Walks in Manchester City Centre – The Northern Quarter

This is the next in my I 💙 Manchester series and the first of my posts on walks in Manchester city centre. Manchester has so much to offer – being one of the most dynamic and cosmopolitan cities in the UK, it hosts some great events, has a thriving food and drink scene and a fascinating history being the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution.

walks in manchester city centre

This self-guided walking tour takes you around the Northern Quarter which is Manchester’s most vibrant and bohemian district. There are so many independent and characterful bars, cafes, restaurants, shops and galleries, many of them situated in historic textile warehouses and factories; and a lot of fantastic street art. The walk also takes you into the Ancoats conservation area, where you will pass some of the excellent redevelopment projects and join the Rochdale Canal to take you back to the Northern Quarter.

The walk is 1.8 miles (2.9km) in total so it should take you around 30-35 minutes to complete. Please see the map below (with zoom in and out buttons), with numbers corresponding to the full instructions beneath. Enjoy the walk!

walks in manchester city centre
The Old Fish Market, Northern Quarter

1   Your starting point is at the western end of Church Street, opposite the Arndale Market. Walk up along the High Street, with the market on your left and branch off to the right when you are past the English Lounge pub (staying on High Street). Have a look in Oklahoma on your right, a brightly coloured treasure trove of quirky designed items and gifts. Carry on along the High Street and you will see the site of the Old Wholesale Fish Market on your left – the original building has been incorporated into a residential complex but the outside walls, gates and sculptures have been saved.

2   Take a right down Edge Street, opposite the Fish Market. You will pass Luck, Lust, Liquor and Burn on your right, an excellent Mexican diner with a Californian surf theme. Further down Edge Street is V Rev Vegan diner, a relatively new vegan restaurant that is extremely popular; and Home Sweet Home on your left which does excellent cakes.

3   Turn right onto Oak Street (or left for a short detour to Manchester Craft and Design centre, which was the former Retail Fish Market and is well worth a look inside) and on your left on the corner you will find Oi Polloi, a great shop for simple, well-designed, high-quality menswear. If you’re a chocolate lover, you can’t miss the Bonbon chocolate boutique, situated down John Street, more or less opposite Oi Polloi. The Aztec hot chocolate is to die for! Otherwise, continue down Thomas Street and take a left onto Tib Street.

walks in manchester city centre
Tib Street, Northern Quarter

4   If you’re peckish, Evuna on the corner is a great tapas restaurant. Carry on down Tib Street and you will pass Sugar Junction (excellent for tea, cake and milkshakes) and Matt and Phred’s (a Manchester institution with live jazz, funk and soul music). Take a right down Warwick Street past Abakhan Fabrics then a right down Oldham Street. The Castle Hotel and Pub on your left has a 200 year-old history and has some great ales and live music, it’s worth popping in for a pint. Carry on down Oldham Street and you will pass some great vintage and gift shops.

5   Take a left down Hilton Street and you will reach Stevenson Square. There is some great street art here (as there is over most of the Northern Quarter) and Fred Aldous, a cavernous art and craft shop with everything you could possibly want and need. Ply, with its bright yellow sign does great pizza and Rosy Lee’s on the left does great afternoon tea.

walks in manchester city centre
Stevenson Square, Northern Quarter

6   Go left down Newton Street (after stopping for coffee in Ezra and Gill on the right hand corner if you wish) and walk along until you meet the ring road. Cross over and continue down Blossom Street. You are now in the Ancoats conservation area which was once a thriving industrial district. From the 1930s, the area suffered economic decline and gradual depopulation after the Second World War. It has since been gentrified and has undergone huge redevelopment since the 1990s, it’s history and importance being recognised and its proximity to the city making it prime land.

7   Take a left onto Henry Street and then a right down George Leigh Street, where you will pass a delightful, reconditioned row of terraces. Turn right down Sherratt Street until you rejoin Blossom Street. Take a right here and then a left onto Cotton Street. Rudy’s on your right has some of the best pizza in town.

walks in manchester city centre
New Islington Marina, Rochdale Canal

8   Take the next right down Jersey Street then the first left to rejoin Henry Street. Pop into the Royal Mills building that you will pass on your left – it’s perhaps the jewel in the crown of this district and has been sympathetically converted into flats, office spaces and a couple of shops on the ground floor with a stunning glass atrium that holds a craft market once a month. Cross the footbridge over the Rochdale Canal and follow the towpath with the canal on your right. You will reach a curved footbridge after about 5 minutes taking you back over to the other side of the canal.

9   Walk straight up Brewer Street and then take a left onto Tariff Street. My favourite bars and cafes are all along this street – any of them will be a great choice but my particular favourites are the Pen and Pencil (which does an amazing brunch), the Whiskey Jar and Kosmonaut.

10   With Cottonopolis ahead of you (which has a great asian fusion menu), turn right down Dale Street and walk along until you reach Affleck’s on the left. Opened in 1981, Affleck’s is an indoor market with dozens of independent stalls, boutiques, cafes and pop-up shops and is well worth a look.

walks in manchester city centre
Affleck’s, Northern Quarter

11   Carry on along Church Street to arrive back at your starting point, stopping off for a pie at Pieminster on your right, or a bit of soul food at The Northern Soul Grilled Cheese shack on your left.

If you are interested in more detail of places to eat and drink in the Northern Quarter, please check out my two blog posts below:

The Best of the Northern Quarter Bars

Places to Eat in the Northern Quarter

Please let me know if you enjoyed the walk and if you have any more suggestions of places to feature!



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16 Replies to “Walks in Manchester City Centre – The Northern Quarter”

  1. This was a great read! I would love to use this as a guide and follow it step by step through the Northern Quarter of Manchester. P.S., I clicked over to the USA, to see if you’ve visited anywhere close to me (Alabama), and it looks like you definitely have visited the South! Hope you enjoyed the sweet tea!

    1. Thanks, if you ever decide to visit, please let me know! I absolutely loved what I saw of the south USA – I can’t wait to return!

  2. This is great!! For someone who is directionally challenged (like myself) this is perfect. Even if someone has their GPS pulled up, there is no guarantee that it will not drop out. Mine does all the time and I end up stuck. I need something like this with very detailed LANDMARK SPECIFIC instructions! 🙂

  3. Manchester sounds like such a lovely city with some great spots! Also appreciate the super easy-to-follow directions as I can definitely be a bit directionally challenged, haha!

  4. I love exploring cities by foot! That walking tour seems amazing! Not too long, so you won’t get too tired but you will get to see so much! Ive never been in Manchester before but I heard its pretty awesome so I hope Ill get to visit soon!

  5. This looks like a great walking tour. Thanks for all of the detailed directions. It’s so handy to have things like this when traveling in other countries since it’s hard to get your phone working to use GPS sometimes.

  6. This is very handy for someone who will be visiting the city for first time and will need a plan to explore. Very thoughtful post, written carefully. Thank you for this!

    1. Hi Tina,

      The Northern Quarter is full of street art, some of it at a very impressive scale too! I hope you get there one day 🙂

  7. I have been to Manchester, years ago, but it rained the whole time and I have to admit I kind of wrote it off as a destination. But your post is so interesting it makes me feel like I should really give it another go!

  8. I’m heading to Manchester in September so this guide will definitely come in handy! I like to know the best places for food, coffee, and drinks before I go so I can plan my route.

    1. Excellent! I have two other posts on places to eat and bars in the Northern Quarter too which are here and here. Please let me know if you need any more recommendations, I’d love to be able to help – look forward to hearing about your trip!


  9. What a fab post! And I totally love that piece of street art on Stevenson square! My brother in law is from Manchester and my sister is always going on about how cool it is so I think it’s high time we booked ourselves a little trip. I went for a hen weekend once but as you can imagine, it didn’t do it justice!

  10. I absolutely love these parts of Manchester! The street art is great and I find it to have such a different vibe compared to the rest of the city. Been there few times but I think I’ve missed few places you mentioned, gotta check them out the next time I get there!

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