How to spend one budget friendly day in Manchester

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As part of my trip to the North West of England to visit my friend Jess in Liverpool, I also hopped over to Manchester for a day to visit my friend Lucy (the one who joined us out in New Zealand when Jess and I were travelling). Manchester is just 40 minutes by train from Liverpool Lime street and with advance tickets on Trainline for as little as £3, how could I say no?

Manchester has a strong connection with Liverpool from its history of the cotton mills and textiles industry, and also like Liverpool, it has grown into a bustling, modern and vibrant city. The combination of old and new buildings are something that I love, and with only one day to explore, this is good news!

There is a tram system that goes around the city but it’s perfectly walkable, so you really can see a lot in a day. What’s even better is that all the things I have listed below are completely free (apart from food, but c’mon, something’s gotta give). So you can get around for free to see things for free. Win! So if you’re looking to take a flying visit to Manchester, I have great tried and tested itinerary to help you see loads!

Manchester is a fantastic city to spend a day exploring on a budget. If you're looking to do a quick trip then I've got a fantastic 1 day itinerary full of the free things you can do in the city. Click to get your hands on it!

John Rylands Library

This library is honestly one of the most beautiful libraries I have ever seen – it’s literally like stepping into Hogwarts. The shelves are full of beautiful old binded books and the stained glass on the windows make everywhere feel so special. There’s also a hilarious photoshoot spot which Lucy and I had way too much fun at.

Town Hall

This building is considered one of the finest examples of neo-gothic architecture in England, and I have to say, it is stunning. It’s used for a multitude of events and it’s also free to go into. It’s pretty close to the John Ryland library so it’s easy to visit them together.

Manchester Arndale

This huge shopping centre is nothing unusual so you will find all the high street shops inside, so if you fancy a quick shop, then this is a good spot to go to.

Manchester is a fantastic city to spend a day exploring on a budget. If you're looking to do a quick trip then I've got a fantastic 1 day itinerary full of the free things you can do in the city. Click to get your hands on it!

Northern Quarter

This quirky part of this city is full of independent cafes, restaurants and shops. It’s the perfect place to pick up something unusual or to spend time having a good rummage for something different. Alfecks is perfect for this – it’s huge and is almost like an undercover market full of individual shops and stalls. It’s a good place to stop for some lunch as well. We stopped at the Fig and Sparrow and the food was deliciously fresh.

Manchester is a fantastic city to spend a day exploring on a budget. If you're looking to do a quick trip then I've got a fantastic 1 day itinerary full of the free things you can do in the city. Click to get your hands on it!

Central Library

So I know 2 libraries in one day might sound a bit excessive, but trust me on this, you have to swing by. The entrance is grand but the main room is amazing. The huge round room resembles something you might expect to see in Rome rather than Manchester, honestly my jaw dropped. And what’s better is that it was busy with people actually using it, not just full of people like me having a walk through. 

Museum of science and industry

Manchester grew from its part in the cotton and textiles trade, so this free museum is great to find out more. As well as covering the history of the city, it also has a great hands-on (and dress up for adults kids) science floor that looks at the impact graphene has had after its discovery in Manchester.

Where to eat

The Northern quarter has lots of cafes and restaurants to choose from. We stopped at the fig and sparrow for lunch and had a delicious salad and homemade rye bread for just £6.95.

For dinner, we looked at the places near to the science museum, of which there are loads. However, we headed back towards the town a bit more a stumbled across a Greek restaurant that had a 2 course menu for £12.95. The food and service was amazing, and a dare say there will be other restaurants with deals on, so keep your eyes peeled!

Manchester is a fantastic city to spend a day exploring on a budget. If you're looking to do a quick trip then I've got a fantastic 1 day itinerary full of the free things you can do in the city. Click to get your hands on it!

Manchester is a fantastic city with tonnes of culture, history and loads to do. what's even better is so much is free! Find out how to spend a budget friendly day in this fantastic city here.

10 Comments

  1. I’ve been to Manchester a few times for different reasons (family etc.) but never managed to just stop and have a look around the touristy spots!

  2. Yum, that salad alone looks like reason enough to go back to Manchester!! I spent a day there too last March, but it was raining so much, we only walked around a bit. I loved the Manchester Art Gallery though!!

  3. I live in Manchester and there are so many great things to do for free – I’d also recommend a visit to the hidden library, Chetham’s Library, which is a stunning medieval building and isn’t as well known as some of the others so it’s much more peaceful too (plus, it looks like Hogwarts!)

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