Manchester is a city that has seen steady growth in popularity over the past 30 years as a place to live, work and play. With massive investment programmes, it is now a stronger rival than ever to Birmingham as deserving the sobriquet of the UK’s second city.

But there is more to Manchester than the Trafford Centre and Spinningfields, great places though these are for a visit. One of the beauties of a historic city that has moved with the times is the diverse range of places to see, and little-known treasures to be uncovered. So hail a taxi in Manchester as the city has some well-kept secrets just waiting to be discovered; let’s find out more!

The Peeps

Situated close to the Northern Quarter, Ancoats is a former industrial area that went into decline in the 1960s and 70s. About 20 years ago, however, it underwent something of a revival, while still remembering its industrial past. A major part of this is reflected in the small brass peepholes that were installed in a number of old buildings by architect and artist Dan Dubowitz.

Known as “the peeps,” they quite literally give visitors a glimpse of a bygone era. There are no guides or signs, so just take a stroll around the area. You never know what you might see.

Elizabeth Gaskell’s House

The famous author of Mrs Barton and Wives and Daughters lived in one of the city’s Regency-style villas, which has been lovingly restored. Once popular in Manchester, this is one of the few survivors, and is worth a visit on that basis alone.

You can also learn all about Mrs Gaskell’s life and career, explore the period rooms, take a stroll in the gardens and relax over a cup of a tea and a cake.

Portico Library

Head for Mosely Street, and tucked away out of site above the Bank pub is Manchester’s second largest library. Entry is via a small door on Charlotte Street, and the vast gallery, under its impressive domed ceiling, is open every day, free of charge.

Pay a membership subscription, and you can also gain access to the Reading Room, with its remarkable collection of 18th century books.


Gems do not come much better hidden than this café bar come photography studio in the Green Quarter. Whether you are looking for a coffee and a baguette, an impromptu photo shoot or a quiz night featuring cocktails and cheap pizzas, you will find it at Redbank!

Christie’s Bistro

Manchester is not short of choices when it comes to restaurants and bistros, but there is a good chance that even if you are a local, you’ve never heard of Christie’s. Tucked away on the Oxford Road campus of Manchester University, within the former Christie library, this unique venue oozes atmosphere and character, and is steeped in history, with walls covered from floor to ceiling with old books and portraits of Vice-Chancellors from years gone by.

It also serves a fine range of meals and light sandwiches, so give it a try!