Manchester city centre skyline

Living in Manchester

Manchester is a lively city brimming with character, whether it’s the Industrial Revolution or a musical revolution, Manchester is at the heart of it. From shopping at the Trafford Centre to watching football at Old Trafford, there’s something for everyone.

Its artistic, architectural, theatrical and musical influences help to make it one of the top 15 best cities in the world (Time Out ‘The 48 Best Cities in the World’ 2019).

It's also long been one of the UK's favourite student cities, with some of the best student hang-outs and events. Home to two large, successful universities - it's no surprise that Manchester has one of the largest and diverse student communities and has been considered a top UK city to live in for 5 consecutive years (The Economist Intelligence Unit Global Liveability Report 2015-19).

What makes Manchester unique?

Manchester is a fantastic place to be an international student as it is the most linguistically diverse city in western Europe, with up to 200 languages spoken in the city at any one time.

It's estimated that half of the city's adult population is multilingual, with 4 in 10 young people speaking more than one language.

The city celebrates this multicultural diversity in its public spaces, and the private sector actively seeks out international skillsets to benefit a range of global industries.

When you live in Manchester, you’ll be immersed in a diverse world of music, art and fashion, and have access to a bustling social calendar packed with festivals, all-day events and free activities.

From the city’s thriving arts scene and world famous clubs, through to a huge range of sports and more laidback events, Manchester is a celebrated hub of activity and creativity where everyone is welcome.

  • Manchester has more than 500 licensed premises in the city centre, from the Manchester Arena (which with over 21,000 seats is the largest indoor arena in Europe) through to any number of specialist venues catering for a huge range of musical tastes.

  • Manchester’s eclectic nightlife offers something for everyone, from the hipster bars of the Northern Quarter to the party palace of the Printworks.

  • Greater Manchester has the highest number of theatre seats per head of population outside of London, and covers the whole spectrum of fringe, opera, classical music and dance productions.

  • The city also boasts four professional orchestras, the only Comedy Store located outside of London, and a renowned independent cinema.

  • There are numerous literary festivals hosted across the year, as well as critically acclaimed exhibitions from world famous artists.

Manchester's popular attractions

Manchester is full of fun things to do and unique places to visit. Among them, you will find:

  • Gig culture. A world-renowned music scene.
  • Art galleries. Over 30 museums and galleries.
  • Industrial heritage. More than 95km of canals and six steam engines.
  • Shopping heaven. There are 42 traditional markets, selling everything from food to clothes.
  • Green space. Thousands of acres of parks and countryside including the beautiful Peak District National Park.

Nightlife in Manchester

Manchester is famed for being one of the UK's liveliest cities, and whether you're looking for a gourmet dinner, upmarket wine bar, traditional 'real ale' pub, or place to dance the night away, Manchester has it all.

It remains one of the best cities in the world to hear live music, and is a major destination for touring bands.

It has a host of big name music venues, and the diversity of music available - including jazz festivals, world music events, and classical music and opera - is hard to beat.

Find out more

Sport in Manchester

Manchester is home to two of the biggest names in sport: Manchester United and Manchester City football clubs.

Manchester United's ground, Old Trafford, is the largest club ground in Britain. While Manchester City are based on the other side of the city at the Etihad Stadium, originally built for the 2002 Commonwealth Games.

National and international cricket can be enjoyed at Lancashire's Old Trafford Ground, and rugby union and rugby league teams play at nearby Sale, Salford, Wigan and Warrington.

Other state-of-the-art facilities open to the public include:

  • Chill Factore indoor skiing and snowboarding slope
  • City of Manchester Stadium
  • Manchester Aquatics Centre
  • Manchester BMX Track
  • Manchester Climbing Centre
  • Manchester Regional Gymnastics Centre
  • National Squash Centre
  • Regional Athletics Centre
  • Regional Tennis Centre
  • The National Cycling Centre (Manchester Velodrome)
  • The Salford Quays Watersports Centre

Food in Manchester

From Chinese to Italian, French to Indian, Lebanese to Korean, there are thousands of restaurants, markets, street stalls and cafés of all price ranges that reflect the city’s multicultural population.

Head to the UK's second-largest Chinatown for a wide selection of Chinese restaurants or Manchester's Rusholme area - home to a dazzling variety of Asian and Middle Eastern cuisine.

Of course, don’t forget to enjoy some of the UK’s specialties like fish and chips or a traditional roast dinner in a cosy pub.

Shopping in Manchester

Manchester is known as the 'shopping capital of the North'. You'll find everything from department stores and high street chains, to vintage fairs and designer boutiques.

The trendy Northern Quarter is the creative hub of Manchester's shopping scene and offers a unique experience with its mix of bars, cafés and eclectic one-off shops.

If you prefer having all the best shops in one place, the out-of-town Trafford Centre is for you. More than 35 million visitors come to enjoy 250 stores and 35 restaurants each year.

There's also a number of additional shopping centres located more centrally, including the Manchester Arndale and the Triangle Shopping Centre - an impressive boutique-style mall, located within the city's former corn exchange.

Festivals and events in Manchester

Manchester has a number of eclectic festivals and events throughout the year, including:

  • Parklife - Multi-genre music festival in Manchester's Heaton Park.
  • Greater Manchester Fringe Festival - celebrates new and emerging talent in comedy, performance and art.
  • Manchester Science Festival - an exciting and fun celebration of science and technology.
  • Manchester International Festival - a biennial international arts festival, with a specific focus on emerging and new work.
  • Manchester Jazz Festival - the city's longest running music festival is dedicated to jazz-influenced sounds.
  • Manchester Food and Drink Festival - a festival for foodies, with events all over the city celebrating Manchester's diverse culinary heritage.

Manchester living costs

Budget guide:

  • Weekly bus pass: £8.25
  • Weekly food shop: from £25
  • Meal out: from £10
  • Fast food: £4
  • Cinema ticket: £6.80
  • Game of bowling: £8.95

Travel in and around Manchester

Within the city you can use the affordable and efficient Metrolink (Manchester's very own tram network) or extensive bus network to visit the various parts of the city and its surrounding suburbs.

By plane

Manchester Airport offers direct flights to more than 200 destinations across the world - more than any other UK airport - and was awarded 'Best UK Airport' in 2015 by the Globe Travel Awards.

Located just 20 minutes from the city centre, over 100 airlines and 300 tour operators offer direct flights to all of Europe's major cities, as well as daily flights to the Far East and US; including four flights a day to New York.

By train

Manchester was home to the world's first railway system, and this transport legacy still continues today.

The city region was ranked in the top 10 in Europe for transport links (Cushman & Wakefield's European Cities Monitor) and there are 98 train stations covering the region, including trains to London every 20 minutes.

Explore the UK from Manchester

Manchester is a great base from which to explore the rest of the UK and Europe. There are four national parks within an hour's drive away, and Manchester International Airport offers daily flights serving over 200 destinations further afield.

The thriving north-west of England is one of Europe's largest regional economies at £120 billion, and is a major hotspot for creative industries; MediaCity in Greater Manchester is home to the BBC alongside more than 50 creative and digital companies.

The Peak District

The Peak District was Britain's first national park, and covers a vast area in the centre of the UK, starting a short distance east of Manchester's outer limits. Moorland, hills and dales give way to meadows, forests and streams, in the midst of which can be found some of the prettiest villages in the UK.

The Peak District is great for lovers of outdoor pursuits, with hundreds of hiking trails and mountain treks. There's also the recently opened Go Ape, an adventurers' playground set high in forest treetops.

The Lake District

To the north-west of Manchester lies Cumbria, home to the beautiful Lake District. As the name suggests, the region is famous for its many lakes and the surrounding mountains.

The Lake District is the second largest national park in the UK. Home to Scafell Pike, the highest mountain in England, and some of the country's biggest lakes, the area's unique beauty draws millions of visitors each year.

The Lake District has also been a place of inspiration for many celebrated writers, including Beatrix Potter and William Wordsworth, and you can visit the houses where they lived and created their most famous works.

North Wales

Welsh is one of the oldest languages in Europe, and the country from which it originated has retained much of its old world charm.

You can explore the rich and interesting history of the area, and experience a bit of traditional Welsh culture, less than an hour from Manchester.

The North Wales coast is famed for its spectacular landscape, and has plenty to offer water sports fans. It also has some of the most picturesque mountainous regions in the UK, and is home to Mount Snowdon, the highest peak in Wales.

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