The best Instagrammable places in Manchester highlight the city’s eclectic personality. They showcase the unique combination of a glorious heritage as an Industrial Revolution hub and a lively present as one of the UK’s most diverse and exciting cultural destinations.

    Highlights include spots that display Manchester’s fame for sports, music and industriousness. Between snaps, you can enjoy shopping, dining and the city’s famous nightlife. Be sure to check out the many canals in the city, too – it’s not quite Venice, but they’re worth checking out for a nice change from the city streets.


    Salford Lads Club

    A must-visit for rock fans

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    You’ll certainly recognise Salford Lads Club if you’re a fan of ‘80s indie rock and know for certain that vinyl sounds better. It featured on the LP sleeve for The Queen Is Dead – the 3rd album from The Smiths. Despite being released in 1986, it remains an iconic sight in Manchester and a pilgrimage site for Smiths fans.

    The club itself has been running since 1903 and hosts a wide range of activities for local youngsters. From outside, it’s a beautiful red-brick Victorian building while the expansive inside contains the Smiths Room – another bonus for rock fans that’s free to see (by appointment and on special open days only).

    Location: St Ignatius Walk, Salford M5 3RX, UK

    Open: Monday–Tuesday from 5 pm to 9 pm, Wednesday from 6 pm to 9 pm, Thursday from 7.30 pm to 9 pm, Friday from 6 pm to 8 pm, Saturday from 11 am to 2 pm (closed on Sundays)

    Phone: +44 (0)161 872 3767


    photo by Rept0n1x (CC BY-SA 2.0) modified



    A historic shopping mall with a beautiful exterior

    Afflecks has the distinctive red-brick look of many buildings built during Manchester’s Victorian-era heyday. While the building dates from the 1860s, the more impressive part of its appearance is a selection of mosaics by Mark Kennedy, who returned after a brief absence in 2011. It showcases Manchester’s many sporting and cultural contributions, including the Coronation Street and The Suffragettes.

    Inside the building, you’ll find a very popular alternative shopping destination. You can find unique artworks, jewellery, vintage clothes and loads of other odd highlights. There’s even special Afflecks-brand merchandise available.

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    Location: 52 Church St, Manchester M4 1PW, UK

    Open: Monday–Friday from 10.30 am to 6 pm, Saturday from 10 am to 6 pm, Sunday from 11 am to 5 pm

    Phone: +44 (0)161 839 0718


    photo by Mikey (CC BY 2.0) modified


    Manchester Town Hall

    See the Manchester Bee

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    The beautiful Manchester Town Hall and its striking clocktower have a look that’s very reminiscent of the Houses of Parliament in London. Completed in 1877, look out for the various statues dotted around the place. These include Roman General Agricola, who founded the city in AD 79.

    Manchester Town Hall’s interior is just as impressive as the neo-gothic exterior. In particular, the Great Hall is a great spot for Instagrammers. The Manchester Murals by Ford Madox Brown depict the history of the city as well as the Manchester Bee – a symbol of the city’s industriousness.

    Location: Albert Square, Manchester M2 5DB, UK

    Phone: +44 (0)161 234 4343


    Alan Turing Memorial

    Take a selfie with a genius

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    The Alan Turing Memorial near Manchester’s gay village features a bronze statue of the man himself sat on a bench, so you can sit beside him for a selfie. The bench is in Sackville Park, offering a pleasant place to take a break, too.

    While Turing is most famous for his work on decrypting the Enigma code during WWII, he did some of his noteworthy work in developing computers at the Victoria University of Manchester from 1948 onwards. As the plaque at the memorial's feet says, he was the "father of computer science, mathematician, logician, wartime codebreaker, victim of prejudice".

    Location: Sackville Park, Fairfield St, Manchester M1 3HB, UK


    photo by Bernt Rostad (CC BY 2.0) modified


    Old Trafford

    The iconic home of Manchester United

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    Old Trafford is something of a mecca for football fans, being the home of the world-renowned Manchester United. Not only is taking a photo of the stadium a must for supporters but consider adding a tour of the interior and the museum.

    Be sure to get a photo of the United Trinity statue outside the North Stand. It depicts 3 of the club’s most famous players – George Best, Denis Law, and Sir Bobby Charlton. The figures are facing the illuminated ‘Manchester United’ sign on the side of the stand, so consider taking a picture from behind the statue.

    Location: Sir Matt Busby Way, Old Trafford, Stretford, Manchester M16 0RA, UK

    Phone: +44 (0)161 868 8000


    Vimto Park

    A fruity taste of Manchester’s heritage

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    Vimto Park celebrates Manchester’s favourite non-alcoholic drink – the berry-flavoured cordial that gives the park its name. The park itself is right next to the old Vimto factory on Sackville Street, which is worth a photo or two on its own.

    An iconic and Instagram-worthy feature of the park is a giant bottle of the stuff in its original livery, when it was considered a health tonic rather than a soft drink, along with giant representations of some of the fruits that go into it. A note of caution, though – the folks who mostly congregate in the park on sunny days aren’t generally drinking soft drinks there so you might have to endure the odd drunken shout while you’re taking pictures.

    Location: The University of Manchester, 39 Sackville St, Manchester M1 3WE, UK


    photo by Gerald England (CC BY-SA 2.0) modified


    Beetham Tower

    Head up to the Hilton’s bar for epic cityscapes

    The striking Beetham Tower soars above the Manchester skyline, reaching the impressive height of 554 ft (or 47 storeys). When it was completed in 2006, it was said to be the first proper skyscraper in the UK outside of London, at its glass-fronted look and unusual design is certainly reminiscent of the capital.

    Beetham Tower is also known as Hilton Tower because the Hilton Manchester Deansgate occupies part of the building, with the other parts being offices and apartments. Be sure to head up to the hotel bar and enjoy some stunning views across the city while you're there.

    Location: 301 Deansgate, Manchester M3 4LQ, UK


    photo by Mikey (CC BY 2.0) modified


    Outhouse MCR

    Check out the whole Northern Quarter for more street art

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    Outhouse MCR is the highlight of a lively street art scene in Manchester’s Northern Quarter. It’s a relatively modest concrete public convenience in Stevenson Square, but the graffiti it gets covered in is really astounding. It periodically changes and has featured David Bowie, characters from Game of Thrones, and Manchester’s iconic bee over the years.

    Other noteworthy stops on your photo walk around Northern Quarter should include the corner of Thomas Street and Tib Street as well as various spots along Oldham Street.

    Location: Stevenson Square, Manchester M1 1DN, UK


    photo by Gerald England (CC BY-SA 2.0) modified


    Albert’s Schloss

    Don’t forget to try the cronut

    Albert’s Schloss is a very distinctive Bavarian-style bar on Peter Street. While you might expect it to have a very German look on the inside, the feature that makes it Insta-worthy is the entrance. Expect a grand and extremely colourful floral display.

    Once you get inside, be sure to snap a photo of their famous cronut (a cross between a doughnut and a croissant) and, of course, a hefty glass of their first-class Bavarian beer. The bar is also known for its showtime entertainments, including live music and a drag queen parade.

    Location: 27 Peter St, Manchester M2 5QR, UK

    Open: Monday–Thursday from 4 pm to 11 pm, Friday from noon to midnight, Saturday from 10 am to midnight, Sunday from 10 am to 11 pm

    Phone: +44 (0)161 833 4040


    photo by David Wilson (CC BY 2.0) modified



    Wander cobbled pathways along the canal

    Castlefield is a charming conservation area in the northern part of the city. It was once the site of a Roman-era fort and the terminus of the Bridgewater Canal, the world’s first industrial canal. Now, the area is home to restaurants, bars, and events venues that draw visitors, especially in the summer months. 

    Castlefield is an Urban Heritage Park, which means its canals and cobbled pathways are sheltered and free of traffic, so it’s one of the most peaceful areas in the city. You can spend the day exploring to get a glimpse into life for residents along the canal in the past and sample some delicious food and drinks from local bars and restaurants.

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    Location: Manchester, UK


    Manchester Museum

    Discover the world and its history through a massive collection of artefacts

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    Manchester Museum, located opposite The University of Manchester, is an institution on the same scale as the British Museum in London. The permanent exhibits showcase over 4.5 million items, ranging from dinosaur skeletons to Ancient Egyptian mummies. There’s even a vivarium, where researchers breed extremely endangered frog species. The museum’s free to enter, so you can also spread your exploration across a number of days.

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    Location: Oxford Road, Manchester, M13 9PL, UK

    Open: Daily from 10 am to 5 pm

    Phone: +44 (0)161 275 2648


    photo by DrPhoenix (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified


    Explore the largest Chinatown in Europe

    Walk under the colourful paifang arch

    The home of Manchester’s considerable East Asian community is among the largest Chinatown districts in the UK. After passing under the iconic Chinese arch on Faulkner Street, you’ll find dozens of Chinese restaurants, shops, supermarkets and even banks. The Chinese New Year celebrations here get bigger and more vibrant with every passing year. Be sure to check out Red Chilli for excellent Szechuan food, or Ho’s Bakery for authentic Chinese buns.

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    John Ryland’s Library

    See the world’s oldest Gospel of John at the Ryland Gallery

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    John Ryland’s Library occupies an elegant Victorian Gothic building and is part of The University of Manchester. The castle-like structure dates back to 1890 and houses over 1 million artefacts, manuscripts, books, and maps. Among its most prized items are a 15th-century William Caxton edition of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales and the oldest fragment of the Gospel of John. You can take photos during your visit, though refrain from using a tripod or flash as this is a working library.

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    Location: The University of Manchester, Oxford Rd, Manchester M13 9PP, UK

    Open: Tuesday – Saturday from 10 am to 5 pm, Sunday – Monday from 12 pm to 5 pm

    Phone: +44 (0)161 275 3751


    Manchester Cathedral

    Join a free guided tour of this medieval structure

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    Manchester Cathedral, built in 1215, has some of the best medieval woodwork in North England. Not only can you enter its elegant halls for free, the church regularly hosts free classical music concerts that come with coffee or wine. 

    A must-see here is the Hanging Ditch Bridge, which dates back to the 14th century and is the oldest structure in Manchester. If you want to learn about the history of Manchester Cathedral, free guided tours are available at 11 am and 2 pm on weekdays, and at 2 pm on Saturdays.

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    Location: Victoria St, Manchester M3 1SX, UK

    Open: Daily from 8.30 am to 6.30 pm

    Phone: +44 (0)161 833 2220

    Ben Reeves | Compulsive Traveller

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