The Quays, Greater Manchester

Creative Tourist

The Quays is an area that’s gone from busy industrial dock to culture, media and tech hub within the space of 120 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 recommend Pier 8 at The Lowry), bars (try The Botanist) 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…

Our top picks

Imperial War Museum North (IWM North)

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

Designed by world-renowned architect Daniel Libeskind to represent a globe shattered by conflict, IWM North boldly punctuates the Salford Quays waterfront, and houses a permanent collection, special exhibitions and events that explore the many ways in which conflict shapes society.

Imperial War Museum North exterior shot - host of story seekers
Image courtesy of Visit Britain

The Lowry

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

With two theatres, galleries and a studio space, The Lowry combines the performing and visual arts to impressive effect and is loved for both its famous LS Lowry Collection and the dizzying array of productions it hosts year on year.

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

Pier Eight at The Lowry

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

Helmed by the talented head chef Oliver Thomas, The Lowry’s in-house fine dining restaurant is all about fresh produce and bold British flavours.

Coronation Street (Media City)

Coronation Street (Media City), Media City UK, The Studios From Dock 10, Manchester, M50 2EQ - Visit now

Immerse yourself in seven decades of history and drama on the nation’s most famous street, which is new shot at Trafford Wharf in MediaCityUK, where ITV run fully guided tours of the outdoor sets.

Visit Manchester, Coronation Street The Tour

Central Bay

Central Bay, Quayside MediaCity, Salford Quays, M50 2EQ - Visit now

A new, waterfront dining and drinking destination at MediaCity is set to be launched as Central Bay – and will become the first of its kind in Salford and one of the biggest in the region.

Central Bay

The Empty Space at Footlights House

The Empty Space at Footlights House, 48 Kansas Avenue, Media City, Salford, M50 2GL - Visit now

The Empty Space is an intimate black box theatre space. Situated close to the MediaCityUK studios, with free parking and good transport links, the theatre hosts plays, comedy, musicals, performance poetry, recitals and showcases. An ideal venue to present creative work of all kinds and a party or event space.

The Empty Space at Footlights House
Image courtesy of Footlights Theatre.

The Botanist Media City

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

Featuring high-class herbal-infused cocktails and a variety of world cuisine – including those impressive hanging kebabs – The Botonist commands striking views over The LowryImperial War Museum and the reclaimed industrial landscape of the Quays themselves.

Ian Jones

General Store MediaCityUK

General Store MediaCityUK, 2 Blue, MediaCityUK, Salford, M50 2AD - Visit now

The two-storey General Store MediaCityUK is a one-stop-shop for retail and dining, showcasing some of the North’s best independent food brands, from Nell’s Pizza to The Great North Pie Company, while providing convenience store essentials.

General Store MediaCityUK
General Store MediaCityUK

Ordsall Hall

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

A stone’s throw away from the Quays, 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.

Ordsall Hall

More The Quays events

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.

free entry
Aakash Odedra - Mehek at The Lowry
DanceThe Quays
Aakash Odedra – Mehek at The Lowry

An enchanting exploration of the human heart masterfully danced by Aakash Odedra and Aditi Mangaldas, the great South Asian dancers of their respective generations.

from £16.50

Where to go in Manchester

Fairfield Social Club

Launching in spring 2024, Fairfield Social Club is a multi-purpose site next to Angel Meadows Park in the Green Quarter.

Manchester Wine Tours

Manchester Wine Tours is a relaxed, fun wine tour, taking in four or five venues across three hours, plus six high-quality glasses of wine.

The Little Sri Lankan

The Little Sri Lankan is an acclaimed pop-up caterer, specialising in Sri Lankan food events in around Manchester and the North.

MUSU Restaurant & Bar

Musu is a modern Japanese restaurant and bar in Manchester City Centre, specialising in awe-inspiring food. We take an advance look at their festive menu. 

House of Fu Manchester

First Leeds, now Manchester. Expect picture perfect ramen, gyoza and cocktails at the upcoming restaurant and cocktail bar.

City Centre

Allpress at NOMA is a home to all things coffee, with a café and seasonal menu incorporating locally sourced ingredients.

Manchester Visitor Guides

UNITOM bookshop
Bookshops in Manchester

Manchester is a UNESCO City of Literature, so of course there are a few go-tos for books. Read our guide to discover the best places to pick them up.

Photo of the Halle orchestra at Bridgewater
Music Venues in Manchester

Manchester is still a great place to watch new and innovative music – so here’s a guide to where to watch the best live music in the city.

Private Dining Rooms in Manchester

The best private dining spaces in Manchester's leading restaurants. This is where you and your guests can be fed by professional chefs in a private room.

Sunday Roasts in Manchester

Looking for the finest roast dinners in Manchester? Look no further. We've picked out the very best Sunday dinners in the city.

Blossom on trees in Manchester
Parks and Gardens in Manchester

There are more green spaces in Manchester than you might think. We've picked out some of the best parks and gardens in and around the city.

Spotlight on

Things to Do in Cumbria

Our guide to the best things to do in the Cumbria and the Lake District, including Penrith, Kendal, Carlisle, Keswick and Cockermouth.

Take me there

Culture Guides

Music in Manchester and the North

Spotlighting global artists who all, in one way or another, break the mould, we preview the best gigs happening this side of Christmas and beyond.