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Rudy's Neapolitan Pizza, Ancoats, Manchester
Photograph: Rudy’s

The 15 best things to do in Ancoats, Manchester

From restaurants and bars to art galleries, here are all the best things to see and do in Ancoats, Manchester

Rob Martin
Written by
Rob Martin

Manchester is home to many magnificent neighbourhoods, but few are as engaging and entertaining as Ancoats. The area around Cutting Room Square is a veteran of ‘coolest neighbourhoods in the world’ lists, and its range of fantastic restaurants and bustling bars do most of the leg work in explaining why. If you’re looking for something to do in Manchester, Ancoats will get the job done,

There’s more to life than food and drink, as much as we often forget it, so how does Ancoats fare on the culture and sightseeing front? Smashingly, of course, with classical music, theatre, and boutique pet treats as far as the eye can see. These are the best things to do in Ancoats, itself one of the best things to do in Manchester.

🍝 The best 
restaurants in Manchester
📍 The best things to do in Manchester
🍸 The best bars in Manchester
🏘️ The best Airbnbs in Manchester

This guide was compiled by Rob Martin, a writer and author from Manchester. At Time Out, all of our travel guides are written by local writers who know their cities inside out. For more about how we curate, see our editorial guidelines.

Best things to do in Ancoats, Manchester

Cutting Room Square
Photograph: Marketing Manchester

1. Cutting Room Square

Cutting Room Square is the beating heart of Ancoats. It does what Manchester is so good at, celebrating a proud industrial heritage while constantly looking to the future. Sit in the open air, take in the five giant copper monoliths that look out over the square, and gaze out over the foreground of the converted warehouses and St Peter’s Church. On the other side are some of the finest, award-winning places to dine – in Manchester or anywhere. Cutting Room Square’s seamless mix of culture, exquisite dining, and a rich sense of history makes it one of the coolest places in the city, let alone in Ancoats.

On the outskirts of Ancoats, over towards the Etihad Stadium, a small space with big ambitions is bringing some of the very best theatre to the city right now. Inspired by the Off West End Theatres and small producing venues which dominate the London theatre scene, Hope Mill Theatre officially opened its doors in November 2015 and has become one of the most successful and reputable independent venues in England. It’s easy to see why, as its fantastic programme never fails to deliver superb quality in an intimate space.

The Jane Eyre
Photograph: Pear PR

3. The Jane Eyre

Set up and run by two brothers who have named their venue after their mum (but no, not that one), The Jane Eyre is much more than you might expect from its description as a ‘warm and welcoming neighbourhood bar’. And it’s a whole lot more than that, being one of the finest places to eat in the city. No surprise that the menu consists of small plates, but what small plates, with some of the food on offer more than rivalling more expensive nearby restaurants. 

The Edinburgh Castle
Photograph: Rob Martin

4. The Edinburgh Castle

Since 1811, The Edinburgh Castle has been serving the good people of Ancoats with a beverage or two. These days, we can guarantee the food is a lot better than back then, but there’s still a lovely old charm about the pub that immediately feels like a relaxing step back to calmer times. Whiskey is the drink of the house, and there are many, many varieties from which to choose, but there’s a great wine and ale selection, and, as mentioned, the food is fabulous, including their delicious Sunday lunch.

Hallé St Peter’s
Photograph: Rob Martin

5. Hallé St Peter’s

Sir Charles Hallé founded his orchestra in Manchester in 1858, and since then, it has become one of the finest in the country and beyond. It was based at the Free Trade Hall, and then Bridgewater Hall, but Hallé St Peters has been the home for the orchestra since Ancoats started its rejuvenation back in 2013 when the Manchester International Festival hosted an incredible performance of ‘Macbeth’ starring Kenneth Branagh in the deconsecrated church. Now, that space and the award-winning Oglesby Centre stand at one end of Cutting Room Square, inviting you in for a concert or a cuppa.

Photograph: Rudy’s

6. Rudy’s

Still maintaining a well-earned place among the very best pizza restaurants in the country, Rudy’s has expanded from its Ancoats origins to several other sites across Greater Manchester and nationally. But the famed Ancoats venue remains, and a visit easily reveals why the brand is such a success. Sticking to their tried and tested formula of creating proper Neapolitan pizzas, the simplicity of the vegan dough, the freshness of the toppings and the warm feel from the team are enough to keep that queue heading out of the door. That, and the very reasonable prices. If Ancoats is a dining destination these days – and, who are we kidding, of course it is – then Rudy’s must be one of the main reasons.

Blossom Street Social
Photograph: Rob Martin

7. Blossom Street Social

Blossom Street Social is, as you might suspect, more than just a neighbourhood bar – it’s a big ol’ place to hang. Yes, there’s wine, beer, spirits and food, but there are also events, music and even the opportunity to shop for a lovely gift. And the food here is far from incidental – yet another reason why Ancoats is the culinary heart of Manchester right now. Look out for their weekend ‘social sessions’ too, which make the venue a one-stop shop for pretty much all you need on a good night out.

Sticks & Socks
Photograph: Sticks and Socks

8. Sticks & Socks

A wander around Ancoats will reveal that both residents and visitors love taking their four-legged besties with them. Not only are many venues in Ancoats totally cool with your dogs dropping in with you, but there’s also a store catering just to pampered pooches. With products emphasising sustainability and kindness to the planet as well as animal comfort, Sticks & Socks is more like stepping into a boutique than a pet shop. You’ll find luxurious food items, ethical dog wash, leads, collars and harnesses from recycled materials, and much more.

The Horsfall
Photograph: Rob Martin

9. The Horsfall

Part of 42nd Street, the youth mental health charity, The Horsfall is a gallery and creative space designed to encourage a connection between mental health, well-being, art and nature. Thomas Horsfall opened the Ancoats Art Museum to improve the lives of the poor people who lived in the area back in 1884. Now, exhibitions, activities and more occupy the same spot, ensuring that the Horsfall legacy lives on.

Photograph: Rob Martin

10. Elnecot

This famed neighbourhood bar and kitchen is one of those places that has helped put Ancoats on the culinary map. It’s a narrow space with an industrial aesthetic, but cosy booths and a friendly staff warm the place up to no end. And then there’s the fantastic food at Elnecot, a combination of British small plates, brunches, Sunday lunches and more. Incidentally, the name comes from the first name for Ancoats, ‘elnecot’ meaning ‘lonely cottages’; although the place is so popular, we doubt there’s any room for loneliness anymore.

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