Manchester is the third largest city in the UK, as well as the third most visited city in the country, after London and Edinburgh. Given the area's rich history and vibrant culture, it is no wonder that people who do not live here love to come visit. Even people who only have time for a short break, perhaps two or three days, can still find plenty to do in the area and many hotels in the city offer convenient packages for short stays.
Manchester itself offers a lot of great suggestions for visitors through its official tourism website and local visitor information centre, but some people may appreciate a few more detailed ideas as inspiration for their plans. One way to think about the options is as five different breaks organised by theme, though of course there is no reason not to mix and match ideas. Visitors may also appreciate a few tips on how to plan their activities around travel and lodging options, and how to book hotels in Manchester online.
These five suggestions are offered as templates. While a visitor certainly could organise a short break around any of these activities, it is also possible to mix and match. Staying with a theme could be fun, though, and in some cases may make finding convenient lodging easier.
Manchester is graced by several rivers, canals, and lakes. Several organised water tours are available, plus visitors can explore on their own by boat or by the many footpaths near the water. Each of the water bodies in the area has its own character and its own recreational opportunities. The Barton Swing Aqueduct is particularly notable. The Aqueduct is a bridge that carries the Bridgwater Canal over the Manchester Ship Canal and can rotate out of the way to make room for ships to pass along the canal beneath. The Barton Swing Aqueduct is in poor condition but can still be viewed and enjoyed. The chart below lists several major area waterways and their brief descriptions.
A historic shipping canal, now a scenic waterway for boating and wildlife viewing
Great for water sports, including both sailing and windsurfing; has a visitor's centre and many nearby nature trails
Manchester Ship Canal
Constructed to bring shipping into the city centre; guided cruises are available along one section
Picturesque place for sailing, surrounded by other lakes and hiking trails
The canals have an industrial past but are primarily used for pleasure boating today. There are other canals, canal segments, rivers, and lakes, many of which are available for boating. Some are featured in guided riverboat cruises.
Manchester boasts two famous football teams: Manchester City and the world-famous Manchester United. Visitors who cannot take in a game should check out the Manchester United Museum. Another option is to take a guided, behind the scenes tour of Manchester City's magnificent Etihad Stadium.
Manchester's lively nightlife and music scene is worth a visit all by itself. There are jazz clubs and large, organised dance parties in a variety of venues. There are also a number of organised pub straggles, self-guided tours sampling real ale, as well as several brewery tours. A different type of music scene includes operas and popular musicals.
The city is also home to a wide variety of excellent restaurants, many of which source their food locally, street food vendors, and farmers' markets. Manchester is also quite proud of its status as a centre of LGBTQ culture, notably the famous Canal Street. A local hero is Alan Turing, a mathematician who developed one of the world's earliest computers in Manchester, but whose career was cut short by intolerance. Visit a statue of him that sits on a park bench in Sackville Gardens.
A short train trip brings the visitor to the picturesque village of Edale, in the Edale Valley, and the Peak District. Edale is one end of the Pennine Way, a beautiful national hiking trail several hundred kilometres long. The Peak District is a rugged rural landscape that includes one of the UK's oldest national parks. Despite the name, the Peak District is not particularly mountainous but is, rather, hilly and crossed by ridges and steep slopes. There is a lot of natural beauty to explore here, but visitors in a hurry can make a day trip of it by train.
Manchester dates back at least to the days of the Roman Empire, when a fort was built here. The ruins of this fort, Castlefield, have been partially restored and can be visited. Much later, Manchester became world famous as an early centre of industrialisation, starting with its dominance in textiles. Explore this part of its history at the Museum of Science and Industry. Other history-related attractions include Albert Square, the Astley Green Colliery Museum, and a number of mansions and gardens open for public viewing.
To actually come to Manchester on a short break obviously involves arranging both lodging and travel. Fortunately, there are many hotels in and around the city, and travel within the city is easy. The trick is to find the hotel that best matches the traveller's goals for the visit.
Manchester is easy to get around. The city is fairly compact in its organisation, so most places are within walking distance of each other. Some areas are open only to foot traffic. Walking tours are available, and people who have trouble walking can rent wheelchairs. Cycling is also a popular way to get from here to there, and bicycle rental is available. For longer trips, several bus routes run every ten minutes during the business day, plus there are light rail lines. Several railroad lines take passengers into and out of the city. If necessary, of course, visitors can resort to cars.
Where in Manchester a visitor stays is not a major concern because it is possible to get from one end of the city to another fairly quickly without a lot of hassle. The primary considerations for choosing a hotel are much more likely to involve decisions about luxury, finance, and what clientele the hotel markets itself to. Some hotels have important restaurants associated with them, some offer spa services, and so on. Some are simply inexpensive places to rest for the night.
It is helpful to be conveniently located, to be within walking distance of favourite points of personal interest, or to be at least near a metro line. Look for a hotel in Trafford when in town to see Manchester United or planning some shopping or a visit to the attractions of Trafford Park. Manchester City fans, on the other hand, would prefer to stay in the city centre. The Northern Quarter is convenient to the city centre as well, and either is great for restaurants, concerts,, and other cultural attractions. Suburbs, such as Chorlton and Didsbury, and nearby towns, like Cheshire, also have excellent accommodations and may be quieter, while still being convenient to Manchester.
With so much going on, naturally Manchester hotels sometimes get a bit busy. If coming to town for an event, such as a football game, be sure to book early. Otherwise, it may be best to plan a visit when the city is a bit quieter. Major events to be aware of include: the Bupa Great Manchester Run, in May; Manchester Pride, over the August Bank Holiday; and the Manchester Christmas Markets, from mid-November to December 23rd; plus, of course, the sporting events and major concerts whose schedules change every year. Bear in mind that these events do not all involve all parts of the city equally, so it may be possible to find a relatively quiet part of town even during a major event. Just search a bit harder.
It is surprisingly easy to secure lodging through eBay, whether you are looking for a hotel, a bed and breakfast, or even a hotel with a spa. Some suggestions may help make finding hotel packages easier. The buying process usually goes smoothly.
To find a hotel package for a short break in Manchester, just type ' short breaks Manchester ' into the search box on the home page of eBay. If necessary, use the menu options to narrow the results. Selection varies but, if looking for something specific, try the Advanced Search option.
As with any other eBay purchase, begin by getting to know the seller a bit. The seller's profile page lists the feedback score and has a contact link for any questions. Be sure to read the listing before buying, to avoid buying the wrong thing, such as a package with the wrong number of nights, by mistake.
Manchester is a fascinating city, with a fascinating history and a vibrant modern cultural scene. It is no wonder the city gets so many visitors. Of course, it is to be expected that some first time visitors might feel a bit overwhelmed; with so much to do, how does one choose? How does a person plan a trip? And particularly, how best to plan a short break when there simply is not enough time to do everything? Conversely, some visitors may be used to coming for one particular reason, such as to attend a football game or maybe the Manchester Pride festival, and may not know how to get started branching out.
A good way to begin is to look at Manchester's offerings thematically. Plan separate breaks around water, sport, culture, nature, and history. Manchester excels in each of these areas, and planning by theme should make putting together a nice break simpler. And if it proves difficult to get everything in one weekend, there are more short breaks in the future to enjoy. It is possible to come to Manchester at least five times and never see the city the same way twice.