A Manchester travel guide - a sports Mecca, music capital and cultural centre

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A Manchester city break will put you in the centre of north-west England’s cosmopolitan life with its pioneering music scene, galleries, museums and shows. Book a Manchester hotel and lose yourself in this mesmerising city where industrial revolution meets cutting-edge architecture.

Get your bearings

Manchester Piccadilly is the driving pulse of the city with its busy rail station and Arndale shopping centre. Canals are spun like a web across the city. To the west of the centre the GMex Exhibition Centre and Salford Quays bring new business and arts to the canal front. Feel the buzz of academia on the greens of the university sprawling south on Oxford Road.

A competitive edge

Hear the crowd roar as the players emerge from the tunnel at so-called Theatre of Dreams Old Trafford, home of Manchester United football team. Local rivals Manchester City play at the City of Manchester Stadium, in the grounds of the 2002 Commonwealth Games. There’s more to Manchester than football – cricket’s star is on the rise, with fast-paced Twenty20 matches at the Old Trafford County Cricket Club.

Music legends

Mancunians insist that the city is the centre of the musical universe. Fans of the Smiths, Oasis or Take That might agree. Rock legends play at the old 1930s cinema which is now the intimate Apollo venue on Ardwick Green, and unsigned bands hope for their big break at Manchester Academy. Thousands flock to the colossal, indoor Manchester Evening News Arena when the big names are in town. Hear symphonies at the Bridgewater Hall – home of the Hallé, Britain’s longest-established symphony orchestra.

A story through buildings

Manchester architecture tells the tale of this evolving city in all shapes and sizes. The aluminium tower of the daring Imperial War Museum North and The Lowry art gallery are linked by a bridge over the Manchester Ship Canal. The audacious Urbis exhibition centre in Cathedral Gardens is like a glass version of New York’s Flatiron Building. The neo-Gothic Town Hall with its towering clock face looms over Albert Square, in contrast to the neoclassical circular Central Library in nearby St Peter’s Square. 

Market style shopping

Markets span most days of the week. Time your visit to pick up some produce at the farmers’ market on central Tibb Street or bouquets at Piccadilly Flower Market. For recycled treasure rummage through the neighborhood flea markets in Longsight and Moss Side, or the Sunday car boot sales at New Smithfield Market. For household brands under one roof, stay central at the Arndale Centre, or decamp west to the Trafford Centre for fashion or interior designs at the adjacent Barton Square.