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Manchester on a Budget

Image © Chiara Pustianaz

Birthplace of the Industrial Revolution, cradle of musical history, and home to two of the world’s best football teams, Manchester is a city alive with character and diversity. Dubbed the ‘Capital of the North’, Manchester is a vast melting pot of different cultures and stories, making its arts, food, and cultural scenes as diverse and as fascinating as its own richly varied history. Here’s our guide to seeing the best of this thriving city in a day for under £20.


John Ryland’s Library (Free)

Start your Manchester day out by visiting one of the city’s most beautiful buildings, the John Ryland’s Library. Even if your student days are done and dusted, this literary temple is still a sight to behold. Home to one of the world’s finest collections of historic books and manuscripts, this gothic Manchester University library holds over 250,000 printed volumes and well over a million archival items.

Image Credit: Michael D Beckwith

The John Ryland’s Library is located at 150 Deansgate, Manchester M3 3EH. Open Tuesday to Saturday 10am 5pm, Sunday and Monday 12 5pm.


'Discover Manchester' Tour (£8)

Guided tours are a fantastic way to see a city, and an outing with Manchester Tours is well worth the £8 price tag. Enjoy a relaxing stroll and take in the city’s beautiful sights as you’re guided around Manchester’s most notable buildings, including Manchester Town Hall, Manchester Cathedral and the Royal Exchange, among many others. The hour and a half walk around town will fly by and leave you wishing you were a Mancunian yourself.

Image Credit: Stephen, Manchester Town Hall

‘Discover Manchester’ tours begin at 11am outside Manchester Central Library, St Peters Square, City Centre, M2 5PD. Arrive 5 minutes before the tour starts. Booking is essential. Tickets cost £8.

1pm - Dinner at This and That (From £3.90)

This and That has become a stalwart eatery for Mancunians thanks to its delicious food at unbeatable prices. Easily missed if you’re trying to look for it, This and That’s hidden location is well worth the trouble to find once you indulge in one of its mountainous helpings of rice ’n’ three, their speciality plate of rice and three curries, both meat and veggie. What This and That lacks in ambience is surely made up for in its flavourful, punchy curries that will fill you up and leave you completely satisfied.

This and That is located at 3 Soap St, Manchester M4 1EW.

2pm - Walk around the Northern Quarter

Manchester’s Northern Quarter pulsates with creativity and it’s in this area that you’ll find the city’s trendiest bars, hippest galleries, and funkiest shops. The jumbled network of streets, once home to busy textile warehouses, are now stuffed full of independent cafes and bohemian boutiques, and it’s very easy to lose track of time as you soak up the area’s laidback vibe. Make sure to visit Piccadilly Records, a Manchester institution, for all your vinyl needs, and Retro Rehab, one of the city’s most beloved vintage stores, for those keen to put some flare into their fashion.

Image Credit: Stacey Macnaught, Manchester Northern Quarter

Piccadilly Records is located at 53 Oldham Street, M1 1JR and Retro Rehab is located at 91 Oldham St, City Centre, Manchester M1 1JR

3pm - National Football Museum

Whether you’re a footie fanatic or you simply want to get a sense of Manchester’s true spirit, a kick around the National Football Museum is well worth your time. Aiming to show visitors how and why football has become ‘the people’s game’, this institution explores the rich history of this popular sport, and how it has left its legacy on English heritage. With over 140,000 items on show and plenty of interactive exhibitions, you’re sure to have a ball.

Image Credit: Amanda Slater, National Football Museum

The National Football Museum is located in the Urbis Building, Cathedral Gardens, Manchester M4 3BG. Open everyday from 10am - 5pm, free admission.

5pm - Corbieres (£3 for a pint)

Hidden on Half Moon Street in a dark corner of Manchester’s hip Northern Quarter is Corbieres, a drinking den with an impressive past. Boasting former clientele including the members of Oasis and The Happy Mondays, Corbieres has been plying Manchester locals with affordable booze for over thirty years. Be sure not to miss Corbieres’ famous jukebox too, but make no mistake, the pressure will be on from this crowd to pick a good tune!

Corbieres is located at 2 Half Moon Street, Deansgate, Manchester, M2 7PS. Open

12pm-12am daily.

6:30pm - Northern Soul (From £4.00)

Proudly billed as the UK’s first gourmet grilled cheese restaurant, Northern Soul is perfect for cheese junkies looking to get a gooey fix. Specialising in the ultimate comfort food, this Manchester institution raises the humble grilled cheese sandwich to new obscenely delicious heights. All of the grilled cheese delicacies served at Northern Soul pivot around their signature three cheese blend on sourdough bread, and additional toppings range from mac ’n’ cheese (The Mac Attack) to succulent BBQ pulled pork (Pig On The Lead). With huge Northern Soul hits playing while you gorge yourself on melted cheese, you’re guaranteed a gouda time.

Image Credit: Scott Dawson

Northern Soul is located at 10 Church St, Manchester M4 1PN

Now that you know how to get the best of Manchester for just £18.90, there’s no excuse not to visit. Book a ticket up North as soon as you can – or you won’t be able to Stop Crying Your Heart Out.