Whether you’re staying in one of our Manchester hotels for business or pleasure, make sure you take time to visit the newly regenerated area of Salford Quays. Just 15 minutes by tram from the city centre, it sits on the Manchester Ship Canal, but offers much more than lovely views across the river (although it has those in abundance).
In fact, despite being positively titchy in size at only one square mile, it’s packed with more attractions than you can shake a guide book at. There’s The Lowry theatre and gallery complex, the Imperial War Museum as well as outlet shopping, sporting activities and some seriously swish bars and restaurants.
It’s all so different to just 30 years ago when it was one of the most dilapidated parts of the city. Opened by Queen Victoria in 1894, Salford Docks was one of the busiest ports in the UK. But by the 1970s, the area was in decline and the docks finally closed in 1982, leaving 3,000 people without jobs and one seriously run-down area in its wake. But thanks to a major regeneration project that started in the 1990s, the Quays has risen from the ashes and its waterfront piazzas are now one of the city’s biggest success stories.
It’s lovely to stroll around and admire the gleaming architecture of MediaCityUK, and you can also hire boats and even have a swim in the summertime. While it looks great at any time in the evening it looks truly spectacular all lit up, making it the perfect backdrop for a romantic evening stroll.
With so much to do both day and night, Salford Quays makes for a great city break location in its own right. And luckily, you can stay right in the middle of all the action by booking into the Premier Inn at Salford Quays. It’s within walking distance from media powerhouses the BBC and ITV - plus with comfy beds, its got its own kind of star quality!
While you could while away hours, simply wandering and gazing up in wonder at all the futuristic architecture above your heads, there’s a world of leisure opportunities at ground level, too.
Arts and culture
Salford Quays is crammed with arts and culture. Immerse yourself in the history of conflict at the hands-on and engaging Imperial War Museum North, then catch a play or thought-provoking art show at The Lowry (which is also home to a great collection of LS Lowry originals).
Love discount big-brand shopping? You’ll find over 80 stores under one roof at the Lowry Outlet, all offering up to 60% off high street prices. There’s an M&S, Next and Gap and also, dangerously, a Cadbury’s factory shop full of tempting treats. Save some room, as there are six restaurants here, too.
The Helly Hansen Watersports Centre is open all-year round and offers everything from wakeboarding to windsurfing - you can even be dragged around the water on a giant rubber ring! It also has an indoor climbing wall. In the summer, outdoor wild swimming is available from Pier 8.
From outdoor Christmas markets and street performers to ever changing public art exhibitions, it’s worth checking the Salford Quays website as there’s bound to be something on while you’re there. Most spectacular is the yearly Lightwaves festival, with its illuminated, interactive sculptures.
The Quays is also home to MediaCityUK and, as the name would suggest, it’s buzzing with TV companies - and you may even see some famous faces out and about! Also,why not take a tour round the BBC studios? You could even apply to be in the audience for one of your favourite TV shows. Tours cost under £12 for adults, but tickets to filmings are usually free. Check the BBC website for details.
Everything at Salford Quays looks gleaming and modern, so expect world-class facilities no matter which one of its many attractions you’ve come to visit.
You’ll find Salford Quays a 15-minute tram ride away from the city centre. It’s perfect to visit all-year-round, and there’s something to do no matter what time of day you go, with most attractions opening at 10am.
Salford Quays includes popular residential areas, MediaCityUK (which has its own bars, restaurants and piazza) and brand new commercial developments such as the Soapworks and the Foundry.
The Quays have been well-designed with level access in all public spaces. There are accessible toilets in both the Lowry Outlet Mall, and the Beefeater restaurant (although this requires a Radar key).
Step just a little further than Salford Quays and you’ll quickly discover some of the other sights the area’s famous for. Just a short walk away you’ll find Old Trafford, the historic home of the mighty Manchester United team. Even if it’s not match day, you can pick up a souvenir from the megastore or even go on a stadium tour to find out more about the club’s fascinating 150-year history.
And if all the gleaming, modern architecture has left you craving a bit of history, head to Salford’s historic Ordsall Hall. Just a few minutes from Salford Quays, this Grade-I listed Tudor manor house is perfect for a mooch around - it’s now a museum and heritage site, complete with hands-on exhibitions and its own cafe.
From cosy cafes to fine dining restaurants, there’s something at Salford Quays whatever your taste - or budget.
If the weather’s nice, you can drink a cocktail outside at Lime - and even if it’s not, they have outdoor heaters. Or head to the Botanist with its cute, garden theme and botanical drinks, like the Lemon and Jasmine Collins. But best of them all has to be The Alchemist. You can’t miss it because this funky bar has a golden roof and a huge sun terrace.
While you won’t find many traditional pubs full of history here, there are still some places where you can get a decent beer. There’s the Quay House, a Beefeater, which has great reviews and amazing views of the river. More of a craft beer connoisseur? Try the Dockyard, an industrial-chic ale house with butcher’s block tables and quirky, mismatching decor.
Fancy a cuppa after all that walking around? There are not one but two branches of Costa Coffee - one at the Lowry Outlet and one at MediaCityUK - serving a range of hot drinks, cakes, pastries and hot sandwiches.
Great family options and relaxed dining awaits you at one of Salford Quays’ chain restaurants - there’s a Cafe Rouge, Wagamama’s, Pizza Express and Prezzo. For fine dining, head to The Lowry’s restaurant, Pier Eight. There are glorious views through its panoramic windows and the food (hearty British classics with innovative twists) is just as spectacular.
You can get to The Quays by car, tram, train or bus - and it’s just 15 minutes from Manchester city centre.
Put M50 3AH into your satnav then from the M60, take J12 for the M602, exit at J3 and follow the signs for The Quays. You can park either at the The Lowry Outlet, IWM North or MediaCityUK.
From Manchester city centre, you can get on either the 250 at the Piccadilly Gardens or take the X50 - which goes to the Trafford Centre, but stops at the Imperial War Museum North on the way. From Salford Crescent, you take the 50 bus.
Arriving in Manchester by train? Either hop on a Metrolink tram (from right outside Piccadilly or Victoria railway stations) or catch a 50 bus from Salford Crescent station (which is handy if you’re visiting Salford University).
The fastest way from the city centre to Salford Quays is by Metrolink tram. Trams run every 12 minutes between the Cornbrook and MediaCityUK Manchester stops from 7.15am to 8pm, Monday to Friday and from 9.30am to 6pm on Saturdays.
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