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Manchester's Hidden Gems

By Tanja Wittrock


Want to get off the beaten path in Manchester? Our local Tanja lets us in on a few hidden gems so you can discover Manchester through the eyes of a local! If you like the sound of these suggestions, why not check out Tanja's profile and book her to explore Manchester together! 

Manchester may generally be known for the opulent Trafford Center or much visited Manchester United Football Stadium but away from the hustle and bustle of the crowds there are many hidden gems which offer a rare insight into a very different Manchester, full of inspirational street art, industrial history and fascinating architecture. Best of all, these attractions are easy on the budget as they are almost all completely free!

Police Museum


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Centrally located in the trendy Northern Quarter, the Police Museum presents a unique step back in time.  Admire Police vehicles ranging from the 1950s to today, various uniforms as well as the many curiosities of the evidence room or take the stand at the Magistrate’s Court.  Staffed by ex Police men and women who are keen to share witty stories or answer almost any questions you may have. Venture into the Victorian cells and the Charge Office or even dress up as a police officer to complete the experience!

Open Tuesdays 10:30am – 3:30pm, 57A Newton Street, Manchester M1 1ET – Free admission


Street Art


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Framed by large scale, colourful graffiti in the surrounding streets is one of the most beautiful pieces of Manchester’s street art by extraordinary local Poet, Author and MBE Lemn Sissay.  Stretching the entire length of Tib Street in the Northern Quarter you can find his poem “Flags” in form of a slightly worn mosaic embedded in the pavement. Walking towards Market Street you will also come across the Tib Street horn, a large curved musical instrument on top of the remains of a former hat factory and the 12 meter high Big Boys’ Toy light installation on top of the multi-story car park. Expect the unexpected in this part of the city.

Northern Quarter, Manchester 


The Ancoats “Peeps”


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Go on a hunt around Cutting Room Square in the neighbouring Ancoats area, once home to the textile mills and watch out for the so called “Peeps”. These small brass spy holes are set into the walls of various buildings by artist Dan Dubowitz and allow passers by a view into hidden spaces and the area’s industrial past.  There are no maps to the exact location of the Peeps but the views are truly unique and well worth exploring this part of Manchester along the canal.

Ancoats, Manchester


John Rylands Library


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The grand staircase of this marvel of neo-gothic architecture is truly awe inspiring and leads up to the reading room with its arched ceilings, beautiful detailing and stained glass windows. Founded by Enriqueta Rylands in memory of her husband and Manchester’s first multi-millionaire John Rylands, the building was first opened to the public in January 1900. It houses a large collection of rare books and manuscripts, some of which date back to 1500. There are weekly activities, workshops as well as guided tours that allow visitors a look behind the scenes and access area’s which are usually not open to the public.

The John Rylands Library,150 Deansgate,Manchester,M3 3EH – Free admission, John Rylands Library


Cat Café


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Established in July 2016 the Cat Café is the ideal place to relax from a busy morning of sightseeing while making some new furry friends.  For a mere £12 per hour you get unlimited hot and cold drinks (a percentage of the takings goes to animal charities) as well as the chance to mingle, cuddle and play with the fluffy mix of resident cats.  These friendly felines have quickly gained huge following, so much so that events such as cat yoga or movie night are frequently sold out. Advanced booking is highly recommended.  

103 High St, Manchester M4 1HQ


Victoria Baths


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This fabulous Grade II listed building is situated in the Longsight area and a great example of Manchester’s rich Edwardian heritage. Weekly guided tours provide the chance to see the Turkish bath, intricate stained glass windows as well as the area’s hidden from public view such as the boiler room. The building really comes to live between April and October when the three (empty) pools are also host to numerous events such as Arts & Crafts workshops, Vintage Fairs and a pop up cinema which has visitors enjoying a film screening seated in one of the vintage deck chairs.

Victoria Baths, Hathersage Rd, Chorlton-on-Medlock, Manchester M13 0FE


If you like Tanjas's post then check out her profile and book her to explore Manchester together! 


Book a local in Manchester


TAGS: Off the Beaten Path, Manchester

Travel inspiration and tips from locals around the world straight to your inbox

Travel inspiration and tips from locals around the world

Travel inspiration & tips from our Locals worldwide direct to your inbox