A Student's Guide to Manchester
Studying in Greater Manchester means that you're never too far away from some of the best food, drink, entertainment and culture. With Manchester city centre on your doorstep, and easily accessible with First Greater Manchester buses, you'll never be bored while living and studying here.
We asked local student Hatty for an insider's guide to some of the top student places to go across Manchester; from popular vegan hotspots and the unique bars and cafes of the Northern Quarter and Gay Village to the best live music venues. There's something to suit all tastes and you'll find it all on our Manchester & Salford bus map - to help you plan how to get there!
Student review by: Hatty
University: University of Salford
Course: BSc. Human Resources Management
Interests:I like swimming, music, theatre, running and travelling
Favourite thing about studying in Greater Manchester: How close I am to everything and how diverse the city is!
- V-Rev The home of vegan junk food! This restaurant is insanely popular, so if you want to come here book in advance! They sell a vegan alternative of every item of junk food or dessert that you could possibly want!
- Deaf Institute This is a great vegan night out! A club, a music venue with a smoking terrace and a vegan kitchen/bar! It is just off Oxford Road and the kitchen is open until late for midnight feasts! If you are going down for a big night out, open mic, karaoke or just a pub quiz, this venue has everything!
- Eighth Day A vegetarian and vegan health shop and restaurant in one! On Oxford Road it is super easy to get to. Everything is GM free, not tested on animals and is super ethical and environmentally friendly! This is an absolute must if you are interested in this lifestyle!
- Affleck's Palace The true highlight of the Northern Quarter! Everything is here! There are clothes shops, tattoo studios, piercing salons, a theatre, food shops, jewellery shops, henna tattoos, music stores and art supply shops! It is an alternative Arndale Centre- but with something for everyone! This is pretty much the hub of the Northern Quarter (and if you ever ask for directions here, everyone will give them in relation to here, so it is probably best you get to Afflecks quite early on!)
- Home Sweet Home The true teenage fast food restaurant. They offer foods like burgers, chicken wings and chips but made in a quality manner. The cakes are to die for and the service is fantastic! Think an American 1980’s diner with a stereotypical British kick!
- Manchester Ink If you are a fan of tattoos, this is the studio in Manchester to go to! All the staff offer a consultation before your tattoo and make it an experience that you are comfortable and 100% happy with throughout. They put you first and put you completely at ease in the process. They also offer free touch ups afterwards. The artists are true talents!
- Turtle Bay The Cocktail bar (that offers 2-for-1 cocktails in the evenings!) with Caribbean food. With a stunning interior and super friendly staff, this is the perfect place for your pre-drinks for a big night out with your new uni mates! It’s a particularly great spot if you are going all out for a birthday or your end of term night out and you want to get food beforehand or splash out an entire £8 on two cocktails before you head out to your new favourite club or start a bar crawl along the Northern Quarter!
- Dry Bar One of the original bars on the Northern Quarter! This was one of the bars that my parents were going to when they were 18, therefore this bar knows what it is doing! With decent drink prices, this is a bar where you start the night for pre-drinks but end up staying all night because you are having such a good time! I fully recommend this bar for just a casual drink or a full night out!
- Vintage Shops It is difficult to walk down the Northern Quarter without walking past all the vintage clothes shops. They are completely student finance friendly and have many hidden gems in there! Even if you aren’t particularly into vintage clothes, it is well worth a look in these shops; especially COW, as you may find some diamonds in there (I once found a pair of real Doctor Martin boots in there for £25 in my size!) They are essentially a more affordable Urban Outfitters!
- Northern Soul Grilled Cheese If you a fan of cheese, this is the place to be! It seems like a fun little corner shop from the outside with everything cheese related! From Grilled Cheese Sandwiches to Mac’n’cheese they will have it! As the name suggests, it truly has a Northern Soul Mancunian feel to it! The milkshakes are insanely good as well!
- Richmond Tea Rooms A traditional English tearoom with a fairy-tale twist. The Richmond Tea Rooms has a beautiful Alice in Wonderland theme accompanied by decorations and food (including stunning cakes!) based on the classic children’s tale.
- G-A-Y One of the most popular clubs on Canal Street! With three floors (and a balcony smoking area) this is not a night to miss. All the classics and chart hits are played! If you manage to get in during Gay Pride (or as it is commonly known in Manchester- The Big Weekend) during August Bank Holiday weekend, you will have an amazing time as the atmosphere in here is fantastic and truly has a friendly feel where everyone is welcome!
- AXM AXM is a nightclub which is also the host of many performances from world famous Drag Queens- primarily the stars of RuPaul’s Drag Race! Over the past 12 months this club has been the host of performances from Raven, Jujubee, Ginger, Katya, Valentina, Nina Bonina Brown, Alaska, Courtney Act, Adore Delano and Sharon Needles! If you are a fan of this show, I would 100% recommend trying to get yourself to AXM to watch the RuGirls in action! This is an absolute must-go-to venue on Canal Street!
- Satan's Hollow The alternative night out in the village! Satans is an LGBTQI+ friendly night out with Rock and Alternative live music that focuses on the club scene. This is not your typical night out on the village, but is certainly worth going as it is a fantastic night out!
- Oscars Your perfect Broadway/West End night out in the village! This bar has a musical theatre theme accompanied by a red carpet fit for the Tony’s as you enter the bar! In the bar, there are showings of classical musical theatre films to add an extra sprinkle of Jazz Hands to your evening!
- The Ritz The home of the famous bouncy dance floor! Situated on Oxford Road, the Ritz is host to many concerts and on a Saturday is turned into a nightclub for VooDoo Event’s ‘Projekt’. With cheap drinks and being so close to a McDonalds and an Archies, this is a fantastic venue for a concert or a Saturday night out! (Check out your fresher’s fairs for free entry wristbands to Projekt!) Many of the bands that tend to play here are alternative- however there are some quite big names such as Scouting for Girls and Bew*tched that are playing there this year!
- O2 Apollo Right on the A6, this venue plays host to world famous musicians and comedians. This is actually a Grade II listed building located about a 10 minute walk from the city centre. Names like The Maccabees, Jimmy Carr and Paramore have all played here! Later this year Harry Styles, Jack Whitehall and Zara Lawson are all due to play here as well!
- Bridgewater Hall If you are more into classical music or are looking for a change, this is your venue! This is a state of the art international concert venue that hosts more than 250 concerts a year! The venue plays an extremely important role in the Manchester International Festival as well. The world renowned Hallé Orchestra and BBC Philharmonic Orchestra perform here regularly.
- Albert Hall Originally built as a Methodist Church, Albert Hall now is a Mancunian music hotspot. It is not only a venue for concerts however, it is also a bar, kitchen and wedding venue!
- Ruby Lounge The Northern Quarter’s answer to Rock’n’Roll! If you love tribute bands, this is the place for you! With Manchester legends like Noasis being regulars this is a great place to hear new takes on rock classics. They also have a resident Saturday club night; Remake Model which is definitely worth checking out!
- Band On The Wall A venue for all genres with a bar and café. It is a stunning building which used to be a cinema. It truly represents Manchester as a music scene and is even funded by the Arts Council!
- Night & Day Café Here is home to both Manchester bands and bands from all over the world! With regular showcases of home-grown talent and concerts from bands; and fantastic food options to accompany you while you are watching them, this is a great chilled venue to spend a night out at!
- Soup Kitchen This is a fantastic place to go to if you want to watch up and coming musical talents, while eating true homely food like seasonal soups, sandwiches and a range of main courses. It has a super friendly and chilled vibe to it and is a great quiet night out with friends.