Image © Mark via Flickr

A Student Guide to Your First Week in Manchester

Holly Eliza Temple

If you’re new in Manchester around this time, it’s probably because you’re a student. With several universities across the city, Manchester is a hub for exciting music, food, drink, and culture. We’ve compiled a guide of student-friendly locations around the city that will have you feeling like a resident in no time (and won’t break your student loan).  


A post shared by Nexus Art Café (@nexusartcafe) on

Starting in the centre, the Northern Quarter is located just off Piccadilly Gardens and the main bus routes to the city, and is home to the indie shopping, booze and coffee institutions of Manchester. Nexus Art Café is located on Dale Street, opposite record store Vinyl Exchange. By following the staircase down you can find a creative, safe and friendly bolthole for coffee, art and networking. The mismatching furniture and fairy lights will make you feel right at home, where you can browse the work from independent artists for sale, grab a board game from the shelves or attend one of their regular events such as Life Drawing or Film Night. It is also home to Salford Zine Library, an archive of self-published creative zines.

A post shared by Soup Kitchen (@soupkitchenmcr) on

In you’re wanting to socialise over an alcoholic drink, Soup Kitchen is a canteen and music venue also nestled in NQ. As the name suggests, their menu consists of student budget-friendly soup and sandwiches (at around £4-£6) as well as other comfort classics, and serves a great range of beers to complement. Their happy hour prices mean you can grab a soup, sandwich and a pint for £10. 

A post shared by YES (@yes_mcr) on

The city centre is definitely not short of bars and pubs for a unique night out. YES is another bar and music venue, with four floors of drinks deals, indie food dealers and live events. On Charles Street (just off the main university campuses on Oxford Road), you can wolf down a slice of pizza from Pepperoni Playboy for half price between 12 and 6, and treat yourself to one of YES’ ‘fancy drinks’ with the second for just £1. 

For hearty, humble food, This & That Café is a hidden gem tucked down Soap Street, serving modest, authentic Indian food. With different fresh dishes being cooked each day, This & That is a family-run establishment offering a range of curries served over rice, with plenty of vegetarian and vegan options. Pricing is simple, with ‘Rice and 3’ giving you your own choice of 3 curries for £6.50 (three veggie curries is only £4.50). 

A post shared by COW VINTAGE (@cowmanchester) on

If there is one thing that might have you fighting with your bank balance in Manchester, it’s the shopping. But shopping vintage and secondhand is a great way to save your money (and the planet) – and you’re in the right place. All situated on or around Oldham Street, our favourite vintage shops of the city aren’t hard to find, but might be hard to part with. COW, Blue Rinse and Pop Boutique are havens for retro and reworked pieces, and Oxfam Originals offers a charity shop with carefully selected vintage, on-trend styles and designer labels. 

A post shared by homemcr (@homemcr) on

But you cannot call yourself a Mancunian resident without visiting the arts and culture hubs of the city – HOME is an exciting exhibition space, cinema, performance venue and bar. Their exhibition displays are often free, currently showcasing David Lynch’s ‘My Head is Disconnected’ until the end of September. 

Manchester Art Gallery is another central venue, a grand building offering some time out from the buzz of the city, with a range of contemporary and classic exhibitions shown all year round.

A post shared by the Whitworth (@whitworthart) on

You will also find The Whitworth Art Gallery down Oxford Road, a part of University of Manchester. The red brick building was the first English gallery to be housed in a park, not only displaying a diverse programme of displays and events, but providing a greatly sought-after green space for picnicking and walks. 

Your inbox deserves a little culture! Get our monthly newsletter