Manchester Starting Uni Student-made

Five Places to Explore During Your First Week in Manchester

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Arndale Shopping Centre

I can almost guarantee that you’ll forget something when you first arrive in Manchester, and I can also almost guarantee that the Arndale Centre will have it. It’s a maze of endless shops and places to eat, and two years later I still haven’t mastered its geography. Stores such Wilko, TK Maxx, and Argos are great for essential homeware, while services such as currency converters and mobile phone providers are also available. 

There are also plenty of shops stocking clothes, books, toiletries, etc, as well as a food market with various street food vendors and chain restaurants. Head here after unpacking to pick up any essentials and grab something to eat. 


A large proportion of students live in Fallowfield during their first year, making it a social hub during freshers. During your first week, head to bars such as 256, Nest, and The Friendship Inn to meet new people and gain a sense of the student culture of the area, or grab a meal with your new flatmates at HAUS, Dream Wok or Nando’s. 

If you’re living in the area it’s also worth getting to know where all your local amenities are, such as the massive Sainsburys, or Home Bargains at Fallowfield Retail Park. Platt Fields Park is also a vast green space popular with students, and the weather will hopefully be good enough during freshers to make the most of it!


Now that you’ve settled into your accommodation, purchased the essentials, and met some friends, you can begin to explore the area where you’ll be studying. If you have your timetable, it’s worth visiting your buildings and familiarising yourself with how to get to them before the term starts, but if not it’s still useful to get your bearings.

Check out the main library, AGLC, and the Student’s Union, and take photographs in the beautiful Old Quad. I spent an afternoon wandering down Oxford Road with my flatmates during freshers, and it really eased all of our nerves and sparked some excitement about the term ahead. 

The Northern Quarter

One of my favourite aspects of Manchester is its creativity and individuality, and the city’s Northern Quarter is the best example of this. Must-visits include Affleck’s Palace for hours of shopping for posters, records, and vintage clothes, as well as restaurants such as Vurger Co., Purezza, or Salt and Pepper for amazing food. Venues, such as Night and Day, are where you will get your live music fix.

The streets are lined with cool shops, street art, and music references, and the area is always full of creatives whether shopping during the day or drinking in the evening. 


Now that you’ve discovered the city centre, take a bus just beyond Fallowfield to Withington, a suburb full of nice cafes, shops, and bars. It makes a great alternative to going out in the city centre as bars, such as Fuel and Southside, offer great drinks deals and a really nice vibe, while XLR is a popular student club. 

During the day Withington has some cute independent shops, a library, swimming baths, and some great cafes. One of my favourites is Café Blah, which is retro-inspired and offers free film nights on Thursdays.  There’s even a fully-vegan dessert parlour! 

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