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Where The Locals Go In Manchester



England, and the UK in general, has gone down the annals of history for giving birth to the railway, and is a popular European destination to this day. Get ready to travel across terrains and history to explore UK’s great cities by rail using the Global Pass or the Interrail Great Britain Pass! One of them is Manchester, the star child of industrialization — and all the ensuing social reforms. Follow these tips by Manchester locals and dig into its fun, friendly, and revolutionary side.


How to get to Manchester by train: With regular regional trains, you could easily get to Manchester from Liverpool in less than 1 hour, from Birmingham in 1.5 hours, and from London in just a little over 2 hours. It takes slightly longer from Glasgow, but you could still make it to Manchester in about 5 hours.

Dimitris Hall

Spotted by Locals

A musical train ride

The Folk Train by Alice Hunter
The Folk Train by Alice Hunter

There are two trains that depart from Manchester’s Piccadilly station to the nearby towns of Glossop and Hathersage that are unlike any other. Each time, a different folk band livens up the atmosphere in these otherwise completely ordinary commuter trains, to the amused bewilderment of any tourists that might be on board.


This journey is an experience in itself! The first train departs from Manchester’s Piccadilly station at 11:42 am on a Sunday morning to Hathersage, where the folk band continues the performance at the Little John Hotel. And the second train runs from Manchester’s Piccadilly station at 07:03 pm every third Thursday of each month to Glossop, where the band continues to play at the Labour Club. The musicians perform for the return trip as well. Don’t forget that you can travel in these trains for free with your Interrail ticket!

An affordable lunch buffet 

China Buffet by Joe Holdsworth
China Buffet by Joe Holdsworth

Manchester isn’t exactly cheap, but you really don’t need to break the bank for a satisfying meal. China Buffet has lunch deals on its daily buffet from Monday to Thursday, so you can really eat as much as you want for as little as £7.50. Here, there’s something for everyone. Alongside the usual British/Chinese dishes such as spare ribs, sweet-and-sour pork, Singapore-style vermicelli, hot-and-sour soup and so on, there are chips, fried and roasted chicken, and sausages as well.

A classic dive bar 

Big Hands by Big Hands Bar Facebook
Big Hands by Big Hands Bar Facebook

Big Hands is an unpolished, bustling, vibrant dive that has been my drinking buddy these last 18 years and is the best bar in Manchester, (big) hands down.” Manchester local Denise Tench couldn’t have said it better.


In business since 2001, the bar has been around for more than two decades now because it stands out in several aspects. According to Denise, it has: “great beer, reliably excellent music and vinyl DJ slots, the occasional live band and an uncompromisingly gritty spirit that scrubs up for nobody.”


If you’re in the area, don’t miss Big Hands’ sister establishment, The Temple of Convenience, an underground former-public-toilet-turned-bar that has the best jukebox in Manchester.

The legacy of Anthony Burgess 

Anthony Burgess Foundation by Joe Holdsworth
Anthony Burgess Foundation by Joe Holdsworth

You might have heard of Anthony Burgess from his book/movie A Clockwork Orange, but did you know that his works include 33 novels, 25 works of non-fiction, two volumes of autobiography, three symphonies, more than 250 other musical works, and thousands of essays, articles, and reviews?


You can discover all this and more about the famous Mancunian in the Anthony Burgess Foundation that makes for an excellent café and exhibition gallery.

An honest-to-goodness pub 

The City Arms by Joe Holdsworth
The City Arms by Joe Holdsworth

The City Arms doesn’t for a second pretend to be anything more than it is: a long-established, traditional city boozer with a delightfully mixed clientele. It’s a proper pub where social drinking is the order of the day – and night. It has a good selection of cask beers and ciders, too. Come around five o’ clock to catch the after-work crowd and the air of liberation that comes with it at this thriving city pub.

At the epicentre of equality

People’s History Museum by Joe Holdsworth
People’s History Museum by Joe Holdsworth

The People’s History Museum in Manchester is a great starting point for those who want to understand the city’s deeper history. The museum hosts a varied collection that showcases Britain’s development of democracy, equality, and social justice. It also tells the story of how the city of Manchester was at the frontline of the battle for universal suffrage – the right to vote for all adults, regardless of gender.


With its industry, architecture, and institutions, Manchester has the reputation of being the first modern city in the United Kingdom, and you can definitely catch a glimpse of that here with free admission. Also check out their current activity programme that shines a light on the history of migration, refugees, and asylum seekers through an animated display.

A memorial to an unsung hero 

Alan Turing Memorial by Sarah Buckley
Alan Turing Memorial by Sarah Buckley

Brought back to the forefront of popular consciousness through the film The Imitation Game a few years ago, Alan Turing made a critical contribution to the Allied victory in WWII by making a computer that would crack the Axis Enigma code. This machine is the precursor to the modern-day computer that can be used for multiple purposes.


Despite this and his other trailblazing contributions to the field of computer science, the British state prosecuted him for his illegal homosexuality back then and chemically castrated him a few years after the war. Only in 2013 was he officially pardoned by the Queen. The Alan Turing Memorial, close to Manchester’s Gay Village and unveiled in 2001, pays its respects to the computer genius and is one of the city’s most important symbols of equality.

A weird junk shop full of treasures 

Express Emporium by Matt Bramford
Express Emporium by Matt Bramford

Empire Express is so messy it would even give Marie Kondo a heart attack, but roll your sleeves up and you’ll unearth plenty of gems in what is definitely one of Manchester’s weirdest but most delightful shops! Heaps of old vinyl, vintage magazines, clothing, signage, toys, pottery, glassware, and everything in-between await you to be found and brought back with you. Come with an open mind and a large bag because, after all, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.

For more local favorites across Europe, check out Spotted by Locals.


Edited by Sukriti Kapoor, Eurail.


Header image by aleksejh (Pixabay)


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