You could spend a whole day (or even a whole weekend!) exploring the Northern Quarter in Manchester. With its unique character, the creative heart of Manchester is more than just the newest hipster spot in the city.2021 June 28
With its laid-back charm, street art, independent shops and great bars and restaurants, Manchester’s Northern Quarter is a must-see part of the city. Located between Piccadilly and the Ancoats, it’s an easily accessible enclave that’s a hit with visitors and locals alike. Discover exactly what this much-loved hotspot has to offer with our handy guide.
Lined with boutiques and record stores, the Northern Quarter is a great place to do some alternative shopping in Manchester.
Be sure to stop off at Affleck’s Palace – one of the city’s most famous shopping destinations. This indoor market on Church Street is chock-full of independent trading stalls, and sells everything from vintage clothing and homeware to handmade gifts. You can even grab a more permanent souvenir of your time in Manchester by getting a tattoo or piercing here!
To get your fix of vintage fashion, head over to Pop Boutique – The vintage chain has been running since 1985 focusing on 60s mod clothing and mid-century homeware. You can locate the boutique at their stall in Affleck’s or their larger shop on Oldham Street.
One store not enough? Make sure to visit Cow Vintage for 2 floors of unisex vintage clothing with a streetwear vibe. They also sell reworked vintage, whereby salvaged or damaged items are transformed into on-trend pieces.
The Manchester Craft and Design Centre is another great shopping destination if you’re looking for unique wares. Set in a restored former Victorian Fish and Poultry market, you can explore artist-run studios and buy local art and jewellery directly from the makers.
The Northern Quarter is an area long associated with Manchester’s legendary music scene; along Oldham Street you’ll find many record shops selling rare vinyl and new music from indie labels. One of Manchester’s premier music destinations, Piccadilly Records, has an eclectic range of music from local and international artists. The staff here are extremely knowledgeable too, so if you’re after recommendations, just ask. Eastern Bloc Records and Vinyl Exchange are also worth checking out; these stores opened in the mid-late 80s, and both are closely tied to the city’s musical heritage.
With everything from quirky street Art to indie music venues, The Northern Quarter already has plenty of reasons for it to be explored, but arguably, one of the main reasons to visit the area is for a bite to eat.
For the ultimate burger in Manchester, place your orders at Almost Famous. This hugely popular burger and cocktail bar has historically had huge queues out the door.
If you're looking for a more relaxed atmosphere, TNQ – The Northern Quarter Restaurant & Bar in the heart of the Northern Quarter, serves up a delicious modern British cuisine. They also offer wine tasting events and brunch (including bottomless brunch – everyone’s favourite!).
A more up-market restaurant bar on the edge of the Northern Quarter is Cottonopolis Food & Liquor. The restaurant is known for serving Asian-inspired dishes and is well worth a visit.
You can also add some Latin flavour to your culinary repertoire with a visit to El Capo. This much-loved restaurant-bar serves up Mexican and Latin American dishes, including small plates, wings and street food. ‘Taco Tuesdays’ is especially popular – when tacos cost just £1 each!
Famous for being one of Manchester's most creative areas, The Northern Quarter brings with it plenty of cultural activities to enjoy for visitors and locals alike.
The Northern Quarter was already a great spot to see street art in Manchester, but since Cities of Hope – a street festival raising awareness of world issues – a number of large murals have popped up around the area.
Head over to Stevenson Square for the best of Manchester’s street art. It’s filled with ever-changing graffiti, so each time you visit you could be greeted with something new. You’ll find a large-scale mural of a blue tit just nearby the easyHotel Manchester on Port Street, by artist Sarah Yates. It was commissioned in 2011 by Converse.
There are Manchester street art tours that you can book if you want to learn all about the city’s street art. During these tours, you’ll also get to find out more about the architecture in the Northern Quarter, and the regeneration of the area over the past few decades. Check out the current Looney Tunes installation all across the city for summer 2021.
Located on the 2nd floor in Affleck’s Palace is where you will find Northern Quarter Gallery. If you are fortunate enough, you may come across some hidden gems from local artists as the gallery, design studio and shop regularly showcase their work.
The Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art is another great gallery to visit as it is well-regarded for bringing Chinese contemporary art and visual culture to a UK audience.
Manchester’s music scene has spanned decades, rightfully giving the city’s musical heritage legendary status. From The Smiths to The Buzzcocks, the city’s music venues have paved the way for many of the finest musicians and bands to come out of the UK over the years.
Also located on Oldham Street, Night & Day Café is home to many local and international bands and has become a much-loved venue for supporting local artists. The space is also used for exhibitions, film screenings and spoken word events.
Another well-established music venue to enjoy is Matt & Phred’s Jazz Club. The Basement club (complete with bar and kitchen) features live jazz, funk and soul with free gigs between Mondays-Thursdays.
Fans of 70s Punk music will want to visit Band on the Wall. The live music venue has rich ties to the city’s musical heritage when bands including the Buzzcocks, the Fall and Joy Division performed. The venue also features live performances from artists across all genres.
With its abundance of independent bars and quirky clubs, the Northern Quarter is a prime destination for partygoers.
If cocktails are your thing, head to Walrus Manchester – a modern bar with an extensive drinks menu. They even host cocktail masterclasses, where guests can learn how to make their favourite tipples. Alternatively, there’s The Fitzgerald on Stevenson Square; with its back-street entrance and vintage interior, this speakeasy-style bar is something of a hidden gem. Meanwhile, whiskey connoisseurs should head to The Whiskey Jar. Set in a former textile mill, this cavernous bar and events space has a huge selection of cocktails available, stocking more than 350 different whiskies from around the globe.
If you’re looking for something a little different, make your way down to Twenty Twenty Two for some late night ping pong (yes, ping pong – you can even challenge the bar staff to win your next round!). But don’t worry, you can still get up and dance here; the bar is open until the early hours, and its huge dancefloor is usually packed with revelers at the weekends. Mint Lounge is another great choice if you want to dance the night away, and they have a varied list of club nights on the bill. To see what’s on, check out their Instagram page.
If you’re staying at easyHotel Manchester City Centre, you’re mere minutes away from the Northern Quarter. In fact, our hotel is perched on its periphery; simply walk down Dale Street to get into the heart of it.
The closest train station is Manchester Piccadilly, which is just a short 10-minute walk away. This is Manchester’s main train station, and the city is easily accessible from different locations all over the UK via train.
Manchester airport is a 20-minute train ride from Manchester Piccadilly train station.
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