Manchester, England is one of those underrated cities that I don't think enough people give a chance to, but it has so many Instagrammable photo spots that are worth visiting. From The Refuge to John Rylands Library to the Northern Quarter, there are lots of places to snap the perfect picture for the 'gram.
I had been to Manchester before while studying abroad in London back in 2011, but it had been years and I had never really had the opportunity to visit the city as a tourist. Luckily though, I was recently invited by Visit Manchester to come and explore everything Manchester has to offer for their Worker Bee Weekender. Along with about 40 other bloggers (the biggest press trip I've ever been on!), we spent two and a half days checking out the best spots in the city, from street art to cute cafés to the theater. What's also great about Manchester is that from London a train journey up to Manchester only take slightly over two hours, so it's easy to make a day trip from London. If you're in Manchester a bit longer, you can also take a side trip to Liverpool for a bit of Beatles mania. Either way, Manchester is a city that you should visit, and here are some of my favorite Instagram-worthy photo spots from my trip.
1. The Refuge
The Refuge is a beautiful restaurant spot located inside The Principal Manchester hotel. Come for breakfast and enjoy their Winter Garden, a space in the heart of the venue where they've brought the outside indoors. Full of bright light, it's an Instagrammer's dream.
2. Evelyn's Cafe Bar
The second food spot on this list, Evelyn's is succulent heaven, making it a great photo spot. Their brunch was delicious (some of the best pancakes I've ever had), and they're conveniently located right around the corner from the famous Affleck's indoor market in the Northern Quarter.
3. John Rylands Library
The John Rylands Library is a late-Victorian neo-Gothic building that today is party of the University of Manchester Library. While plenty come here to research and study their historic collection, it's worth a visit for the amazing architecture of the library. Venture through the Reading Room for a vast room shot and make sure to marvel at all of the ornate wooden carvings and designs throughout the site. And don't forget to look up at the ceilings as well! There are lots of angles to find here for beautiful photo opps.
4. Barton Arcade
Barton Arcade is a Victorian-style shopping arcade built in 1871. While there are many cute arcades throughout the UK, come to Barton Arcade for its colorful tiles and ironwork!
5. Royal Exchange Theatre
One of my favorite things to do while traveling is to go see a show. Is there anything more fun than theatre? During my time in Manchester, we went to see a local production of Frankenstein at the Royal Exchange Theatre. While the show was fantastic, I was even more impressed with the building it was housed in! The circular theatre is the largest theatre in the round in the World, and the structure is built inside of the Royal Exchange building. The Great Hall is filled with pink marble, making it a prime location for pictures. Back in the day, the hall was used for commodities exchange, and you can still see some of the remnants left behind from that inside, like the giant trading sign.
6. Northern Quarter
The Northern Quarter is hands-down my favorite area of Manchester to explore. It is the hip and trendy section of the city, with a large selection of coffee shops, brunch spots, and shops to choose from. There are lots of great storefront facades for photos here, like Deadstock General Store and Northern Flower. Make sure to visit Affleck's, a crazy labyrinth of a market, and to find all of the vibrant street area around the quarter. If you have the time, take a street art walking tour or a city food tour (or do both!).
7. Mackie Mayor
Mackie Mayor is a hip food market refurbished from the shell of the historic Smithfield Market, originally opened in 1858. Come for the artisanal local food options like Fin Fish Bar and Baohouse, stay for the industrial design and glass ceiling.
8. Salford Lads Club
This one is a bit of a trek from the Manchester city center (we went here as part of a private black cab taxi tour of the city), but it is a must-visit spot for music fans. Devotees of The Smiths come from all over the world to recreate their famous photo take in front of the Salford Lads Club for the inside sleeve of their 1986 album, The Queen is Dead. Go have your own Morrissey moment!
9. Victoria Baths
The Victoria Baths is an Edwardian swimming pool in a Turkish style that hasn't been open to the public for swimming since 1993. While they're currently working towards full restoration to make the baths swimmable again (they sometimes fill it for a day but it is a rare occasion), in the meantime you can still book a tour on certain days of the month to come gaze at its beauty. Generally tours take place every Wednesday, so make sure to plan in advance! They also sometimes hold fun special events - when we visited they were hosting a gin festival!
10. The Old Wellington
The Old Wellington Inn was built in 1552, making it one of the oldest buildings in Manchester. If you want a photo with an old English pub, this is the place to go.
11. King Street Townhouse Hotel
This one's a hotel, so you can only get this Instagram shot if you've booked in for a stay. Lots of the hotels in this area of the city boast a fabulous view Town Hall and its clock tower, but only the King Street Townhouse has an infinity pool with a view of it! Book your own stay at King Street Townhouse HERE.
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Disclaimer: I was invited to Manchester as a guest of Visit Manchester. As always, all opinions are my own. This post also contains affiliate links. By making a purchase through these links, we get a small commission at no additional cost to you.