A guide to the popular neighbourhoods of Manchester

Manchester has long been one of the UK’s favourite cities for students. With its booming cultural scene; strong sense of multicultural diversity; and a string of modern developments appearing almost overnight, it is no wonder lively Manchester continues to be one of the best places to live in the UK for students or young professionals.

Manchester’s rich industrial heritage and architecture has captured the hearts of many creatives, foodies and entrepreneurs. A wave of independent pubs, restaurants, trendy theatres and art galleries are popping up all around the city which means there is always something to do. 

We’ve put together a guide to the most popular areas in Manchester so you can live your best student life. Let’s dive in!


The city of Manchester is currently undergoing an intense stage of development which is attracting a young population and high earning city slickers from all over the UK. At the heart of the development is iconic Deansgate, one of the most up market areas to live in central Manchester.

If you’re looking for a fancy bar crawl look no further that Deansgate Locks, a collection of converted arches housing some of the most popular bars in Manchester, including Bar Barton and BrewDog. Our favourite bars in Deansgate Locks are:

  • Atlas Bar, a rooftop bar specializing in G&Ts, with the largest offering of gins in Manchester City Centre (about 520 and counting)

  • Rain Bar, a multi-award winning bar with a great selection of beers and a waterside terrace 

  • The Liar’s Club, the best late night bar to keep the drinks flowing past bedtime

  • Revolution, a space for all occasions with five cocktail bars, a lounge and a dining area

No matter your ideal weekend plans, Deansgate will never disappoint. Some great places to visit in Deansgate are:

  • Opera House Manchester

  • Barton Arcade, a famous shopping mall in central Manchester with boutique stores and Instagram worthy coffee shops 

  • Great Northern Warehouse, an iconic building built by Great Northern Railway between 1896 and 1898, now housing restaurants, bars, a bowling alley, a casino and the Makers Market 

  • National Football Museum


Canalside Ancoats is the location of the cotton mills that earned Manchester its nickname ‘cottonopolis’. It has a close sense of community with specialist cafes, trendy co-working spaces, and independent microbreweries.

Ancoats has been voted one of the coolest areas in Manchester. This comes as no surprise as the area takes on a shape of its own with colourful street art, the Hope Mill Theatre and river facing apartments. 

Here are a few of our top places to eat and drink in Ancoats:

  • Elnecot, a trendy restaurant that is perfect for laid back dining and beers with mates

  • Edinburgh Castle, a newly renovated abandoned pub serving high end pub food and a hearty serving of history 

  • Rudy’s Neapolitan Pizza, an Italian restaurant serving what is rumoured to be the best pizza in Manchester 

  • Pollen Bakery, arguably the best sourdough and viennoiserie bakery in Manchester

  • Trove, an independent bakery and café serving legendary sourdough and picture perfect café meals

If you’re looking for something exciting to do with your friends at the weekend, set out on a scavenger hunt to find all The Peeps, a series of eyepieces made from brass that are set into the walls of the buildings around Ancoats.

Northern Quarter 

The Northern Quarter has become a popular area for young professionals who enjoy seeking out new hipster coffee shops, vintage clothing stores and record shops. Best known for its underground music scene, street art and bohemian bars, the Northern Quarter is a trendy part of Manchester well worth a visit. This is where you should go:

  • The Fitzgerald, the hidden gem of cocktail bars and the perfect date night setting

  • El Capo, said to be the best Mexican restaurant in the Northern Quarter

  • Affleck’s, the hipster’s favourite emporium and a “totem of indie commerce”

  • Piccadilly Records, an iconic record shop 

  • Manchester Craft and Design Centre, a former Victorian fish market showcasing local makers of art, jewellery, ceramics and sculptures


One of Manchester’s more relaxed neighbourhoods, Castlefield is a popular canal side area where many come to enjoy the green spaces and waterside pubs and restaurants.

Castlefield is at the heart of the booming music industry in Manchester and is home to the Castlefield bowl, an outdoor venue set along the canal which hosts some of the bets music gigs in the city. The area has become popular amongst young professionals due to its great location, famous rooftops bars, and relaxed beer gardens. Here are our top picks:

  • Dukes 92, a local favourite bar and grill with a balcony overlooking the canal 

  • Lock 91, a canalside cocktail and ales bar in a 19th century Lock Keeper’s Cottage 

  • Science and Industry Museum, a museum of bikes, aeroplanes and cars from the industrial revolution

  • Mamucium, the ruins of an ancient Roman fort 

Anyone living in Manchester is spoilt for choice when it comes to food and entertainment. There are so many great areas in Manchester to hang out in and explore with friends and housemates. 

If you’re just starting your journey as a student in the city and are looking for Manchester uni accommodation in a central location, browse our collection of housing options for the best student living in the city.