Two Days in Manchester, a Detailed Itinerary

Are you wondering how to spend two days in Manchester? If so, we have an exciting itinerary for you to follow. Manchester is in the North West of England and has the largest population in the country after London. Manchester is a lively city famous worldwide for its football, music, street art and friendly locals. 2 days in Manchester will fly by, as there are so many exciting things to do. 

Manchester has many exciting free museums and outstanding architecture. Manchester is the Industrial Revolution city, the first votes for women, the first computer, and where the atom was split. It is also close to incredible natural attractions, including the Peak District National Park – one of the most beautiful national parks in the UK. 

This is a guest post from Rachel and Nico of Average Lives.

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. This means that should you click on certain links, and then subsequently purchase a product, I will receive a small commission.

Two days in Manchester: Where To Stay.

The Midland Hotel: The Midland Hotel is one of Manchester’s most famous hotels that first opened in 1903. The facilities include free Wi-Fi, 40 inch HD TVs, and en-suite bathrooms. They are known for providing excellent service in the heart of the city. Click here for more information and to check the latest prices. Click here for more information and to check the latest prices.

King Street Townhouse: Kings Street Townhouse is in a former Bank building and is well-known for its incredible rooftop infinity pool overlooking the city. Other facilities include a restaurant Wi-Fi, complimentary butter trays, and flat-screen TV with Sky access. Click here for more information and to check the latest prices. Click here for more information and to check the latest prices.

YHA Manchester Hostel: If you are searching for more of a budget option, then the YHA Manchester is for you. There are many facilities, including 38 rooms, a café, bar, restaurant, laundry room, and free Wi-Fi. Click here for more information and to check the latest prices. Click here for more information and to check the latest prices.

How to Spend 2 Days in Manchester, A Complete Itinerary 

Manchester in 2 days: Day One

Explore the Northern Quarter

Northern Quarter Manchester in 2 days
Northern Quarter

Nestled between Ancoats and Piccadilly is the iconic and buzzing Northern Quarter. There is something special about this hipster side of town. It is full of independent shops, retro shops (check out Afflecks Palace) and exciting street art. 

The Northern Quarter is also the place to explore Manchester’s epic food scene. For your 2 days in Manchester, you should enjoy a tasty brunch at one of the independent cafes – try Evelyn’s or Ezra & Gill (there are many). Or visit Mackie Mayors in the evening – where there is an abundance of independent food stalls located in an 1857 old meat market. 

If you are lucky enough to be there on the second Sunday of every month, you can enjoy the Makers Market. Here you will find independent stalls in Stevenson Square. It is worth a browse!

Go on a Free Walking Tour

Manchester city centre - 2 days in Manchester
Manchester city centre

A great way to get your bearings for two days in Manchester is to opt to join a free walking tour. These tours begin daily at 11 am at the Alan Turing Memorial (M1 3HB) and are led by locals. The tour will last 3-hours, and you will learn about Manchester’s past in a fun way. It is humorous and entertaining and will take you around the main Manchester attractions and down some hidden streets.

Admire Manchester Cathedral 

Manchester Cathedral - 2 day Manchester itinerary
Manchester Cathedral

Manchester Cathedral is 600-years-old and is a beautiful place to visit on your two days in Manchester. What is unique about Manchester Cathedral is that it hosts many events throughout the year, including an excellent gin festival, where you can taste local and international gin whilst listening to live music and taking in the beauty of your surroundings.

Feel the Magic at John Rylands Library 

You must visit the impressive Gothic architecture at the John Rylands Library on your 2 days in Manchester. It transports you back in time and makes you feel like you’re in a Harry Potter film. There is an impressive collection, including the Old Testament’s oldest known part and a 1486 edition of the Canterbury Tales. Amazingly, there is no entrance fee, as it is a working library of the University of Manchester. It is famous for being one of the most beautiful libraries in the world. 

Manchester in 2 Days: Day Two

Walk around the Castlefield Canals

Castlefield Canals - Manchester itinerary
Castlefield Canals

Wandering around the historic canals is the perfect way to begin the second day of your two days in Manchester itinerary. You might recognise the set from some popular TV shows, including Peaky Blinders, that regularly film on the canals. Nearby there is an impressive Roman Wall, juxtaposed with Manchester’s skyscrapers as a backdrop, old mills and lively restaurants and bars. 

Cheer Loudly at a Football Stadium Tour

Old Trafford - 2 days in Manchester
Old Trafford

Manchester United Football Club and Manchester City Football Club are somewhat responsible for Manchester being famous worldwide. Therefore, a wonderful thing to do when you’re in Manchester is to go on a stadium tour of these impressive football clubs.

These tours include walking on the pitch, entering the dressing rooms, and heading through the player’s tunnel. It is good to know there is a rivalry between the teams. Therefore, you will have to decide whether you’re a red (united) or a blue (city). There is also the option to go to a live game, but these sell out quickly, and it can be challenging to get tickets. 

Click here to book a Manchester United Museum and Stadium Tour.

Discover The Museums and Galleries

Science Industry Museum in Manchester
Science Industry Museum

For two days in Manchester, you should dedicate some time to exploring some of the museums that the city has to offer. As time is limited, you won’t be able to see all of them, but instead, you can choose which one suits your interest and budget.  

The best free museums in Manchester include the Science and Industry Museum, Manchester Museum, and Manchester Art Gallery. You can also visit the most extensive football museum in the world – The National Football Museum and the ticket costs £11 per person. 

In Media City, you can visit the Imperial War Museum, the Lowry, tour the BBC or ITV studios or the Coronation Street Tour (a popular British soap opera).

Check out the Suburbs

If you’re still full of energy, to end your two days in Manchester, you can catch a tram and head to one of Manchester’s finest suburbs. Two of the best are Chorlton and Didsbury, full of independent shops, cafes, bars and restaurants. A good plan is to head to Beech Road in Chorlton, have some food at San Juan and then a drink at the Beech Inn. You will feel like you’re in a completely different place from the city centre, and the friendly locals will love to talk to you. 

Visit the Peak District

If you do not want to spend two days in Manchester city centre, then luckily for you there is plenty of nature to explore in the Peak District. You can reach Britain’s first national park within 30-minutes and by public transport or car. For something close to the centre, you can walk around Dovestone Reservoir or Crowden and a little further out you can walk around Ladybower Reservoir. This trip will take about half a day out of your 2 days in Manchester but is a very popular destination that people visit who spend a weekend in the city.

Practical Information For Your 2 Day Manchester Itinerary

When is the best time to visit Manchester?

Manchester is a year-round destination, with some attractions throughout the year, including Christmas Markets and one of the largest and proudest Gay Pride festivals in the UK (August). It is known to rain a lot in the city, so always take an umbrella with you – just in case. 

If you are heading to Manchester specifically to watch a football game, the season runs from late August to May. With two of the primary teams in the Premier League, you will likely see some great football. 

How to get to Manchester

Air: From Manchester International Airport, you can reach the city centre in different ways. The fastest and most convenient way is the train which takes you from the airport to Manchester Piccadilly Station in around 20-minutes. A cheaper but longer alternative is to get the tram into the city centre. 

Train: The train is an attractive method to arrive for your 2 days in Manchester. Manchester has four train stations, and it is easy to get to the city from anywhere in the UK. For example, the train from London to Manchester will only take around two-and-a-half hours. Remember to book your tickets in advance. 

Bus: You can reach Manchester by bus from most cities in the UK. The buses will arrive at the bus station near the city centre, which will be one of the cheapest options. From London, it will take roughly 4-hours to reach Manchester by bus. 

How to get around the city

Walking: Manchester is compact, which means you can walk around all the centre’s main attractions on foot. If you are heading out of the city centre, you will have to 

Bus: There is an extensive bus system in Manchester, including a yellow free city bus. On this bus, you can hop on and off at Manchester’s city centre attractions. You will be able to see the bus stops as you wander around the city.

Tram: Arguably, the best and most popular method to get around Manchester is the tram network. You can tap on and off with your debit or credit card, or you can purchase tickets through the Get Me There App. If you are new to the city, this app is excellent as it includes a journey planner. There is also an option to buy a weekend ticket, which works out much cheaper than a day or a return ticket if you plan on spending two days in Manchester. Ticket checks are standard, so do not travel without one, else you will risk a fine.

Written by Rachel and Nico, affordable travel bloggers, who write about road trips, travel tips, and the outdoors on their travel blog – Average Lives. They currently live in Manchester and would love for you to fall in love with the city through this local guide.