Mary Ann Issac
A quick guide to Oxford Road, Manchester
Updated: Aug 29, 2020
The walk down Oxford road is my absolute favourite thing to do in Manchester. If you are here during term time (September to May, minus Easter & Christmas break), this road will be buzzing with activity. Manchester is a student city, and Oxford road is home to all three schools, so it is best to come here during term.
I spent a lonely Christmas break in my halls, and I have to tell you, stepping out was like going into a ghost town! It was absolutely deserted, and many of the smaller shops (grocery) were closed, overall, kind of odd and if it is late at night, quite scary to be out on your own!
I was surprised to know that it is the busiest bus route in Europe! Now, as an Indian, I found that extremely surprising, because the busiest bus route in Europe, was not half as busy as a regular street in India!
But I was happy to call such a bustling street my home for three years.
Oxford Road has more to it than its students and schools, and here's a quick look at everything there is to do!
1. Whitworth Art Gallery
The Whitworth Art gallery has on display historic fine art, modern contemporary art, prints, a beautiful textile collection, art on textiles, and so much more! It is part of the University of Manchester.
Check out my detailed guide to Manchester!
My Offbeat guide to Manchester has all the things that you wouldn't find on a typical list of things to do!
Thinking of shopping in Manchester-this is the ONLY shopping guide you need!
If you want a guide to London that doesn't feature all the same things, read my Offbeat guide to London!
2. Manchester Museum
This museum too, is part of the University of Manchester. The museum offers guided tours every day. There are tours in English, Spanish, Italian, and Mandarin!
The museum has collections of fossils, a natural history collection, and even a vivarium, in which the most noted species is of the Costa Rican frog. They are also responsible for captive breeding programmes of some of the country’s critically endangered species.
3. Palace Theatre
The Palace theatre has been around since 1891, and was all bombed during the 2nd World War (in 1940). It is still a popular venue for touring productions that come to Manchester.
4. Holy Name Church
A beautiful church with an even beautiful choir! I’ve attended mass here on so many occasions over my 3 years at University. It is open all day long for people to go in, so I would stop by a few times a week especially when I needed some calm and quiet. It was almost like a vacuum, when compared to the busy and noisy street outside, full of students rushing in between classes, and buses whizzing past. After I had my few minutes inside, I always felt a lot better. It was built between 1869-71, and the architecture reflects that of a medieval church.Do stop by for a few minutes during mass to listen to the lovely choir, else, stop by at any time, to admire the architecture.
5. Go on a heritage tour of the University of Manchester!
For someone who loves architecture, a trip to Manchester is not complete without touring the historic buildings of the University of Manchester. Most of the University’s buildings were built in the late 1800s, and as expected, are beautifully elaborate in its architecture as well.
6. Whitworth Hall
One of the most spectacular buildings of the university. This is where graduation ceremonies are hosted. The courtyard of Whitworth Hall is the one place you have to bring your camera to. The main building is host to the most beautiful vertical garden of sorts. It is green during spring and summer, orange during autumn, and finally bare with only the stems of the creepers during the snow covered winter. It is a pity I never went there with a camera to capture it every season!
7. John Rylands Library
I have spent many a days cramming for my exams in here. I fell in love with the John Rylands library the first time I entered it! Its splendour is sen even as you walk up to the building. It is similar architecture to the Town Hall. The library is home to many rare prints. If you are thinking of spending a lot of time inside, I highly suggest you bring a cardigan along, because it is freezing in some parts of the library. I always liked to find myself a beautiful corner of the library to sit in- because when I end up day dreaming it was nice to stare at something beautiful!
John Owens building, The Chancellor’s Hotel, The Beyer Building, are other buildings worth a visit.
8. Shop for second hand books
During term time, almost every day that the weather is good, there is a book stall set up near University place, where you can find a wide range of second hand books on sale at unbeatable prices! I’ve bought a few books from here during my time in Manchester, and I still have them! Most tourists don’t know about it, because it is in the heart of the University area, so, take a walk down Oxford road, admire all the heritage buildings of the University of Manchester, and keep an eye out for the book stall-you won’t miss it.
9. Pub Crawl
There are so many bars on Oxford Road, which makes a pub crawl a lot of fun!
10. Restaurants & Cafes
There are just as many restaurants and cafes as well. You could also stop for a thick milkshake at Archies (a favourite of mine during Uni days!)
11. Walk through the curry mile
Oxford Road leads to the 'Curry mile' which is a stretch of the road that is lined with Indian and Pakistani restaurants, with a few Lebanese restaurants, and hookah bars thrown in to the mix. There is a large South Asian grocery store, where I used to go to buy my Indian condiments, Indian clothing stores, and a salon.
A walk down the curry mile makes you feel like you are in a different world, as the sounds, feel, and look of the street suddenly changes from all British to a south asian settlement with remnants of England here and there.