24 Hours in Manchester On A Budget

Travel Guide , United Kingdom / November 19, 2017


It was morning when our plane arrived in the city well known for its metropolitan borough, Manchester. Some slight mishap happened to our luggage, which made its arrival delayed by 24 hours. We were left with nothing but a small hand carry bag and a heart full of adventure. And here we are in Manchester with limited belongings trying to find our way around its majestic urban landscape.

The first question that popped into our mind was: Is Manchester great for anyone to stroll around, or is public transportation still your main way to get a tour of the town?

The answer is, yes. I can definitely say Manchester is a very walkable haven. Trains are present all across the city, but for me it’s better to jog around.

Second question that followed up through. Since this is a part of UK, will Manchester be a great place for those (poor souls) who are on tight budget?

The answer is yes! All the blinking street and neon lights may look gorgeous and expensive, but trust me you will survive with your high school lunch money (lol).

In this journal post,  I want to sum up my tested itinerary on how to spend 24 hours in Manchester to help you see loads; 

  • Only by walking
  • Visit travel destinations that’s free, apart from food. Yet some places are open for donation or have premium areas/services where you need to pay to enter in order to experience more of it
  • Still have great sights to see and go through the historical corners of the city



11pm. Lunch at Northern Soul Grilled Cheese

12pm. National Football Museum

1pm. Manchester Cathedral

1.30pm Passing by The Old Wellington

2pm. John Ryland’s Library

3pm. Museum of Science and Industry

4pm. Passing by Chinatown

4.30pm. Gay Village (Canal Street)

5.30pm. Go to Antique Vintage Shops Stores

7.00pm. Eat Kebab for Dinner


Here is how you can spend 24 hours in Manchester;

11pm. Lunch at Northern Soul Grilled Cheese

Budget: £4.50-10 per meal.

This famous fast food restaurant can be found in Church Street. Try out their favorite menu—Northern Soul Grilled Cheese: Mac Attack for around £6. It’s kind of like a grilled cheese sandwich with much, much cheese on it. After that, go stroll down Church & Tib Street to see some Vinyl Shops like Vinyl Revival and some street art of Hipster Manchester.

Northern Soul Grilled Cheese: Mac Attack for £6

12pm. National Football Museum

Budget: Free. Open for donations (recommended at £6 to get a special package).

Did you know that Manchester Football Museum is the largest football museum in the world? Even though the entrance tickets are free, they recommend a package for any visitor who donates £6 that can let you have a Visitor Guide, 2 Football Plus+ credits, a chance to take photo with some of our most famous trophies and, during the week, a 40 minute guided tour.


In here you can walk through the history of football game, exhibitions from past competitions, stadiums until BBC Radio commentary collection. You can also find interactive football games in level 2. It’s a suit for football fans or even anyone who wants to stop by.


How the levels are organized inside the museum

Display about the legendary Beckham


1pm. Manchester Cathedral

Budget: Free. Open for donations.

Accross from the Football Museum you can see Chetham’s Library and Manchester Cathedral within sight. We choose to go to the Cathedral for our next stop. While the size of the Cathedral was relatively small, but every inch was filled with pretty details with a Perpendicular Gothic style. If you’re lucky, you can see an organists perform a majestic organ music at that time.


An organists performing an organ music

Outside of the Cathedral

Beautiful details and architecture


1.30pm. Passing by The Old Wellington

Budget: Free to walk around.

Right in front of Manchester Cathedral is The Old Wellington. It’s basically a traditional pub, mostly known for its real ales and a menu of pub foods. Old Wellington is listed as one one of many rare gems in the Nicholson’s collection of great British pubs.

What is this Nicholson’s collections of great British pubs? Basically they are reputed for their distinctive buildings, history and service which collectively forms a vibrant British pub atmosphere.


Classic design of the building

The pub has a decent outdoor area


2pm. John Ryland’s Library

Budget: Free. Open for donations.

From The Old Wellington, walk through Deansgate street and you will find this church-like building is the oldest library in Manchester, founded 100 years ago by Enriqueta Augustina Rylands in memory of her husband, John Rylands. Why a library though? Interestingly John is known to be a collector of books so you can find books and literature to complete the history. Now the library has joint under University of Manchester. This library is very beautiful, it’s like you’re stepping into a Hogwarts-like place.

There are free tours every Wednesday and Friday, from 3 – 3.30pm. You don’t need to book, just turn up. The introductory tours will tell you more about this building and some of its history. The building itself is designed in a late-Victorian neo-Gothic theme that will take you in awe.



If you’re a fan of libraries, other libraries that are known worthy to explore are Chetham’s Library (which is located right within the area of Manchester Football Museum and Cathedral mentioned earlier) or Portico special collections library and gallery.


3pm. Museum of Science and Industry

Budget: Free. Open for donations.

We went to this museum right before it closes at 4 PM (one hour here is obviously NOT enough). Did you know Manchester played a huge part in the industrial revolution? Well this museum sums its story. It has exhibitions with topics ranging from science, computer until energy. 

Not only that, you can find exhibitions about the evolution of fashion fabrics were made (like bleaching and printing techniques), ’till artifacts of washing soaps from the past.

Best part of the museum?

The second floor! You can play an interactive brain game that will challenge and give you mind-blowing moment! We definitely spent more time there than in any other parts of the museum.


4pm. Passing by Chinatown

Budget: Free to walk around. Restaurants available.

Once the museum closes at 4, we went back to the city centre and passed by Chinatown after a 10 minute walk. It’s another typical ethnic Chinese enclave in the city centre. Yet if you’re not planning to eat Chinese cuisines, it’s still worth to stroll around since you find a Chinese arch and some oriental seating areas. FYI Chinatown in Manchester is the second largest Chinatown in the UK and the third largest in Europe.


4.30pm. Gay Village (Canal Street)

Budget: Free to walk around. Resto & bars available.

We’ve spent the afternoon to Canal Street that is known as Gay Village. Its a pedestrian filled with gay bars, clubs and restaurants, and other nighttime venues right beside Rochdale Canal. It’s open for gays and straights alike. But I guess coming here at 5 pm can be considered too early if you want to experience the crowd. Sometimes, people also held parades/events on behalf of the LGBT movement.


G-A-Y Bar in Canal Street

Manchester’s gay village is home to some homoerotic street art like this. Now this is what I call Batman vs. Superman LOL


5.30pm. Go to Antique Vintage Shops

Budget: Starts from £2 Pounds.

THIS. WAS. ULTIMATE. HEAVEN. We’ve found this one by accident on our way to Newton Street. Inside the store we’ve found old novels, comics, vinyls from historical pop culture that are mostly preloved items.

The Classic Vinyl Collection


7pm. Eat Kebab for Dinner

Budget: £4 – 10 per meal.

Le kebab compared to the size of two phones

End your day by eating Arabic food essentials which is kebab. There are plenty of restaurants you can find on the street (honestly I forgot the name of this one I’ve visited!). I must admit that kebab in the United Kingdom is the bomb. It has the best meat taste and the size of one portion can totally be shared for two person(s).

Since most stores close before dark, you may want to buy the things you need before 5PM. Manchester will become even more pedestrian-friendly after it hits 5PM. Pubs and bars are open all night long (although this one won’t be on a budget, LOL)



Sabrina Anggraini