Image courtesy of Visit Britain

The Quays, Greater Manchester

Creative Tourist

The Quays is an area that’s gone from busy industrial dock to 21st century cultural hub in just over 100 years. Opened by Queen Victoria in 1894, the Salford Docks (as they were then known) became the busiest in the UK, serving the ships that came up the Manchester Ship Canal, a waterway built in order to escape the hefty charges levied by Liverpool’s dock and rail companies. Today, The Quays is home to MediaCityUK (the largest media hub in Europe) and studios purpose-built for the BBC’s move up North in 2011.

Two major cultural institutions – Imperial War Museum North and The Lowry – also straddle the Ship Canal, connected by a pedestrian bridge. The Lowry boasts two theatre, galleries, a studio space, restaurant and shop; IWM North’s fragmented design represents a globe shattered by war (inside, it’s completely devoid of right angles) and houses a beautifully-presented permanent collection and series of changing exhibitions that consider the many ways conflict shapes society. Restaurants (we highly recommend Pier 8 at The Lowry),  bars and even high-end supermarkets (the family-run Booths) complete the offer in the area.

With good transport links to the city centre, The Quays is the sort of place where you could happily lose half a day; or some of your sanity, if you choose to complete the ‘dock to dock’ course of the Great Manchester Swim.

Discover our top picks

  • 1. Imperial War Museum North (IWM North)

    Imperial War Museum North (IWM North)
    Image courtesy of Visit Britain

    Imperial War Museum North (IWM North), Imperial War Museum North, The Quays, Trafford Wharf Road, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M17 1TZ - Visit now

    IWM North was designed by Daniel Libeskind, whose beautiful waterfront building houses a permanent collection, special exhibitions and events that consider the many ways conflict shapes society.

  • 2. The Lowry

    The Lowery Theatre and Gallery in Salford Quays Manchester.
    Image courtesy of Visit Britain

    The Lowry, Pier 8, Salford Quays, Salford, Manchester, M50 3AZ - Visit now

    The Lowry ably combines the performing and visual arts across its two theatres, exhibition and studio spaces. The dance programming is particularly strong, and there’s a good small shop, too.

  • 3. Ordsall Hall

    Ordsall Hall

    Ordsall Hall, 322 Ordsall Lane, Salford, Greater Manchester, M5 3AN - Visit now

    Ordsall Hall is a spectacularly-preserved Tudor mansion and museum – one of only eight such houses in Lancashire – and is supposedly haunted by the broken-hearted White Lady.

  • 4. Pier Eight at The Lowry

    Pier Eight at The Lowry, Pier 8, The Lowry, Salford Quays, Salford Quays, Greater Manchester, M50 3AZ - Visit now

    Pier 8, The Lowry’s in-house fine dining restaurant, is all about fresh produce and bold British flavours

  • 5. Victoria Warehouse

    Victoria Warehouse, Victoria Warehouse, Trafford Wharf Road, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M17 1AB - Visit now

    Victoria Warehouse was formerly host to the (in)famous Warehouse Project raves; it’s a flexible event space that includes a boutique hotel, spa, bar and bistro-style restaurant.

  • 6. The Botanist Media City

    Ian Jones

    The Botanist Media City, Media City, Salford, M50 2HE - Visit now

    The newest branch of the Botanist, featuring high-class herbal-infused cocktails and a variety of world cuisine – including those impressive hanging kebabs.

  • 7. The Alchemist Mediacity

    Ian Jones

    The Alchemist Mediacity, The Bund, The Quays, M50 3AB - Visit now

    The latest offering from the UK-conquering Alchemist has an energetic vibe similar to others in this highly-regarded chain of restaurants.

Quays Culture Summer Festival
Families 30 May–2 June 2019, FREE

Quays Culture Summer Festival at The Quays

Our favourite funambulist embarks on a 200 metre high wire performance and Architects of Air’s famous luminarium comes to the Quays for the first time for an enthralling free festival of outdoor arts. We can’t wait.

Activity 20 October 2018–31 December 2019, FREE

Documentary Challenge at IWM North

Make and feature in your own mini-documentary at IWM North.

Matthew Bourne's Romeo and Juliet at The Lowry
Dance 11–15 June 2019, from £33.50

Matthew Bourne’s Romeo and Juliet at The Lowry

Follow two young lovers as they risk everything to be together in Matthew Bourne’s vital and contemporary reimagining of Romeo and Juliet.

MIF19 The Fountainhead at The Lowry Manchester International Festival 2019
10–13 July 2019, from £10

MIF19: The Fountainhead at The Lowry

Ivo van Hove brings Ayn Rand’s uncompromising novel to the stage in this UK premiere of his most controversial work to date.

Activity 31 March–28 July 2019, from £3.50

Guided Tours at Ordsall Hall

With Medieval paintwork and a fascinating history, Ordsall Hall gives us a glimpse into how society has changed over the centuries. Explore Salford’s oldest building every Sunday from 2pm with a guided tour of the House and Gardens.

Manchester District Guides

Medieval Quarter, Manchester

The Medieval Quarter, or Cathedral Quarter as it is sometimes known, is one of the oldest parts of Manchester and home to some historic gems and cultural must-sees.  

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Burton Road, West Didsbury, Manchester

Burton Road is the heart of West Didsbury, a beautifully maintained leafy hubbub of shops,…

Beech Road Chorlton, Manchester

A laid-back mix of gift shops, independent outfitters, restaurants, pubs and parks, on a sunny weekend afternoon it’s heaving.

The front of Didsbury restaurant Volta.

Didsbury, Manchester

Follow Oxford Road South through the Curry Mile, along Wilmslow Road, past Platt Fields Park…

Chorlton, Manchester

Chorlton is a left-leaning suburb a few miles south of Manchester’s city centre (and only…

Cheetham Hill, Manchester

As an area, Cheetham Hill gets a pretty bad rep. The foreboding architecture of Strangeways…

Things to do right now

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Cinema 9–29 May 2019, from £5.50

Amazing Grace at HOME

HOME
Festivals 1 January–31 December 2019,

HOME 2019 Season

Contact in the City Part Three
Theatre 1 February–13 June 2019,

Contact In The City Part Three

Music 30 January–5 July 2019, from £3

The Stoller Hall Spring Season

Music 30 January–31 December 2019, from £19.62

Striking Gold Piano Series at The Stoller Hall

bbc philharmonic 2018 2019 season at the bridgewater hall manchester
Music 29 September 2018–15 June 2019,

BBC Philharmonic 2018/19 Concert Season

Activity 20 October 2018–31 December 2019, FREE

Documentary Challenge at IWM North

Cinema 1 January–31 December 2019, from £5.50

Celebrating Women in Global Cinema at HOME

Cinema 22 October 2003–20 September 2019, from £5.50

MIF19: Mon Oncle at HOME