Are you planning a weekend in Manchester? England’s second-biggest city is the perfect destination for a few days away. Known for its football, fashion and incredible nightlife, there’s plenty to keep you occupied in this northern city. As with any city break, it can come at a cost, but luckily, Manchester is packed with amazing free things to do including an abundance of fabulous museums, parks and galleries at your disposal.
On a budget? Check out these top 10 things to do in Manchester that won’t cost you a thing…
Manchester Art Gallery
Situated in the heart of the city is the wonderful Manchester Art Gallery. Here you can discover six centuries worth of costumes, art, ceramics, furniture and more. The gallery itself is housed in a beautiful neo-classical Grade I listed building designed by Charles Barr and features work from local artists including impressionist painter, Wynford Dewhurst.
Fletcher Moss Park & Botanical Gardens
On a warm summer’s day, there’s no better way to spend a few hours in the city than wandering around the magnificent Fletcher Moss Park and Botanical Gardens. Away from the hustle and bustle, you can relax in surroundings that include beautiful gardens, a meadow, woodland and riverbank. Bliss!
Heaton Park is situated on the edge of the city (so you may want to look into car hire Manchester to get here) and provides a fun day out for families with children. Activities include rowing boats, tram rides, walks and beekeeping. The Park Farm and Animal Centre is free to enter all year round with residents including chickens, goats and alpacas.
The Whitworth Gallery
The Whitworth Gallery enjoyed a multi-million pound renovation back in 2015 and is still totally free to enter. Inside you’ll find a collection of British watercolours, textiles and galleries featuring work from artists such as David Hockney. Looking for something unique? As well as collections of fine art, The Whitworth Gallery features a number of rooms dedicated to wallpaper. Yes, wallpaper!
The Football Museum
Even if you’re not a massive football fan, The Football Museum is still worth a visit – if only to admire the flatiron-esque glass building. The museum boasts an impressive collection of football memorabilia and a number of fun interactive activities, perfect if you have children with you.
Manchester Christmas Markets
Ok, technically free if you can hold yourself back from purchasing endless Christmas decorations and sweet treats. If you’re visiting Manchester at Christmas time, it’s worth having a stroll around the festive markets just to soak up the joyous atmosphere.
This museum is home to one of the UK’s best collections of Egyptian Mummies. So, if you’re interested in your Egyptology, you’re sure to have a great time. The Manchester Museum is also known for its collection of fossils and its gigantic resident T-Rex, Stan.
The Donkey Sanctuary
The Manchester-based Donkey Sanctuary is open to visitors during designated times and allows you to visit some of the cheeky residents. Not only can you get up close to some mega cute donkeys, you can learn more about the sanctuary and the issues surrounding donkey welfare across the globe.
The John Rylands Library
Boasting one of the most impressive collections of rare books, The John Rylands Library is part of the University of Manchester. The building itself is a stunning Victorian neo-gothic architectural masterpiece, so even if rare books aren’t your thing, the building is well-worth checking out.
The Manchester Cathedral has an interesting history. Previously damaged by bombing during the Second World War, it took over two decades for repairs to be completed. Unfortunately, many of the Victorian stained-glass windows were destroyed, but have been gradually replaced over the years with new designs. Free taster tours are available throughout the week if you’d like to learn more…
So, which free activity are you going to do first?
Bryan has visited exactly one more country than his wife, and she won’t let him forget it! Also an avid photographer, he enjoys entrenching himself within the local culture in order to learn more about the people of a place. He is the co-founder of Budget Your Trip and loves a good adventure, an exotic meal, or a passionate conversation about global events.