Ok, the full title of this post should be: Instagram-worthy photo locations in Manchester – outdoor edition! Because I’ll list here: the best (according to someone who’s lived here for 3 years – that’s me) Insta locations that you can photograph outside, in the fresh air, without having to worry about indoor social distancing. In the current situation, that sounds perfect, doesn’t it?
But let’s start from the beginning.
Red brick Manchester might not be considered by many as a city full of Instagram photo locations. I thought so too. So the best advice I can give you when visiting this city is to dispose of any expectations.
Because Manchester is definitely not a multicultural centre of international trade like Hamburg, where I used to live before. It’s not a cradle of art and architecture like Florence, it’s not a global centre of culture and fashion like Paris, it’s also not the heart of environmental innovation and cleanliness like Singapore. It’s not even like a vibrant and bustling London.
That’s hardly an advertisement, isn’t it?
Even though the city looks way better now, than even 3 years ago when I moved here, it’s still rough around the edges…literally and metaphorically. And I still wouldn’t call it “the best city in the world”. A phrase that proud Mancunians use very often when describing their city.
So what is Manchester?
Well, Manchester is… Manchester.
Very post-industrial, slightly improving, hardly ever maintained. UK’s cradle of creativity, centre of small businesses and entrepreneurship. A perfect place for foodies and coffee lovers. Home to vintage enthusiasts and hipster vibes.
In addition, “the capital of the North” provides plenty of Instagram-worthy photo locations, especially if you’re into photographing your outfit of the day in front of industrial red brick buildings, street art and run down alleyways.
All the photo locations in Manchester I picked are more or less in the city centre and you can easily visit them in one day. Check out the map below.
Ok, so now let’s dive into it. I present you:
15 best outdoor photo locations in Manchester.
I took all of those shots during lockdown, that’s why some of the places look…closed. Because they were. Usually there is a bit more “life” in the city centre. But also a lot more people, which can make your photo taking process a bit harder. Seems like there is at least one advantage of lockdown, aye?
1. Stevenson Square
Heart of The Northern Quarter (“hipster” neighbourhood), was recently closed for traffic, which made it a perfect place to sit on the curb and drink a coffee during lockdown. Decorated with street art and surrounded by red brick buildings, Stevenson Square provides a perfect Insta background or foreground.
2. “Dude in a hat”
When you’re on Stevenson Square, have a look around to spot the amazing graffiti of “a dude in a hat”. Well, this is what I call it. Probably it has a real name given by the artist who painted it – Akse. He’s responsible for a lot of street art around Manchester, but this one is my favourite.
3. “And on the sixth day…”
If you want to say that you visited Manchester, you can’t miss this place. I tried to Google it, but I honestly can’t tell you why this mosaic is famous. It is considered iconic though. Local artist Mark Kennedy had a great idea to play with words from Genesis and add “chester” to the “Man” who was created by God on the sixth day. In this way we have: Manchester! Aye! The famous sign made it onto t-shirts, posters and many other pieces of Manchester memorabilia.
4. “Note” pink building
Skate shop by day, pink facade by…all the time. When you’re strolling through Northern Quarter you simply can’t miss “the pink building”. And if you’re a pink lover you have to snap a picture in front of it. No matter what side of the building you choose (the pink colour wraps around all 3 sides ), your photo will be “pretty in pink”.
5. Deadstock General Store
One of the most eye-catching frontages in Northern Quarter, this charming store definitely has to be open to capture its atmosphere. If you’re lucky, you will find a bike standing in front it, which will add a cool vibe to your picture. Don’t forget to go inside. Vintage homeware and unique, high quality accessories can be a perfect gift from your trip to Manchester.
6. Graffiti street
There are many streets in Manchester covered with street art. But here you have 2 in 1. Cool graffiti and a portrait of Anthony Burgess, the author of “A Clockwork Orange“. If you look more closely, you can also spot another piece of street art: a social justice piece raising awareness about child soldiers.
7. Northern Flower shop
Another place that, has to be fully open to capture its aesthetic. Ok, here it looks nice as well, but imagine multiple crates filled with plants and flowers standing outside – that’s how you’ll find this shop in “normal times”. Northern Flower is a very popular photo location in Manchester. Because of that and Tib street being compact, it can be quite busy there. So if you find yourself in a desperate need for a break, have a coffee from the coffee shop next door. “Just between friends” serves some of the best coffees in town.
8. The Old Wellington
Built in 1552, the Old Wellington is the oldest building of its kind in Manchester. Once home to some of the founders of Manchester commerce, now a pub and a restaurant, “the Old Welly” charms with a unique facade built in tudor style. It looks very English, doesn’t it?
9. Sackville Gardens
Let’s move from directly in a city to a little park located on the side of Manchester’s gay village. Surrounded by red brick university buildings, Sackville Gardens are a great place sit and relax. One bench is permanently taken though. In the middle of the park, you can find a memorial of Alan Turing – “father of modern computing” and a contributor in cracking the Enigma code. His history is pretty sad though and you can learn more about it during Free Manchester Walking Tours that start in this exact location.
10. Vimto Statue
If you’re not British, you probably wouldn’t have heard of Vimto drink, therefore you can skip this location. But yes, in Manchester even a soft drink gets a tribute. First a heath tonic, later transformed into a fruity, extremely sweet, carbonated drink, Vimto is either loved or hated. If it brings back childhood memories to you or you simply want to see this weird statue, head to Vimto Park.
11. Whitworth Locke
You don’t have to walk far to find another one of the photo locations in Manchester. Newly remodelled hotel with longterm apartments/co-working space/café and more, draws you in with a beautiful entrance. The steel and glass solarium with a spiral fire escape on the outside look very industrial yet modern, in-between 19th century buildings. If you have a second, stop by for a coffee from another great coffee house: Foundation. And if you’re staying for longer and you need a place to work from, Whitworth Locke co-working space is free, pretty and provides a cool vibe. It’s my favourite co-working space in Manchester.
12. University of Manchester – Beyer Building
Concealed in Old Quadrangle of the University of Manchester, Beyer Building is a real hidden gem. This gothic style establishment differs from the surrounding buildings due to the ivy that adorns its walls. Depending on the season (apart from Winter), you’ll find the building wrapped with beautiful coloured leaves, which reinforce the classic image of an old school university campus. I’d say the building looks the best in Autumn. The reds, oranges and yellows emphasize the historic nature of this location.
A walkable area filled with canals, waterfront bars and green spaces, Castlefield is a perfect place for a Spring or Autumn stroll and even for an outdoor drink during Summer. I mean this one week at the turn of July and August.
Allegedly, Manchester originated in this area (you can even find Roman ruins there) and later Castlefield played a major role in the Industrial Revolution. Today this combo of red brick, steel and glass skyscrapers in the background make Castlefield a perfect photo opportunity spot.
14. St Peter’s Square
Ok, I’m adding this location specially for you, because if you’re visiting Manchester you should probably head there, but I’m personally not a big fan of this square. Located in the heart of the city, St Peter’s Square is surprisingly the most spacious area of the centre and now it mainly serves as a transfer centre. The most interesting buildings there are the Central Library and the Midland Hotel where supposedly Posh and Becks had their first date.
15. “Captain America” street
Ok, this is a special treat only for the Marvel fans. Do you remember the scenes from “Captain America – the First Avenger” when still super skinny Steve Rogers was driving in a taxi with Peggy for his procedure and later running after the bad guy who killed Doctor Erskine. They were all shot on Dale Street in Manchester’s city centre. Dale Street is very popular with film makers, often used as an old New York, and from time to time you can spot a film crew there. Apart from “Captain America”, “Peaky Blinders”, “The Crown”, “Morbius” and “Sherlock Holmes” are more famous movies and series that feature Manchester’s Dale Street. Just a heads up though: in everyday life it’s just a normal street, so nothing magical is happening there.
Hope you enjoyed my little guide to the best outdoor Instagram-worthy photo locations in Manchester.
The last piece of advice I can give you is: come in late Spring or Summer. Maybe you’ll be lucky to catch a ray of sunshine.
If you’re planning to visit Manchester and have any questions, feel free to comment, email or message me on Instagram.
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