Manchester insider tips

The Whitworth Art Gallery

How to save money plus other advice on Manchester

Eating and drinking

If you can, eat your main meal before 7pm as several of Manchester’s restaurants will have early evening and pre-theatre menus with offers such as two courses and a glass of wine for £10.

Enjoy one of the cheapest pints in the city centre in a true Manchester survivor, Sinclair’s Oyster Bar (2 Cathedral Gates, Manchester, M3 1SW). Sinclair’s was built in 1720 and has almost been demolished twice – it escaped being knocked down and was instead raised by several feet to make space for the Manchester Arndale development in the 1970s; and, after surviving the IRA bomb blast in 1996, it was moved brick by brick to be rebuilt just 300 metres away.

For a cheap meal why not visit Manchester’s famous Curry Mile? My favourite curry house in Rusholme is Mugli (28-32 Wilmslow Road, Rusholme, Manchester M14 5TQ; 0161 248 0900; www.mughli.com). Read about Andrea Montgomery’s favourites in her guide Manchester's Curry Mile – spicy Bollywood of the north.

If you want to tip your waiter/waitress for good service, leave around 10-15% of the bill’s total. If you want to put this on your card, double check that the serving staff receive the gratuity.

One of the best views in Manchester is from Cloud 23 Bar (Beetham Tower, 303 Deansgate, Manchester, M3 4LQ; www.cloud23bar.com) in the Hilton Manchester Deansgate. Be prepared for pricey drinks though and, if you are visiting on a weekend, make sure that you book well in advance on 0044(0)161 870 1600 or contact paul.calvert-jones@hilton.com. You can then smugly walk past the queue of people – often 40 strong - eagerly waiting for a table.

For a quick lunch or to pick up picnic food, head to one of Manchester’s markets. If you are in the city centre, the Arndale Food Market (49 High Street, Manchester, M4 3AH; 0161 832 3552) serves and sells mouth-watering food from around the world.

Getting around

Parking can be extremely expensive in the city centre so plan where you are going to park in advance to save time and money. If you are parking for an hour or less, the roadside meters often work out as the cheapest option. Most metered spaces are also free after 6pm as well as all day Sunday. For city-centre shopping, car parks near to the MEN tend to be the best value – The Manchester Victoria Station car park on Long Mill Gate Street charges just £5 for the day (12 hours).

If you are travelling by public transport and are taking a few trips in one day, a day ticket is often the cheapest option. However, check the conditions when you buy these tickets as they can often only be used with one bus/train company.

If you are planning on travelling to the nearby countryside, a Wayfarer ticket is usually the best-value option. For £10 a day per adult, you can travel by tram, train or bus. See routes, terms and conditions here.

Only hail black cabs in Manchester – private taxis are uninsured if they pick up passengers who have not booked them in advance.

Look out for the free Metroshuttle buses in the city centre that take passengers from Manchester’s train stations to the city centre and its car parks. See www.gmpte.com/buses/metroshuttle.cfm for routes and times.

Sights and attractions

Manchester’s main museums and art galleries are free to enter (including the Manchester Museum, the Whitworth Art Gallery, MOSI, the Imperial War Museum and Manchester art Gallery), although some temporary exhibitions may have an entrance fee.

If you want to watch some football at Old Trafford but can’t find tickets or don’t want to pay the steep price for a Premiership match, keep an eye out for charity matches, friendly matches and open training sessions. See www.manutd.com for fixtures.

If you buy tickets for a match at Lancashire County Cricket Club and the weather prevents you from seeing a whole day’s play, you may be able to claim some of your money back. See the refunds section of www.lccc.co.uk for more information.

Entertainment

The Cornerhouse independent cinema (70 Oxford Street, Manchester, M1 5NH; 0161 200 1500; www.cornerhouse.org) does a great deal on Monday and Tuesday evenings. For £12 you get a cinema ticket, a pizza, plus a glass of wine or a pint of beer. See the Cornerhouse’s site for more details.

If you are under 26 and want to visit the theatre during your trip to Manchester, you may qualify for free tickets under the A Night Less Ordinary Initiative. Take a look at the participating theatres here.

The Royal Exchange Theatre (St Anns Square, Manchester, M2 7DH; 0161 833 9833; www.royalexchangetheatre.org.uk) offers banquette tickets (on the front row) on the day of a performance for £8.50 weekdays and £9.50 on Friday/Saturday. Phone or go to the box early, though, as they tend to go quickly (tickets go on sale at 9.30am).

Other useful tips

Many Manchester hotels reduce their room rates during July and August. Take a look at my Manchester hotels page for more information.

For more expert advice on Manchester, follow these links: