48 Hours in Manchester - United Hub

48 hours in Manchester

By Nick Harper

All too often overshadowed by England's capital city and yet just four hours south, Manchester has become a rising star in recent years thanks to a big renovation and rejuvenation of the city center. The results are impressive, with ultra-modern buildings sharing the skyline with historic neo-Gothic structures.

Compact and walkable, Manchester is now home to an awe-inspiring number of museums and galleries, complemented by an ever-growing array of independent stores, cafes, bars and restaurants to suit every taste. Clearly, this city has stepped out of London's shadow, so learn what you can do when you visit.

Manchester Town Hall

On arrival

After landing at Manchester Airport, you're only 10 miles south of the city center. The easiest way into the city is by train, which takes 20 minutes and drops you off at Manchester Piccadilly in the heart of the city. Tickets cost around $6 and the train runs every 10 minutes. Check timetables at tpexpress.co.uk. A taxi should be quicker, but expect to pay from around $30.

What to see

When you create your itinerary, make sure to include the following attractions.

Manchester Art Gallery is home to more than 25,000 objects of fine art, decorative art and costumes dating back more than 200 years. Manchester's most renowned artist is L.S. Lowry, whose work can be admired at The Lowry, while a little further south of the city you'll find The Whitworth gallery, surrounded by the equally beautiful Whitworth Park.

Manchester's Museum of Science and Industry is equally impressive. With five buildings home to everything from a Victorian sewer you can explore to a space craft, it's an excellent option if you have kids. Manchester Museum is another great option with its Egyptian mummies, T-Rex skeleton and reptiles, as is Sea Life Manchester that's home to 5,000 sea creatures large and small.

For a quieter experience, head to John Rylands Library. Open to the public since 1900, it's housed inside an imposing neo-Gothic building with stained glass windows and intricate vaulted ceilings. For an even more enchanting library experience, head to Chetham's, the oldest surviving public library in the English-speaking world.

historical buildings at the heart of manchester

At some point during your stay, grab a coffee (try TAKK or North Tea Power) and take a stroll down to Brazennose Street. There you'll find an unexpected statue of Abraham Lincoln that commemorates the support local cotton workers gave to President Lincoln in his fight for the abolition of slavery during the Civil War.

Walk through the Northern Quarter and on to Ancoats, and look for one of Manchester's more unusual experiences: brass peepholes installed on buildings to give passers-by a glimpse into the area's industrial past. There's no map to help you find these, so you'll have to keep an eye out, but that just adds to the fun.

Even if you're not a football (or soccer) follower, you'll quickly notice that the city is split into two colors – blue and red for Manchester City and Manchester United. Manchester United (red) has the greater history, but Manchester City (blue) has recently become more dominant. If you're in the city between August and May, head for City's Etihad Stadium or United's Old Trafford to experience the rivalry for yourself or take a tour of the stadiums. There's also the National Football Museum, an interactive experience for football fans of all ages.

Finally, if you want an expert to show you around, take a guided tour. Manchester Guided Tours offer a wide number of walks that last between 90 minutes and two hours. If you want to see the city from a different angle, take to one of the many waterways around the city and sit back with a glass of wine as the city gently passes you by.

Buildings in Old and New Manchester

Where to eat

Manchester's multicultural makeup means that practically every nationality of food is available, with prices to suit every budget. Seek out Mr. Thomas's Chop House for classic British food in a beautiful Victorian building, La Bandera for high-end Spanish, Rosso for Italian and 63 Degrees for chic Parisian. Australasia offers ultra-showy Aussie fare, and Greens is the city's best vegetarian restaurant, while Rudy's , Almost Famous and Mughli are busy for good reason thanks to their delicious pizza, burgers and curry.

The nightlife

For the city's best nightlife, head to the Northern Quarter, a trendy neighborhood full of street art, galleries and independent stores by day, and bars, music venues and the restaurants listed above by night. For a traditional British pub experience, head to The Marble Arch Inn, The Castle Hotel or the Crown & Kettle which boasts the best ceiling in the city.

Enjoy the best of the bar scene, by trying killer cocktails at Ply, Allotment Bar, Apotheca, Keko Moku and Kosmonaut. And for late night drinks, head to Blackdog Ballroom, where you can happily imbibe until 4 a.m. or until you fall asleep, whichever comes first.

When to visit

It's often cool and rainy in Manchester, even in the height of summer, so pack accordingly. June to August brings the warmest weather with daytime temperatures averaging between 65°F and 68°F. If you prefer milder weather, March- May and September-October are cooler, quieter and every bit as good.

Classic british landscape at the Peak district near Manchester

Beyond the city

While the city has plenty to offer, Manchester is also within reach of one of the UK's great jewels: the Peak District National Park. If you want to explore beyond the city, rent a car and take the hour drive to the breathtaking park where you'll be surrounded by the great outdoors. Explore at a more leisurely pace on foot or bike and stay overnight in Buxton, Edale, Castleton or the town of Bakewell which is famous for its pudding.

Getting there

United flies to Manchester from Newark International Airport. For more information and to book your next journey to Manchester, visit United.com or download the United app.

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