Planning to spend 24 hours in Manchester? Follow our advice for destination-worthy restaurants, some of the city’s best cocktail bars, and other essential stops.
Just a two-hour train ride away from London, Manchester is one of our favourite getaway destinations in the UK. Its wealth of culture and history are impressive, of course—but it’s the city’s thrilling food and drink scenes that really make it a must-visit. 24 hours is enough time to get an indulgent taster of the best of Manchester. From breakfast right up to your nightcap, here’s what you should add to your itinerary.
Once you’ve arrived in atmospheric Manchester, it’s only a short walk to the lively Northern Quarter, where many of the city’s must-visit bars, cafes, and restaurants can be found. Shore up for a restorative breakfast at neighbourhood favourite The Pen & Pencil. Their bottomless brunch, available from 10am, is a particularly indulgent way to begin the day’s proceedings, but if you fancy a lighter meal, you can still sip a Sipsmith Bloody Mary or Red Snapper alongside your avocado and feta toast.
Pop into a gallery or go for a sightseeing stroll to work up an appetite. Once you feel peckish, make 1761 & Lilly’s Bar your next stop. This recently opened eatery, just around the corner from the Neo-gothic Manchester Town Hall, features a lunch-ready menu of salads, open-face sandwiches, and oysters to start. Slurp down a half-dozen bivalves and try the signature Shalimar cocktail, which features Sipsmith’s VJOP and London Cup alongside bergamot, pink grapefruit juice, jasmine, and a hint of violet.
If you only have 24 hours in Manchester, make the most of your time with a pre-prandial cocktail or two. The basement-situated Arcane serves up a sultry ambiance, as well as signature Sipsmith serves. Hawksmoor’s Manchester location is also always on our hit list—its Sipsmith Martini is one of the finest serves in town.
You would certainly do well to linger in Hawksmoor over a medium-rare rib-eye steak with a side of bone marrow. But if you want to squeeze as much as possible into your Manchester itinerary, continue onwards to the exemplary Grafene: one of the city’s finest modern British restaurants. As of February, chef Ben Mounsey is at the helm, and his menu features British ingredients prepared with playful twists. Be sure to sample plates like duck with asparagus, fennel, mushrooms, and milk alongside a Sipsmith rhubarb and elderflower sour.
24 hours in Manchester is enough time to indulge in a cultural outing; we’d recommend following up your meal with a trip to the theatre. The Lowry isn’t just home to some of the city’s most avant-garde productions: it also has an impressive cocktail menu with a number of digestif-ready Sipsmith serves (and even lets you bring them into the theatre with you).
Once you’re full, sated, and culturally immersed, it’s time to stumble back to your stay. The Abode is certainly convenient; with a location right by Piccadilly Station and stylish, arty rooms, this is one of our favourite places to rest our head. The late-night cocktail bar is equally appealing, with a selection of tempting nightcap serves.
Image Credits: Feature Image © Pen and Pencil; Hawksmoor © Hawksmoor; Grafene © Grafene.