Sightseeing in Manchester – five unusual things to do

So you’ve done Manchester’s museums, art galleries and historic buildings; you’ve done the shops and been around the market; you’ve even done the great bars and nightclubs. You must be wondering, what’s left to do? Don’t fret – there’s still loads for you left to do. There are lots of hidden treasures off the trodden path that you've probably missed.

Here are some of the more unusual things to do in Manchester you should really try.

Underground Manchester

Beneath the city of Manchester is a subterranean world just waiting to be explored. Below the city centre streets there’s an underground canal system that became Manchester’s largest air-raid shelter in the Second World War. Down there you’ll find the disused tunnel that is the Manchester and Salford Junction Canal and also vast cavernous chambers where tens of thousands would hide together during the Nazi bombing raids. You need to go on an official tour to see it, but it’s a truly fascinating if not eerie place.

Folk Train

One of the more offbeat things to do in Manchester is to take the Folk Train from Manchester to Hathersage in the Peak District. On the one hour journey you will be treated to live music by local bands playing folk, Irish and country music. And there’s no extra cost! You just buy a normal ticket and get on board to enjoy the view while the local musicians entertain you. It’s a fabulous way to travel out to the Lake District – traveling through the countryside while superb musicians treat you to traditional music.

Godlee Observatory

A certainly interesting place in Manchester is the Godlee Observatory. It was originally built back in1902, but is still a fully functioning observatory. It is located at the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology (UMIST) but open to the public You will not only get to see the original Grubb telescope that’s still in use, but you get a chance to look at the heavens. And there’s a great view of the city from the observatory’s balcony. Surprisingly, it’s not a place often visited which might have something to do with its vertiginous spiral staircase, but it’s a fabulous place to see.

Free concerts

How would you like to enjoy free concerts put on by fine musicians? It sounds too good to be true, but it's available. Students from the Royal Northern College of Music put on free concerts for the public, from orchestral performances to recitals by soloists. The shows take place at the College’s concert hall and also at the nearby St Ann’s Church. It can be a wonderful way to spend your lunchtime and there are always events on at the RNCM, whether it’s a free lunchtime concert in the concert hall or a major concert in the RNCM Theatre – just go to their website to find out more.

Cocktails in the clouds

After having explored the subterranean canals, enjoyed the music on the Folk Train, had the joy of gazing at the stars and savored a free concert, there can be no better way to end the day than having a relaxing drink in the Cloud 23 cocktail bar on the 23rd floor of the Hilton. The bar’s panoramic windows offer jaw-dropping views of the Manchester skyline. The drinks may not be cheap but the views are worth it. There's no better way than this to chill out after a great day sightseeing in Manchester.

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