Manchester is a vibrant city with tonnes of new areas to get to know. As a student, it’s likely that you’ll be living in the South of the city, so we’ve written a go-to guide for exploring the best student areas.
Starting with the most well-known student suburb, Fallowfield is youthful and endearing in its more budget feel (for example, Squirrels bar). The suburb is well served for evening activities, with popular bars including Nest, Friendship Inn, and 256, which even transforms into a slightly confusing club after 11 pm. New Zealand Wines is also a student favourite for that last-minute drinks run before pres.
Haus is one of our Fallowfield favourites here at The Mancunion. The café bar has a great brunch menu, drinks deals, and pizza made onsite, as well as live jazz on Saturday nights or funk and soul on Fridays – both have free entry. If you’re wanting something quicker, though probably almost as expensive, Big Sainsbury’s in Fallowfield is also somewhat iconic to the area!
In terms of green spaces, you couldn’t miss out on Platt Fields Park – whenever the sun comes out the hill is sure to be packed with students drinking and barbecuing. If you’d rather be more mindful than just hitting the drinks, there are the recently installed Bee Bikes nearby which can be ridden for just 10p per minute. There’s also a Platt Fields Park Run on a Saturday morning for anyone especially inclined towards the great outdoors.
Withington is like Fallowfield’s cooler older sibling. The district is full of colour with its “Withington Walls” project: a community street art initiative which has commissioned artists to add designs to the area’s shutters and walls. The project’s website has a more in-depth guide to the artists featured. Taking a walk down Wilmslow Road is the best way to brighten up your day with some urban artwork.
Withington is a great option for those wanting a good night out that doesn’t break the bank or take an hour to get to. Underground club XLR has events on most nights of the week in a range of genres, from garage and drum and bass to techno and house – tickets can be bought for as little as £4. There are plenty of options for more casual drinks, with Southside Tequila Bar a student favourite (happy hour runs from 9-11 pm every day), and Fuel sorting you out with IPAs and the occasional live music session.
Fuel also exemplifies the great brunch options on offer in the suburb for when you’re looking for a daytime activity – the café bar is 100% vegetarian. Next-door neighbour Toast is also popular with students, and their friendly atmosphere accompanies a wide range of classic brunch options. Herbivorous rounds up the best food in Withington, a vegan restaurant and bar which also has a location in Hatch, just up Oxford Road from UoM’s main campus.
Although further away from central Manchester than the first two locations on this list, East Didsbury is still a popular place to live amongst older students and recent graduates. The district certainly has a more upmarket feel and is well connected to the rest of the city by both bus and tram. Many students choose to make the journey to the local Aldi in a bid to save some money on food shopping, and there’s a wide selection of charity shops for those wanting some cheap fashion finds.
East Didsbury also has excellent green spaces, the first being Didsbury Park, a popular spot with dog walkers at the heart of the suburb. Walking ten minutes down Wilmslow Road will get you to the larger park on offer, Fletcher Moss. Fletcher Moss contains a café, botanical gardens, a rockery, and large fields which border the River Mersey, making it the perfect escape from city life. East Didsbury is well served by supermarkets, so you could even take a picnic and make the most of some rare Manchester sunshine.
One of our favourite hidden gems in East Didsbury is The Art of Tea, a quaint independent café just off the main road which serves local produce, hot drinks, and alcohol. The real treat, however, is the adjoining bookshop at the back end of the café, which has floor-to-ceiling shelves of second-hand books – if you enjoy the smell of old books then this place is like heaven. The cafe’s website even advertises live music, proving once again that Manchester has a great array of independent venues.
West Didsbury isn’t exactly a student hub; however, it’s made our list as an option for somewhere to visit nearby the other spots. The area feels more grown-up than the rest, and this feeling is echoed by stylish bars such as FOLK and Volta. There’s also a brilliant, award-winning pizza restaurant called Proove, which is a must-visit when with friends or family.
West Didsbury equally fully embraces cafe culture. One of The Mancunion‘s long-term favourites is Good Time Games – you can read our review here – where you can order food and drinks whilst playing an assortment of board games. Another innovative spot is Kiosk, a café which sells cakes and pastries alongside its own coffee beans from a hatch as wide as a single window (there is additional outdoor seating). This café is slightly further away on Lapwing Lane from the main West Didsbury high street on Burton Road, but it’s definitely worth having a walk around these pretty suburbs to see what you can find.
Overall, our advice would be to get out there and explore your city. Even if you’re a student living in another area of Manchester, the suburbs we’ve covered are all full of interesting places to try and are only a good walk or a brief bus journey away. Manchester is packed full of independent venues, free events and innovative new businesses, so be sure to make the most of living in such an exciting urban environment.