Altrincham and Sale
Located in the southwest outskirts of the city, Altrincham is a pleasant suburb with tree-lined avenues and fashionable shops like Rackhams and Strada . To the east, Sale offers many attractions of its own, many that appeal to sport enthusiasts, such as Sale Sharks Rugby Union Club and Sale Water Park .
Bolton and Bury
Bolton and Bury, at the northern end of the city, are traditional Lancashire towns with their own distinct personalities. Bolton has a vibrant main street filled with excellent shops and entertainment venues such as the Albert Halls . The quaint Last Drop Village and the Pennine Moors are also nearby. Built around what was once a bustling hub of commerce, today Bury is known for having one of the biggest and best open air markets in northern England, the simply named, Bury Market. The locals here are proud of their history, and there are numerous historical attractions, such as the East Lancashire Railway , accessible to visitors.
Castlefield and Deansgate
The regeneration of the Castlefield Basin has added an extra dimension to the already highly popular shopping and entertainment area of Deansgate (King Street & St Ann's Square). In Castlefield, you can enjoy a meal at an excellent gastro-pub such as The Ox or drink at one of the ultra-fashionable waterfront bars like Dukes 92 . For family entertainment, there are plenty of regular activities available. The Museum of Science & Industry is a good choice. Deansgate is home to some of the best shopping in Manchester including the famous Kendals department store, while King Street and St Ann's Square have exclusive shops such as Hugo Boss and Emporio Armani.
Manchester has one of the largest Chinese populations in the country, and Chinatown (located off of Portland Street) offers some superb restaurants. Try the nationally renowned Yang Sing , which specializes in Cantonese cuisine. The Chinese New Year Street Celebrations that take place here are a major annual event on the city's calendar.
The Irish Republican Army (IRA) bombed Manchester in 1996, causing substantial damage to the city's infrastructure. The redevelopment has produced a shopping district large enough to compete with others in larger cities. Popular stores such as the largest Marks & Spencer in Europe and Exchange Square help to create a perfect environment for the avid consumer. The administrative hub of the city is located in the area around Albert Square to the west, where you'll find the grand Gothic architecture of the Town Hall . Culturally, the G-Mex Centre and Bridgewater Hall are the places where you can enjoy all kinds of events from rock concerts to classical music recitals.
Didsbury, Chorlton and Withington
Just a few miles south of the City Centre are some of the most fashionable and highly sought after residential areas in the city. The flourishing environment and superb eating, drinking and shopping create this demand.
Didsbury is home to some of the city's best restaurants. Try the lamb at the renowned Lime Tree . Or for something different, check out the Metropolitan , a pub with an impressive menu and beautiful, old-world decor. Chorlton has an equally cosmopolitan, slightly more bohemian character. You can enjoy urban cafe bar society on Wilbraham Road, with the Polar Bar , The Bar and Saints & Scholars all nearby. Withington is a place where students hang out, and it has a vibrant main street that includes some excellent shops and bars, including the popular Solomon Grundy .
Fallowfield, Rusholme and Whalley Range
Close to the southern edge of the City Centre, this area of Manchester is one of the most culturally diverse and is home to a large percentage of the city's massive student population. Fallowfield contains a number of University Residence Halls and the many lively pubs and bars such as the Orange Grove reflect this, while Platt Fields Park is an enjoyable, quiet place for local residents. Rusholme is famous for its large Asian community and the "Curry Mile" that boasts many delicious restaurants, like the Sangam and Tandoori Kitchen. Whalley Range is a place in transition, shaking off its old image with excellent restaurants and bars opening up and many young, wealthy residents moving in.
This neighborhood is located west of Piccadilly, and is centered on Canal Street. Although obviously orientated towards, and created for, the gay community, it has an excellent range of mixed bars, restaurants and clubs. Try the exclusive Turkish restaurant Efes Taverna for delicious food or Manchester's first multi-million pound club Essential .
This fashionable part of the city is located between Piccadilly and Ancoats and contains trendy shops and live music bars like Fat City Records and Dry Bar. There are also many fine old Victorian buildings housing small media businesses and alternative shops like Afflecks Palace .
Old Trafford and Salford
This area is home to the region's most famous sporting institutions. The Lancashire County Cricket Club and Manchester United can both be found here. This neighborhood has also been the subject of huge investment and redevelopment in recent years. The best example is Trafford Centre , a 600 million pound shopping complex that houses the only Selfridges & Co store outside London. Across the Manchester Ship Canal in Salford, The Lowry and Quays have brought a whole new sense of purpose to an area that was once in economic decline.
This busy thoroughfare leads to the heart of Manchester and the city's three main universities. In addition to the many student-friendly bars, like Revolution , more traditional cultural pursuits are offered at the Manchester Museum and the Cornerhouse art cinema and gallery.
Rochdale, Oldham & Ashton
The northeastern sector of Manchester has in the past been virtually untouched by the overall economic and commercial redevelopment of the city, but it still contains many places of interest. Plan a day trip to the Portland Basin Museum or the Rochdale Pioneers Museum . The area also has the good fortune to be located close to the scenic foothills of the Pennines and northern Peak District, a place popular with tourists.
Stockport, Cheadle & Wilmslow
Southeast Manchester is known for its prosperity. Outlying affluent suburbs such as Bramhall and Prestbury are home to professional football players and wealthy businessmen attracted by the surrounding countryside. The good transportation lines link conveniently close to Manchester International Airport. Stockport itself is a busy town with a large central shopping complex and plenty of places to eat, drink and stay including the Britannia Hotel . Cheadle still has a very distinct village feel with a bustling main street attracting many independent shops, while Wilmslow is home to the "Cheshire Set," Stratstone of Wilmslow, Porsche and Ferrari car showrooms and many other expensive shops.
There are lots of places to eat, due largely to the incredible flow of money and people into the City Centre, after the urban reconstruction.
This is an extremely popular dining area near to the City Centre, as local people know that this is the place to come for real Chinese and pan-Asian cuisine. There are bakeries, grocers and fine restaurants like The New Emperor . The well known Yang Sing , offers some of the tastiest Cantonese food in the country.
All kinds of greasy spoon cafes, chains and individually-owned restaurants make up the culinary map of Central Manchester. From well-known, traditional places like the Northern Quarter Restaurant and Bar , to high-class restaurants run by celebrity chefs like Nico Central and Simply Heathcotes . At the other end of the spectrum, Cafe Pop is a trendy, popular cafe with good, cheap portions of great tasting vegetarian food.
Deansgate and Castlefield
In these neighborhoods, established and traditional restaurants like Dimitri's Tapas Bar Taverna , Rafa's and Jowata mix with modern places like Atlas Bar and the Restaurant Bar and Grill .
Gay Village is best known for its bars, but it also boasts some superb places to eat. From the tasty tradition of Spirit to the cool fusion of Taurus . There's also the Mongolian Barbeque , which combines classic, old-world decor in a comfortable family setting.
The nationally famous "Curry Mile" is renowned for its fantastic food at low prices. A wander down the neon-lit Wilmslow Road will provide you with just about every kind of restaurant you can think of; from large, corporate enterprises such as Shere Khan to the family-run Royal Naz which is known for its delicious curry. Although not all of the restaurants serve alcohol, most don't mind if you bring your own.
Didsbury, Chorlton and Whalley Range
This part of southern Manchester is full of high-quality restaurants and cafe-bars of every description. West Didsbury has many highly rated establishments including the Lime Tree , Greens (for vegetarian and vegan cuisine) and the award winning Great Kathmandu Nepalese restaurant. If you want a drink with good food, then try Sakura or the Metropolitan pub, which serves real ales and quality meals. Beech Road in Chorlton has plenty of choice from the refined east-west fusion cuisine of the Spice Cafe to the contemporary food of Primavera . Whalley Range has recently been put on the culinary map by the runaway success of the excellent Palmiro on Upper Chorlton Road, serving traditional Tuscan food with a modern twist.
The Outer Suburbs
If you wish to be more adventurous and look beyond the City Centre and its immediate environs, you will be well rewarded with some fantastic eating experiences further out in the suburbs. Places like That Cafe in Levenshulme and Nutter's in Cheesden (between Bury and Rochdale) provide high quality food in unique settings.
Tour 1: Shopping & Culture
Morning So you've had breakfast, now what? The Lowry is Manchester's latest cultural and architectural offering and is easily accessible by road or Metrolink. The main exhibition is (of course) art by the famous local painter LS Lowry, but there are also plenty of innovative pieces by new artists to explore.
Lunch Although the Lowry has its own cafe and restaurant, you're probably ready for a change of scene by now and Manchester's City Centre has plenty of cafe-bars and coffee shops to suit all budgets and palates. For a quick bite to eat American-style, you could try a Starbucks on Deansgate. For a more relaxing, leisurely lunch, head for the Grinch cafe-bar, which has live jazz performances during the week. If you're a vegetarian, then check out the Earth Cafe underneath the Manchester Buddhist Centre , where your spirit and stomach can be refreshed at the same time.
Shopping These days it's hard to fit the whole of Manchester into just one afternoon shopping spree, so you may want to decide what you want and how much you want to spend in advance. The best places for alternative cheap clothes, gifts and records are to be found in the Northern Quarter at Afflecks Palace emporium. It is easy to get lost in the maze of shops that are contained within these buildings, but if you're looking for something different or retro, then these are a must.
For more mainstream offerings, you only have to walk around the corner to the Arndale Centre where you'll find the usual array off chain stores. If cosmetics are your thing, the Boots store on Market Street is the largest in Europe.
If you're looking for that special dress or present, then there are three places that you need to find. Firstly, Triangle , which houses designer clothes and beauty shops including Giant and Molton Brown all under one roof. A stone's throw away is the St Ann's/Kings Street district, which is home to high fashion houses such as Kookai and Emporio Armani.
Lastly, if you want a shopping experience that has everything, then look no further than Kendals on Deansgate, which has whole floors dedicated to expensive clothes, food, cosmetics and electronic goods. Throughout the year, they also have major fashion shows, which come as a nice surprise if you aren't expecting it.
Theaters and Concerts Well you've bought the outfit, now it's time to show the world. Manchester has a plethora of theaters to choose from. The Palace Theatre , shows mostly musicals, while the Opera House presents opera and ballet. For the unusual and contemporary, the Royal Exchange and Contact Theatre are the places to go; they quite often have productions by local writers and performers.
Alternatively, maybe you would like to hear some music. The Bridgewater Hall , built to house the Halle Orchestra, is a breathtaking building with a spacious and modern bar. Manchester is also the home of the Royal Northern College of Music and the Northern Ballet, who regularly hold performances and recitals. However, if it's rock and pop that you're after, then the Manchester Evening News Arena , the Carling Apollo Manchester or the Manchester Academy is where you're likely to end up, with people like Robbie Williams to entertain you. Dining After your entertainment of choice, you may still wish to take a meal, so why not take a trip into Chinatown to the New Emperor ? The food is excellent and the restaurant itself is close to many of the theaters. If you're not in the mood for Chinese, then try Giulio's Terrazza Restaurant . They freshly prepare tasty Italian dishes. There's also Nico Central for a more sophisticated French cuisine.
Drinks If you've eaten and just want to have a drink, then Castlefield, Deansgate Locks or Gay Village have some of the best bars around. Castlefield is a soothing place for a walk on a late summer evening. Dukes 92 and Barça are situated close to one another. Dukes 92 has two floors with tables outside, while on cold winter evenings, there is a roaring fire and it's a wonderful place to relax and chat with friends. Whereas Barça, owned by Mick Hucknall of Simply Red, is energetic and a pre-club favorite.
Deansgate Locks, under the railway arches at the back of G-Mex, with it's row of bars including The Lock is now the place for beautiful people to be seen. Some of the bars have strict door policies and high drink prices. It also gets very busy at night, so if there's a large group of you, then it's worth arriving early. The development of Deansgate Locks means that Gay Village has now returned to how it used to be, both chilled out and devilishly hedonistic. Favorites such as Manto and Via Fossa are still going strong and it's nice to sit by the canal and watch the sun go down.
Tour 2: Family Day Out
Morning Never let it be said that Manchester is only a city for students. There are lots of things you can do together as a family. The City Centre is a fun and educational place, both for children and adults. First, take a bus to Oxford Road, where you'll find Manchester Museum . There are guided tours for school children and fantastic exhibitions. The museum is free, although donations are appreciated.
Next, take a bus into Piccadilly Gardens. Once there, head along Market Street, and turn left onto Deansgate. At the top you will find Liverpool Street and The Museum of Science & Industry . This is a great museum because it is so interactive. You can strap yourself into the flight simulator, play educational games and see what Manchester was like a century or so ago. There are always interesting exhibitions on display and you can be sure that you will learn something new.
Lunch Simply walk across Liverpool Street to get to Castlefield Arena. Once there, head for the arches near the Canal basin — straight ahead of you is Castle Street and Dukes 92 . This is a great place for adults and children. You can relax in homely surroundings, read the paper and have a drink, while the children enjoy the feeling of having lunch in an grown-up's pub. They also provide highchairs and baby changing facilities for younger ones. During the summer you are close enough to the canal to be able to watch the barges go by, so after lunch, why not take a cruise down the river? The whole family can learn about the industrial history of Manchester while gliding along in comfort. Castlefield Canal Cruises offer trips to the general public on Sundays. If you are in Manchester on a weekday, then take a tram from Castlefield to the beautiful expanse of Heaton Park. There's a mini train for the children, affording a lovely view of the surroundings.
Dinner Yang Sing on Charlotte Street welcomes families and serves delicious food. If you're in Heaton Park, then take a tram to Piccadilly Gardens, walk along Mosley Street and you'll find Chinatown on your left. You might want to try a wonderful Indian meal from one of the many restaurants along the middle section of Wilmslow Road, Rusholme. Curries can be as mild as you like and some restaurants serve English dishes, so the children can have something a little less exotic if they wish, while you savor the delights of vindaloo, madras, jal frezi and bhuna. There are plenty of buses that will take you from the City Centre to Rusholme, making it very easy to reach. Finally if they prefer pizza to poppadums then Pizzeria Italia in the middle of Deansgate is a great Italian restaurant; the owners are warm and the food is of a high standard.