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Unseen Manchester: cool things to do in the capital of the North

Manchester has a lot more to offer than Old Trafford, Coronation Street and Oasis. In this article we talk you through some of the best Manchester-centric activities.

Art galleries

Manchester is a creative hub, with many young and imaginative minds flocking to the city to enrol at university. As well as the famous, mainstream galleries, there are many smaller and often more interesting arty things going on. These events are often led by students or up-and-coming artists, and can be difficult to find out about. Social media platforms and word of mouth are often the best ways to discover Manchester’s hidden art underworld.

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Set aside The Smiths and The Stone Roses for a moment and concentrate on some of the city’s newer talent. Alt-J, who won 2012’s Mercury Music Prize, are the latest in a long line of breakthrough artists hailing from Manchester, with many more popping up all the time. Check out gig listings online for some of the latest acts that regularly play across the city. Venues such as the Death Institute and Gorilla often have the hottest talent in the city, although you may have to avoid the Liam Gallagher wannabes!


Cycling is one of the best ways to visit parts of a city that you may not usually go to. Like many modern cities, it is easy to rent bikes in Manchester and, due to its large size, this makes it a much easier way of travelling around than walking. Look at forums and message boards online and find fellow cyclists who can pass on routes and let you know about tours and rides around the city. If you fancy staying somewhere a little quieter but still within easy reach of the city centre then check out Luther King House.

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Foodie havens

Why do people keep eating at those chains lining every high street in the country? Everyone likes a bit of faux-Italian pizza every once in a while, but stepping outside the box and trying something a bit different can make eating out something enjoyable, rather than a pit stop for fuel intake.  Manchester has some of the best curry houses in the country, many of which can be found along Curry Mile. If Asian food is more to your taste then you will be spoilt for choice as the city’s Chinatown is world renowned. Pub grub, fine-dining and American burgers (try Almost Famous) are also big in the city.

Craft beer

The UK has seen a renaissance in beer drinking over the last few years. Many pubs and bars now stock British ales, as well as exciting imports from further afield, in place of the standard fizzy lagers that were once commonplace. Your once average Joe Carlsberg can now tell you the difference between an Indian Pale Ale and a traditional porter. Manchester is arguably at the forefront of this beer revival and houses some of the country’s best breweries (Marble Valley) and pubs (Port Street, Common). After you’ve had a few drinks, avoid travelling far by booking yourself into a B&B in Manchester.