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 exterior shot - host of story seekers
    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 Lowry Theatre and Gallery in Salford Quays Manchester.
    Image courtesy of Visit Britain

    The Lowry, Pier 8, Salford Quays, Salford, Greater 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.

Red Squirrel at Lightwaves
Festivals 2–11 December 2022, FREE

Lightwaves at Salford Quays

An unmissable ten days of luminary adventures. Interact with boundary-breaking new commissions, create your own digital masterpieces and take a selfie with a Dalek. Yep, really.

Activity 10–11 September 2022, FREE

We Invented The Weekend

Expect everything from community feasts, vintage markets, water sports, live music and performance, right across MediaCity and Salford Quays this September. A new free festival for everyone.

The Gruffalo at The lowry
Families Until 21 August 2022, from £10.00

The Gruffalo at The Lowry

Join Mouse on a daring adventure through the deep, dark wood in Tall Stories’ magical, musical adaptation of Julia Donaldson’s well-loved picture book.

Matthew Bourne's Sleeping Beauty at The Lowry
Dance 22–26 November 2022, from £17.00

Matthew Bourne’s Sleeping Beauty at The Lowry

Celebrating 10 years since it first premiered at Sadlers Wells, Matthew Bourne’s Sleeping Beauty reawakes in 2022.

Head to the Mighty Kids Beatbox Comedy Show at The Lowry on 24 September, a fusion of comedy & beatboxing with Jarred Christmas and Hobbit at The Lowry
Comedy 24 September 2022 2:00 pm, from £14.00

The Mighty Kids Beatbox Comedy Show at The Lowry

Head to the Mighty Kids Beatbox Comedy Show at The Lowry on 24 September, a fusion of comedy & beatboxing with Jarred Christmas and Hobbit.

30 October 2022 2:00 pm, from £16.00

Nick Sharratt’s Halloween Drawalong at The Lowry

This Halloween, children and their grownups are invited to sketch spooky characters with Nick Sharratt at The Lowry.

Illustration entitled ‘Because you cannot tame something so happily wild’ by Emily Hughes showing painted animals in a woodland setting
Exhibitions Until 30 October 2022, FREE

Picture This at The Lowry

This summer, the Lowry is celebrating children’s books with a wonderful exhibition of illustrations and an exciting accompanying events programme for the whole family.

Box on the docks presents the family weekender
Families 20–21 August 2022, FREE

Box on the Docks presents Family Weekender

Keep the kids entertained for free at MediaCity, with entertainers, arts and crafts activities, live music and storytelling.

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.  

Photo of a handwritten label in a cafe that says "Ring for service with a smile"

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

Powered by culturehosts