Cosmopolitan Manchester has a strong reputation for its commercial achievements, insightful museums and trendy night spots, but one aspect of the city that tends to be criminally overlooked by the guidebooks is its scenic beauty – both natural and man-made.
While Manchester’s rise to prominence in the 19th century means it may lack some of the historical appeal of older cities such as London, the self-styled ‘capital of the North’ certainly holds its own when it comes to stunning architecture, including some of the most impressive Victorian buildings in the country.
You don’t have to go far in Manchester to be confronted with awe-inspiring spectacles, both historic and modern. The city centre is resplendent with architectural gems, from the Roman elegance of the Central Library, built in 1934 and modelled after the Pantheon in Rome, to the remarkable Urbis centre, a triangular building of glass and steel that houses creative artworks across its five exhibition floors and is a veritable work of art itself.
Comparisons between Manchester and London can be inevitable, especially with the presence of comparable attractions such as the Big Wheel, Manchester’s answer to the London Eye. Like its southerly counterpart, taking a spin on Manchester’s wheel can be a great way to get an overview of the city centre and surrounding districts on your first visit, and you might be able to enjoy similarly panoramic views from your Manchester hotels, some of which are major parts of the skyline.
Taking a walking tour of Manchester can be the best way to see the city from street level, giving you greater freedom and a more flexible schedule than a bus tour. From themed walks tracing Manchester’s past to solitary strolls between major attractions, you’ll find it’s possible to enjoy serenity even when walking amidst the thronging crowds, when flanked by such impressive landmarks on all sides.
Manchester doesn’t just boast urban beauty, either – from the city’s many large parks to the nearby wilderness of the Peak District, there are lots of opportunities to get back to nature when you visit the city. The Pennine Hills border the city on three sides and can make an exhilarating day out, easily reached by car or train from Manchester’s stations. When you ramble or take part in outdoor activities in the scenic hills, you’ll find it’s easy to forget just how close you are to one of Britain’s most bustling cities.