Manchester: Student City Guide

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By in Cities. Updated December 2016.

University of ManchesterThe day you leave home for university in a new town or city is both extremely exciting and nerve-racking at the same time.

Nevermind that you probably won’t know anyone beforehand, you’re probably also anxious about not knowing where to go certain everyday things. If you’re moving to Manchester it is one of the bigger cities and you’ll probably feel lost and swallowed up by a new and unfamiliar urban environment.

Even after their first year, most students still have a lot to learn about their adopted city. This applies especially to students moving out of halls to find a suitable student house. Especially seeing as Manchester has so much to offer to students.

Our new ‘Student City Guide‘ series aims to fill in the gaps your local knowledge as well as enlighten you on the best places to go. For all our guides we try to keep a typical student budget in mind.

With our quick city guides you’ll never be stuck for ideas. Most importantly, you’ll know you’re getting the best out of your student city and life at university!

(Note: Figures quoted are correct as of September 2013).

Money Matters

Examples of what students can expect to pay in Manchester:

Pint of Lager: £1.70 +
Double vodka & mixer: £2.50 +
Average Rent: £75 per week
Single bus ticket to uni: £1.80 +

Keep reading below for more detailed info on prices.

Universities and Colleges

Transport

Manchester has a well-integrated transport network, including a tram system. So travelling across the city is pretty easy.

For students getting to the universities along the Oxford Road corridor, the bus is by far the most popular option.

Getting in and out of Greater Manchester is just as easy, with 3 major train stations connecting students to their hometowns across the country.

Buses

Rumour has it that Manchester has the busiest bus route in Europe. Standing along Oxford Road you can see why, there’s literally a bus going past every minute!

The route connects Fallowfield and other popular student housing areas with the universities and right up to the city centre and main train stations.

Students are best off buying the annual bus pass with either System One, Stagecoach (UniRider) or Finglands. These allow you to travel on almost any bus in Manchester at any time, day or night.

Alternatively you can opt for a weekly pass. Finglands offer the cheapest at £8.00,  however their buses are less frequent than the student favourite ‘Magic Bus’. A ‘Magic Rider’ will set students back £8.50 a week.

The price of single tickets vary depending on the route taken and bus company. You’re looking at around £2 – £3 for most student routes.

For long-distance travel by coach or bus, many students choose to take the Megabus (budget) or National Express.

Cycling

Manchester is starting to get better with cycle lanes. One links the main student living hubs (ie.Fallowfield/Withington), the universities and the city centre. So there are a good number of students who choose to cycle into university.

However, you do need to be careful as the lane runs along the busy bus route. Just remember to be on your guard, check your brakes and wear a helmet! Unfortunately, Manchester’s got a pretty bad reputation for bike theft so it’s also wise to invest in a decent D-lock.

For local bike repairs and supplies try the Edinburgh Bicycle Cooperative at the start of the Curry Mile or the Bicycle Doctor at the end of Rusholme. The student market on Wednesdays at the UMSU usually has a few second-hand bikes for around £50.

If you’re looking online, you can get a good deal on a bike delivered to your door from Hargroves Cycles.

Trains

Manchester has three major train stations: Manchester Piccadilly, Victoria and Oxford Road. Manchester Piccadilly has a direct line to London Euston which takes just over 2 hours.

If you can, make sure you book your train ticket in advance online for big savings at First Trans Pennine Express.

For up-to-date information about public transport in Greater Manchester, have a look at the GMPTE website. Also see our guide on cheap train tickets.

Best Student Nightclubs

Student nightclubManchester is known for its music scene. The city has plenty of student type bars and clubs to cater for all tastes, as you would expect for a large city with a long music history.

There is a wide selection of drinks at varying prices, although notably cheaper than London. If you stick with the student night clubs then the prices will be cheaper.

These are our top student night club picks to suit various tastes in music.

Indie Rock

The indie scene is massive in Manchester and thus offers a wide range of music.

  • 5th Avenue – A student favourite. Great for a cheap night out of indie pop. Wednesdays are usually the cheapest with decent drinks offers.
  • 42nd Street – Similar to 5th av and another favourite student haunt on Bootle Street. Again, cheap drinks and all the latest in indie rock n’ roll.

Pop & Retro

Pop (and cheese!) is well catered for  in Manchester with all the clubs aiming to please. Many clubs offer dedicated nights to the joys of the 60s, 90s and naughties!

  • Revolution –  Along the popular night strip Deansgate Locks’ Revolution hosts some decent student nights. Pout on Monday’s is very popular with students and usually takes a ticket to get in.
  • Jabez Clegg – Now the adopted home of the legendary ‘BOP’ on Friday nights. Located opposite Manchester university’s student union.

R&B, Funky House and Hip-Hop

If you’re into these genres of music then The Printworks in Manchester city centre is the place to go.

  • Tiger Tiger – Very lavish club. Can be quite expensive but always cheaper on special student nights.
  • The Bird Cage – Just opposite the Printworks and popular with students. Puts on a great cabaret show during the week. Good night out for something a little different.

Dubstep, Drum & Bass & Techno

Warehouse project logo

The Dubstep and the electro scene in Manchester has grown a massive student following in recent years.

  • The Warehouse Project – A year round line up of critically acclaimed DJs and artists from around the world. Experience a heavy night with top music and an unbeatable atmosphere. Worth saving a few quid for.
  • Fac251 – Opened in early 2010, ‘the Factory’ offers a wide range of music across three floors. Get involved with the latest dubstep and DnB on the top floor. The bouncers have been known to be a bit heavy-handed so be careful.
  • Joshua Brooks – Opposite Fac251, this bar-cum-club plays some great music and is a bit more low-key. Bit expensive in student terms. Great venue for a birthday night out. Look out for the night called Juicy!

Rock & Live Music

From heavy metal to grunge Manchester is a great place to “rock out”.

  • Satan’s Hollow – Free bar on Tuesday and an awesome artistic interior complete with a sculpture of satan himself!
  • The Ritz – Has an impressive interior and offers the best live music and a couple of club nights. Plays a mixture of everything.

Buy advanced tickets for most of these clubs from our Fatsoma ticket rep page.

Eating out

Being one of the biggest cities in the UK, Manchester offers plenty of choice for eating out to meet any palette. Of course you’ll find all big restaurant chains like Pizza Express, Zizzi’s and Nando’s to name only a few. But if you prefer something a little different and unique to Manchester then check our top restaurant picks.

  • Trof – With one in Fallowfield and just off MMU’s campus, Trof has an inviting rustic edge, which attracts the student creative types. The tasty food is healthy and reasonably priced. Also a good venue for a few drinks out with friends.
  • Gusto – A bus ride away from Fallowfield in West Didsbury, Gusto offers some of the finest Italian food in Manchester. It has a really good atmosphere making it a good choice for a date. Get a 20% discount with their free loyalty card.
  • Curry mile – You simply cannot avoid experiencing the culinary delights of one of the many curry houses along Rusholme. A few student favourites are Lal Qila, Sangams and Lal Haweli. Most of the time you can reach a deal with the doormen to get a discount or bring in your own drinks. Good place to eat out when your parents are in town.
  • Sweet Mandarin – Recently voted the best Chinese Restaurant in the UK by Gordon Ramsey this cute eatery is one of the crowning glories of Manchester. Whilst the food is fantastic, it can show on the bill if you’re not too careful!

Entertainment

Every city has its major attractions and entertainment hot spots. Manchester is city of great heritage and a mixture of modern and retro architecture.

There are loads of places to visit along with some great shopping hot-spots and scenic parks.

It boasts a large amount of entertainment all year round and is one of the many reasons why the city attracts so many students from across the world!

  • Northern Quarter – Just off Piccadilly Gardens, the Northern Quarter is centred around Oldham street. It’s a fantastic quirky area to explore for shopping and just as good at night with plenty of live music and chilled bars. Perhaps the single biggest attraction is Affleck’s Palace, a former department store which has been turned into a multi-storey bazaar for alternative clothing and off-the-wall knickknacks. There’s an impressive fancy dress shop on the upper floor which is worth knowing about.
  • MEN arena – This is the major gig venue in the city. You can get cheaper tickets in advance online. Other popular gig venues are the Manchester Academy and the Apollo.
  • The Printworks – In the city centre this block is full of nighttime entertainment. With an Odeon cinema and an array of popular bars, restaurants and clubs.
  • Pangaea – Run twice a year by the UMSU, Pangaea is the largest post-exam student festival in the UK. Get your tickets well in advance from the UMSU box office. Big discounts for early birds!
  • Manchester Museum – For something a bit more educational, check out this free museum along Oxford road adjacent to Manchester university’s Whitworth Hall.
  • The Comedy Store – For a well deserved laugh head down to Deansgate Locks and the Comedy Store. Sunday performances are when the comedians practice their new gags and the price is something crazy like £2.
  • Seasonal Attractions – Manchester boasts one of the best Christmas markets in the UK. Starting in late November, it’s a great way to get in the Christmas spirit. Head over to Spinningfields for ice skating! Throughout the year there are lots of festivals in the parks. The student festival Park Life at Platt Fields park usually has a great line up and is always a sell out. For bonfire night, again head over to Platt Fields for a free spectacular fireworks display.

Health & Fitness

You’ll have no problem keeping fit and healthy in Manchester. There are loads of gyms which offer student discounts and trials. However the best option for students usually comes through the universities.

The Armitage and Sugden sports centres offer great deals for students. Alternatively, Fitness First is a popular student choice offering membership from around £20 a month. You can get a free one day trial here.

For swimming head to the Aquatics Centre which is right near the universities. The Olympic sized swimming pool was used during the commonwealth games and offers discounts for students.

For jogging or running there are plenty of parks and open spaces in South Manchester. For Fallowfield there is Platt Fields park and closer to the universities off Rusholme is Whitworth Park.

Student Accommodation

New section! Find and review letting agents in Manchester.

The majority of students in Manchester live to the South of the city, particularly around Fallowfield and Withington.

The most popular areas (or ‘ghettos’!) are: opposite Owen’s Park, along Mauldeth Road and Ladybarn Road behind Sainsburys.

From my experience, I would strongly recommend looking at Victoria Road. It’s in a quieter location but still close to everything you’d want as a student (opposite the Ram & Shackle student bar). The houses are spacious, the road is quiet and has its own bus stop.

For student digs, average rent can range between £55 to over £90 a week, obviously depending on location and quality of the house.

When choosing a student house in Manchester try to find one close to Wilmslow road and the main bus route into University. Check out our guide to viewing a student house.

There are a lot of students houses in Manchester so you don’t have to worry about finding somewhere to live. If you are looking for a flatshare with other people nearby then take a look at Easy Roommate.

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3 Responses to “Manchester: Student City Guide”

  1. Elisa

    24. Feb, 2014

    Helloo!
    Do students live in the city center of Manchester?

    Reply
    • Jake Butler

      24. Feb, 2014

      Hi Elisa,

      It depends really. Most people don’t live in the exact centre.

      There are a few student hubs depending on which uni you’ll be going to and what kind of atmosphere you’re after.

      A lot of Manchester Uni students tend to live in Fallowfield which has it’s reputation as a party town.

      Man Met students tend to live further into the city on Oxford Road nearer to the universities.

      I hope that helps a little bit.

      Jake.

      Reply
  2. Rosy

    23. May, 2012

    Very good post. It really helped me a lot, will be referring a lot of friends about this.

    Reply

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