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Short visit? Only 24-48 hours in Manchester

Your guide to Manchester / Things to do if you only have 24/48 hours in Manchester

Only 24-48 hours in Manchester


Manchester, England, is a popular tourist destination with fascinating historical sites to visit, complemented by modern, eye-catching towers and hotels. If you only have a day or two to spend in the city, some of the attractions should be higher on your list than others. When you're wondering, what can I do in Manchester in one or two days, take look at some of these top sites to see.

Visit The People's History Museum

Left Bank, Spinningfields, Manchester M3 3ER  

During your 48 hours in Manchester, pay a visit to The People's History Museum. It's one of the top Manchester attractions and is packed with interactive displays that trace back over two centuries of British reform and revolutions. Industrial Manchester is known for its fight for voting rights for both men and women, as well as trade unionism. During a visit to this museum, you can browse through exhibits that provide insights into the early socialists, the Peterloo Massacre that involved workers demanding their right to vote, the start of the Labour Party and the rise of secret societies.  


Newer exhibits focus on some of the post-war questions, such as migration, gay rights and how people fought for the right to spend their leisure time as they desired. Admission to this Manchester museum is free. 

Catch a Show

Manchester Opera House, 3 Quay Street, Manchester M3 3HP, UK

The Bridgewater Hall, Lower Mosley Street, Manchester M3 3WS, UK 

Rain Bar, 80 Great Bridgewater St., Manchester M1 5JG, UK 

Similar to London, Manchester has a thriving live entertainment scene. When you only have 24 hours in Manchester, you can catch a concert, musical or dance performance at the Manchester Opera House, which dates back to 1912, or grab tickets for a live music performance at The Bridgewater Hall

After the show, enjoy a cocktail at Rain Bar, an award-winning bar in Manchester that serves a variety of libations and pub food. It was formerly a warehouse and umbrella factory but has been transformed into a comfortable spot to sip a drink and chat with locals. The beer-battered fish and chips, served with mushy peas and tartar sauce and Thai veggie curry are two of the crowd favorites.

Cheer for the Home Team

Urbis Building Cathedral Gardens, Todd St., Manchester M4 3BG, UK 

Sports fans will tell you that your 1-day or 2-day Manchester itinerary should include a football match.  Manchester City and Manchester United are two Premier League football clubs that play in the city. The football season in the U.K. runs from August to May and includes 38 games. If your trip doesn't coincide with that season, you can still visit the National Football Museum, which includes exhibits and memorabilia about the history of the sport. You can learn more about when England won the World Cup in 1966 or even test your football skills in a penalty shootout situation.

Nosh on Traditional Pub Fare

52 Cross St., Manchester M2 7AR, UK

No matter how packed your 1-day Manchester itinerary may be, you'll still need to find time to eat. Mrs. Sarah's Chop House is a pub with plenty of character that serves traditional British fare with a modern twist. Formerly known as Mr. Thomas's Chop House, this spot has been around since 1867. Some of the most popular dishes include sausage and mash, Chop House fish and chips, steak and kidney pudding and Mr. Thomas's Famous Corned Beef Hash. Side dishes include broccoli with toasted hazelnuts, wilted kale and capers and peas, bacon and lettuce.

Take in the Local Culture

Oxford Road, Manchester M15 6ER, UK

Still wondering what to do in one day in Manchester? Spend a few hours at The Whitworth. This art gallery's collection includes works from famous English artists, such as L.S. Lowry, Henry Moore, J.M.W. Turner and Barbara Hepworth. It also houses Islamic embroideries and industrial and hand-printed wallpapers from as far back as the 17th century.  

The gallery is located on the campus of the University of Manchester. This world-famous higher educational institution sits on a stunning campus with historic structures and plenty of attractions. Additional places to visit at the university include the Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre, the John Rylands Library and the Manchester Museum.

Explore the Natural Surroundings

Corporation Street, Manchester M4 3BG, UK 

Manchester doesn't have a lot of green space, so if you'd like to get away from the bustle of the city, head to the Cathedral Gardens. It's often included on lists of what to do in 24 hours in Manchester because of its expansive open space and beautiful water feature, which incorporates designs that reflect the changing seasons. Relax on a bench or bring a picnic and sit on the grass to take advantage of this green oasis within the center of the city.

Grab Brunch

All the Shapes, 8 Warwick Street, Prestwich, Manchester M25 3HN, UK 

Mackie Mayor, 1 Eagle Street, Manchester M4 5BU, UK

If you're still not sure of what to do in 48 hours in Manchester, you may want to add weekend brunch to your to-do list. All the Shapes is a popular spot that serves brunch until 4 p.m. all seven days of the week. If you're watching your calories, try the breakfast shake made with banana, raw cacao, wheat germ and oat milk. Other favorites include green eggs, piled high with grilled avocado, spinach, green salsa, fried eggs and mixed leaves on sourdough, and brioche French toast served with toasted almonds, berry compote, vanilla cream and mango. 

Mackie Mayor is a food court-style spot where you and your group can indulge in a variety of offerings. It's open every day but Monday starting at 9 a.m. Tender Cow offers breakfast and brunch options, such as poached eggs carbonara on sourdough, smoked salmon with scrambled eggs and toast, oxtail on toast with horseradish and smoked cheese and steak benedict. Pair your meal with a cup of coffee from J. Atkinsons & Co. These high-quality coffees include unique flavors like tropical fruit, cherry, caramel, dried figs and passion fruit.

Even when you only have a day or two to spend in Manchester, you can enjoy some of the city's top attractions without traveling too far. The city is fairly small, allowing you to explore on foot or via the free bus service with a number of stops.