How to Spend 3 Days in Manchester
From its neo-Gothic masterpieces to its major stadiums, from its Industrial-Revolution history to its unstoppable music scene, Manchester is a city with many personalities. Three days provides just the right amount of time to discover them all—as well as take a scenic, out-of-town day trip. Here’s your ideal itinerary.
Day 1: Major Manchester Attractions
On your first day in town, get acquainted with Manchester’s top-tier attractions. Begin with a hop-on hop-off bus tour, which provides a seamless way to take in the city’s neo-Gothic architecture, learn about its industrial past, and discover standout sights such as Manchester Town Hall. After lunch, delve into Manchester’s museums. For art lovers, the Whitworth Art Gallery, Lowry, and Manchester Art Museum are all worthy contenders, while the National Football Museum, Science and Industry Museum, and Imperial War Museum North all cater to different interests. Speaking of football (or soccer), it isn’t a day in Manchester without a trip to either Old Trafford (Manchester United’s home base) or Etihad (Manchester City’s stomping grounds). Tour either legendary stadium before winding down with dinner at a traditional pub.
Day 2: Alternative Manchester
See Manchester from a local’s point of view, and dedicate your second day to discovering the city’s vibrant neighborhoods. The Northern Quarter is home to vintage clothing stores, record shops, cool restaurants, and trendy cafes—begin with breakfast in the area, and stick around long enough to drop by one of its of-the-minute craft beer bars at lunch. Alternatively, venture to Chinatown (one of the largest in Europe), stroll down vibrant Canal Street in Manchester’s Gay Village, or venture to hipster-frequented Chorlton—if you sign up for a private walking tour, you can visit exactly what interests you. As the day winds down, check in with Manchester’s legendary music scene. Some tour itineraries cater specifically to fans of local bands like The Smiths, while others provide a more general overview of the city’s key musical landmarks. Cap off your day with a gig to feel like a true Mancunian.
Day 3: A Lake District Excursion
For travelers looking for the perfect city escape, Manchester is conveniently located a quick trip away from the Lake District—made famous by authors Beatrix Potter and William Wordsworth. It’s also England’s most-visited national park. Swap the urban bustle for country scenery when you sign up for a day trip (and you won't need to worry about orchestrating transit yourself). Driving tours make it simple to discover Lake District highlights, from Windermere (England’s largest lake) to Tarn Hows (one of the park’s most-photographed corners). Alternatively, Manchester is near several other northern cities, among them Liverpool, Leeds, and Sheffield. All are just a quick journey away by car or train.