From beautiful parks and fascinating museums to a vibrant shopping scene, Manchester is replete with top attractions and points of interest.
Greater Manchester is not just a bustling urban center either. The area is rich in cultural attractions and places of natural beauty.
For those who are visiting for the first time, wondering about what things to do in Greater Manchester can be a bit overwhelming. But fret not!
This guide to leading Manchester attractions should help you set up a proper itinerary for your visit. So let’s begin.
Manchester Art Gallery, Manchester City Centre
Leading our list of things to do in Greater Manchester is this impressive art gallery. It’s housed in a majestic Grade I-listed building and boasts an impressive range of over 25,000 artworks.
From revered Old Masters to contemporary artists pushing the boundaries, the collection here is diverse and thought-provoking.
Among the must-see highlights are the iconic Pre-Raphaelite paintings, an expansive collection of decorative arts, and a touch of the modern through works by artists like L.S. Lowry.
The gallery takes pride in its community-oriented approach, offering interactive family-friendly activities and temporary exhibitions that frequently rotate, giving you a fresh experience each visit.
So, if you’re looking for a cultural pit stop that encapsulates centuries of artistic evolution.
Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI), Manchester City Centre
Located in the vibrant city centre of Manchester, the Museum of Science and Industry is an intellectual sanctuary that chronicles the sweeping narrative of industrial and scientific achievements.
Housed in the world’s oldest surviving passenger railway station, the museum offers a compelling journey through the milestones that have shaped our modern world.
From steam engines that defined an era to the cutting-edge technologies of the future, the museum provides an enriching experience for all age groups.
Interactive exhibits make it an excellent choice for families, capturing the imagination of young explorers and older aficionados alike – one of the most engagin Greater Manchester attractions you’re likely to come across.
Go Ape at Rivington, Bolton
Situated in the scenic area of Rivington, Go Ape offers an unparalleled adventure experience that combines physical challenges with stunning natural landscapes.
Just a short drive from Greater Manchester, this treetop adventure park provides an exciting escape for thrill-seekers, families, and nature lovers alike.
Go Ape at Rivington is not your average outdoor activity centre. It takes adventure to new heights—quite literally—with its series of high-rope courses, zip wires, and Tarzan swings.
Before ascending into the treetops, guests are fitted with secure safety harnesses and briefed on best practices, ensuring that even first-timers can embark on this adventure with assurance.
The courses themselves are meticulously crafted to accommodate different skill levels, seamlessly blending challenge with enjoyment.
As you navigate from tree to tree, the elevated vantage point gifts you panoramic views of the lush Rivington landscape, enriching the adventure two-fold.
National Football Museum, Manchester City Centre
Situated within the Urbis building, the National Football Museum is an Aladdin’s cave of football memorabilia, featuring over 140,000 items including iconic jerseys, trophies and rare artefacts.
The museum takes pride in its interactive exhibits that include the ‘Football Plus+‘ zones, where you can test your skills in a virtual penalty shootout.
There’s also a ‘Hall of Fame,’ celebrating legends that have shaped the sport, as well as a dedicated section to football journalism that gives a nod to the voices that have narrated the highs and lows of the game.
East Lancashire Railway, Bury
All aboard for a nostalgic trip on the East Lancashire Railway! Departing from the beautifully conserved Bury Bolton Street Station, this heritage line invites you on a 12-mile journey through the heart of Lancashire’s idyllic landscapes.
You’ll glide through picturesque countryside, pass through historic stations and explore charming towns, all while ensconced in authentically restored vintage carriages.
Train buffs will marvel at the mix of steam and diesel locomotives, each telling its own tale of engineering and elegance.
The trip is not just about gazing out the window; the line offers stop-offs at several quaint stations like Ramsbottom and Rawtenstall, where you can wander, shop, and dine.
The East Lancashire Railway offers an unforgettable experience that beautifully marries history, scenic beauty, and a touch of nostalgia – ideal for those of you seeking family activities in Greater Manchester.
Imperial War Museum North, Stretford
The Imperial War Museum North is an unmissable Manchester attraction for anyone interested in military history, global conflicts, and their impact on everyday lives.
Crafted by the globally acclaimed architect Daniel Libeskind, the museum’s striking structure symbolises a globe fractured by the ravages of war, capturing the essence of a world disrupted by conflict.
Within its walls, the museum provides a deeply affecting journey into the manifold ways war has molded human history and continues to reverberate in modern life.
It’s home to an extensive assortment of more than 2,000 artefacts, from the machinery of war like tanks and uniforms, to intimate personal mementoes such as letters and diaries.
Permanent exhibitions like “Mixing It: The Changing Faces of Wartime Britain” and “From Street to Trench: A World War I Experience” offer deep dives into specific aspects of conflict.
For a more immersive experience, the museum’s 360-degree cinematic Big Picture Show provides compelling visual narratives, making the experience impactful for both adults and children.
Manchester Cathedral, Manchester City Centre
One of the best places to visit in Greater Manchester, this Gothic marvel dates from the 1400s and is a testament to the city’s long-standing reverence for both architectural prowess and spiritual enlightenment.
The intricate stonework and meticulously crafted wood carvings inside the cathedral transport you back in time, even as the building has adapted to modern needs with features like updated lighting.
While it faced destruction during World War II, the restoration efforts have been commendable, preserving not only the structure but the essence of what it stands for.
It’s not just a spiritual sanctuary; it’s a gathering place for all manners of community events. You’ll find a range of activities, from regular worship services to cultural events like concerts, adding a modern layer to its rich historical narrative.
Situated in a prime location well-served by local transport, getting here is a breeze whether you’re a local or coming from afar.
A visit to Manchester Cathedral offers a unique chance to commune with both the past and the present, making it a must-see for anyone keen on absorbing the genuine atmosphere of Manchester and its many top visitor attractions.
Dino Falls Adventure Golf, Trafford
Dino Falls Adventure Golf takes mini-golf to a whole new level. This one-of-a-kind mini-golf experience is an ideal outing for family gatherings, friendly get-togethers, and anyone with a fascination for dinosaurs.
Instead of your typical mini-golf course, Dino Falls transports you to a time when dinosaurs roamed and the landscape was wild, featuring realistic dinosaur replicas, cascading waterfalls, and verdant plant life.
The 18-hole course is ingeniously designed, offering a balanced mix of challenging obstacles and delightful surprises.
From navigating around a towering Tyrannosaurus Rex to avoiding the water hazards under the watchful eyes of a Stegosaurus, each hole presents its own set of challenges and opportunities for a fun and unique golfing experience.
Dino Falls Adventure Golf also offers educational elements, including fact boards about each of the dinosaur species you encounter on your journey. It makes for an engaging blend of fun and learning that appeals to both young and old.
Ample parking and easy accessibility make it a hassle-free outing, while nearby eateries offer options for refuelling after your adventure.
Whether you’re a mini-golf aficionado or just looking for a unique, family-friendly outing, Dino Falls Adventure Golf is a must-visit destination for those of you looking for family activities in Greater Manchester.
People’s History Museum, Manchester City Centre
The People’s History Museum is a compelling destination for anyone intrigued by the development of social justice, democracy and working-class history in Britain.
Set within both a lovingly restored Edwardian pump house and a sleek modern extension, the museum vividly encapsulates the enduring struggles for political representation, justice, and equality.
Inside, you’ll find a captivating assortment of more than 1,500 artefacts, from poignant political banners and significant trade union relics to private letters penned by key figures in Britain’s social history.
Meticulously curated, each exhibit serves to spotlight the ups and downs, victories, and milestones that have characterised social movements through the ages.
The Fusilier Museum, Bury
The Fusilier Museum stands as a compelling tribute to military history, documentary the illustrious history of the Fusiliers and the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers all the way back to 1688.
You’ll find a wide variety of over 5,000 exhibits here, from medals awarded for extraordinary courage to the uniforms, weaponry, and personal correspondences that tell a more complete story of life in the regiment.
The Victoria Cross Gallery is a standout section, spotlighting the unparalleled bravery that earned these elite soldiers their high accolades.
The exhibits extend to detailed accounts of the Fusiliers’ role in the First World War, providing valuable insights into this critical period.
Enhanced by interactive features, the museum invites visitors of all ages to delve into this rich history, making it an ideal spot for family outings or anyone keen to know more about our military past.
Rochdale Pioneers Museum, Rochdale
For anyone who wants to understand the roots of the modern cooperative movement, a trip to the Rochdale Pioneers Museum is a must.
Located on Toad Lane, this museum is set in the very building where the Rochdale Equitable Pioneers Society began its operation in 1844, laying the foundation for cooperatives worldwide.
The museum is a celebration not just of a business model, but of a vision for social equality and community wellbeing.
The exhibits are fascinatingly diverse, featuring historical documents, personal stories, and even some of the original shop furnishings.
So, if you’re interested in social history, community-based business models, or just want to enjoy an enlightening afternoon, the Rochdale Pioneers Museum is an enriching destination.
Dunham Massey Hall & Gardens, Trafford
Nestled in the Greater Manchester countryside, Dunham Massey Hall & Gardens is a stately home and oasis that beautifully encapsulates English history and horticulture.
Owned by the National Trust, this Georgian mansion offers visitors a chance to step back in time, walking through grand rooms adorned with exquisite art and furniture.
The hall itself is a treasure trove of family portraits, ancient books, and valuable artefacts, providing a vivid depiction of life in different eras.
But it’s not just the hall that attracts visitors; the gardens are equally compelling.
Spread across several acres, the gardens are a horticultural marvel featuring year-round blooms, intricate water features, and diverse plant species.
The estate also contains a deer park, offering another layer of natural beauty and serving as a sanctuary for local wildlife.
Haigh Woodland Park,Wigan
For anyone seeking a nature-infused escape without leaving Greater Manchester, Haigh Woodland Park provides an enticing option.
Encompassing an expansive area of lush terrain, Haigh Woodland Park seamlessly weaves together the allure of age-old forests, carefully curated gardens, and an array of outdoor activities for all ages.
Located in close proximity to Wigan, the park serves as a versatile backdrop for anything from tranquil meanders to more active physical engagements.
The park boasts venerable woodlands, a sanctuary for a wide variety of plant and animal life.
Wander along carefully laid trails that meander through timeworn trees, some with histories stretching back several generations.
It’s a family-friendly environment too, offering various playgrounds and a charming miniature railway that never fails to delight both the young and the young-at-heart.
If you’re a fitness enthusiast, Haigh Woodland Park offers a range of facilities, including a golf course and various marked trails for jogging, walking, or mountain biking.
Werneth Low Country Park – Hyde, Tameside
Werneth Low Country Park serves as an idyllic retreat in the hills overlooking Hyde and the greater Manchester area.
Offering an unrivalled combination of natural beauty, recreational opportunities, and historical significance, this elevated parkland is an ideal destination for visitors of all ages and interests.
As you explore the well-signposted trails, you’ll traverse scenic meadows and woodlands, all the while enjoying panoramic vistas stretching from the Pennines to the Cheshire Plain.
For those with an adventurous streak, the park’s varied trails are equally accommodating for walkers, cyclists, and horse riders.
Amidst the lush landscapes, you’ll encounter an array of native wildlife and plants as well as a moving war memorial, perched at one of the park’s highest points.
The Visitor Centre near the main entrance offers informative exhibits and refreshments, rounding off the amenities available to guests.
Smithills Open Farm, Bolton
Smithills Open Farm offers an interactive and educational day out for families and animal lovers.
This welcoming farm gives you a taste of rural life right on the doorstep of Greater Manchester, making it a perfect escape from urban hustle and bustle.
From feeding lambs and milking cows to taking tractor rides through verdant fields, the farm presents a hands-on experience that delights visitors young and old.
At Smithills Open Farm, visitors can encounter a diverse menagerie that spans traditional farm animals like cows and sheep, as well as more unexpected species such as llamas and ostriches.
Particularly popular among children is the farm’s petting area, where youngsters can safely interact with smaller animals like guinea pigs and rabbits.
Ample parking is available, and the farm also features a café where you can enjoy fresh, locally sourced food.
Chorlton Water Park, Manchester
Chorlton Water Park is within easy reach of the city’s dynamic hub and is centred round a a man-made lake.
As well as being a sanctuary for local fauna, the park serves as a peaceful backdrop for those looking for an escape.
Teeming with life and activities throughout all four seasons, the park also draws both adventure-seekers and nature lovers, hosting a variety of water-based activities that keep the area vibrant year-round.
Ideal for fishing, kayaking, and bird-watching, the lake attracts a wide range of nature lovers.
Anglers will be pleased to find a diverse selection of fish, while kayaking affords a peaceful way to explore the water’s expanse.
Of course, the park offers more than just aquatic pursuits. Paths encircle the lake, bordered by mature trees, offering ample opportunity for leisurely walks or brisk jogs.
Surrounding the body of water are walking paths fringed by mature trees, making it a wonderful location for casual strolls or invigorating runs.
Children can burn off energy in the dedicated play areas, complete with swings, slides, and climbing frames, ensuring the park caters to visitors of all ages.
Reddish Vale Farm, Stockport
Tucked away in the serene Reddish Vale, this farm offers a full-fledged family outing just a short drive from Stockport.
You’ll find a diverse array of animals here, from traditional farm dwellers like sheep and chickens to more exotic creatures such as reptiles and alpacas.
Reddish Vale Farm offers an interactive experience, encouraging visitors to get up close and personal with its animal residents.
This tactile approach is especially engaging for younger visitors, providing them with a genuine understanding of animal care and agriculture.
The farm goes beyond just entertainment, incorporating educational elements throughout.
Guided tours and informative placards provide visitors with deeper insights into the world of farming and animal care, elevating a trip to Reddish Vale Farm from a simple outing to an enriching experience for all ages.
Bolton Museum, Bolton
The Bolton Museum is located within the Bolton Library and Civic Centre and boasts a plethora of captivating exhibitions.
From the stunning Egyptology section, which houses an impressive collection of ancient Egyptian artefacts, to the Natural History zone teeming with animal specimens and fossils, there’s something for everyone.
Art enthusiasts will appreciate the fine art galleries, featuring both classic and contemporary works, while history buffs can delve into Bolton’s local heritage through numerous displays.
Interactive exhibitions offer visitors the chance to engage directly with the museum’s collections.
Touch screens, audio guides, and hands-on activities create an immersive experience, perfect for families and school groups.
Situated in the cultural hub of Bolton Library and Civic Centre, the Bolton Museum serves as an enriching destination that seamlessly combines art, history, and science.
Trafford Centre, Manchester City Centre
Situated just outside the heart of Manchester, the Trafford Centre is a shopping haven that redefines the concept of retail therapy.
With its lavish architecture reminiscent of historical landmarks and a wide array of brands under one roof, this mall is more than just a shopping destination—it’s a full-scale experience.
From high-street favourites to luxury boutiques, the Trafford Centre is a melting pot of retail culture.
Whether you’re hunting for the latest fashion trends, looking to upgrade your tech, or seeking to indulge in gourmet dining, this sprawling complex has something to cater to every taste and budget.
The Trafford Centre has earned a reputation for its unique aesthetics. You’ll be immediately struck by the opulent surroundings, complete with polished marble underfoot and airy domed ceilings. It’s clear that this is no ordinary shopping venue.
Beyond retail, the Trafford Centre is an entertainment powerhouse. Whether you’re interested in catching the latest blockbuster at the cinema, showing off your putting skills at adventure golf, or hitting the lanes for some bowling, this place ensures a day filled with fun activities for all ages.
Old Trafford, Stretford
Dubbed the “Theatre of Dreams,” Old Trafford symbolises the rich sporting heritage of Manchester.
Opened in 1910 and home to Manchester United, famous venue can hold up to 74,140 fans.
A well-designed museum showcases the club’s history and there’s also an informative stadium tour providing a behind-the-scenes look at where the magic happens, from the players’ tunnel to the managerial dugouts.
For those who want to take a piece of the experience home, the official merchandise store offers an array of memorabilia.
Accessibility is a strong point, with excellent public transport options and ample parking facilities.
If you’re a football fanatic or simply interested in experiencing British sporting culture, Old Trafford is a must-visit landmark in Trafford, Greater Manchester.
Ordsall Hall, Salford
Ordsall Hall, a striking Tudor mansion situated in Salford, Greater Manchester, exudes an air of historical elegance.
Though nestled within a contemporary urban landscape, the hall transports visitors to a bygone era, complete with period-appropriate furnishings and beautifully maintained gardens.
Initially built over 820 years ago, the estate has undergone various modifications and renovations but retains its Tudor charm.
The hall has served many roles—residence to local gentry, working men’s club, and clergy training school, among others—before being transformed into a museum and heritage site.
Known for its paranormal lore, especially the legendary White Lady who is said to haunt its halls, Ordsall Hall offers something for everyone—from history buffs to supernatural enthusiasts.
The manor provides an immersive experience via its interactive exhibitions, detailing its storied past and its residents over the centuries.
Children can engage in hands-on activities, making it a perfect destination for family outings in Greater Manchester.
Stockport Air Raid Shelters, Stockport
Stockport Air Raid Shelters offer a poignant journey back in time to the years of the Second World War.
Carved into the natural sandstone cliffs, these subterranean tunnels were designed to protect thousands of people from aerial bombings.
Today, the shelters stand as a powerful testament to community resilience and the ingenuity of wartime engineering.
Within, you’ll find the original beds and utensils, as well as other artefacts that recreate the living conditions of that era.
The site is well-signposted and accessible, making it easy for visitors to find their way.
For anyone interested in history, engineering, or the human capacity for survival, Stockport Air Raid Shelters offer an unforgettable experience.
Official Manchester Tourist Board