Located in North West England, Manchester is one of the best cities to visit in the UK.
It’s lively, people are friendly and there is a lot to learn about the history of this part of England. Manchester was the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution. It’s also well known for its music scene.
Whether you are here for a day, a weekend or more, make sure to visit these famous landmarks in Manchester.
This list includes a selection of historical landmarks and famous places.
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Map of the best landmarks in Manchester
Here is a map where you can see where all the landmarks are located.
Most Beautiful Landmarks in Manchester
Now let’s get started with the interesting part and discover all these Manchester landmarks one by one!
Manchester Town Hall
Located on Albert Square, Manchester Town Hall is one of the most beautiful buildings in the city and a famous landmark in England.
It is, still to this day, a municipal building, home to Manchester City Council.
If you are into architecture, you will be in for a treat as it is a unique opportunity to discover a beautiful Victorian and neo-gothic building.
It was designed by Alfred Waterhouse and completed by 1877, at a time where the Industrial Revolution was in full swing.
HOW TO VISIT: Unfortunately Manchester Town Hall is being refurbished since 2018 and close to the public as long as the building works are being carried.
However, you can still admire it from the outside. To do so, head to Albert Square (only a couple of minutes walk from St Peter Square).
For more information, you may also want to consider going on a walking tour. The guide will share many facts about Manchester with you. It’s very interesting. Click here to see the latest prices.
The Beetham Tower is a 47-storey skyscraper in Manchester.
It’s the second talles building in Manchester (and in the UK outside of London). It’s 169 metres high and was completed in 2006. For 16 years, it was by far the tallest building in the city.
You will find residential flats, offices and a hotel inside. The hotel is the Hilton Manchester Deansgate. If you want to see what it looks like, click here.
The hotel part is so famous that the building is often referred to as The Hilton Tower.
HOW TO VISIT: There are two ways to visit the Beetham tower.
The first one is to stay at the Hilton hotel. Click here to see the prices.
The other way is from the outside. The Beetham tower is quite an impressive building and there are a few places in Manchester where you can truly admire it!
The first one is from Liverpool Road in Deansgate. You will get to stand at the bottom of it which makes it pretty impressive.
The second view point is Castlefield. If you walk along the Rochdale canal, you will get to a little bridge on Castle Street. The view over the canal and the tower from here are absolutely stunning.
Of course, as it’s such a tall building you can see it from most places in Manchester but these are two brilliant photo spots.
The Midland Hotel is not just a famous landmark in Manchester, it is the locals’ most beloved hotel in the city!
It was inaugurated in 1903. Originally, it was built to serve Manchester Central Railway Station.
As it turns out, this station never became as important as anticipated. The hotel on the other hand became much more famous.
Here are two facts to know about the Midland Hotel:
- That’s where Rolls Royce was founded.
- During WWII, Hitler wanted to dismantle it to rebuild it in Germany.
HOW TO VISIT: Again, as it is a hotel, the best way to visit it is by staying there. You can see the prices here.
If it’s not in your budget, you can still admire the beautiful facade from the outside. Also, if you choose to go on a guided tour of Manchester, the guide will bring you there. See prices here.
Manchester Central Library
Located on St Peters Square, Manchester Central Library is known for its unique neoclassical rotunda architectural style.
It officially opened in 1934 by King George V. It was at the time the largest library provided by local authority in the country.
HOW TO VISIT: Central Library is a beautiful unique building. As you reach St Peters Square, make sure to walk around the building to truly get to admire it.
Once that’s done, feel free to walk in!
The library is still in use which means that you can go in for free. Inside, you will find thousands of books, of course, but also the archive. This is particularly interesting as you can see what Manchester used to look like and how life was during WWII.
The library is also home to a cafe so if you want to grab a hot drink or a snack, it’s a great place to do so.
The Printworks is one of the best Manchester landmarks to visit because it brings together the best of the old and the best the new!
What do we mean by this? Well, nowadays, The Printworks is an entertainment venue. It’s home to all sorts of businesses such as a cinema, bars, restaurants, mini golf and more. But the building itself is an old publishing house (hence the name).
It’s also worth mentioning that there is a roof garden on the Printworks where a beetle hotel was installed.
HOW TO VISIT: The Printworks is opened every day. You can easily reach it from Northern Quarter of Shudehill Station.
Make sure to walk in and have a good look around as it is a very pretty building. It kind of looks like Hogwarts too!
You’ll find loads of bars and restaurants where you can stop for a meal. This includes a Wetherspoon and the Hard Rock Cafe. You can see the prices for a set menu at the Hard Rock Cafe here.
Manchester Cathedral is located on Victoria Street, in between the National Museum of Football and Victoria Station.
Although the origins of the cathedral are not clear, the construction is believed to have started around 700 AD. At the time though, it was just a church. It became a cathedral when the Diocese of Manchester was created, in 1847.
HOW TO VISIT: The Cathedral is open every day and can be visited for free. There is no need to book, you can just show up and walk around. That said, there is a suggested donation of £3. This helps towards the upkeep of the cathedral.
John Rylands Library
John Rylands Library is located in Deansgate. This Victorian Neo-gothic building is one of the most beautiful landmarks in Manchester.
Oddly enough, although most people know about it, a lot of locals never visited it! This is a mistake you shouldn’t be making as it is truly gorgeous! It feels like a real-life version of Hogwarts!
That having been, it actually has no connection with Harry Potter.
The building was opened to the public in 1900. It was entirely founded by Enriqueta Augustina Rylands in memory of her late husband, John Rylands.
John Rylands was Manchester’s first multi-millionaire. He made fortune during the industrial revolution as he was the owner of the largest textile manufacturing concern in the UK.
HOW TO VISIT: John Rylands library is part of Manchester University. It’s open to the public, from monday to Sunday. As you walk in, you’ll find a visitors information desk. They will give you all the info you need.
The library is split in two parts, a more recent one with all the resources and the historic part (that’s the one you want to see!). This part is home to amazing collections including some examples of manuscripts and early printing.
Emmeline Pankhurst Statue
Emmeline Pankhurst is one of the most famous female activist in the UK. She was the leader of the Suffragette movement which led to women getting the right to vote in 1918.
This was one of the most important events in modern politics!
Emmeline Pankhurst was born in Manchester and that’s where the Suffragette movement started.
In 2018, the city unveiled a statue of this brilliant woman. It was, at the time, the first statue of a woman in Manchester (except for Queen Victoria).
HOW TO VISIT: The statue is located on St Peters Square. You can easily walk there and admire it.
Manchester is known as one of the most LGBTQ-friendly cities in Europe and its Gay Village is one of the most historical landmarks in the city.
Located on Canal Street, this pedestrian neighbourhood is known for its bars and drag shows.
The New Union pub and hotel was already hosting drag shows during WWII (decades before it was legalised in the UK). This only show how open minded and respectful Mancunians are and have always been.
HOW TO VISIT: The Gay Village is one of the best places to visit in Manchester. It’s lively and so much fun! You can easily get there on foot from Piccadilly Station. Just walk along canal street and stop in the bars you like. You may need to book in advance if you want to see a show but you can also find some last-minute tickets.
Alan Turing Memorial
Alan Turing Statue is also a very important LGBTQ landmark in Manchester. It’s located in Sackville Gardens, just behind the Gay Village.
Alan Turing was a computer scientist and mathematician best known for his work on Enigma (German encrypting machine) during WWII.
Although he played a crucial role in cracking the code (which is believed to have shortened the war of 2 years), his work stayed a secret for a very long time. He was even prosecuted for gross indecency.
In 2013, Queen Elizabeth granted Alan Turing a posthumous pardon.
The Alan Turing Memorial is a statue of Alan Turing. It was placed in Sackville gardens which half-way between the Gay Village and Manchester University, where he used to be a professor.
HOW TO VISIT: You can visit Sackville Gardens every day of the year. It’s a cute small park. Alan is located on a bench, holding the Newton Apple.
You will also find the LGBT Bee here.
Manchester Chinatown is located in the city centre, between Mosley Street and Portland Street.
It is fairly small but still the second biggest in the UK and third biggest Chinatown in Europe.
HOW TO VISIT: You can head to Mosley Street to find the arches (that’s a good photo spot). To truly make the best of the experience, make sure to try one of the awesome Chinese restaurants there.
The food is delicious and very affordable!
Castlefield is one of the best places to visit in Manchester. It’s home to two canals, a bridge and amazing bars!
It’s one of the most important historical landmarks in Manchester and yet, most locals ignore that.
As you may know, Manchester was founded by the Romans. The name Manchester comes from the Roman word Mamucium which was a fort located where Castlefield now is.
You can also find there two very important canals:
- Bridgewater Canal. It was inaugurated in 1761 and is the world’s first industrial canal.
- Rochdale Canal.
They both meet in Castlefield basin.
It’s one of the best places in Manchester to take photos! It’s very pretty, lively and you can really find that industrial vibe!
It’s also a great place to go for a drink as you’ll find loads of bars by the canals. It’s very pleasant in summer.
Castlefield became a conversation area in 1980 and was the UK’s first designated urban heritage park.
HOW TO VISIT: You can easily get to Castlefield on foot from Deansgate station. To make the best of the experience, take the path along the Rochdale canal until you reach the bridge.
Located in the neighbourhood of Gorton, the Monastery is a beautiful Grade II listed building featuring a High Victorian Gothic architecture.
It was built in the 19th century after the arrival of the Franciscans in Gorton.
HOW TO VISIT: The entrance and car park are free. You can visit the Monastery during opening hours. No need to book or anything, you can just swing by.
Also the admission is free, donations are appreciated.
Salford Lads Club
Located in Salford (Greater Manchester), Salford Lads Club became famous in 1986 when it was featured on the cover of the Smith’s album The Queen is Dead.
Manchester is known for its music scene. It boasted some of the most famous rock bands in England and the Smiths are one of them!
It was established in 1903 and was at the time a club for boys (hence the name). Today though it welcomes everyone so everybody is able to visit.
It’s also worth mentioning that the club is located at the corner with Coronation Street and therefore is a good place to visit if you love the famous soap!
HOW TO VISIT: The club is open to the public on Saturdays. It’s also one of the stops in the Manchester Music Tours.
The tours are a very good way to learn more about music in Manchester. They even have a tour dedicated to the Smiths! Click here to see the prices.
Finally, you will also find a room entirely dedicated to the Smiths in the club!
Salford Quays Footbridge
Located in the Quays, the Salford Quays Footbridge is sometimes referred to as the Lowry Bridge. That’s because it’s situated by the Lowry theatre, one of the best venues in Manchester!
It was open in 2000 and spans between Salford and Trafford.
It is the most iconic landmark in MediaCity.
HOW TO VISIT: MediaCity is located on the tram line so it’s very easy to get there by public transport or by car. You can walk around and go for a meal or drink before heading to the bridge. You can take a lot of very nice photos from there.
Kimpton Clocktower Hotel (The Refuge)
Located on Oxford Street, the Kimpton Clocktower Hotel is one of the most iconic buildings in Manchester.
You may have heard of it as The Refuge. This is because it was designed for the Refuge Assurance Company and the name is still displayed on the facade. Even the locals don’t always know the name of the building.
It was built between 1891 and 1932 and is a Grade II listed red brick and terracotta building.
HOW TO VISIT: You can easily see the building from Oxford Road. To truly enjoy the views, climb up the stairs towards Oxford Road Station.
As it is a hotel, you may assume that you can’t walk in but actually can! As a matter of fact, it’s recommended! Their rooftop boasts breath-taking views over Manchester City Centre.
Located at the corner of Oxford Street and Whitworth Street, the Palace Theatre is the most famous theatre in Manchester.
If you want to see famous musicals, it will be here.
The theatre is owned by ATG and hosts events almost every day.
The theatre opened in 1891 and seats 1,955.
HOW TO VISIT: You can easily get to the Palace Theatre on foot from the city centre, the Gay Village or Oxford Road Station. From the outside, the building is not that impressive to be totally honest however, once you walk in, you will discover a stunning theatre!
It is truly beautiful. So much so, that is known as one of the largest and best equipped theatres outside London.
You can’t visit the theatre per se, however, you can buy a ticket to one of the shows. It’s well worth it and some of them are very cheap. To do so, you can go to the box office or buy your ticket online. Click here to see the shows.
Manchester Art Gallery
Manchester Art Gallery is a public art museum on Mosley Street (near St Peter Square). It’s actually made of 3 buildings. The main one was built in 1823 after a design from Sir Charles Barry.
It features a very unique style as you will find Greek columns at the front.
The collections displayed inside are rather impressive. There are thousands of paintings, sculptures and prints. The Art Gallery also host famous temporary expositions such as the Leonardo Da Vinci drawings one in 2019.
HOW TO VISIT: This is one of the easiest places to visit in Manchester. The Gallery is opened every day of the week and the admission is free!
You can easily walk there (or take the tram to St Peters Square) and start your visit. You’ll also find a cafe inside where you can grab some food or a coffee and support the gallery.
Museum of Science and Industry
The Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI) is the most famous museum in Manchester.
It’s located on Liverpool Road and is made of several buildings including the former Liverpool Road Station. This was the first passenger railway in the world!
There are many exhibits in the museums including about aircrafts, locomotives, computing and textile. Not only are the buildings beautiful but it’s a great opportunity to learn more about the history of Manchester and what made it what it is today.
There are also a lot of activities which makes it one of the best things to do in Manchester with children.
HOW TO VISIT: The entrance to the museum is free. You can go whenever you want during opening times.
The museum is in a central location so you can easily get there on foot.
There are many things to see and you may need to go back a few times. If you are only staying for a few days in Manchester, you will need to reserve a few hours for this attraction.
You will find a few paying attractions in the Aircraft building including VR games. You do not have to do them but if you want to do so (they are quite fun), you can buy a ticket at the entrance.
Manchester Opera House
Manchester Opera House is the Palace Theatre’s little sister. It’s located on Quay Street, near Spinningfields. It is smaller than the Palace theatre however, there are still some amazing productions to see here.
It’s particularly known for its Christmas pantomimes but also for having hosted world premieres such as Back to the Future the Musical.
It opened in 1912 as the New Theatre and is now a Grade II listed building.
HOW TO VISIT: Unlike the Palace Theatre, the Opera House is worth seeing from the outside. It’s beautiful and features many architectural styles. The facade is absolutely gorgeous!
For the full experience, book a ticket to a show. See the schedule here.
The theatre is managed by ATG as well.
Band on the wall
Band on the Wall is another important venue in Manchester. Although it is way smaller than most, it played a unique role in the history of Manchester and its music scene.
The building was built in around 1862 but it was officially nicknamed Band on the wall when the landlord at the time, Ernie Tyson, placed a stage in the wall for musicians to play.
HOW TO VISIT: Band on the Wall is still open and operating. There are now two parts, a bar restaurant and the venue. You can go to the bar whenever you want. It’s actually a bit of a hidden gem in Manchester and a great place to grab a drink as it’s very affordable (and support the venue).
On the lefthand side, you will find the actual venue and the stage. To make the best of the experience, book a ticket for one of the shows. Schedule here.
You can even find some photos of what it looks to be with the bands on the wall. It’s very interesting!
This is a fairly recent monument in Manchester as it was installed in 1912. It’s located in Vimto Park, in front of one of the buildings of the University of Manchester.
It is a tribute to Vimto, Manchester’s favourite drink!
The drink was invented by John Noel Nichols in an effort to reduce alcoholism. It’s a soft drink made of berries and grapes.
You can think of it as the Mancunian version of Iron Bru.
HOW TO VISIT: The park is open to the public so you can go whenever you want. It’s a nice place and there are loads of photo opportunities!
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