Free Things to Do in Manchester

It is well known that “Manchester has got everything, except a beach,” so there is an infinite number of things you can do in our city. However, some attractions can be very expensive and we all know that student life is not exactly full of luxury and things to splurge on. So here are 5 things you can do in Manchester without spending a quid!

5 Free things to do in Manchester

Get cultural at Manchester’s museums

Manchester offers a wide range of very different and interesting museums, so there is one for every taste, and the best thing is that they are all free! If you are into art, you can’t miss the beautiful exhibitions at the Manchester Art Gallery (only a 5 minutes’ walk from the school) and at the Whitworth Art Gallery (opposite our student residence, Wilmslow Park).

If art is not your thing, but you are crazy over engines, technology and machines, then the Science and Industry Museum is a must! Here you can learn everything there is to know about Manchester’s history as the world’s first industrial city. When you leave the museum, don’t forget to have a stroll along the beautiful canals of Castlefield, another free activity you cannot miss!

Support regional producers at the local markets

Most of Manchester’s attractions are located within the city centre. However, to see some of the most beautiful scenery, you need to jump on a tram or bus and visit the surrounding towns. Areas such as Altrincham, Chorlton or Didsbury not only offer some of the best independent cafes, bars and restaurants in the city, but they also host some incredible markets.

My favourite is Altrincham market, a permanent hub where you can find regional food producers, vintage fashion and furniture, contemporary craft and some of the best street food in the north. This is also the perfect place to find some unique souvenirs to take back home. Entrance is free, but it is difficult not to spend any money once inside…

Go for an evening walk along Salford Quays

Salford Quays is Manchester’s main waterfront and it really comes to life at night, when the lights of the spectacular surrounding buildings create a magical atmosphere. Home to MediaCity UK (including BBC & ITV Television studios), Salford Quays is the perfect destination for a quiet evening walk followed by some food and drinks at the local restaurants and bars.

If you like going to the theatre, you can also check out The Lowry, an arts and entertainment complex offering a wide variety of national and international shows, from drama and opera to ballet and musicals.

If you’d prefer to go during the day, then you might want to follow one of the Salford Trails to discover the local area. There are 10 different routes to choose from and they are obviously all free!

Admire the architecture of Manchester libraries

If you are a bookworm, or simply a fan of architecture, then you can’t miss the Manchester libraries. There are two main libraries in the city centre; Manchester Central Library and The John Rylands Library, and both of them are free to visit.

Manchester Central Library is easily recognisable by the round shape of its building. It has a beautiful reading room located under the dome, and an impressive entrance hall with a stunning decorated ceiling. The library is also well known for its music section, where you won’t only find books and movies about music, but also instruments that visitors can use to show off their musical talent.

The John Ryland’s Library is every Harry Potter fan’s dream! The neo-gothic building, with its narrow corridors, sharp-pointed arches and tall ceilings, will make you feel like you are wondering around Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The library also hosts some interesting exhibitions and is home to some of the oldest manuscripts in Europe.

Get lost in the Affleck’s Palace

Nothing represents the spirit of Manchester better than the Affleck’s Palace. Located just 2 minutes away from BSC Manchester, it is a maze of tiny vintage and record shops, local artists’ studios, cafes and much more. You could spend hours in there just admiring all the odd pieces up for sale and without spending a penny. Careful, however, not to get lost! The Affleck’s Palace has different entrances on different streets and it’s very easy to lose your way in there.

If it’s a warm day, I also recommend visiting Ginger’s Comfort Emporium on the first floor, where you will find the best ice-cream in Manchester, produced locally in Chorlton.

Bonus suggestion: Get some sun at Heaton Park (if you can!)

A day of sunshine in Manchester is as rare as the most precious lost treasure, so if you are lucky enough to get one, you should make the most of it! As soon as the sun is out, you should head to Heaton Park, one of Manchester’s largest green spaces. You can simply walk around the park and admire some of the historical landmarks, or try one of the fun activities on offer, such as rowing a boat on the lake, visiting the tramway museum or joining one of the astronomy sessions to go stargazing.

Do you want to discover more of Manchester and improve your English? Find out more about our English language courses in Manchester city centre.

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