Manchester was hailed as the world’s first modern city in the early 19th century, and the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution...
... still bristles with confidence and energy today. Whether you're coming for the buzzing cultural scene, one of the two huge football teams, or something else entirely, you'll be joining over 40 million leisure and business visitors a year. Manchester shows no signs of slowing down.
Arriving at Manchester Airport
Manchester is one of the best-connected business and leisure destinations in the country, and its airport has three terminals handling over 23 million passengers a year. With direct flights to more than 200 destinations, and 60 national and international carriers, it’s the third busiest airport in the UK, after London Heathrow and Gatwick.
Train is the quickest and most convenient form of public transport for getting into the city. You can reach the station from the terminals via a covered walkway, and the journey to central Manchester takes around 20 minutes, with regular services seven days a week. You can also join the Metrolink tram network at the station. Trams run every 12 minutes, but they're stopping services that run through the city's southern suburbs. Unless you're heading to that part of town, the train is a better option.
For a cheaper journey, try local bus and coach services, which reach the city centre, in 20 to 35 minutes. Or save your energy for seeing the city and splash out on a metred taxi, available outside all three airport terminals.
Manchester city centre is compact and walkable. If you need directions, you can always ask a City Host, tourist information officers who you’ll encounter as you explore. When walking isn’t an option, public transport makes it just as easy to get around.
The free hop-on-hop-off Metroshuttle bus service links Manchester’s main railways stations to city centre shops and businesses. Buses run every 10 to 12 minutes, seven days a week.
Manchester’s Metrolink is one of the UK’s most efficient light railway networks. Trams run every 12 minutes, cover the entire city centre, and link up with connecting transport across the Greater Manchester area. They're the best way of getting out to the cultural hub at Salford Quays.
Frequent train services from Manchester Piccadilly, Victoria and Oxford Road stations connect the centre to major city districts and Greater Manchester areas. You can also easily travel by train to all major UK towns and cities, both north and south.
Manchester City Council licenses both black cabs and private mini cabs. You’ll find taxi ranks across the city, or you can book online.
Manchester water taxis make use of the city’s Salford and Bridgewater Canals to sail passengers from the city centre to a number of popular destinations, including Old Trafford and Salford Quays. Tickets can be booked online.
A car isn’t usually necessary for getting around Manchester, but if you're going further afield and do need to hire one, you'll find several providers at the airport.
Manchester’s neighbourhoods all have their own unmistakable character. In an ideal world you'd be able to take your time and find your favourite, but if the clock is ticking, these are are some of the must-see areas:
City Centre: For business and shopping
The city centre has been the commercial heart of Manchester for hundreds of years. Today you'll see less grain and fewer textiles, but the energy that drove 18th-century Mancunian merchants is still very much in evidence. There are over 400 retail businesses in the centre, ranging from designer fashion stores to high-street brands to quirky independent boutiques. Most are within walking distance of Piccadilly Station.
Northern Quarter: For authentic city cool
Just east of the city centre, the historic Northern Quarter is Manchester’s hippest area – think rising-star restaurants, great coffee shops, second-hand shops and funky cocktail and craft beer bars. Narrow streets, little alleys, and historic 18th and 19th-century architecture make an effortlessly characterful district. Not to be missed, even on a flying visit.
Salford Quays: For culture on a grand scale
The Quays is a former docklands district that has been gradually transforming into a modern culture and media hub. The BBC and ITV have huge offices here, looking down on a wide public plaza dotted with bars and cafes. For leisure visitors there's the Lowry theatre and gallery, and the Imperial War Museum North, which mixes a strong permanent collection with special exhibitions. Even the water has history here – it's the famous Manchester Ship Canal, which you can also explore on guided cruises (mostly departing from Castlefield, to the west of the city centre).
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