Lively and constantly evolving, Manchester is a large city located in the north-west of England, perfect to be visited on a weekend. It is an often underestimated destination, which actually has a lot to offer, even to those traveling with children. In this article, I will explain what to see in Manchester with kids and you will find some useful tips to organise your trip.
Located in the heart of the United Kingdom, about two and a half hours by train from London, and famous for its important industrial past, today Manchester is a dynamic city full of art, science and culture, looking to the future.
There are many things to do in Manchester. Its historic center is, in fact, full of attractions, restaurants, bars and shops. Also of interest is the historic district of Castlefield, which, with its canal system dating back to the 18th century, recalls the period in which the city was a center for the textile industry. In Manchester, you will also find splendid gardens, to be explored on foot or by bicycle, marvelous libraries, such as the John Rylands Library, and interesting museums, stimulating even for the little ones.
Furthermore, the busy calendar of events and festivals that bring the city to life throughout the year, from the historic Manchester International Festival to the enchanting Christmas markets, means that there is always a reason to visit Manchester.
What you will get from this post:
- How to get around Manchester?
- How many days do you need to see Manchester?
- What to see in Manchester
- Map of Manchester
- What to do in Manchester with kids
- Where to sleep in Manchester
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How to get around Manchester?
Getting to the city center from Manchester Airport (and back)
Manchester Airport is approximately 15km from the city centre. To get from the airport to central Manchester, I recommend taking the train. This is a quick and cheap solution. The station can be reached on foot because it is connected internally to the passenger terminal by a covered pedestrian path called the “Skyway”.
At this point, thanks to the TransPennine Express and Northern lines, you can easily get up to Manchester Piccadilly.
Alternatively, you could opt for a bus. In this case, you will have to refer to the National Express company.
Get around Manchester
Manchester’s historic center can be easily explored on foot and contains most of the city’s attractions.
Furthermore, Manchester is well served by an efficient transport system, made up of trains, trams (Metrolink), buses and taxis, which allows you to go without problems even in the suburbs.
To understand how to get around Manchester, I suggest you take a look at the Transport for Greater Manchester website. Here, you can plan your travels and you will find all the information you need, such as timetables and ticket prices.
How many days do you need to visit Manchester?
Manchester is a city that can be easily visited in a weekend. This does not mean that there is a lack of activities to engage in if you want to stay longer in the city.
However, if what you are looking for is a city to visit in a weekend, Manchester is certainly the destination for you.
What to see in Manchester with kids
Visiting Manchester with kids isn’t complicated at all. In fact, in the city there are various attractions that are also interesting for the little ones, such as the Museum of Science and Industry, with its interactive installations, and the Legoland Discovery Center, which can be easily reached by public transport.
Furthermore, as I mentioned, most of Manchester’s places of interest are located in the historic city centre. It will therefore not be difficult to study an itinerary suitable for children.
So let’s see together what to see in Manchester.
One of the most suggestive points of Manchester is certainly Shambles Square, a historic square located next to the Exchange Square Metrolink station.
This characteristic square hosts four of the main pubs in the city: Crown & Anchor, The Old Wellington Inn, Sinclairs Oyster Bar and The Miter Hotel.
Take a Cruise in Manchester
Take a scenic cruise along Manchester’s historic Ship Canal and River Irwell. Discover the industrial heartland of the north of England and see historic monuments such as Stephenson’s Railway Bridge.
Manchester Ship Canal is one of the liveliest shopping centers in the UK. Running from the Mersey Estuary into the heart of Manchester, it’s a 36-mile seaway that supports a diverse range of industries.
Taking a boat ride with kids is always an exciting thing to do, and also a great way to unwind if you are wandering around a bit. I recommend taking the scenic cruise along Manchester’s historic Ship Canal and River Irwell. You’ll discover the industrial heart of Northern England and see historic landmarks such as Stephenson’s Railway Bridge.
Among the things to see in Manchester, one cannot fail to mention the beautiful Anglican Cathedral, also known as the Collegiate Church of St Mary, St Denys and St George and located a few steps from Shambles Square.
Although the building has undergone some changes over time and was damaged by German bombing during the Second World War, Manchester Cathedral still retains the distinctive features of the original structure.
Visiting it, the strong contrast with the style of the surrounding buildings, the finely carved wooden decorations and the elegance of the Gothic-style stained glass windows are particularly striking.
If you visit Manchester with kids, after leaving the Cathedral, take a walk in the Cathedral Gardens, a small green oasis located right in the centre. Here, during the Christmas period, the Ice Village Manchester is set up.
Chetam’s Library, housed in a building dating back to the first half of the 15th century, is the oldest public library in the United Kingdom and probably in the western world.
If you’d like to see it live, I suggest you consult the official website, where you can book your visit.
Manchester Town Hall
The Town Hall, located in Alfred Square, is one of Manchester’s finest historic buildings.
Its construction was completed in 1877 and it is believed to be one of the best examples of neo-Gothic architecture in the world.
Worthy of note is the imposing clock tower, 85 m high. Inside, the Great Hall, the ceremonial hall decorated with the famous Manchester Murals, and the Sculpture Hall are also worth seeing.
At present, the Town Hall is undergoing restoration and is scheduled to reopen in 2024.
John Rylands Library in Manchester
A must see in Manchester, the John Rylands Library is located in the Deansgate district in the city centre. The structure that houses it is a historic building of late Gothic origin. Inside, it houses one of the largest collections of books, ancient maps and manuscripts in England.
You cannot visit Manchester without spending a few hours in the Castlefield district, one of the most characteristic areas of the city.
Here is the Roman Fort of Manchester and the artificial canals used in the years of the Industrial Revolution flow. Among the most important are the Bridgewater Canal, the Rochdale Canal and the Manchester Ship Canal.
Today, this is a quiet residential area, with red brick buildings, bridges, viaducts and the typical steam boats.
Moving towards the center, the neighborhood begins to be populated with restaurants, bars and tourist attractions, such as the MOSI, Museum of Science and Industry.
Northern Quarter a Manchester
The hub of the city’s industrial development, the Northern Quarter housed the city’s first textile factories in 1783.
In this dynamic and lively district of Manchester, today you can find vintage shops, art galleries and characteristic clubs. Walking in this area you can also admire the colorful murals.
Chinatown a Manchester
Formed in the early 1900s, Manchester’s Chinatown is located between Mosley and Portland Streets and is considered the second largest Chinese neighborhood in the UK.
Here, you’ll find colorful little shops and Asian restaurants, serving a wide variety of traditional dishes, from dumplings to noodles.
Not to be missed is the beautiful gate that leads into the neighborhood.
Considered one of Manchester’s most exciting attractions, the Victoria Baths have played a vital role in the city for 86 years.
Here, in fact, there were private bathrooms, a laundry room, three swimming pools and a Turkish bath.
The structure is rich in terracotta decorations and mosaics and, if you have the opportunity, it is worth visiting. However, it must be borne in mind that the building is only accessible on particular days of the year.
Which Museums visit in Manchester?
Depending on your interests, you can visit several interesting museums in Manchester.
Worth mentioning is the Manchester Art Gallery, which houses one of the most important art collections in the United Kingdom. In fact, around 25,000 works from 6 centuries of art history are exhibited here.
The Whitworth Art Gallery is, however, an important exhibition of modern and contemporary art. As part of the University of the City of Manchester, it also serves as a science and research hub for the city.
History lovers shouldn’t miss the Manchester Museum. Here, dinosaur fossils, stuffed animals and as many as 20 Egyptian mummies are on display, reconstructed in 2012 with the aid of cutting-edge technological instruments.
However, if you are planning a trip to Manchester with kids, I suggest you go to the Museum of Science and Industry.
Here, you can discover the history of the city and get lost in the different thematic areas. It is an interactive museum, dedicated to the progress made by science from the industrial revolution to the 1900s.
On the first floor of the main building is the Experiment section, perfect for children, who will be able to explore, experiment and touch freely. The visit to the museum is free and it is possible to book access on the official website.
Old Trafford e The National Football Museum
What to see in Manchester with children if your children love football? In this case, you can take them to Old Trafford, one of the city’s iconic places. Home of Manchester United F.C. since 1910, it is one of the most important stadiums in the United Kingdom. The structure is really impressive: think that it can accommodate up to 75,000 people. It is the second largest stadium in England after Wembley Stadium.
Alternatively, without leaving the centre, you can reach The National Football Museum, a museum entirely dedicated to football. The Hall of Fame was set up here in 2019, where the best players in the Premier League are remembered and awarded.
In the museum, you will also find games and interactive stations.
If you are thinking of visiting Manchester with children, I would also like to point out Heaton Park, considered one of the most beautiful city parks in England.
Inside there is no shortage of activities to devote yourself to! Spread over an area of over 200 hectares, it includes, among other things, gardens, golf courses, a boating lake, the Tramway Transport Museum, an observatory, a farm, cafés and a play area.
Fletcher Moss Botanical Garden
The Fletcher Moss Botanical Gard is a botanical park developed on 8 hectares of greenery. Here, there are extremely well-kept lawns, rare plants and flower gardens. Its previous owner, Fletcher Moss, donated it to Manchester City Council in 1915.
This is the ideal place for those looking for some tranquility in Manchester.
The Beetham Tower, or Hilton Tower, with its 169 meters, held, until 2018, the record as the tallest skyscraper in the city. Although this supremacy then passed to the “South Tower“, in Deansgate Square, the Beetham Tower continues to fascinate for its particular structure.
To help you organise your visit to Manchester with children, in this map, I have collected all the places mentioned in this article.
What to do in Manchester with kids
Here are some ideas that will make your children happy, if during your trip to Manchester with the children, you would like to dedicate time only to them.
- Make your way to Heaton Park. Here, there is also the Treetop Manchester, a fun adventure park with courses suitable for everyone.
Take them to visit Legoland Discovery Center and have fun together. It is located inside the Trafford Center and is divided into several areas. You can admire the scale models, play with the famous colored bricks, watch shows in the 4D cinema and try out some fun attractions.
The Trafford Center is also home to SEA LIFE Manchester, a large aquarium showcasing over 5,000 sea creatures. Here, you can embark on a fascinating journey into the depths of the ocean together.
Where to sleep in Manchester
The most comfortable area to stay in Manchester is certainly the historic centre. Of course, however, this is also the most expensive area. A good compromise is to find an accommodation located outside the centre, but well served by public transport.
I hope you enjoyed this article and that you found all the information you need to organise your trip to Manchester with children.
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