As one of the largest cities in the north of England, Manchester is a popular destination for visitors travelling from other parts of the UK as well as around the world.
All year round, it offers a top city break for everyone from families looking for a new city to explore to stag and hen parties in need of some exciting nightlife, but it’s also a great place for a romantic getaway.
There are many romantic and fun things to do in Manchester for couples, from having a night out at a concert to discovering some of the many amazing museums
Because of the wide range of activities, as well as the easy access to surrounding parts of the country such as the beautiful Peak District, Manchester offers one of the best UK city breaks for couples.
Whether you’re planning on visiting this city and need to put together an itinerary of activities for couples in Manchester, or you’re in need of some date ideas, here are our top picks of things to do.
1. See a concert at the AO Arena
Being such a large city, Manchester is well-catered for when it comes to music gigs, concerts, and other live events, with a range of venues hosting performances all around Great Manchester.
Near the centre of the city, just around the corner from Manchester Cathedral, you can find the largest venue to host such events – the AO Arena.
Hundreds of different acts perform at the AO Arena every year, including superstars and world-famous performers.
Musicians on world tours often have the show at the AO Arena and so, along with London, it’s often one of the best places you can see your favourite artists live.
It’s not only musicians who perform there either but also other performers such as famous comedians.
Booking to watch a show at the AO Arena makes for an unforgettable night out and one of the most fun things to do in Manchester for couples.
2. Have a night at the theatre
For a cultural night out for couples in Manchester, there are several theatres and other venues around the city where you can see everything from plays to standup comedy.
Palace Theatre is among the best theatres in Manchester and hosts many spectacular shows, including touring West End favourites like Hamilton and Wicked.
Since 1891, this theatre has been receiving touring shows and entertaining both locals and visitors to Manchester.
Another top theatre is the Royal Exchange, where you can watch a range of both contemporary and classic plays.
3. Go shopping in the Arndale
If there’s one thing that Manchester isn’t short of, it’s places to go shopping, and the Manchester Arndale in the heart of the city is an unmissable location for any couples looking to treat themselves to a shopping spree.
Home to over 200 different stores, it’s the largest inner-city shopping centre in the UK, offering almost more options than you can fit into a single day.
Fortunately, it’s easily possible to spend a whole day in the Arndale, with a food court and market providing plenty of places to refuel and relax before continuing to browse the many shops.
4. Explore the shops in Afflecks
For a different shopping experience, heading to Afflecks is a fun way for couples to spend time in Manchester.
This emporium houses a range of independent shops across several floors, and it’s a lot of fun to wander around the labyrinthine layout and discover what each one has to offer.
From vintage clothes to house plants, Afflecks encapsulates the alternative cultures that thrive in Manchester, and no other city in the UK has anything quite like it.
5. Enjoy drinks in the Northern Quarter
While Manchester has many fantastic bars and pubs, the Northern Quarter offers an amazing variety of establishments to try out.
This trendy neighbourhood contains many independent shops, bustling restaurants, and, for couples looking to unwind, many places to enjoy a drink.
One of our favourite places to drink in Manchester’s Northern Quarter is the Northern Monk Refectory. This bar has plenty of seating both inside and out, and you’ll find an incredible range of beers which is unmatched by anywhere else in the city (including some of Northern Monk’s own brews from the north of England).
6. See the exhibits at Manchester Central Library
Alongside the stunning city council building, when walking through St Peter’s Square you’ll notice another eye-catching and spectacular building – Manchester Central Library.
Constructed between 1930 and 1934, this incredible piece of architecture looks almost too grand for a library, but entry is nevertheless free.
Partly inspired by the Pantheon (a visit to which is one of our favourite things to do in Rome for couples), this rotunda domed structure in Manchester is also an interesting place for couples to see.
It’s perfect to swing by if you need to burn some time or seek shelter during a downpour. There are interactive displays on the ground floor where you can learn more about the city’s history, as well as a cafe if you’re in need of refreshments, and you don’t need a membership or ID.
7. Look around the Peoples History Museum
While Manchester has plenty of different museums, many of which are worth a visit, the Peoples History Museum is a standout place to head to.
The museum tells the proud story of the British people’s fight for equality, especially in terms of workers’ rights, social justice, and democracy.
Many of the displays are interactive too, so it’s very exciting to get hands-on as you learn about the many protests, strikes, and movements that shaped our current society.
There’s also a jukebox on the second floor, and one of the most fun things to do in Manchester for couples is to enjoy some tune once you’ve seen the rest of the displays in the museum.
8. Visit Manchester Cathedral
Situated near the city centre and overlooking the River Irwell, Manchester Cathedral is amongst the oldest and most impressive buildings in Manchester.
As one of the best cathedrals in the UK, due to its long history and impressive architecture, it’s a top spot to visit in the city for anyone interested in history and those looking for new interesting buildings to take photos of.
There are also lots of places to sit just outside the cathedral and near the river, so you can rest with a romantic backdrop of the tower behind you.
9. Enjoy a canal and river cruise
One of the more romantic ways to see the city is as part of a scenic canal and river cruise.
Board a boat from the city centre or from Salford Quays and you’ll be taken on a relaxing cruise along the Manchester Ship Canal and River Irwell.
On the way you’ll be treated to unique views of landmarks such as Old Trafford and bridges like the Ordsall Chord.
Book a cruise online today to guarantee a spot.
10. Go to the Alan Turing Memorial
In the middle of Sackville Garden, a small green space right next to the canal, you can find a statue of Alan Turing, an iconic British historical figure.
As a pioneer of modern computing who played an important role in the Second World War (if you’ve seen The Imitation Game you’ll be familiar with this part of his life), this memorial honours his important contributions to our understanding of computer science.
Turing is also a gay icon and the statue is a significant LGBT memorial in the UK, hence its location right by Manchester’s gay village.
11. Get a picture of the Vimto monument
Couples on the lookout for unique and unusual things to see in Manchester need look no further than the Vimto monument located near Sackville Gardens.
This soft drink, well-known across the UK, was first created in Manchester in 1908, and this monument of an oversized bottle was installed in 1992 to proudly commemorate the city’s association with the drink.
The park it’s located in (known, unsurprisingly, as “The Vimto Park”), is also a nice spot for a picnic, but it’s also worth just dropping by to take a quick snap of the massive bottle!
12. Try the food in Chinatown
One area of Manchester that shouldn’t be missed during a visit to the city is Chinatown, where you can wander around and try some authentic Chinese food from the many restaurants located there.
As the second largest Chinatown in the UK (behind London’s) and third largest in Europe, there are many different establishments worth seeing, as well as an impressive paifang (a traditional Chinese arch).
There are also plenty of cafes in Chinatown where you can stop for a drink or even try bubble tea.
Chinatown especially comes alive at night, when it’s lit up with beautiful lighting and thriving with activity, making it a perfect place for date night in Manchester.
13. Celebrate Pride at Manchester’s gay village
Another neighbourhood that offers lots of fun things to do in Manchester for couples is the Gay Village which includes plenty of fun and vibrant bars and restaurants.
Centred around Canal Street, a scenic lane set next to a picturesque canal, this area is important for the local LGBT community and is a significant feature of the city’s culture.
Manchester’s gay village is especially lively during Pride events, but it’s still a fun place to visit all through the year.
14. Watch a football match
When many people think of Manchester, the first thing that comes to mind is one of the two worldclass football clubs that have a home in the city – Manchester United and Manchester City.
Fans come from far and wide to watch these teams play, and there’s no reason why you can’t either. Even if you’re not a supporter or a massive football fanatic, watching a game is always a fun day out in Manchester for couples.
Whether you head to Old Trafford and see the Red Devils play at the Theatre of Dreams or travel to the Etihad Stadium to catch the Citizens at home, watching a match is always a memorable way to spend time when in Manchester.
15. Visit the National Football Museum
Another option for couples who are football fans (or anyone who likes a good museum!) is to pay a visit to the National Football Museum.
Located near the city centre, just around the corner from Manchester Cathedral, it’s another of the best museums in Manchester.
Inside, you can learn plenty about the history of football, from the development of the world’s first professional league in 1888 and to its growing popularity throughout the 20th century.
If you’re a resident of the city, entry to the National Football Museum is free, so a visit here makes for one of the best date ideas in Manchester.
To guarantee admission, book a ticket online ahead of your visit.
16. Have brunch together
For a pleasant and relaxed start to the day, booking somewhere to have brunch makes for one of the nicest things to do in Manchester for couples.
As with many cities across the country, activity is especially popular on the weekend, and it’s a great way to fuel the rest of your day exploring Manchester.
Whether you’re after scrambled eggs, a full English, a big stack of waffles, or one of your other favourite breakfasts, you’ll find plenty of places in the city to fill yourself up.
If you’re looking for some of the best places to get brunch in Manchester, these are some of our top picks:
1. Moose Coffee
With a few different locations across the north of England, Moose Coffee offers a quirky but delicious option for a romantic brunch out in Manchester.
Aiming to serve authentic North American dishes, you’ll find everything from stacks of waffles to tasty French toast, with a large menu meaning you can try something completely different with each visit.
There are two locations in Manchester, so you can pick the best that suits you. One is near Manchester Piccadilly, a great choice if you’re arriving early by train or waiting before leaving the city, and the other is on York Street in the centre of the city.
2. The Koffee Pot
Another popular spot for brunch is The Koffee Pot, which you can find in the Northern Quarter, close to many other fantastic bars and places to eat.
If you’re looking to enjoy a full English, there are few better places in Manchester, so make sure not to miss out!
They even have full veggie and vegan cooked breakfasts, so everyone can enjoy a delicious brunch.
3. Ezra and Gil
With two locations – one on Hilton Street in the Northern Quarter and the other on Peter Street in the centre of Manchester – Ezra and Gil is another great brunch option.
Not only does it aim to create a sense of community and a relaxed ambience, it also offers a more refined and unique brunch menu.
Along with some classic options, you’ll also be able to try other interesting dishes such as nduja scrambled eggs or smashed avocado with crumbled feta.
17. Try axe throwing
One of the most exciting date ideas in Manchester is trying out an axe throwing experience.
Whether you’ve done axe throwing before and want to hone your skills, or if you’d like to try something new, it’s always a fun time.
There are several locations in the city that offer it, including with Whistle Punks which you can book online.
18. Take part in a Coronation Street experience
If you’re a soap opera fan, then a trip to Manchester isn’t complete without a full Coronation Street experience.
Take part in a guided tour through the working set and explore the familiar cobbled streets of Corrie.
Lasting about an hour, your guide will offer fascinating insights into the history and filming of this iconic British soap opera, so book today and don’t miss out on the chance to immerse yourself in the world of Coronation Street.
19. Take a walk along the canal
Along with its rich industrial history, Manchester is famous for the many canals that were once fundamental routes for moving goods in and out of the city.
While these waterways are no longer heavily used, the towpaths and streets that run parallel to them still offer interesting walking routes if you’re looking to stretch your legs and discover different parts of the city.
Following the canals is a great option if you’re after a romantic stroll in Manchester, especially as you’ll be avoiding much of the traffic on the busy roads.
Plus, there are several great bars and restaurants along the canals that you can stop off at for a refreshing drink by the water, such as Albert’s Shed near the Rochdale Canal.
20. Visit the Castlefield Viaduct
If you’ve spent time exploring Manchester’s canals, you may have seen one of the city’s most striking examples of industrial architecture, the Castlefield Viaduct.
This Victoria-era steel structure was constructed in 1892 for trains carrying goods, but it then stood unused from 1969.
However, the viaduct was recently transformed into a “sky park”, a stunning green space that’s one of the most romantic spots in the city.
While owned by the National Trust, the Castlefield Viaduct is very much a hidden gem in the city and worth stopping by, especially as access is free.
21. See the Roman Fort Wall
While the history of Manchester might be mostly associated with its industrial past from the last 200 years, you can also find signs of much older civilisations.
One of the best things to do in Manchester for couples interested in history is to head to Castlefield where you can see a reconstruction of Mamucium, a former Roman fort.
Open to the public and free to explore, you can even wander around the original foundations of the fort that was built in AD 79, as well as the impressively reconstructed gateway.
22. Relax at Piccadilly Gardens
There are a few green spaces in the centre of Manchester, but Piccadilly Gardens is one of the most popular for locals to come and relax, especially on a warm day when the sun’s shining.
Being near the many shops in Manchester’s city centre, it’s a popular spot to spend some time off your feet and rest for a while.
You could grab a drink to enjoy in the sun, or even pick up a few bits of food to have a picnic together.
On some days, there’s also a food market right by Piccadilly Gardens, so there’s always another option to grab some tasty grub from a range of different cuisines.
The location close to Manchester Piccadilly, a major transport hub, is another reason why this park is so popular, as it almost acts as a gateway into the city for many visitors.
23. Go on a sightseeing bus tour
One of the best ways to see lots of the city in a short space of time is by riding one of the open-top sightseeing buses that take you around all the main sights.
With a hop-on hop-off ticket, you can explore both Manchester and Salford Quays, seeing major sights such as Manchester Town Hall, the Museum of Science and Industry and Manchester United Football Club.
As the buses are open-top, it’s a fun way for couples to spend the day, especially when the sun is shining.
Book one of the sightseeing bus tours online and you can learn more about how it works.
24. Have a go at indoor skydiving
Make a visit to iFly Manchester and you can try one of the most exciting things to do in Manchester for couples – indoor skydiving.
In a 14ft diameter wind tunnel, and under the supervision of highly-trainer instructors, you can soar through the air (without the hassle of jumping out of a plane).
With the equivalent free-fall time of 3 real skydives, you’ll have plenty of time to get accustomed to the feeling of flying.
25. Visit Fletcher Moss Botanical Garden
In Didsbury, in the south of Greater Manchester, Fletcher Moss Park & Parsonage Gardens provide a peaceful setting for a romantic stroll.
This hidden gem is a secluded spot away from the crowds of the city centre, and it’s great if you want to immerse yourself in some greenery.
The gardens at Fletcher Moss have long welcomed locals and tourists alike, and as a park it’s also a haven for wildlife, including many birds such as cormorants and kingfishers.
Romantic places to eat in Manchester
As with many cities in the UK, Manchester contains a variety of fantastic restaurants which offer the perfect setting for a romantic meal out.
From tasty tapas to perfect pizzas, these are our top picks for romantic places to eat in Manchester:
One of Manchester’s most popular eateries is Dimitri’s, a Greek family-run restaurant with a fantastic range of dishes.
Here you’ll be able to select a range of small plates that encompass classics of both Greek mezes and Spanish tapas, which is the perfect option when sharing as a couple.
Best of all, with their covered courtyard which contains heaters, you can enjoy alfresco dining all year round.
2. Rudys Pizza
Rudys Pizza has several locations across the UK, including three in Manchester, which is a testament to its popularity in the city.
If you’re looking to have an authentic Neapolitan pizza, Rudys Pizza will never disappoint, and it’s one of the best Italian restaurants in Manchester full stop.
With a range of pizzas – from classic Margherita to spicy calabrese – whichever one you pick will become your new favourite.
Plus, pizza is the ultimate sharing food, making it a great option if you looking for a date idea in Manchester.
3. Lucky Cat
If you’re planning a special night out in Manchester and are in need of an unforgettable dining experience, look no further than Lucky Cat.
Being one of the famed chef Gordon Ramsay’s restaurants, you can be in doubt that the food will be spectacular and some of the best in the city.
With a selection of Asian-inspired small plates and sushi which you can share together in the vault of what was once a bank.
The best days out from Manchester for couples
While it’s a lot of fun exploring the many amazing things to do in Manchester for couples, one of the perks of this city is how easy it is to travel to some other incredible places in this part of the UK.
From walks in the Peak District to visiting other lively cities nearby, here are some of the best days out from Manchester for couples:
1. Visit Liverpool
Liverpool is one of the closest cities to Manchester, and both of these cities are popular destinations for anyone looking to explore the north-west of England.
There are many fun things to do in Liverpool for couples, so much so that you’d be hard-pressed to cram everything into a single day, so we’d recommend having a romantic break away there if you can.
Here are some of our top recommendations for what to do:
- For music lovers, make sure to book a visit to the Beatles Story where you can learn more about the Fab Four.
- See the two beautiful cathedrals, including the uniquely spectacular Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral.
- Enjoy the views from the top of St John’s Beacon, 400 feet above the city.
2. Take a hike in the Peak District
The Peak District is one of the most beautiful areas of the UK, with untouched countryside and stunning landscapes, and it can be accessed from Manchester within only 30 minutes by car or train.
Not only does the National Park contain many fantastic locations for a hike, but these are also some of the other fun things to do in the Peak District for couples which we’d recommend:
- Hire bikes and cycle along the Tissington Trail, a disused railway that offers a scenic route through a beautiful part of the National Park.
- Visit Chatsworth House, a stately home with many magnificently-adorned rooms and a range of spectacular gardens.
- Cross the stepping stones at Dovedale, one of the most picturesque and romantic locations in the UK.
3. Explore Delamere Forest
Not far to the southwest of the city, Delamere Forest contains many options if planning a fun day out from Manchester as a couple.
Here, you can explore the many trails around the forest on foot or by bike, including opportunities to see the skyline of Liverpool.
For more adventurous couples who aren’t afraid of heights, there’s also a Go Ape located in Delamere Forest, so you can take to the trees.
4. Take a train to York
From the stunning York Minster to the medieval streets, York is among the most beautiful cities in the UK, and it’s simple to get to from Manchester, taking less than two hours by train.
To help plan a trip there, you can read about the best things to do in York for couples in our blog, but here are a few of our top picks:
- Wander down the Shambles, a bustling cobbled alley which will make you feel like you’re stepping back into medieval times.
- Take a cruise along the River Ouse and learn about the city from a different angle.
- Visit York Minster, one of the most beautiful cathedrals in the UK, and discover more about the city in its Undercroft Museum.
- Take a stroll along the city walls that form a perimeter around the centre of York and offer great views across many of its stunning landmarks.
5. Have a trip to Leeds
Another fantastic city in Yorkshire is Leeds, which is even closer than York and so provides a great option for a day out from Leeds for couples.
This busy city has a lot to offer, and some of our favourite things to do in Leeds for couples include:
- Visiting the Leeds Armouries Museum, which has free entry to an awe-inspiring collection of weapons and armour from across many time periods and cultures.
- Going shopping together in the Corn Exchange, which contains many different independent shops.
- Enjoying a drink in the Kitty Cafe, accompanied by some very cute cats!
Where to stay in Manchester
If you’re looking for a romantic stay in Manchester, the city has plenty of fantastic options to ensure you’ll be well-rested for exploring the city.
There’s a great range of romantic hotels in Manchester – here are some of our top picks:
- The Edwardian – Complete with a spa and pool, this is the perfect place for a relaxing weekend away.
- Didsbury House – In a quieter suburban part of the city, this is a luxury townhouse hotel with comfortable rooms.
- Velvet Hotel – Located on the bustling and vibrant Canal Street, you’ll be well-situated to explore the city and its nightlife from this hotel.
How to get to Manchester
Manchester also offers one of the best UK city breaks by train, due to the many rail links to other parts of the UK. It’s possible to get a straight train to London in around three hours.
Manchester has its own international airport, Manchester Airport (MAN), which serves as a major transportation hub for many travelling in and out of the UK. It offers direct flights to and from various destinations worldwide.
The airport is a short distance outside Manchester, so upon arrival, you can easily access the city centre by train, bus, or taxi
Manchester is well-connected to other major cities in the UK through its extensive railway network and it contains several major train stations such as Manchester Piccadilly and Manchester Victoria.
From Manchester, you can catch regular direct trains to cities such as London, Birmingham, and Edinburgh.
National and regional bus/coach services operate to and from Manchester, providing an affordable travel option. Companies such as National Express and Megabus offer routes connecting Manchester to other cities and towns across the UK.
You can then book a sightseeing bus tour to explore the city.
If you prefer driving, Manchester is easily accessible by road. The city is connected to the national motorway network, with major routes like the M60, M62, M56, and M6 passing through or near Manchester.
Keep in mind that traffic and parking can be challenging in the city centre, so it’s advisable to research parking options or use park-and-ride facilities.
Things to do in Manchester for couples FAQs
What are the most scenic spots in Manchester that are ideal for a romantic date?
One scenic spot in Manchester that couples often enjoy is the rooftop terrace at 20 Stories, a restaurant and bar which offers breathtaking views of the city skyline.
Additionally, the John Rylands Library, with its stunning neo-Gothic architecture and tranquil atmosphere, has a romantic ambience which is perfect for couples.
What are some unique and memorable activities for couples in Manchester?
Manchester has a range of unique activities for couples, such as grabbing dinner at the stunning Chinatown or playing a course at Treetop Adventure Golf.
For a more unconventional experience, couples can visit Breakout Manchester, where you can work together to solve puzzles and make your way out of the variously-themed escape rooms.
What are the best cultural or artistic experiences in Manchester that couples can enjoy together?
The Manchester Art Gallery is an ideal destination for art-loving couples, with its impressive collection of artworks spanning various periods and styles.
The Royal Exchange Theatre offers a diverse range of performances, including plays, musicals, and dance shows, providing a cultural and entertaining experience for couples to enjoy together.
How many days do you need in Manchester?
As one of the largest cities in the UK, Manchester has enough activities to spend several days in and around without getting bored.
To see lots of what it has to offer and fit in plenty of fun things to do for couples in Manchester, we’d recommend two or three days.
We spent two nights in Manchester and found it the perfect amount of time to enjoy a romantic city break there.
What is the best time to visit Manchester?
There’s no bad time of year to visit Manchester, although we’d recommend going in spring if you can.
Between April and June you’ll have plenty of daylight to explore the city’s streets and beautiful canals.
You’ll avoid the peak holiday season too (although Manchester city centre is always busy), and if you’re lucky you’ll be blessed with great weather.