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.

Exhibitions 29 June–29 September 2019, FREE

Expect the Unexpected: A Chance Exhibition at the Lowry

A new exhibition at the Lowry is a reminder to re-connect with the beauty and joy chance poses. To celebrate the unexpected, as well as to expect it.

Yemen: Inside a Crisis at Imperial War Museum North
Exhibitions 17 May 2019–26 January 2020, FREE

Yemen: Inside a Crisis at Imperial War Museum North

Curated with support from award-winning journalist Iona Craig, Yemen: Inside a Crisis at Imperial War Museum North offers a powerful look at one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises.

Activity 20 October 2018–31 December 2019, FREE

Documentary Challenge at IWM North

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

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.

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