JOIN US IN AN INTERVIEW WITH NELE VAN HOUT FROM MANCHESTER, ENGLAND!
Nele van Hout is a travel blogger at Navigatio, where she shares travel guides, tips, and itineraries of her latest adventures, plus some insights on her life. She graduated in 2018, traveled to Japan and the USA for a couple of months and is now working as a full-time digital marketing assistant & copywriter at a really cool and innovative company in Manchester. She is in love with the city of Manchester, the culture and its people.
Manchester is situated on the east bank of the River Irwell. Two large metropolitan boroughs adjoin the city of Manchester on the west and southwest: Salford and Trafford. Manchester is known for its football teams (Manchester City and Manchester United Football Clubs), the red-bricked skyline and its industrial past. But Manchester also has a wonderful music scene, was crowned City of Literature in 2017 and is filled with creative, like-minded people. Living in Manchester is absolutely amazing, but even for a short trip, Manchester has a lot to offer!
What is the best time to visit Manchester?
Manchester is one of the biggest and busiest cities in the UK, I would recommend you to visit it during the week rather than on the weekends, if possible. The weekends get very busy with locals who want to go shopping. Season-wise, the better the weather, the nicer your visit! Manchester gets a bit rainy during autumn and winter, which can put a bit of a downer on your visit. April-September are much nicer months to visit the city.
Which is the most convenient and favored transport of Manchester?
Manchester Airport is amazing! It’s super easy to find our way around the airport and get into the city centre. There are busses, the tram and a train station available at the airport, all go straight into the centre.
The same counts for the city centre. Personally, I prefer to walk everywhere because the city centre isn’t very big. But busses and frequent trams are great ways of getting around too. Metro is also a comfortable way to travel within the city since the metro working hours are between 6 am to midnight and frequency is every 5 to 8 minutes.
What are the top three must visit places in Manchester?
The Central Library is one of the most beautiful buildings in Manchester. You can go in for free and have a look around. The library has many floors and a large collection of books which can be read in a domed reading room with free wi-fi and cafe. It’s situated just off St.Peter’s square, a public square in Manchester city centre. Opening time : Monday to Thursday – 9 am to 8 pm, Friday to Saturday – 9 am to 5 pm and Sunday closed.
Same counts for Manchester Town Hall. Located very close to the Central library, Town Hall’s victorian and gothic architecture is impressive. Ford Maddox Brown murals and its magnificent Sculpture Hall is full of statues of past Manchester notables. The meeting area outside the Town Hall’s Great Hall is called the Bee, since bee is the symbol of Manchester as an industrious city.
Manchester is popular for its football, so a trip to the iconic football stadium at Old Trafford is a must. It is the largest club football stadium in the United Kingdom, and the eleventh-largest in Europe. On no match days you can take a tour of the stadium and sit in your favourite player’s seat in the dressing room, walk through the players’ tunnel towards the pitch and sit in the manager’s seat in the dugout. This tour lasts for eighty minutes. The National Football Museum in the centre is the biggest football museum in the world, you will have an option to combine both museum and stadium tour at a reasonable price. Check out this guide to know more about Old Trafford.
What are the best day trips for nature, culture and history from Manchester?
The Peak District and the Lake District are quite close to Manchester. Both are perfect for a day out into nature.
Peak District is an upland area with it’s steep limestone valleys like Dovedale and Lathkill Dale in the South, also known as white peak and gritstone ridges in the North called the dark peak area. The hills and valleys, gorges and lakes makes it a stunning location to just soak in the scenic views. You can also explore villages, museums or go on some lovely hiking trails and walking paths to recharge yourself. Whatever the time of year there are all kinds of things to do in the Peak District National Park with company or on your own.
The Lake District is an absolute must visit in the UK and is a mere 1-2 hours away from Manchester. It is famous for its lakes, forests, mountains and its association with William Wordsworth. Enjoy a scenic cruise on picturesque Lake Windermere and visit Wordsworth’s Dove Cottage.
Which is the most celebrated holiday/events of the year in Manchester?
Manchester is a city that is always exciting. There are always fun events, exhibitions or parties on. One of my personal favourites is Chinese New Year. The whole city centre transforms for this celebration. There is a dragon parade, fireworks in China Town and tons of street food to try. One thing I love most about Manchester is the variety of different culture and nationalities coming together! Chinese New Year is one of those events that really show the community.
The event of Manchester Pride is also celebrated in the Gay Village with great pomp and show. Manchester was also the first city in the world to commemorate its LGBT past by commissioning a local artist to set rainbow tiles into flagstones across the city, marking historical LGBT places of interest.
What is the most loved local food, savory and sweet of Manchester?
Manchester, like the rest of the UK, isn’t particularly well known for a great cuisine. Fish and Chips is always a good shout if you’re looking for a traditional British dish. But if you’re lover of Indian Curries, Manchester is the place for you.
Down in Rusholme, you can find the Curry Mile. It’s basically what you expect from a name like that. It’s a street filled with curry restaurants! It’s very popular with the locals. For something sweet try the popular Bury black pudding in Manchester.
I’m a vegetarian myself and I never struggle finding a good place to eat in Manchester. Especially in the Northern Quarter, there are lots of restaurants and cafes that have vegetarian or vegan options. Some are even 100% vegan! Even if you’re not a vegetarian or vegan, these places have amazing food and it’s fun to try something outside of your comfort zone.
Are there any popular markets in Manchester which tourists must visit?
If you’re looking for unique shops, head over to the Northern Quarter (NQ). One of my favourite places in the NQ is called Afflecks Palace. Inside, there are tons of cool, quirky, independent shops to browse. From cool vintage clothes shops to retro gaming shops, Afflecks Palace has got it all.
In the NQ, you can also find the Makers Market. This market happens every second Sunday of the month. Tons of local businesses display their crafts and street foods. It’s such a great place to find new products and support to local community.
If you’re looking for the main shopping street, head to Market Street. There you can find all the high-end shops like Urban Outfitters and H&M. At the end of Market Street, you find the Arndale Shopping Centre. Inside, you can find more similar shops.
Which is the local craft or souvenir of Manchester?
Manchester is known for their football teams Manchester United and Manchester City. If you’re a football fan, you can find tons of souvenirs that are football related. If you’re not really into football, you should try and find a Manchester Bee souvenir! The working bee is Manchester’s symbol. It represents the hardworking industrial citizens of Manchester and it can be found on many souvenirs in the city.
Which are the best streets of Manchester worthy of taking a stroll on?
Deansgate is a great place to walk around, there are tons of restaurants and bars to stop for a quick drink and watch people pass. Once again, the Northern Quarter is really fun to walk around! If you want to walk around in a quieter area, there are some great parks outside of the city centre to enjoy a quiet stroll around. Plat Field Park is easily accessible by bus. There is a lovely lake where you feed the ducks.
Another great place to visit is Media City. You can get there by tram in about 10-15 minutes from the city centre. The BBC and ITV are located in Media City, but there are lovely canals and restaurants too. You can stroll along the canals and have a drink near the BBC!
Can you suggest a place from where one can get the best view of the city?
The Hilton Hotel, one of the tallest buildings in Manchester, has a really cool bar called Cloud23. From Cloud23 you have a wonderful view over the entire city. I’d recommend going there around sunset time and watch the sun set over the city. It’s a little expensive, but even if you only get one drink, the view is totally worth the visit!
Would you suggest any shows in Manchester to sports, music or art lovers? Where can one spot street art in Manchester?
Manchester is full of culture! Especially the music scene is very well developed. Every night you can find open mics in bars all around the city centre to enjoy local musicians play their songs. There is also tons of music venues that have concerts on all the time. As for drama and theatre, the Manchester Palace Theatre has a great selection of musicals and plays.
For art lovers, there is the Manchester Art Gallery that has a very wide variety of art to look at and theatre that holds exhibitions and performances. Another great place for art is the Withworth Art Gallery. Both are free to visit!
Northern Quarters is the place where you will spot street art in plenty. Read this street art guide to know more.
Would you recommend any local apps for food, transport or hidden gems in Manchester?
Get me there is a great app to download if you’re planning on using the tram. You can easily buy the right tickets on your phone instead of joining a queue.
For sightseeing, I’d recommend downloading the Manchester Museum app. This app shows exactly what kind of exhibitions are on at the moment. Another great one is the “Manchester City Guide” app. This app has lots of fun tips about what to see in Manchester. Always good for when you’re looking for some extra things to do.
Do you want to give any suggestion to tourists coming to Manchester?
Manchester has a lot to offer, even though the city centre isn’t that big. It’s very possible to explore the entire city centre by foot! There is also lots of free stuff to see and do. Most museums and art galleries are completely free of charge, which means you can do a trip to Manchester on quite a good budget. One suggestion I’d like to give tourists, is try Richmond Tea Rooms. Especially if you’re not from England, trying afternoon tea is something you should really try when you’re here. Richmond Tea Rooms is a really lovely tearoom in the middle of the city centre and is completely Alice in Wonderland themes. Because Alice in Wonderland was written not far from Manchester, this adds so much value to the place for me. Get some nice tea and some British scones and enjoy!