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    10 Hidden Gems In Manchester

    20th November 2023
    10 Hidden Gems In Manchester - Victoria Riverside
    10 Hidden Gems In Manchester - Victoria Riverside

    It’s a well-known fact that Manchester is a vibrant and exciting city packed with attractions and landmarks. World-class museums, art galleries, music venues, nightlife and football stadiums all add to the endless list of things to do once the working day draws to a close.

    However, there are some lesser-known spots that are often overlooked by visitors and locals alike. They offer a unique and offbeat perspective on the city, and are well worth a visit if you are looking for something different.

    In this article, we will explore ten of the best-hidden gems in Manchester. From quirky boutiques and cafés to offbeat entertainment venues and historical places, we have something for everyone on this list.


    Cosy Cafés and Eateries

    In Manchester you can savour a diverse food scene, with plenty of popular restaurants offering all types of cuisine for every occasion. When it comes to cosy cafés and eateries, there are several nooks to be found in the city, perfect for grabbing a quick snack or enjoying a hearty meal.

    1. Cosy Club in the Corn Exchange 

    Sumptuous interiors and timeless glamour await in this beautiful spot tucked away in the Corn Exchange.

    The perfect place to indulge in a leisurely breakfast at the weekend, have lunch and cocktails with friends, or enjoy a romantic dinner date.

    The décor is warm and inviting, with vintage furniture and exposed brickwork. The modern interiors manage to synthesise perfectly with a menu full of British classics like Sunday roast, and the cocktail and wine lists satisfy every taste.

    2. Ezra & Gil in Hilton Street

    A short walk away from Victoria Riverside, you can find Ezra & Gil, another great option for a cosy bite to eat. 

    This independent café serves up truly delicious coffee accompanied by mouth-watering freshly baked cakes. They also offer an imaginative menu of brunch combinations, making it the sort of place that you keep coming back to.

    It’s not just the food that maintains a loyal clientele here: the atmosphere is relaxed and warm thanks to the helpful, friendly staff.

    Historical and Architectural Wonders

    Manchester’s architecture effortlessly blends old and new, and aside from the bigger landmarks and modern buildings there are some lesser-known treasures to discover.

    3. St Mary’s ‘The Hidden Gem

    Quite literally a hidden gem in Manchester, this beautiful church is a well-kept secret. If you know, you know.

    Still a working church with regular worship hours, this architectural diamond keeps its doors open during the day between services. That’s because the guardians of this Rhenish Romanesque church are very much aware of the architectural significance that this building holds, and so they encourage visitors to step in and delight in it.

    Built in the mid-19th century following the passing of the Emancipation Act which allowed Catholics to worship in Britain, this church is one of the most historically significant buildings in the city. It has been a site of worship for even longer than the present building’s existence and boasts some of the greatest works of art and breathtaking designs in the city. The silence and reverent atmosphere only add to its tranquil beauty.

    Points of interest are the altarpieces, the stations of the cross, the Byzantine or Romanesque capitals, and a central, octagonal-domed lantern.

    There is no admission fee to visit the church, and it makes for an ideal lunchtime escape from the hustle and bustle of the city.

    4. The Portico Library

    Another lesser-known architectural hidden gem in Manchester is the beautiful Portico Library. A stunning 19th-century neoclassical library located in the heart of the city centre, it’s tucked away in a narrow alleyway.

    One of the oldest subscription libraries in the UK, it was founded by a group of Manchester merchants who wanted to create a place where people could come to read and learn.

    Features of interest are the elegant grand portico, the beautiful interiors and its high, domed ceiling. The respectful silence and hushed atmosphere adds to the charm of this place.

    The Portico Library is a member-only library with over 100,000 books, but it is open to the public for a small fee. When making a visit, it’s important to respect the quiet atmosphere of the library, but there are regularly hosted  events like talks, reading and workshops, and there’s a café where you can enjoy a drink or snack.

    Parks and Outdoor Escapes

    It’s not just buildings that add to the appeal of Manchester; there are also some surprisingly enchanting green spaces throughout the city. While it’s no secret that the Peak District is a short train ride away from Manchester, and huge outdoor spaces like Heaton Park are favourite haunts of day-trippers and festival-goers, there are some other natural hidden gems in Manchester that shouldn’t be missed.

    5. Fletcher Moss Botanical Gardens

    A beautiful botanical garden located in Didsbury, Fletcher Moss is home to a wide range of plants and flowers, as well as a number of interesting features, such as a Japanese garden, a rock garden, and a rose garden. 

    Open every day from 8am until 5pm, this idyllic spot makes a perfect peaceful getaway to relax and enjoy the natural world.

    6. Boggart Hole Clough

    A little off the beaten track, but just a short bus ride away from Victoria Riverside, is Boggart Hole Clough close to Blackley Village in north Manchester.

    More akin to an enchanted forest than a public park, in this green space, you can explore streams, a cave, a waterfall, majestic canopies of centuries-old trees, a war memorial, and a lake with an island full of birds and wildlife. 

    Boggart Hole Clough is a great place to go for a walk or a hike, and it is also popular with families, dog walkers and fishers.

    As for its name, the clough has long been rumoured to be home to a boggart (a type of mischievous ghost) that lives in a hole or cave in the woodland. Manchester City Council decided it was wise not to upset the boggart when they opened the farmland up as a public park, so they maintained the popular name, just in case!

    Quirky Boutiques and Shops

    It’s not for nothing that film production companies choose Manchester as a double for New York in their movies. In much the same way as the Big Apple, the UK’s third city gives off cool and quirky vibes, with room for all types of unique and eclectic styles.

    This bohemian spirit is reflected in many of the city’s distinctive boutiques and shops. If you’re looking for something a little different, be sure to check out these two hidden gems:

    7. Afflecks Palace

    Though the fame of Affleck’s Palace might somewhat disqualify it from the category of ‘hidden gems in Manchester’, there are enough undiscovered treasures here to warrant its inclusion in this list.

    Affleck’s on Church Street in the Northern Quarter is a four-storey emporium of alternative and independent shops. Open seven days a week, it’s a great place to rummage around and find something totally unexpected. You can explore vintage and second-hand shops, browse for clothing, accessories, and homeware, or even get a haircut, tattoo or piercing at one of the cool parlours.

    8. Pop Boutique

    Also located in the Northern Quarter just a short walk from Victoria Riverside, Pop Boutique on Oldham Street is another great option for quirky shoppers. 

    This vintage clothing store opens every day of the week, allowing keen fashion fans ample opportunity to find vintage and retro clothing to express themselves.

    From dresses and skirts to suits, jackets and accessories, Pop Boutique houses a great selection of items to make your wardrobe pop with personality.

    Offbeat Entertainment and Nightlife

    Manchester has a legendary nightlife scene – here are two distinctive must-visit spots to enjoy with friends.

    9. Band on the Wall

    A former working men’s club on Swan Street right on the doorstep of the Northern Quarter, this impressive venue is well-known to dedicated music fans but remains something of a hidden gem in Manchester for many people.

    A great option for a unique and offbeat night out in Manchester, Band on the Wall hosts a wide range of gigs, from up-and-coming bands to well-established artists. The name of the venue harks back to the early 20th-century setup when house musicians quite literally played on a stage halfway up the back wall to make room in the busy pub.

    These days, the venue has a relaxed and intimate atmosphere, and it’s a great place to discover new music. Check out their website to keep an eye on upcoming events, as there is always something going on!

    10. Frog and Bucket

    One final addition to this list of hidden gems in Manchester is this iconic comedy venue. Despite its fame, the Frog and Bucket makes it onto this list as it can fly under the radar of those who aren’t hardcore comedy fans.

    Located on Oldham Street in the Northern Quarter, the Frog has been hosting comedy gigs for over 40 years and has launched the careers of some of the biggest names in British comedy, including Peter Kay, Johnny Vegas, and Jimmy Carr.

    The Frog and Bucket is a small, intimate cabaret-style venue, which creates a great atmosphere and rapport between the stand up comedians and the audience. That can make for a really fun, raucous, and hilarious interactive experience when up-and-coming comedians try out their new material!

    Manchester is packed with things to see and do. All the places mentioned here are within easy distance of Victoria Riverside, but there are so many more to uncover! Find out more about Victoria Riverside’s cool Manchester location.

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