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Short breaks in Manchester – 48 hours of museum heritage, music and unrivalled shopping

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A few nights in a Manchester hotel is enough to explore the city’s industrial heritage and enjoy its famed nightlife. Plan your short break in Manchester with this two-day itinerary. 

Manchester short break day one


Start out with a morning shopping session in Manchester’s alternative Northern Quarter. Browse the funky stores in Afflecks Palace on Church Street for retro print clothes and hip kids’ wear. New designers showcase apparel on Tib Street at Saturday’s Fashion Market.

Join Manchester locals for cheap broth served on trestle tables under chandeliers at the Soup Kitchen – a hearty fill after a morning spree.

Start: Afflecks Palace. Nearest Metrolink: Market Street


The landscaped Piccadilly Gardens, directly south of the Northern Quarter, give a sense of bygone Manchester. Stroll around the fountains and check out the surrounding Victorian cotton warehouses. Then glide on the tram from Piccadilly to St Peter’s Square station to see the neo-Gothic grandeur of the old Town Hall.

Head down Deansgate to the Museum of Science and Industry on Liverpool Road, housed in the world’s oldest surviving passenger railway station. Investigate displays of the city’s textile and papermaking machinery, as well as ‘Baby’, the world’s first electronic computer, created in Manchester in 1948.

Start: Piccadilly Gardens. Nearest Metrolink: Piccadilly Gardens


Castlefield, south of Deansgate, harks back to the days when canals served the city. Each lock, railway arch and warehouse has a story to tell. Taste Italian at the glass-fronted, open-plan restaurant Albert’s Shed – it was once its namesake’s tool shed.

Start: Albert’s Shed. Nearest station: Deansgate

Manchester short break day two


Start your day west of the city centre on Salford Quays at The Lowry arts centre browsing the paintings by Manchester-born L.S. Lowry, famous for his industrial landscapes of ‘matchstick men and matchstick cats and dogs’. Kids will love joining the free hide-and-seek trail around the rainbow-coloured interior and ice creams on the waterside terrace at the Lowry Restaurant.

Start: The Lowry. Nearest Metrolink: Harbour City


Carve up real snow on the 180-metre slope or whiz on the Luge ice slide at the Chill Factore indoor ski slope – the perfect rainy-day distraction. Or fritter away the afternoon browsing between the tranquil fountains and columns of the lavish Barton Square interior design shopping centre, an extension of the Trafford Centre mall next door.

Start: Chill Factore. Nearest bus: Trafford Centre bus station


Finish your Manchester short break with the city’s signature dish – a curry. At dusk the inviting neon lights of Wilmslow Road in southern suburb of Rusholme start to sizzle and serve quick Pakistani, Indian and Sri Lankan dishes. Digest dinner with a West End musical just up the street at Oxford Street’s Palace Theatre in the stalls of this old Victorian variety venue.
Start: Wilmslow Road. Nearest rail: Oxford Road