Whether you prefer music, clubbing, art or sport – Manchester has it all.You can dash down the famed “curry mile”, grab a pint at one of the many pubs and then take in some live music.
Iconic buildings that once housed powerhouse machinery have now been transformed into cafés, clubs and boutiques giving Manchester an urban chic feel that is unmatched in the UK.
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Manchester Canal

Explore Manchester

Manchester is vibrant from sun up to sundown so no matter your tastes, plan to have some memory-making fun times.

Taking in the historic architecture is a must and there are many tour guides that can help you do it right.

Who can talk about Manchester without mentioning that it is the hometown to some world famous bands? The Bee Gees, Oasis, The Smiths and many others got their start here so a live music show must make your list.

Manchester hosted the 2002 Commonwealth Games so impressive sports facilities abound. If you are looking for something low-key, wander The Lowry or take in a musical at the Royal Exchange Theatre. People-watching at Picadilly Gardens on a sunny day makes for an easy afternoon. “Cottonoplois” as Manchester is called, is so cosmopolitan which makes it tough to narrow down the city’s highlights but below are some of our favourite stops:

It’s Showtime!
Some argue that the live music scene in Manchester may be better than London’s. With acts such as Joy Division, The Chemical Brothers, the Bee Gees, Oasis, The Smiths and many others who began their careers here we certainly see their point. There are loads of venues for music lovers of all tastes. Make a note of The Ritz, Albert Hall and The Deaf Institute as places to check out. Most venues have phone-friendly websites where you can see who is taking the stage each evening, check out prices and purchase tickets. Queues form fast to see top-tier talent so plan ahead if you can. In short, get a ticket, then a pint and have a great night!

Sports, Sports and yes, more Sports
Begin your sporty outing at the National Football Museum in the centrally located Urbis Building. Free to the public and open seven days a week you will learn about the drama and history of football in the world’s largest museum dedicated to the sport. During the season, thousands of football fans flood the city to passionately cheer on rivals Manchester United or Manchester City. (We remain oh-so neutral on the subject of whom to favour.) Tickets are in high demand so book in advance if you want to catch a game and choose your clothing colours (red or blue) wisely. If you still want more, there are many impressive venues to see from the 2002 Commonwealth Games such as the Manchester Velodrome, the National Squash Centre or the Manchester Aquatics Centre.

Culture Lover’s Dream Town
Manchester has earned a much deserved reputation for an edgy arts scene, partly due to the city’s youthful population. Poetry readings, gallery shows, outdoor music performances and innovative theatre (many of which are free) are around every corner. A “must” on your Manchester bucket list is The Lowry which is an amazing gallery that houses works by Britain’s beloved LS Lowry. First-class musicals and plays can be found at the Royal Exchange Theatre. If comedy or dance is your thing then see what is on at the Dancehouse Theatre and Northern Ballet School. Finally, the Manchester Art Gallery is one of the region’s most sought out art destinations with year-round photography, decorative arts and contemporary exhibitions.

A Little Retail Therapy
Manchester’s easily walkable retail scene is a shopper’s paradise no matter the size of your wallet (or purse). Fancy high-end retailers such Selfridges, Harvey Nichols, Belstaff, Crombie and Burberry (of course) are known to be staffed with more approachable employees than you will find in London. For the frugal yet fashionable, a visit to Zara, Gap or H&M will make you smile. Even if you are just window shopping it is worth a visit to the many independent boutiques by young and upcoming designers. You could easily score the next big thing and be the envy of your friends as you are ahead of the trends. The large markets can be a lot of fun and for the men there are two superstores with football souvenirs popular with the out of town set.

A Little Food with Your Fun
As with any diverse blended city a world of cuisine is literally at your fingertips. No matter what you are craving, the chances are you can locate it in the city. For the budget conscience, Rusholme’s Curry Mile is just what it sounds like with loads of Indian restaurants if you are in a hurry for curry.

Chinatown has a huge range of reasonable spots to eat. In the realm of the mid-range, Sam’s Chop House serves excellent English fare. If you would like to splurge, you can’t beat the restaurants at the many high-end hotels like The Lowry or the Deansgate.

Market Restaurant in the Northern Quarter is time-tested and always delicious. Also, you cannot leave Manchester without trying one of England’s famous pies available in all kinds of varieties.

For an after dinner diversion you can head to Oxford Road to hang with 20-somethings, Canal Street for clubs or the Northern Quarter for a bit of a hippie vibe.

Family Fun Time
If you need something to entertain the little people in your life head to the Legoland Discovery Centre which has rides, a 4-D theatre and, of course, loads of legos. At The Sea Life Centre kids can experience first-hand the magic of what’s under the water. The Museum of Industry will inspire and delight the whole family with exhibitions that engage and entertain.

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University of Salford, Manchester

Things to do in and around Manchester

From arts, to history to culture and fashion there is so much to see and do.

Your pocketbook will be delighted that many of Manchester’s top attractions are free or very affordable. Below are some of the experiences that should be on every visitors “have to do” list: 

  • See a band in this live music mecca 
  • View a blockbuster exhibition at one of the city’s top tier museums or cultural hubs 
  • Wander the endless number of shops, markets and boutiques 
  • See some sport! Whether you are a fan of cricket, squash, football, cycling or swimming – Manchester is your place to be
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Manchester Town Hall

Getting to and around Manchester

Fly to Manchester from Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch or Queenstown via Sydney and Dubai with Qantas and partner airline, Emirates

All flights to Manchester from New Zealand, arrive at Manchester Airport. It is the second largest airport in the UK. The Metrolink train system also known as the “Met” runs regularly about every 12 minutes from many stations (including from the airport) and has been greatly extended over the years. (A bit of trivia - did you know that Manchester has the world’s oldest passenger railway station?) Taxis are, of course, available for airport transport or to get around town and are reasonably priced. Bus service is reliable and a budget conscience way to see the sights so grab a map of the network of stops and get moving.
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*Prices are based on payment at A fee of NZ$35 per passenger per booking applies for trans-Tasman bookings and NZ$60 per passenger per booking for other international bookings through 0800 767 400 or Qantas Airport locations. Booking fees may also apply through your travel agent. Prices shown are subject to availability and valid for travel on Qantas and partner airlines. For customers booking return travel from Australia, prices will vary. Full payment must be made at the time of booking. Cancellation fees apply - some changes permitted at a charge. Routing restrictions apply. Prices are updated at regular intervals during the day but may fluctuate if carrier charges, taxes, fees or currency change.