Reasons to visit Manchester

Manchester – my home town, a city of diversity and different cultures, a divide of rich and poor, and a city that never quite seems finished. It’s the place I spent most of my childhood and teen years. I know Manchester central like the back of my hand. After all I spent many days either browsing, buying or skipping school and walking around the shops (oops).

Staying in Manchester

Although many people come to Manchester for just the day, or to stay with relatives; it is also a great place for a weekend break. Manchester centre has many hotels, B&Bs and even hostel accommodation to suit all budgets. From the luxury of the Hilton to the Easy and Serviced apartments Manchester, we have it all to make your stay as comfortable and luxurious as you need it to be. Arrive at your accommodation, put on some comfy shoes and go shopping.

Yes if there is one thing that Manchester is well known for then its shopping! Love it or hate it, if you come to Manchester centre then you simply cannot avoid the shops.

Shopping

For those that have never visited Manchester, then it may be best to do some prep work in advance if you intend to hit the shops. There are just so many of them that it’s extremely easy to find yourself lost in this place. I absolutely love shopping and usually visit Manchester shops twice a month as it’s much bigger and better than Bolton. The Arndale Centre is probably the main highlight and has been so for so many years since I can remember.

The Arndale was a place I loved when younger and to be honest it hasn’t really changed a great deal over the years. Sure it’s had many makeovers and the IRA bombing back in 1996 had a huge impact on the overall structure and presence (I was there the day it happened). Some of the original shops still remain to this day – mainly Boots, Argos and a few others. The Arndale is over 2 floors and a 3rd floor boasts a huge food court. Shops include Lush, Disney store, Curries, Tk maxx and so many more. My main old memories of the Arndale are the old bus station which got took down many years back. This was a dark dingy and rather smelly stuffy place but it’s one of those things that had stayed in my memories.

There are hundreds more shops outside of the Arndale. Market street is bustling with more shops and street traders. A walk up to Piccadilly gardens brings you to another smaller Boots, a Morrison’s and you will usually find small market stalls throughout the year too.

Primark on the corner of Piccadilly gardens is one store that cannot be missed. Set inside the former Lewis’s building its 3 floors of absolute bargains selling clothes, toiletries, home wares and much more.

For those wanting to splash the cash a bit more, then a trip down to Deansgate should be on the cards. You will find the more luxury fashion and jewellery brands down that way

For those seeking something more alternative or different then take a trip to the Northern quarter to Afflecks Palace. This is known as Manchester’s hidden gem. It’s been there for years and has floors full of weird and wonderful oddities and fashion.

Food/Drink

After all that shopping and walking around, there is no doubt that you’ll want to sit down and get something to eat and drink. Manchester has so much choice when it comes to food that it can be a bit overwhelming choosing where to go.

I guess this depends on your preferences and of course your budget. There is literally every kind of eatery you can think of. From the many McDonalds that are scattered all over the town, to high end posted restaurants and steak houses down Deansgate way, to hotels own restaurants such as the Hilton, Mamchester certainly has it all.

Those with families and small children often opt for the Food Hall at the top of the Arndale Centre (access via market street). Here you will find all sorts of quick serve type food outlets. Including KFC, McDonald’s, Subway and a fair few others. All set out in a sort of misshapen circle. You get your food then (hopefully) find yourself a table in the huge eating area.

A trip to China town is always good for those like me who love Chinese food. Plenty of restaurants again to cater for most budgets. I love the buffet style restaurants where you just help yourself and can highly recommend both Topps and Buffet King where you can eat until you pop at both for under Β£10 each.

Everywhere you walk in Manchester town, there will be plenty of places to fill your belly.

Nightlife

Manchester’s diverse range of bars and nightclubs cater for everyone and most types of music be it pop, rock, dance or alternative. There are many different areas of where to be on a weekend night. The Northern quarter seems to be the trendy area with Bohemian bars and many live music venues.

The Printworks, which is close to Victoria train station is home to many lively bars, restaurants and nightclubs. This gets very busy at weekends.

Deansgate has its own share of late night bars and clubs and seems to attract a slightly older crowd. The Moon under Water is a popular spot and a full bottle of Prosecco will set you back just Β£12.99.

And my favourite place to be – The Gay Village (aka Canal street) if you enjoy a lively night out with fun, frolics, dressing up and a don’t Care easy going attitude then this is the place to be. Yes it’s called the Gay village and yes most of the bars and clubs are predominantly for gay/trans people but that doesn’t mean you can’t go. It’s a great diverse community and usually an awesome fun and trouble free night. It’s possibly the only place I feel slightly safe in when I’ve lost my friends at 3am on a weekend night.

Tips on visiting Manchester

If you’ve never visited Manchester before and plan to soon then here are a few helpful tips to make your visit more easier.

  • β€’ Plan ahead, research transport options and directions. Manchester centre is a big place and getting from one side to the other can be confusing and tiring. Manchester has many buses operating throughout the town centre along with several train stations and a reliable metrolink.
  • β€’ Leave the car at home/hotel – Avoid trying to drive through the town centre if you can. As you can imagine it gets extremely busy. Especially so in the evenings. I cannot count how many tines I’ve been stuck in a car or bus just getting through the centre.
  • β€’ Don’t bring young children on shopping sprees – This sounds harsh but believe me, I rarely bring my kids to Manchester shopping if I can help it. It’s tiring, walking from one shop to another. The shops are usually hot and sweaty, even when it’s snowing. The queues are always huge, space is limited and children get irritable, hot, hungry and often need to pee. If your coming to just shop then trust me, it’s easier without children.
  • β€’ Watch your valuables – Although Manchester is known for its friendly people, it goes without saying that there are bad eggs everywhere. Just like London, be on the alert at all times where your money and belongings are concerned. Keep bags zipped up, keep purses hidden, make sure bag straps are secure. Keep anything valuable hidden including shop purchases. Be vigilant at cash machines, hide your pin, check who’s behind you and how close they are, put withdrawn money away straight away. Be careful when sitting down, make sure all your belongings are where they can be seen.
  • β€’ Homeless beggars – There seems to have been a huge increase in homeless people in Manchester over the past few years. Therefore don’t be too surprised to spot one in every other doorway. Whilst many of these people and genuine and usually very friendly, there are some who aren’t. The recommendations are not to give money to those claiming to be homeless. However this is personal choice. Be especially vigilant around bus, train and tram Stations as you will find many men walking round with cups blatantly asking for money. These people can often seem a little intimidating but there is usually transport security about should you feel unsafe.

    β€’ Terrorism – I felt I had to include this after the MEN arena attacks and the IRA Bomb many years ago. Whilst Manchester still remains a high target, improvements in security have been made all over the town centre. Everywhere you go you will spot police or some sort of security which actually makes me feel that little bit safer when there. If you spot anything out of the ordinary or overhear anything then inform someone straight away. Also be extra aware around busier periods such as Christmas. Unfortunately this sort of thing can and will happen anywhere but it’s still rare.

    I hope you will enjoy visiting my home town and all it has to offer.

    (I was gifted spending money by Hotels.com, for this review but all views are my own)

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