gothic architecture. Open every day except Sunday, visitors can walk round the various rooms and enjoy some of the stunning murals which adorn the walls.
Website: Manchester Town Hall
Address: Albert Square, Manchester M60 2LA
John Ryland’s Library
If you’re visiting Manchester, then a pop into John Rylands Library is a must. Built in 1890 as a memorial for one of the city’s most successful industrialists – John Rylands – the exterior is stunning Victorian gothic architecture that looks more like a castle.
Inside is just as impressive, and holds a fine collection of books and manuscripts, including one of the oldest pieces of the New Testament. The library holds a range of events and activities, which you can find out about here.
Website: John Rylands Library
Address: 150 Deansgate, Manchester M3 3EH
Manchester Art Gallery
Another impressive Victorian building houses The Manchester Art Gallery, which has existed for nearly 200 years and holds over 25,000 pieces of fine art, crafts and costume from pre-Raphaelite paintings to modern art. The gallery runs a range of events throughout the year for both adults and children.
Website: Manchester Art Gallery
Address: Mosley St, Manchester M2 3JL
Known as ‘the gallery in the park’, the Whitworth Art Gallery is set in a glorious green space right in the heart of the city. The gallery hosts an eclectic collection of fine art, textiles, and prints as well as one of the best collections of wallpaper in the UK, and its art garden, landscape gallery and sculpture terrace have won awards and the 2015 Art Fund. It hosts a calendar of events and actives for young and old throughout the year.
Website: The Whitworth
Address: Oxford Rd, Manchester M15 6ER
The National Football Museum
Manchester is home to two major football clubs – United and City – so having the National Football Museum here seems an obvious choice. It’s the perfect place to visit for any football fan, with a range of displays and attractions that cover everything about the nation’s favourite sport, from the game’s history through to how the media has effected how its viewed and its reputation. Housing in the Urbis building in the city centre, there’s plenty of hands-on activities including the chance to try your own penalty shoot-out!
Website: The National Football Museum
Address: Urbis Building, Cathedral Gardens, Todd St, Manchester M4 3BG
The People’s History Museum
If you’re a history buff, then The People’s History Museum is a must visit. Based in a purpose-built building alongside the River Irwell, its focus is on democracy, the struggle for equality, and the history of the British working classes.
Website: People’s History Museum
Address: Left Bank, Spinningfields, Manchester, Lancashire M3 3ER
Centre For Chinese Contemporary Art
Manchester’s Chinatown is the second largest in the UK and has existed since the 1950’s, and this rich culture is represented by the Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art. It has a varied and innovative programme of exhibitions, and has featured some great artists over the years. It also hosts a range of informative talks, sessions and workshops – many of which are free.
Website: Centre For Chinese Contemporary Arts
Address: Market Buildings, Thomas St, Northern Quarter, Manchester, M4 1EU
There are tons more places to visit, but these should get you going. Have you visited any? If so, what did you think?