If you’re up to a Northern England adventure, Manchester is where you should start! Apart from London, Manchester is one of the most well-known and visited cities in the UK.
It’s a very artistic city and you’ll realise that very soon. You can see street art and colourful cafes in many areas of the city. Also, it’s a city where big events happen too. From international concerts to make up conventions.
In addition, the city is even more magical in the festive season. Manchester Christmas Market is one of the most popular in the UK and very recognized in Europe.
It’s a great place to be if you love football too! You can visit the National Football Museum, Manchester City and Manchester United stadiums.
In this post, you’ll find many free activities to do in Manchester on a rainy day.
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Indoor Activities to Do In Manchester On A Rainy Day
This is one of my favourite places in Manchester! In this neighbourhood located very close to the city centre, you can see incredible street art, cute boutiques, restaurants and cafes.
If you’re a foodie like me, you have to visit these great cafes:
Looking for instagrammable cafes in Manchester? This is your place. You’ll see beautiful plants hanging around the walls and beautifully decorated tables.
However, it’s not all about the decor but the food. The food won’t disappoint you either!
I had an avocado on toast and it was so delicious! My boyfriend had steak with fries, fried eggs and peppers which was amazing too!
Address: 44 Tib St, Manchester M4 1NB
Cafe North (£)
I was in Manchester for the day and had no idea where to eat. I don’t normally like going to restaurant chains (even less when I’m travelling to a different place.)
I googled places to eat in Manchester and came across this cafe. My friend and I decided to give it a go.
When we arrived there, there was a queue to get in and it was full inside. It was more popular than we expected.
The food took a while but plates were big and the food was delicious! I was surprised by the prices as well because it was much cheaper than expected.
I 100% recommend going to this cafe!
Address: 66 Shudehill, Manchester M4 4AA
Related post: 6 Must-visit Cafes in Manchester
Arndale Shopping Centre
Are you a shopaholic? This is the main shopping centre located in the heart of the city. In there, you can find all sorts of shops and a food court with many food options.
If you’re looking for food deals, you’ll save money eating in one of the food court restaurants.
When you visit Manchester during November and December, you’ll see beautiful lights and decorations in the shopping centre.
TIP: Go to the top floor and get great pictures from the big windows!
Monday to Saturday 8:00 am to 8:00 pm
Sunday 11:30 am to 5:30 pm
This is a must-see for you if you are passionate about architecture and history.
The cathedral has one of the best late medieval woodworks in North England. Ceilings with carved details and beautiful modern glasses around it.
It’s different from the one in London because it’s much smaller. However, it’s still the second-largest in the UK.
Despite being a smaller Chinatown, you’ll still get a taste of it!
You can find Chinese, Thai, Japanese, Vietnamese, Singaporean and Malaysian restaurants and shops in the area.
A good reason to visit Manchester in winter is to attend the annual Chinese New Year festival in February.
This is a must in the Manchester events calendar. You can find many stalls and dancing Dragons in the famous parade.
Manchester Town Hall
Manchester Town Hall is located in Albert Square and it’s one of the most iconic places in the city because of its Neo-Gothic architecture in the UK.
It’s also considered one of the most important buildings in England.
Although the Town Hall is currently closed (and it won’t open until 2024), you can take great pictures of the square and the building.
Also, Albert Square holds many great events such as the Christmas Market during November and December.
Manchester Central Library
There’s no way you’ll miss this library! You can see it from far away and it is located very close to the square.
I haven’t been inside this library because it happened to be close when I went, which is a shame, but I have heard it looks beautiful inside.
Especially, take a look at hidden heritage spaces and the Wolfson Reading Room.
Manchester Art Gallery
This is a great gallery that you can’t miss. It includes collections from history to international contemporary art.
The gallery has three floors with incredible rooms which have amazing pictures from different eras and periods of time.
My favourite room is located on the second floor because you can see beautiful coastal and mountain landscape pictures.
I especially like the picture below where you can see impressive coastal formations, the beautiful blue sea and the pink and purple sky colours.
The third floor normally hosts contemporary and modern exhibitions. When I went, there were modern furniture, fashion dresses and other interesting objects.
Wednesday to Sunday, from 11 am to 4 pm. Last entry 3:30 pm.
Closed Good Friday, 1st January, 24–26th and 31st December.
The John Rylands Library
Regardless of the weather, you should visit this library, and it’s also the perfect indoor activity to do in Manchester. The entrance is free and it’s open every day so there’s no reason not to go.
The library has two floors to explore. On the first floor, you can walk through the different passages and rooms full of old and impressive books. It will remind you of Harry Potter scenes!
There’s also a small stall with customs and hats to dress up like in that century which I found funny!
To access the second floor, you’ll walk up to beautiful stairs and you’ll see a small balcony on the top. Take time to contemplate the structure of the roof because it’s absolutely amazing.
After a small corridor, you’ll go through a door that takes you to the main part of the library. Not only you’ll see tourists like you but people reading or study.
TIP: Be careful with the flash! I didn’t realise but you aren’t able to take pictures with flash in the library. It’s a shame because the pictures do look better with flash.
There’s a Victorian bathroom on the first floor. If you’re interested in seeing how they look like, go ahead and see it but I wouldn’t recommend going to the toilet there!
intu Trafford Centre
In the outskirts of the city, you’ll find the amazing intu Trafford Centre, a big shopping centre with three floors and over 120 shops. It’s a paradise for shopaholics!
Inside the city centre, you’ll also find plenty of restaurant chains like Frankie & Benny’s, Las Iguanas, and Pizza Express to enjoy a meal as well as an ODEON cinema, Legoland discovery centre and SEA LIFE Manchester for the little ones.
TIP: It normally gets very busy before Christmas, especially during the weekends. Visit the shopping centre during weekdays to avoid big queues and crowds.
Manchester Museum is a museum that is part of The University of Manchester. It’s a different type of museum as you’ll see weird and wild things.
Some of the museum collections include Ancient Egypt and Sudan gallery, The Vivarium (where you can see live animals like the endangered Costa Rican frogs), Living Culture gallery, Money gallery and much more.
On top of that, there are plenty of events in which you can learn anything from science, culture, environment and much more.
11 am – 4 pm Wednesday to Sunday
Free admission. Book your ticket online in advance.
Science and Industry Museum
This museum is for you if you love learning about how ideas and inventions have changed today’s world since the Industrial Revolution.
It’s a big history museum where you can discover ancient objects, complex types of machinery to produce textile among other goods and the world’s oldest surviving passenger railway station.
By visiting this interesting museum, you’ll discover how industrial Manchester has always been.
Wednesday to Sunday 10:00 am to 5:00 pm.
Free admission. Book your ticket online in advance.
Address: Liverpool Rd, Manchester M3 4FP
Next to Arndale Shopping Centre and close to The Old Wellington well-known pub, you can find the Printworks, a centre with 14 bars and restaurants, leisure activities and one of the largest IMAX screens in Europe.
Whether you want to grab some food, celebrate your birthday party or have a different experience with friends, it’s your place.
Also, one of the coolest places to go inside the Printworks is the Escape Reality, the best escape room in Manchester.
Sunday to Thursday – 8 am to 12 am
Friday and Saturday – 8 am to 1 am
Address: 27 Withy Grove, Manchester M4 2BS
Manchester Climbing Centre
Are you looking for something more active and exciting? Manchester Climbing Centre is your must go.
Whether it’s your first time visiting a climbing centre or you’ve been to one before, there are all sorts of climbing walls to cover everyone’s needs. Also, as a beginner, you can book a session with an expert to teach you all the basics.
Monday to Friday – 10:00 am to 10:00 pm
Saturday and Sunday – 10:00 am to 6:00 pm
As you can tell, there are plenty of indoor activities in Manchester to do on a rainy day.
The weather is very unpredictable, like in most of the UK, so it’s difficult to plan your trip to Manchester.
But something that you need to remember is that it often rains so you should always take an umbrella with you.
During the winter, it’s also usually cold and it can be windy so get your raincoat and high boots.
If you’re visiting Manchester in spring or summer, you can’t predict the weather either although You may be lucky to enjoy a sunny day.
Alternatively, you can go on a day trip to the Lake District and enjoy the beautiful British countryside.
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