Manchester is full of interesting history, and you can’t forget, their passion for soccer! It boomed in the 19th century when it became the first industrialized city, but then faced a steep decline as manufacturing left England. Today it is full of culture, restaurants, and a thriving business district. The city is most famous for its football (soccer) teams. It has two – Manchester United and Man City – and there’s a big rivalry between the two sides.
Hostel prices – Hostel dorms start $24 USD a night. Several are close to the Piccadilly Train station, and most offer free wifi too. If you’re looking for a private room, expect around $35 USD
Budget hotel prices – You can find a private room in a budget hotel starting around $65 USD per night. They all offer free wifi and breakfast.
Average cost of food – Manchester is filled with markets selling local and fresh meats, cheeses, wine, fruits, and vegetables. If you choose to cook and take advantage of these markets, groceries will cost you between $50-80 USD per week. Eating out will cost you a bit more, but to eat out as cheaply as possible, stick to the cafes and pubs where you can eat lunch for $13 USD.
Transportation costs – Taxis cost up to $25 USD within the city, and bus journeys vary in cost depending on where you are going, but are relatively affordable. You can buy a unlimited daily ticket on the bus for $11 USD.
Money Saving Tips
Eat lunch out, dinner in – If there’s one consistency in food prices in England, it’s that the best deals can be found by eating pub lunches. While dinners can cost upwards of $30 USD, you can normally find lunch in a pub for $10-15. Eat your lunches out, and cook your own dinners.
Buy a day ticket for bus travel – A variety of bus companies in the Manchester area offer day passes which can save a lot of money on your transportation costs. A day pass varies in price from $5-12 USD.
Top Things to See and Do
The University of Manchester – More than just a beautiful campus to walk through, the university is also the place where the first computer was built and where radio astronomy was created. There are tours of this sprawling campus that are really interesting.
Walk along Curry Mile – Take a walk along Curry Mile, a main street lined with restaurants, sari shops, and jewelry stores. Manchester has a lot of South Asian immigrants, and you will find great Indian food and curries here (hence the name).
Manchester Cathedral – This cathedral is the largest one in England and an interesting piece of architecture. The inside isn’t as elaborate as some other cathedrals in England but the size is really awe-inspiring.
Manchester Art Gallery – This gallery was designed by the same architect who constructed the House of Parliament. The art collection here isn’t as good as what you will find in London but they have a decent sized collection of 17th and 18th century works.
Stroll down Market Street – Market Street is lined with shops and is popular with younger people. You’ll find bagpipers on the streets and good outdoor cafes.
Albert Square – Albert Square is in the heart of the city. Most of the important landmarks and sights are within walking distance, and you’ll find old historic buildings and classic English architecture here.
Visit Castlefield – This site of the original Roman settlement is a good place for history buffs. The walls that still stand over two meters high are from as late as the 16th Century. It is the center of Manchester’s canal network and a transport nexus of unique historical importance.
Manchester Town Hall – This beautiful neo-Gothic masterpiece is a symbol of the wealth and power of Manchester during the Industrial Revolution. Free tours can be arranged and the state rooms are open to visitors when not in use. This place was built during the height of Manchester’s industrial influence.
Become a Football Hooligan – With two of England’s top Premier League teams (Manchester United and Man City), you can’t come to Manchester and not see a football game. Buy your tickets early as they often sell out. Otherwise, watch it in a pub with the rowdy local fans. Just make sure you don’t go to a Man U pub wearing a Man City shirt!
The Lesbian & Gay Heritage Trail – The gay scene in Manchester is considered to be unsurpassed outside of London. At the tourist office, you can pick up the Gay & Lesbian Village Guide, which lists tons of bars, galleries, clubs, and groups that cater to the community. The trail itself is a 90 minute walking tour of the city’s pink links.
Godlee Observatory – Built in 1902, this observatory is one of the most interesting places to see in town. The telescope housed here is original and still fully operational and in exceptional condition. The views of the city from the top are awesome.
Trafford Center – Just outside of town, this is the largest shopping center in the UK. There are over 280 stores and even overnight accommodations. It’s easy to spend days here as there is a vast variety of shops to check out. There is also an exceptional selection of international cuisine in the center.
Nightlife – The club scene here is one of the biggest in England. Many big names, such as Chemical Brothers and Daft Punk, started out playing at places like Sankey’s and FAC 251. For those of you not so interested in dancing, there are plenty of quieter places to spend your evening. Brightons Protection is a great place to grab a meal and sample any number of their 200 different kinds of whisky.