How To Spend A Weekend In: Manchester
Until very recently, I'd never visited Manchester, but it had always been a place I'd had stashed on my to-do list. So when the opportunity (and some very cheap trains!) came up, we jumped at the chance to spend a few days in the north's coolest city. From the historical city centre to the very hipster Northern Quarter, there's something to suit all tastes - read on for my guide on how to spend a few days in what we found to be an incredibly cool and cultured city...
I'd highly recommend staying in Manchester's Northern Quarter, if, like us, you're looking to spend the weekend perusing fantastic shops, drinking great coffee and finding all kind of quirky and cool things to do to keep you busy along the way. Plus, it's so close to Piccadilly Station, making it ideally located if you're travelling by train.
Pick a great AirBnb (this one looks amazing!), dump your bags and head out - there's lots to keep you busy and the atmosphere on a Friday night is lively to say the least!
Line your stomachs with pizza at Crazy Pedro's on Short Street (tucked underneath the famous Affleck's Palace) - the menu is a bit nuts but the pizza is great, plus it's open til 4am, should you be so inclined to make a visit later in the evening...
When you've had your fill, wander over to Thomas Street for drinks at Cane & Grain. The downstairs bar is pretty jumping (when we visited, the locals were going wild to This Charming Man - well, it is the city of legendary music!) so I'd recommend heading to the secret speakeasy upstairs for lavish experimental cocktails, in a much more laidback setting.
If you want to do a Friday night in Manchester right, finish off your evening by watching bands at Jimmy's - you'll likely find a new favourite or spot the next big thing before they hit the big time...
To ease yourself nicely into the weekend, I highly recommend heading to Takk on Tariff Street for coffee and brunch. I must also insist on you ordering the French toast, which might have been the best breakfast of my entire life - high praise indeed. Park yourself at one of the benches in the window and enjoy a delicious slow breakfast and people-watching.
Exploring the Northern Quarter is the perfect way to while away an afternoon. This diverse (and admittedly, a little gritty) area is packed to the rafters with amazing shops and coffee spots - plus you can hunt down some Instagram-famous street art to tick off your list too.
If you're a vinyl aficionado, definitely make time to trawl through the racks of this area's plethora of record shops - in particular, Piccadilly Records and some of the others on Oldham Street are well worth your time, and you might uncover some real gems that are difficult to track down elsewhere; we found rare Smiths records (of course) and some albums that we've never found on our other travels!
For vintage fashion lovers, this area of Manchester is also a goldmine! COW Vintage is a huge two-storey shop packed with amazing vintage finds for men and women, with a banging r&b soundtrack to boot. And Pop Boutique's Manchester branch is also not to be missed - especially for the homewares section which will give you all the 70s' interior inspo.
Hipster heaven comes in the form of my next recommendations - brace yourselves. Fred Aldous on Lever Street is a paradise for art lovers - three floors of stationery, craft materials and homewares, with photobooths aplenty too. There's a reason why everybody recommends this place, it's like stepping back in time!
Next up, Magma on Oldham Street - my favourite shop that we visited whilst in Manchester. This store sells beautiful Scandi homeware and cards, but the real draw was their incredible selection of independent magazines and beautiful books that I've never spotted elsewhere. Thankfully they also have a website so you can shop to your heart's content, without stuffing your suitcase for the return journey.
Now you've shopped to your heart's content, take a break (or just gaze at more beautiful homewares) at Fig & Sparrow - a coffee shop which also stocks beautiful and quirky home accessories. Take a load off and enjoy one of their incredible brownies with your coffee - you've earned it. And when you're ready for lunch, West Corner is a chic little diner that does delicious sandwiches - plus the decor is seriously Instagrammable!
Once you've had a few hours to relax, it's time to get ready for a glam night in the city. Book a spot at Cloud 23 - Manchester's highest cocktail bar. Request a window-side table for beautiful, unrivalled views across the entire city, and order 'The Dean' for a delicious treat.
And when cocktail hour's over, carry on the glam with dinner at Rosso. Yes, it's owned by Rio Ferdinand, but don't let that fool you - this gorgeous restaurant is anything but tacky, and the Italian menu is seriously good! You might also spot a Manchester footballer or a Coronation Street star - make of that what you will...
Head for your Sunday brunch at a Manchester institution - North Tea Power. This photogenic cafe takes its tea and coffee very seriously indeed, with a huge menu for both, and isn't afraid to poke fun at northern stereotypes - embrace it, and order a pot of strong tea and the sausage sandwich, you won't regret it.
Post-breakfast, take the tram over towards Spinningfields, to explore some of the city's more historical attractions. The John Rylands library is a must - think Hogwarts right in Manchester city centre! There's also the Albert Hall, Art Gallery and Manchester Town Hall to tickle your fancy and fill up your Instagram feed - just make sure to refuel at Grindsmith, where the coffee was among the best we've ever tried.
For Sunday afternoon, take it easy. Head over to the Castlefield area, to explore Manchester's famous canals. This is such a picturesque part of the city and so peaceful; it's a lovely way to unwind and take in the history of the city.
When you're ready for lunch, go to Dukes 92 for a Sunday roast. This beautiful canalside bar has the most gorgeous decor, with outside and inside options, depending on how lucky you get with the weather! The menu is very affordable and the food is great - a definite must for an easy Sunday afternoon.
To finish off your time in Manchester, I'd recommend the very glam surroundings of Neighbourhood - in the pretty pink area, if you can get a seat. This cool bar/diner has plenty of neon slogan signs to make you LOL, and decor you'll want to recreate at home too.
So there we have it - a fabulous way to spend 48 hours in Manchester! I'd love to know if you get the chance to visit and try any of my recommendations too!