How To Spend a Weekend in Manchester

Manchester is where industry meets hipster cool. It is full of inventive bars, quirky hangouts, and colourful street art.

Here are some of my favourite things to do in this city.

Bar Hopping

It is no surprise that the English like to drink. It seems that everywhere you look in central Manchester there is a new trendy bar on the corner.

The Thirsty Scholar

Start in Oxford Road at The Thirsty Scholar. Not only are there plenty of beer options to choose from but it is also serves vegetarian and vegan brunch. Just outside you can find some truly epic street art.

The Font

Just across the road from the Thirsty Scholar is your next bar, The Font. Now while this bar has a slightly sticky hostel vibe, it does have ridiculously cheap cocktails. I’m talking, 2 pound cocktails.

The Refuge

Once you have pried your shoes from the floor in The Font, head over to The Refuge. This is a relatively new and glamorous bar that opened in an old 1890s gothic-style building that looms domineeringly over the street. The inside has soaring ceilings, ornate cupolas and seas of decorative tiling. The drinks will cost you more than The Font but the cocktails are well made with fresh ingredients.

Cloud 23

To keep with the glamorous feel, Cloud 23 offers spectacular views over the city with waiters that seem just bored and snooty enough to make it clear that you’re in a schmancy place. While the drinks are not cheap, the view over the city makes it worthwhile.

The Alchemist

End your night at The Alchemist. While this is a chain bar slowly spreading over the UK, the original one started right here in Manchester. Here you can order drinks that make it seem like you’re in a mad scientist’s laboratory only with cute bartenders in bow ties. The cocktails are made using ingredients that fizz, bubble, and smoke right in front of you. You will get serious drink envy in this place!

Explore the Street Art

The Northern Quarter is the hipster area of Manchester and is home to some colourful pieces of street art. Unfortunately it rained during most of my trip which made it a little tricky to take outdoor photos but this was my favourite piece:

One of the best pieces of art outside of the Northern Quarter is next to the Thirsty Scholar pub under the Manchester Oxford Road train tunnel.

Go for Brunch


This Icelandic inspired café is in the trendy Northern Quarter. It is a café come creative space with many locals using it as a makeshift office space. They take their coffee seriously here with the Nordic style espresso that is roasted in Bristol.

Teacup Kitchen

Stop into Teacup Kitchen for an afternoon tea and one (or several) delectable slices of cake. Also in the Northern Quarter, Teacup Kitchen takes its tea and cake seriously with a multi-layered rainbow cake complete with shimmering icing.

Federal Café and Bar

This Aussie and Kiwi owned place brings a little antipodean culture to the Northern Quarter. While those from Down Under might be known for their crocodile wrestling, we also know good coffee and brunch. One thing I love about this place, is that they aim to locally source as much of their produce as possible.

Ezra and Gil

The very name of this place means Helper and Happiness, which should make you want to try it for that reason alone. This place has a relaxed and creative feel while still fitting in with the industrial vibe in the Northern Quarter. Head here for an expertly brewed coffee and millennial style smashed avocado.

Get Some Fresh Air

While not technically in Manchester, the Peak District is only a short train ride away and with views like the ones below why wouldn’t you go?! Catch the train to Edale where there are hikes for the enthusiasts and gentle walks for the exercise shy among us. Warning: wear waterproof shoes as the trails are bound to be muddy no matter the season.

Once you’ve finished your hike (or gentle stroll in my case!) stop into The Nag’s Head for a hearty lunch. The food is fresh, simple, and guaranteed to satisfy you.

There is so much to do in Manchester and I’ve only just touched on some of it. Hopefully there are some ideas for your trip. What have I missed? Let me know below!

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