Home DestinationsEuropeEngland Great Manchester Itinerary: Weekend in the City

Great Manchester Itinerary: Weekend in the City

by Sam
A walk alongside the canal in Castlefield is a nice inclusion on your Manchester itinerary

Last Updated on November 5, 2021 by Sam

With so many great things to do in and around the city, there are plenty of options to come up with a 2 day Manchester itinerary. Natalia lived in the city for 3 years whilst at university, and having visited the city together in October 2021 we came up with this guide. It’s perfect if you’re spending a weekend in Manchester and includes popular spots like Castlefield, the Northern Quarter and Heaton Park, as well as some optional day trips. Find out the best spots to visit with this 2 day Manchester itinerary.

Two Day Manchester Itinerary

Day 1

Museums

Start your two days in Manchester by visiting one or more of the city’s fascinating museums. There are several great museums in Manchester, and so with a diverse selection you should be able to find a museum that interests you.

If you’re a football or sports fan then the National Football Museum is one of the best options. It’s home to an amazing collection of football memorabilia ranging from England’s famous World Cup Victory in 1966 to superstar Pele’s World Cup medal.

Entry to the National Football Museum costs £10.50 per person, with an optional guided tour included in the price of admission. Tickets can easily be booked online in advance through Get Your Guide’s website to save queueing on arrival at the museum.

Click here to book tickets to the brilliant National Football Museum through Get Your Guide!

Another brilliant option is the Science and Industry Museum, where you can learn about the development of science, industry and technology in relation to Manchester. The captivating displays and interactive elements in the museum make it a great spot to visit for both adults and children alike.

Entry to the Science and Industry Museum is free, but you can make an optional donation at the time of booking if you wish. The museum is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, and tickets can be booked in advance through the Science and Industry Museum website.

Other museums that may be of interest are the Imperial War Museum North and the People’s History Museum. If you’d prefer something slightly different then you may also want to consider visiting the Manchester Art Gallery.

National Football Museum - one of many museums you can include on your Manchester itinerary

Castlefield

The second stop on your 2 day Manchester itinerary is the picturesque neighbourhood of Castlefield. Home to a network of canals, it’s one of the nicest areas to walk around in the city.

We recommend wandering along the canal and enjoying what the area has to offer. As you walk alongside the water you will see the impressive Castlefield Bowl, a canal-side outdoor concert venue which has played host to acts including Blink-182, Frank Turner and the Kaiser Chiefs.

One of the most interesting things to see in this part of Manchester is the Mamucium – a Roman Fort built in 79 AD. Romans rebuilt the fort on at least 3 separate occasions, and the ruins have been reconstructed to show what it would have looked like back in the day.

Access to the fort is free to the public, so it’s a great addition to your Manchester itinerary if you want to see some of the city’s history.

Another great spot to visit in the area is the John Rylands Research Institute and Library, which is nearby on Deansgate. It may seem like a bit of an odd suggestion, but the interior design and architecture is stunning, so it’s well worth a visit as you will already be in the area.

The library is home to some impressive collections and historical texts, which may be of interest to some, but for us it’s the architecture that steals the show. Entrance to the library is free, but it’s best to book tickets in advance as places are limited and are often booked up. Click here to book a timeslot to visit the impressive John Rylands Library!

Beautiful interior of John Rylands Library - a great inclusion on a Manchester itinerary

Northern Quarter

Finish day one of your Manchester itinerary in the city’s vibrant Northern Quarter. Just a short walk from the Manchester Arndale shopping centre, the Northern Quarter is home to a variety of independent and vintage stores.

As well as an array of interesting stores, the neighbourhood is home to some wonderful street art, as well as some of the city’s best-loved bars and restaurants.

Spend the remainder of your day discovering what the Northern Quarter has to offer. Music fans will want to visit the renowned Piccadilly Records, keen beer-drinkers will enjoy the wide selection of independent beers available at Beermoth and art-lovers will surely love the work of local designers available at the Kula gallery.

After you’ve had a good wander around the area, it’s time to enjoy some dinner and drinks before calling it a day. A popular spot is the Mackie Mayor food court, with a range of delicious food available from a variety of vendors. The food court is located inside a Grade II listed Victorian Market Building, with its grand interior and glass roof making it an extremely photogenic spot.

Manchester’s Northern Quarter is home to plenty of drinking hangouts and cocktail bars, including Arcane – a Victorian basement cocktail bar, Black Dog Ballroom – a New York style diner/bar and pool room, Hula – a retro beach bar serving rum and cocktails, NQ64 – a graffiti covered arcade bar, Behind Closed Doors – a hidden basement bar, and many more.

Take your pick of the fantastic options, or create your own mini pub crawl so that you can enjoy a number of these brilliant bars in one night. If you’re in Manchester for the weekend then don’t miss the chance to enjoy a fun evening in the Northern Quarter!

Mackie Mayor food court in the Northern Quarter - a great stop on a weekend in Manchester

Day 2

Day trips near Manchester

Day 2 of your Manchester itinerary gives you the choice of either taking a day trip outside the city, or visiting the lovely Heaton Park and potentially one of the local football teams’ stadiums. The day trips will be more full on, so if you want a more relaxing option then it’s probably best to stay around the city itself.

If you’re happy to go further afield then make sure to read our guide to the best tours and day trips from Manchester! There are some great places to visit nearby including the Peak District, Liverpool, the Lake District and North Wales.

Visiting the Peak District or Lake District is perfect for anyone looking to enjoy a walk or hike whilst surrounded by beautiful nature. If you opt for the former then make sure to check out our list of the best views in the Peak District! Some of those viewpoints also feature in our list of easy walks in the Peak District, so it’s possible to enjoy some amazing views without too much hard work!

If you decide to visit the Lake District instead then you’ll have the chance to see some of England’s best scenery. For ideas of places to visit on a day trip, make sure to check out our list of hidden gems in the Lake District, which includes amazing spots like Blea Tarn, Cathedral Quarry, Gummer’s How and more!

Alternatively, if you would prefer to visit another city then make your way to Merseyside and follow our one day Liverpool itinerary.

One of the easiest ways to do any of these day trips is to drive yourself. If you don’t have your own car then we suggest renting one for the day if you want to get out of the city. We recommend looking on the Rental Cars website for the best deals, as they offer competitive prices and we’ve found some great bargains through them in the past.

Click here to get a car rental quote on the Rental Cars website!

Heaton Park

If you opt against a day trip then start the second day of your Manchester itinerary with a visit to the lovely Heaton Park. Located north of the city centre, the park is the perfect place for a quiet walk away from the busy central streets.

The park covers over 600 acres, which means you can easily spend a good few hours walking around and discovering what it has to offer. Some highlights of Heaton Park include the boating lake, the temple (believed to have been an observatory) and the tramway ride. You’re also able to get some distant views of Manchester city centre from the park.

One spot not to miss in the park is Heaton Hall – a beautiful 18th Century country house, which is now a Grade I listed building. It’s relatively central in the park, and is well worth visiting to admire the wonderful architecture. Unfortunately it’s only possible to go inside Heaton Hall on rare open days, but the wonderful exterior is reason enough to visit!

Heaton Park regularly has events on, so make sure to see if there are any planned before your visit. The park has previously hosted concerts from both Oasis and The Stone Roses, as well as being the site of the Parklife Festival since 2013.

Trams run from Manchester city centre to Heaton Park, and you can easily plan your journey on the Transport for Greater Manchester website. It takes just over an hour to walk to the park from the city centre, so it’s probably best to use public transport or drive yourself if you have the option.

Spend your morning exploring the different paths through the park and enjoying the large open spaces. If it’s a nice day you may want to consider bringing some lunch and having a picnic in the park to make the most of the good weather!

Heaton Hall in Heaton Park - a relaxing addition to your weekend Manchester itinerary

Football Stadium Tours

The city is well-known for its two successful football clubs – Manchester United and Manchester City. Even if you’re not a big football or sports fan, taking a tour of one of their stadiums is a great way to understand the significance the clubs hold in the city.

Neutrals may be more inclined to visit Manchester United’s stadium, Old Trafford, as the team have been more successful throughout history. A tour of Old Trafford includes a visit to the dressing room, the players’ tunnel, pitch side and the Manchester United Museum. Tickets can be booked in advance through Get Your Guide for just £27.

Click here to book a stadium tour of Old Trafford through Get Your Guide!

Although they haven’t traditionally been as successful, Manchester City have become one of the best football teams in the world in recent years. This makes visiting the Etihad Stadium a great option for anyone wanting to see the home of some of the top players in the world. Tours cost £25 through Get Your Guide, and allow you to visit the dressing room, the dugout, the press room and more.

Click here to book a tour of the impressive Etihad Stadium through Get Your Guide!

If you’re visiting Manchester over a weekend, or even sometimes a weekday, one of the teams may have a home match. Getting a ticket can be quite hard, but if you’re able to get one then watching a football match is certainly one of the top things to do in Manchester!

Nightlife

Finish up your 48 hours in Manchester with another visit to one of the bars in the Northern Quarter, or even make your way to the famous Gay Village or Castlefield. There are plenty of great bars to visit, so find one that suits what you’re looking for and enjoy the last night of your trip!

The picturesque neighbourhood of Castlefield in Manchester

Best places to stay in Manchester

Budget

The Avenues and Alleyways

The Avenues and Alleyways Hotel is a great budget hotel in Central Manchester. It’s in a great location in the city’s Northern Quarter, meaning there are plenty of restaurants and bars nearby.

Rooms at the hotel are relatively basic, but you won’t find a better deal for the price. The one slight downside is that the hotel has shared bathroom facilities rather than private bathrooms in your room, but it’s a great option if you’re on a budget as prices start from just £30 per night.

Click here to arrange a stay at the great value Avenues and Alleyways on Booking.com!

Mid-Range

Jurys Inn

Jurys Inn is a brilliant option if you’re looking for a relaxing stay without having to break the bank! The hotel is brilliantly located near Castlefield and Manchester’s Gay Village, so it’s a great base for exploring Manchester as well being near some of the best nightlife.

All rooms at the hotel have both air conditioning and a flat-screen TV, and are a comfortable place to relax after a day on your feet. Prices start from £67 per night, and there are a variety of different room types available depending on your preference.

Click here to book a stay at the lovely Jurys Inn on Booking.com!

Treat yourself

King Street Townhouse

The King Street Townhouse Hotel is one of the top luxury hotels in Manchester, boasting a stunning infinity pool with city views. Brilliantly located in the city centre, most spots on this Manchester itinerary are within easy walking distance of the hotel.

Rooms at the hotel are comfortable and beautifully decorated, making them the perfect place to wind down. The hotel has everything you need, and the helpful staff will be on hand to assist you throughout your stay.

If you want the perfect getaway in Manchester then look no further than the King Street Townhouse Hotel. Prices start from £134 per night, but expect to pay more if you opt for one of the luxury suites.

Click here to book a luxurious stay at the amazing King Street Townhouse on Booking.com!

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