Last Updated on 3 December 2023
Spending a weekend in Manchester is a great option for a UK city break! As a born and raised Londoner I was pleasantly surprised by the good vibes and vibrant atmosphere. And I loved that there were tons of places to explore!
If you’re thinking of visiting Manchester, then I’ve got you covered. Here is my guide on how to spend the perfect weekend in Manchester!
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How to Travel to Manchester
You can easily get to Manchester from north, south east and west of England. The M60 ring road connects the city centre to all of these areas.
There are 3 main stations in Manchester city centre: Piccadilly, Oxford Road and Victoria. It’s very simple to travel to Manchester by train if you’re based in any large UK city (London, Edinburgh, Birmingham, Liverpool, Sheffield, Newcastle, York). There are direct trains that reach Manchester within 35 mins to 3.5 hours depending on how far you are.
As I was travelling to Manchester from London, I took a direct train via Avanti West Coast from Euston and arrived in just over 2 hours!
How to Spend a Weekend in Manchester: Day 1
Breakfast at Moose Coffee
📍 20 York St, Manchester M2 2BB
What a way to start your weekend in Manchester than to have a delicious breakfast (or brunch). Moose Coffee is the perfect place if you love North American inspired breakfast. Their menu consists of the typical American pancakes and waffles as well as all day breakfast options, eggs benedict, sandwiches and small bites!
I decided to have the Moose Apple and Homemade Salted Caramel Pancakes and they were so yummy! Not only was the food amazing but the environment was too! I went during Autumn, so all the Halloween decorations and spooky music playing in the background was such a good vibe!
Shopping at Afflecks
📍52 Church St, Manchester M4 1PW
Before spending my weekend in Manchester, a friend mentioned that I should visit the huge building that sold very niche items. This was the perfect way to describe Afflecks. Located in the heart of the Northern Quarter, Afflecks is a big independent shopping emporium with the most incredible shops!
There was a Manchester souvenir shop on the bottom floor and as you go up each floor, you’ll find shops selling the coolest earrings, trinkets, candles, shoes, CDs, plants, figurines and more! The list of really cool yet niche things you can find in Afflecks really does go on and you’ll find yourself lost in the amazingness of it all! They even have a cafe on the top floor where I found out that the building was used as a filming location in a short documentary called Joy Uncensored!
Shopping at Afflecks is definitely one of the top things to do in Manchester when visiting. And even if you don’t find anything that you want to buy, just window shopping here is a cool enough experience!
Explore the Northern Quarter
When spending a weekend in Manchester, you can’t miss out on exploring the Northern Quarter! It’s the quirkiest area in Manchester city centre with tons of independent shops and vintage stores, incredible street art, and the nicest bars.
As a born and raised Londoner I’m used to having something new to do in the city that’s only a walk or bus journey away. So I love how there’s always something to do at the Northern Quarter and that there’s tons to explore! Here are my top suggestions for things to do in the Northern Quarter:
- Vintage shopping at Suzy Loves Milo, Empire Exchange and Cow Vintage
- Shop from independent artists and businesses at The Makers Market
- Buy plants at Nice Things
- Drink cocktails at The Washhouse
- Self-guided street art tour
Lunch at Salt & Pepper
📍60-62 High Street, Manchester, M4 1EA
After exploring Afflecks and the Northern Quarter, head over to Salt & Pepper for some Chinese takeaway food! Salt & Pepper actually used to be a food stall at Arndale Market until 2022, when they permanently moved to The Northern Quarter!
What I love about Salt & Pepper isn’t just their delicious food but also that they have a range of different food options depending on dietary requirements! They’re Halal certified and they have gluten-free and vegan food on their menu! I decided to have sticky beef with rice and it didn’t disappoint!
Arcade Games and Drinks at NQ64
📍12 Tib St, Manchester M4 1SH
A fun way to end the first day of your weekend in Manchester is by heading to NQ64! This is the best arcade place I have ever been to! It features tons of the classic arcade games but they also have video game console games and a bar! At the bar, they have a selection of retro video game inspired cocktails that you can’t miss out on!
My friend and I had the best time at NQ64. We bought 15 coins for £8 at the bar and were able to enjoy a lot of the arcade games. We played the Michael Jackson moonwalker arcade game, a Simpsons arcade game, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles game and Bubble Bobble. Afterwards, we headed to the video game console area where we played an Xbox skate boarding game and Crash Nitro Kart on the Playstation 2.
The last game we played was Dance Dance Revolution and it was my first ever time seeing and playing it! I only ever saw this game in American teen movies so it was fun to actually have a go at it myself!
More Activities to Do During Your Weekend in Manchester
How to Spend a Weekend in Manchester: Day 2
English Breakfast at The Koffee Pot
📍84-86 Oldham St, Manchester M4 1LE
You can’t go wrong with a full English on the last day of your weekend in Manchester! The Koffee Pot is a yummy breakfast place that not only offers full English but also pancakes and patties. It’s a very popular breakfast place so make sure to book it in advance if you can!
My friend and I got the Veggie Brekkie since she’s vegetarian and I don’t eat pork. Like I said before, we couldn’t go wrong with the full English, we loved it!
Shopping at The Trafford Centre
📍The Trafford Centre, Trafford Park, Stretford, Manchester M17 8EH
After having breakfast/brunch at The Koffee Pot, a must visit when you’re spending a weekend in Manchester is The Trafford Centre! This is a huge shopping centre and entertainment complex located in Greater Manchester, only a 20 minute tram (Metrolink) journey from Deansgate – Castlefield in the city centre! There are tons to enjoy including a cinema, food court, fashion and designer stores, mini golf and laser tag!
Visit the John Rylands Research Institute and Library
📍150 Deansgate, Manchester M3 3EH
This wouldn’t be the Novelsphere if I didn’t add anything bookish to this weekend in Manchester itinerary! For bookish lovers, the John Rylands Research Institute and Library is a must see when visiting Manchester for the weekend! At a glance, you may notice that it looks like a church. But it is actually a library, just with cool neo-Gothic architecture!
The highlight of the John Rylands Research Institute and Library is the Reading Room. The interior resembles a church with stained glass windows and a pew-like balcony. It’s a beautiful spot in the library and best of all, anyone can study in it!
Another cool thing about John Rylands Research Institute and Library is that it has been used as a filming location for various TV shows and films including Peaky Blinders and The Limehouse Golem!
Drink the Best Hot Chocolate at Knoops
📍 68 Cross St, Manchester M2 4JQ
It’s not often that you see hot chocolate cafes around. And as someone who prefers hot chocolate to coffee, I think there should be more places like Knoops! Located in the heart of Manchester, Knoops is a chocolate drinks store where you can enjoy hot chocolate, mochas, chocolate milkshakes and iced chocolates!
I tried the 38% Single origin (Solomon Islands) hot chocolate with soya milk and whipped cream and it was as yummy and creamy as it claims!
Go Book Shopping
I absolutely love Manchester’s range of bookshops! Not only do they have the biggest Waterstones in the North but they also have a ton of independent bookshops:
- Paramount Books
- Manchester Book Buyers
- Travelling Man
- Anywhere Out of the World
- Social Refuge
One of the cosiest bookshops in Manchester is House of Books & Friends. It’s a cute little bookshop, cafe and event space that tackles social isolation and loneliness. This is definitely an independent bookshop that you wouldn’t want to skip when visiting Manchester for the weekend as a book lover!
Where to Stay in Manchester
The main neighbourhoods I would suggest for staying for a weekend in Manchester are the Northern Quarter and Castlefield:
- Northern Quarter – The Northern Quarter is the best area to stay in Manchester for the weekend if you want to experience Manchester nightlife. The Cow Hollow Hotel is close to Piccadilly train station and is within walking distance to the city centre and even features a cocktail bar!
- Castlefield – Castlefield is a budget-friendly area with a rich industrial history and tons of scenery for long walks. The Castlefield Hotel is within walking distance from the city centre and Deansgate Rail Station!
How to Spend the Perfect Weekend in Manchester: Summary
I hope this Manchester weekend itinerary inspired you for your trip to the city of Manchester! It’s an amazing city full of things to do and best of all, the city centre is walkable and easy to get around!
More UK city breaks to inspire your travels:
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