If you’re looking for an alternative to pricey London, you don’t have to look far. Just two hours from London by train, Manchester in North West England is the UK’s fastest growing regional capital. It’s also been named the country’s most livable city by the Economist Intelligence Unit for eight years running.
With economic growth outpacing the rest of the UK, a huge workforce and student population, world-class transport links and more than £3 billion committed to real estate infrastructure over the next few years, Manchester is becoming one of the most popular destinations in Europe to do business and invest. Even more importantly, it’s a great place to live.
After football, Manchester’s music scene may be what the city is best known for internationally, having birthed the likes of Oasis, The Smiths and even Take That. This creativity is nurtured by a wealth of live music venues, whether you’re catching the world’s biggest stars at the Manchester Arena, the stars of tomorrow at Gorilla or sitting down to classical music and fine dining at Bridgewater Hall.
Beyond music, Manchester’s cultural credentials extend to 13 theaters and a wide variety of museums and galleries, including the Manchester Museum, The Lowry and HOME, a £25 million multipurpose creative space. Many of these venues are a short walk from each other in The Quays, the city’s waterfront leisure district that’s also the new home of the BBC and other media companies at MediaCity UK.
For sport fans worldwide, Manchester is synonymous with Manchester United Football Club – or rivals Manchester City if you think like a local. Both teams’ home grounds offer guided tours and are easily reached within 10 minutes of the city center.
A former host of the Commonwealth Games and other major sporting events, Manchester has its share of world-class sports venues, many of which are open to the public. These include the Watersports Centre at Salford Quays and Chill Factore, an indoor ski slope that uses real snow.
From the independent boutiques of the Northern Quarter to some of the country’s largest shopping centers, there’s no shortage of retail therapy wherever you are in Manchester. Harvey Nichols and Selfridges each have department stores on New Cathedral Street in the city center. The Avenue at Spinningfields is the destination for fashion labels such as Armani, Burberry and DKNY.
At 1.4 million square feet, the Manchester Arndale Center is the UK’s biggest inner-city shopping mall, located right in the heart of the city. It’s just a short drive to the equally impressive Trafford Centre for high street stores, arcades and a 20-screen cinema, while bargain lovers will find plenty to get excited about at the Lowry Outlet Mall in Salford Quays.
Being one of the most culturally diverse cities in the UK, Manchester’s restaurants and cafes have authentic cuisine from all over the world to satisfy every craving and price range. The heart of this multicultural melting pot is Chinatown, a pan-Asian enclave of shops, restaurants and bustling markets in the city center.
More mouthwatering options can be found at the Corn Exchange, a hub of international restaurants housed in a beautiful Edwardian building. With independent cafes, quirky delis and family gastropubs dotted throughout the city, Manchester is becoming a favorite destination for foodies.