5 free things to do in Manchester

Manchester is probably one of the cheaper city break options in the UK. Despite being the third most visited city in the country, the prices for accommodation and food & drink are a world away from those in London or Edinburgh.

But if you fancy getting even more value for your money in the capital of the North, you might want to head to one of these attractions – they won’t cost you a penny.

Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI)

Manchester's industrial heritage
Manchester’s industrial heritage

Admission to MOSI, one of Manchester’s foremost attractions, is completely free. Lancashire was the birthplace of the industrial revolution and development of machinery and the railways changed the face of Manchester forever, making it the first industrialised city in the world. Located on the site of the world’s first railway station, the museum takes a look at the development of Manchester and the booming textile industry.

The children’s section of the museum is a LOT of fun. And those games are harder than they look…

Manchester Central Library

Exploring the archives
Exploring the archives

The Central Library was reopened earlier this year to much fanfare, having been closed for almost four years for total renovation. I visited back in March and was seriously impressed. There are a tonne of maps and historical documents on the city available (which can all be viewed with one of those interactive table tops that look like something out of the Minority Report) as well as a media lounge and gaming centre.

The atrium and huge reading room upstairs are also mightily impressive.

Canal Walk

Castlefield in Autumn
Castlefield in Autumn

Manchester has plenty of canals for you to stroll along, but a favourite of mine was from Salford Quays to Castlefield. It shows you a lot of Manchester’s regeneration success stories, but also areas that still need work – like desolate Pomona.

Castlefield is also a nice area for a stroll in its own right – the area is an Urban Heritage Park and conservation area and Duke’s bar is the place to be when the sun is shining.

John Rylands Deansgate Library

Credit: Pete Birkinshaw, Flickr
Credit: Pete Birkinshaw, Flickr

It might seem strange to have a second library in this list, but the John Rylands Deansgate Library is something special. The building is utterly out of place on chic shopping street Deansgate – but in the best possible way, thanks to its imposing Gothic exterior.

Inside, the library is no less stunning – its vaulted ceilings and ornate decoration seem more suited to a church, and the upper reading room is practically a shrine to literature, resembling some of the more impressive Cathedrals I’ve seen.

Heaton Park

The Temple - the highest point in Manchester
The Temple – the highest point in Manchester

Finally, a firm favourite that won’t cost you a penny is Heaton Park – a sprawling green space to the North of the city. On a sunny day, the park is great for a stroll or a picnic. The park has a boating lake, a grand colonnade – the remnants of the old Manchester town hall, a petting zoo, a volunteer-run Victorian tramway and The Temple – the highest point in the city of Manchester.

Of course – this list is by no means exhaustive. Like most cities in the UK, Manchester has a large number of museums and art galleries that are free of charge to enter, but these five are my personal favourites – and are definitely worth the trip.