How To Spend One Day In Manchester

Are you looking to spend one day in Manchester and totally out of your depth on what to do? Manchester has as much to offer tourists, visitors, and locals as London in my opinion. We have been to Manchester so many times but always with one purpose, sightseeing wasn’t it. On our latest visit, we decided to take a step back and spend a day exploring what the glorious city has to offer. Here is what you can do with one day in Manchester.

Best Time To Visit Manchester

Honestly, Manchester has so much to do no matter what time of year you plan to go. The city evolves with the seasons and so I can honestly say there is a benefit to going at any point in the year. Spring and Summer are great times to visit as there is a whole host of outdoor events from festivals, pop up shops and markets along with family events in the city center.

Winter sees the return of the Christmas markets which have an array of amazing food, crepes, wooden carved gifts, knitted items and more. There is also plenty of indoor activities to do such as bowling, axe throwing and more.

Where To Stay In Manchester

There is such a diverse spectrum of places to stay in Manchester. I would suggest looking at somewhere near the city center or in the city center, that way you can make the most of your one day in Manchester.

There is plenty of places to choose from at a range of prices.

Navigating Manchester

Manchester is a diverse city in terms of things to do, places to go, people and cultures. It is quite diverse in transport systems. Here are the best ways to get around on your one day in Manchester.


One of the most popular ways to travel around the wider spread areas of Manchester is by tram. The trams run through the city so you don’t have to worry about finding a station that is out of the way etc. The tram system is yellow and called the Manchester Metrolink, you can travel for as little as ?2.60 for the day in zone 1. Check out the Manchester Metrolink for more information.


There are 2 versions of buses you can take around the city. There are the paid ones that run through the city to further out destinations. Or there is the free city bus, which has a number of places for pick up and drops off around the city. This is useful if you are trying to pack in as much as possible into your one day in Manchester.


You can also use taxis to get around, this is mostly helpful if you are going further out of the city center and out of walking distance. You can find hackney carriage taxis around mostly at stations or shopping areas. You can also use Uber which is easy to use and more direct when finding your location.


We actually walked most of our trip around the city center. If you are planning on sticking to the city center for your one day in Manchester you will more than likely be able to walk it all. It is also a great way to see other parts of the city and unexpected street art.


Many locals use bicycles to get around, though I never thought to use a bicycle it is an option. dotted around areas there are the bikes you can hire using and app or ones run by the banks. You can also find local bike hire for your one day in Manchester, just make sure you have a padlock to lock it up with while you explore.


You can drive but honestly, I would just drive into a central area, find decent parking and walk the rest. There is plenty of parking from official car parks such as NCP to lesser-known ones that can be found in underground car parks etc. If you plan to stay overnight you can always look into parking in a hotel recommended car park.

What To Do With One Day In Manchester


Estimated Visit Length: 1-2 Hours

If like us you like finding places that are a little quirky, out of the ordinary or just different to the high street shops. Afflecks is just that, it is a building that has been converted into a host of intriguing shops across 4 floors. Afflecks is an emporium of eclecticism, it is located in the Northern Quater so it is easy to find and not too far from all the other attractions.

If you love shopping for quirky and unique items, gifts or just a new sticker for your laptop case check it out. There are vintage clothes, shoes, jewellery and more to keep any wardrobe happy. There are lots of stairs so be aware of the work out involved. You can also get your hair cut, nails painted and find a new hobby in jewellery making or learning to play a new instrument.

Cat Cafe

Estimated Visit Length : 30 Minutes – 1 Hour

We love a cat cafe and Manchester was the first one we ever visited. It was beautiful and so relaxing I could have curled up and gone to sleep myself. We decided to stop in for half an hour on our route around Manchester for a drink. The prices are very reasonable and you get the bonus of comfy seating and some adorable cats to play with. Whether you plan to make more of the visit out of it or like us pop in for a drink it is worthwhile.

If you aren’t a fan of cats or are even allergic you can find an amazing array of coffee shops and eateries in and around the Corn Exchange which is a 7-minute walk away.

The National Football Museum

Estimated Visit Length : 2 Hours

Located next door to the Corn Exchange and Manchester Cathedral which is really handy if you plan to leave your other half looking around the museum, you can go nearby and explore the Cathedral or go shopping.

The National Football Museum is a wonderful place for football fans to explore more about the sport they know and love. There are 4 floors to explore of your favorite clubs, players and games to play. Admission charges go to the upkeep of the exhibitions and charities involved with the museum. Adults are now ?10, children are ?5 and concessions are ?8.

Manchester Corn Exchange

Estimated Visit Length: 1 Hour

The Corn Exchange is a great big Edwardian building that has become home to some of Manchester’s restaurants, cafes and boutique shops. Along with a hotel inside where you can spend the night in the city center which is highly accessible to everything.

After looking around the cathedral and even maybe doing a spot of shopping in the Arndale nearby, this is a great place to stop and have a drink, lunch or even dinner. Even if you don’t plan to stop and have a drink the building is so beautiful the architecture alone is worth seeing.

Manchester Cathedral

Estimated Visit Length: 30 Minutes

The cathedral is a beautiful building to visit, though weekends may be closed for service so double check times before rocking up. There is no entry fee but donations are always welcome. The Cathedral is beautiful to explore and has amazing stained glass windows at both ends to see.

You can spend as long as you like in the cathedral as there are seats in the center of the building. You can take a seat and take in the breathtaking structure.

Go Shopping In The Arndale

The Arndale is a big spot to hit up for shopping, especially if you are wanting to avoid the typical Manchester rain. The Arndale has a little of everything from high-end shops to more day to day shops. There is, of course, places to eat if you are wanting something a little more fast-paced like McDonald’s, Taco Bell and more.

John Rylands Library

Estimates Visit Length: 1 Hour

John Rylands Library is a must-see in my opinion. I don’t feel I am a huge architecture nerd but this building has it all. The building is a late-Victorian neo-Gothic building located on Deansgate. Wondering through the library is like walking through a Harry Potter film or walking through a castle, the building is simply stunning. It is breathtaking, even if you aren’t interested in the books, the building has more to offer.

It is picturesque and grand, it is an amazing place and has to be a place to visit on your one day in Manchester. Even speaking to locals they all recommend heading to the library as it is a real gem.

Head To Cloud23 For A Cocktail

If you are looking to end your day with a little more relaxing and with an amazing view of Manchester I would suggest making a reservation at Hilton Deansgate Cloud23. This is a bar located on the 23rd floor of the Hilton Hotel on Deansgate.

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There are opening hours to the area throughout the day and you can also organise to have afternoon tea there. There are endless opportunities if you want to have nibbles there along with a drink or just have a cocktail before heading out for dinner.

Visit The Gay Village

Manchester is known for diversity, equality and more so why not check out the all famous Gay Village located on Canal Street. This is the perfect place to wind down with a drink and maybe even some dancing. The Gay Village is vibrant, fun and welcoming to all, there is so much to see and do, it is also a lovely place to sit by the canal and take in the views.

Have Lunch At Hatch

Though Hatch is located 20-minute walk from the Northern Quarter there are some amazing places to eat in that one small area. There are locally produced drinks, food and places to shop along with cool seating and fairy lights! Hatch has a wide range of places to eat from Vietnamese to Greek to plain old British food. You can grab lunch or just check it out for a mid-day homebrew pint.

Hatch is also host to events such as Lazy Sundays and Family Film Screenings. This is a hub for the community to come together to explore new food, taste locally made drinks and enjoy entertainment. The layout is really innovative and creative using what seems to be boxes and container style shells to create shops and eateries. Hatch is definitely a great place to have lunch for one day in Manchester.


The Printworks is a collection of bars and restaurants hidden away in an old printing building that was home to printing paper such as the Manchester Evening Chronicle and Daily Mirror. It was shut down in 1985 and later redeveloped into the entertainment hub you see today. The Printworks has a cinema, places to eat, drink and relax.

You can find places to eat such as Hard Rock Cafe, Chiquitos, Wagamama and Nandos along with many more. The restaurants are inside an open entrance tunnel which creates a whole destination of its own to get lost in and have a good time.

That is everything for our one day in Manchester. I hope this has helped you decide where to stay, how to get around and most of all what you want to see. There is of course so much more to do, see and experience in Manchester but hopefully, this will give you enough of a taste to go back and see more.

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