Solo in the City: The ultimate solo traveller guide to Manchester

Planning an upcoming UK solo trip? Why not check out the trendy city of Manchester?

Known for its industrial heritage, global musical exports and rich culture, Manchester offers plenty of great things to do for every solo traveller. Whether you’re interested in history, science or the arts, we’ve rounded up our favourite things to do in ‘Manny’ with our ultimate solo traveller guide to Manchester.

Let’s get started planning your Manchester solo trip!

1. Explore street art in the Northern Quarter

Up for some Manchester sightseeing? Known as one of the city’s trendiest neighbourhoods, the Northern Quarter is home to an array of funky street art to discover. With huge graffiti spanning entire sides of brick-walled buildings, the Northern Quarter is a hub for creativity.

Head down to Port Street to admire the breathtaking, tropical piece by Brazilian artist Mateus Bailon, which spans the entire sides of a four-storey nightclub. Or pop to Stevenson Square to check out an ever-changing assortment of street art.

2. Enjoy a solo date at Federal

Solo dating, or the act of taking yourself out on a date, is a great way to experience self-care. And on a solo trip, what better way to treat yourself than a solo date to a friendly, local brunch spot? Manchester is filled with cute cafés and restaurants offering a spectacular brunch spread, but our recommendation has to be Federal café.

With locations in the Northern Quarter, Oxford Road, Deansgate and Altrincham Market, this popular café has been named the best in the UK and the fourth best in the world! Federal earns its reputation for speciality coffee and a masterful all-day brunch menu while serving fabulous breakfasts and sandwiches. Yum!

3. Wander around RHS Garden Bridgewater

RHS Bridgewater GardenOriginally the site of Worsley New Hall, the iconic RHS Garden Bridgewater is a gorgeous Manchester hidden gem. Designed by landscape architect Tom Stuart-Smith and featuring orchard gardens, a 21-acre wild meadow and a Chinese-inspired garden with a serene stream, RHS Garden Bridgewater is the perfect spot to unwind from the busy city.

Entry to the RHS Garden Bridgewater requires pre-booking, so make sure to book ahead to avoid disappointment!

4. Peruse the John Rylands Library

Interior of John Rylands LibraryLooking to discover stunning architecture during your Manchester solo trip? Head down to the John Rylands Library to explore its Grade I listed building. Trust us when we say it’s like stepping into Hogwarts!

Designed with neo-Gothic architecture in mind, the John Rylands Library houses one of the world’s finest collections of rare books and manuscripts. Built in 1900, this splendid library opened as a gift to the people of Manchester and today is part of The University of Manchester Library.

5. Check out the Science & Industry Museum

Science & Industry Museum in ManchesterSitting at the heart of the Industrial Revolution, Manchester was famously the leading producer of cotton and textiles in the UK throughout the 1700s and 1800s. With its rich industrial heritage, the Science & Industry Museum in Manchester is the perfect place to explore the city’s history.

Here you’ll explore 250 years of industry innovations and discover scientific marvels with hands-on activities and exciting interactive galleries. And best of all, entry is free!

6. Have a solo lunch date at the Hello Oriental Foodhall

Bao bun street foodDiscover mouthwatering Asian fusion cuisine at Manchester’s hottest new food hall and market. Located in a quirky underground venue, Hello Oriental is a food lover’s paradise serving everything from tasty bao buns and sushi to loaded fries and Sichuan chilli fried chicken.

And that’s not all. Spanning across three floors, Hello Oriental is also home to a modern supermarket and bakery where you can find gorgeous, authentic produce and baked goods.

7. Design and make your own rug at the MCR Tufting Workshop

Unleash your creativity as you craft a unique piece of decor at the MCR Tufting Workshop. This exciting new workshop provides a welcoming space to immerse yourself in the art of rug-making. Express your artistic side and create a one-of-a-kind souvenir that encapsulates your time in this vibrant city.

With experienced instructors guiding you through the process, even rug-making novices can enjoy the rewarding experience of tufting. So, if you’re seeking a memorable solo activity in Manchester, be sure to check out the MCR Tufting Workshop.

8. Discover gorgeous art at the Manchester Art Gallery

Manchester Art GalleryThere’s nothing quite like a relaxing stroll through an art gallery. And for solo travellers, local art galleries can be the perfect place to connect with a new city’s past. At the Manchester Art Gallery, you’ll discover a calming paradise of art, culture and history.

With a permanent and ever-evolving collection of contemporary exhibitions, the Manchester Art Gallery features 13,000 pieces, including paintings, photographs, drawings and sculptures.

9. Find a hidden gem in Afflecks

Music posters at Afflecks in ManchesterA solo trip to Manchester wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Afflects in the Northern Quarter. Since 1982, Afflecks has been a popular icon in this trendy Manchester neighbourhood. As a vibrant shopping venue housing over 60 small shops and independent traders, Afflecks is your best bet for a unique fashion find.

But Afflecks is not just known for its shopping. You can also discover Manchester’s musical history here! Explore rich Mancunian musical talent, including The Smiths, The 1975, Joy Division, Oasis, Take That and many more.

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10 . Get lost in music at a candlelight concert

Candle lit orchestraGet ready to be captivated by the joy of live music at one of Manchester’s gorgeous Candlelit Concerts. Candlelight Concerts are held in Manchester’s finest venues and performed by the top musicians in the UK and beyond. Prepare to be serenaded with gorgeous harmonies from your favourite artists or composers, all with a beautiful candlelight backdrop.

Taking place in a variety of breathtaking locations, enjoy a wide selection of themes and genres, including classical, jazz, pop, movie and videogame soundtracks and many more. With ticket prices starting from just £9, this is a memorable experience you won’t forget.

11. Enjoy some retail therapy at Manchester Arndale

Arndale shopping centre in ManchesterEmbark shopping spree through Manchester Arndale Shopping Centre. Located in the heart of the city, Manchester Arndale is home to a superb selection of shopping boutiques and flagship stores.

From fashion and lifestyle to technology and beauty, Manchester Arndale features some of the biggest high street and luxury brands, including NEXT, Sports Direct, Apple, Uniqlo and Lush.

12. Grab an artisan treat at The Makers Market

The Maker’s Market is one of the North West’s favourite artisan food, crafts and music markets – and a lovely event to discover local culture. Bringing together various independent makers, performers and businesses, at The Marker’s Market you’ll find everything from freshly baked goods to handmade art and decor.

Spread across 20 locations, many within Manchester, The Maker’s Market is a treasure trove of delicious sweet treats and local produce. Be sure to check out their website or socials to find their next market!

13. Break a sweat at BLOK Manchester

Women doing yogaWhether you’re a fitness enthusiast or simply looking to try a new activity on your Manchester solo trip, BLOK is one of the city’s favourite fitness studios.

With one-off classes starting from £19 and 25 different fitness classes, BLOK is a great place to break a sweat. Classes range from yoga and meditation to pilates and boxing. Plus, BLOK’s wonderful fitness team and community are always happy to welcome newbies.

14. Have a giggle at Frog and Bucket Comedy Club

microphoneSitting in the heart of Manchester’s comedy scene, Frog and Bucket Comedy Club is a famous Mancunian venue known for hosting sold-out shows by the biggest comics in the industry.

With its cosy pub atmosphere, this comedy club is the perfect place to enjoy pub grub and enjoy great comedy. Frog and Bucket also has a reputation for launching some of the biggest acts in the comedy scene, including Johnny Vegas and Peter Kay.

15. Catch a show at The Lowry

The Lowry in ManchesterIf you’re a performing arts and theatre fan, The Lowry in Salford’s Quays is the perfect destination for your solo trip itinerary. The Lowry is a passionate performance space striving to enrich audiences with unforgettable experiences whilst nurturing new talent.

With everything from dance and musicals to music and opera, The Lowry is home to a diverse programme of exciting performance arts and fresh exhibitions. Check out upcoming shows, collections and workshops here.