Start your exploration in the light-filled galleries of the Manchester Art Gallery, home to one of the most important collections in the north. The Museum of Science & Industry will take up at least a couple of hours – more if you’ve got kids or you’re a science geek.
Alternatively- the People’s History Museum is a fascinating exploration of social history. You could also visit the Whitworth Art Gallery.
Manchester’s second most important art gallery- Whitworth Art Gallery- is arguably its most beautiful, following a restoration that saw the doubling of its exhibition space through the opening of its sides and back, and the construction of glass-screened promenades. Inside is a fine collection of British watercolours, the best selection of historic textiles outside London and galleries devoted to the work of artists from Dürer and Rembrandt to Lucian Freud and David Hockney.
Hop on the tram to Salford Quays, where you can explore the Imperial War Museum North or take a guided tour of the northern headquarters of the BBC; fans of Manchester United should take the tour of Old Trafford, where they’ll get to stand in the tunnel and pretend they’re players. Make dinner reservations (well in advance) for 20 Stories.
After dinner, there’s drinks at the Refuge, a choice of bars in the Northern Quarter, or even a concert at the Bridgewater Hall. Alternatively, you can always head south towards Castlefield and take in a film or a play at the superb HOME arts centre.