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10 Free Things to Do in Manchester, England

If you’ve never been to Manchester, the UK’s favorite north-western city, you’ll need to change that ASAP. Manchester’s music scene changed the world, as did their input into the Industrial Revolution, where they became a bustling hub of research and development. This city’s rich history and culture has done nothing but expand, and today it’s home to incredible architecture, mind-blowing street art, an inclusive and diversive culture, and plenty of free things to do. Put these 10 activities on your Mancunian bucket list now.

Explore the City on Foot


Manchester is a small-ish city that’s easily accessible on foot. Especially if you’re sticking the center, where most of the action is. In fact, it’s only about 4.3, which means you can easily walk it in a day. This is the perfect opportunity to take in its architecture, which reminds us of a tiny New York, whilst bar hopping around the city people watching at your leisure (and there are plenty of bars to choose from too, so even if 4.3 sounds a little lengthy, there are plenty of oppurtunities to rest your legs.

Take a Self-Guided Street Art Tour

If you’re an avid reader of our blog, you’ll know that we love a artistic city. Manchester has an ever evolving art scene, and you shouldn’t miss out if you enjoy street art of any sort. Heading to the city’s edgy and alternative Northern Quarter is your best bet for discovering most murals, and handily enough, the NQ is a mere 10 minute (if that) wander from Manchester’s central train station Picadilly. Check out this site here if you fancy getting lost on a self-guided tour and get ready to drink in the artier side of this incredible city.

street art

Check Out Manchester From Above

Fancy heading to the highest bar in the city? Cloud 23 is Manchester’s sky high pride and joy; a cocktail bar in the clouds (on one of England’s darker days) that’ll give you a breathtaking view over the metropolis buzzing beneath your feet. Entry to the bar is free, although we’d heavily suggest you buy a drink while you’re there.

Picnic in the Park anyone?

If you manage to coincide your trip with a blisteringly hot day (which does happen, just not too often in the UK), then you’ll want to grab some food and drinks and head to one of Manchester’s many many many free green parks. We’d like to suggest Heaton Park, which prides itself on being the biggest and best park in the north west. You might fancy a stroll through the park itself, or perhaps you want to hire a rowing boat, or visit the animal center. There’s plenty to see and do. Plus they’re open from 8am till dusk, so there’s even chance of catching a stunning sunset too.

Visit the Museum of Science and Industry…

The Museum of Science and Industry is one of Manchester’s unmissable gems. Discover the roots of Manchester’s impact on the world and get involved with their awesome kids science area, where you can get your hands on plenty of their exhibitions and have a go at seeing science in action with your own eyes. It’s totally free, although you do have to book your tickets on their website before turning up. There’s also a few cafes inside, which means you can fuel up after all that learning.

…or any of Manchester’s other Fantastic Museums

There’s a list of museums in Manchester as long as your arm, and a lot of them are free to enter. Museums are the perfect way to while away the hours on a rainy day, whilst learning a few intriguing facts you’d never heard of before. There’s the Imperial War Museum, the Manchester Museum, and the People’s History Museum, to name but a few of the favorites, and they’re all worth a few hours of your time.

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Photo by Jack Park on Unsplash

Head to an Art Gallery

If art’s more your thing, Manchester have got that covered too. Some of the most famous Mancunian artists include Lowry, and Stanley Chow, but there are also lesser known names who deserve to be discovered too. Free art galleries in Manchester include: The Whitworth, Manchester Art Gallery (a personal favorite), and Castlefield Gallery. Again, you’ll find cafes in each gallery if you need to refuel after heading on your artistic journey, so you’ll never be too far away from a good cup of coffee and slice of cake.

Visit Affleck’s Palace

We’ve already mentioned the Northern Quarter, and for good reason. It’s teeming with edgier souls, and has some of the best bars and restaurants in the entire city, It’s also home to Affleck’s Palace, an alternative indoor market place full of inspiring and eccentric shops and stalls that’ll blow your mind. Whether you’re looking for new threads, a new tattoo or piercing, or simply want to channel your inner alternative persona, this place is not to be missed on your trip to Manchester.

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Photo by Chris Curry on Unsplash

Check Out Some Old School Buildings

Manchester has more old school buildings than you could imagine, including the John Ryland’s Library, a gothic Victorian library on Deansgate, and of course, Manchester Cathedral on Victoria Street. Both are free to enter and will leave you gobsmacked. They’re both visions stood between modern masonry that demand to be seen.

Head to an Outdoor Market

Ok, so market’s aren’t techincally free – you might find yourself digging out a few coins to buy yourself a souvenir or taste test the north’s cuisine, but there are always free samples to be found, and the atmosphere is usually electric. With the buzz of locals selling their wares, and pop-up stalls that come with trinkets from afar, heading to a market like Castlefield’s, the Northern Quarter’s Maker’s Market, or the Arndale’s is not to be missed.

We don’t blame you if you’re suddenly craving a trip to the metropolis of Manchester. With so much to see and do all in a small bubble, you can get a lot out of one of the UK’s favorite cities without having to spend a lot or take weeks to get through it all. If you fancy reading some of our other recent 10 free things to do in… series, click here.





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