Manchester is one of the UK’s most exciting cities, providing locals and visitors alike with an abundance of top attractions to visit. These fantastic things to see and do help make Manchester one of the must-visit cities in England.
But how accessible are Manchester’s top attractions for people with limited mobility? Are they welcoming to stair lift or wheelchair users? We have analysed and ranked 10 of Manchester’s most popular attractions to see which locations come out on top.
Read on to discover the results and discover these fantastic Manchester attractions.
The Etihad Stadium is the home ground of Premier League giants Manchester City. With the club’s massive success in recent years, the Etihad Stadium has shot to global prominence, becoming one of the best places to watch professional football in the country. For fans of Manchester City, watching a live game at the stadium could be a dream come true. The ground also offers tours of the stadium, and it’s a first-class concert venue with many of the world’s biggest stars gracing its stage.
When it comes to the most popular attractions in Manchester, the Etihad Stadium is the most accessible. Our study revealed that the attraction excels in all the categories looked at, offering must-have facilities and receiving great reviews. There is disabled access at the Etihad Stadium, and the ground provides wheelchair-accessible viewing areas, on-site disabled parking, and even sensory suites. As a result, the Etihad Stadium can boast a near-perfect accessibility score.
Learn more about the Etihad Stadium's accessibility.
READ ALSO: The most accessible attractions in Devon
At the Science and Industry Museum, you can explore 250 years of innovations and ideas that started life in Manchester and went on to change the world. The exhibits at the museum cover a variety of subjects, from journeying through the digestive system and hands-on science fun to a textiles gallery that looks at cotton and its continuing legacy.
Rachel, who is the writer behind the Out and About Mummy blog, says that the museum is certainly worth a visit if you are in Manchester: “The museum is devoted to the development of science, technology and industry with emphasis on the city’s achievements in these fields.
“Be amazed as science and history are brought to life through interactive shows, demonstrations and even some dressing up.
“My kids love the Experiment Gallery; there are loads of ‘hands-on’ things to do. There’s also a little sensory space for babies and young children, which is fab.”
Out of the most popular attractions in Manchester, the Science and Industry Museum is very accessible. It offers all the accessibility facilities the study looked at and received great reviews from visitors. Some of the facilities the museum offers are accessible toilets, parking and the option to hire a wheelchair. What’s more, the museum has step-free access to all building floors, and the lifts are wheelchair accessible.
Learn more about the Science and Industry Museum’s accessibility.
Located in Didsbury, in South Manchester, the Fletcher Moss Park & Gardens is a very popular historic park and garden, open to the public since 1915. With various paths and routes to explore, there is plenty to enjoy for garden lovers and nature enthusiasts. The main part of the garden is a walled rock garden, and there are small waterfalls that flow into a pond. With lots of rare trees and plants to see and lovely walks to go on, the Fletcher Moss Park & Gardens is a great place for the whole family to visit.
The park is very accessible, offering visitors full wheelchair access. All areas of the park are accessible, with most paths being suitable for wheelchairs, though some paths might prove more challenging than others. There are accessible toilets available and on-site disabled parking. However, there are no wheelchairs available to hire. So, if you are looking to explore the park and gardens and you have limited mobility, you might want to look for wheelchairs to hire in Manchester that you can use to explore the attraction.
Learn more about Fletcher Moss Park & Gardens accessibility.
Free to enter and open six days a week, the Manchester Art Gallery is one of the city’s premier attractions. Housing works of both international and local significance, the gallery boasts a collection of over 25,000 objects. The fine art collection is particularly impressive, with thousands of oil paintings, watercolours, drawings, sculptures, miniatures, and prints on display. There is also an impressive array of decorative arts, such as ceramics, glass, furniture, and armour. The oldest object in the gallery is an Egyptian canopic jar from 1100 BC.
The Manchester Art Gallery is a great attraction for those with disabilities to visit. Access to the Manchester Art Gallery is easy for wheelchair users and those with limited mobility, which is why the gallery received one of the best total scores in our study. Wheelchair users can access every part of the gallery, with lifts available, a ramped entrance, accessible toilets, and benches and armchairs to rest in. Due to the gallery’s location in the city centre, sadly, there is no on-site disabled parking. However, there are a few spaces on nearby George Street.
Learn more about Manchester Art Gallery’s accessibility.
READ ALSO: The most accessible attractions in London
The Manchester Museum is one of the largest university museums in the UK, and it is picturesquely located in a neo-Gothic building which was designed by renowned architect Alfred Waterhouse (1830–1905). The museum is home to around four and a half million objects from natural sciences and human cultures, and it is a great attraction to visit no matter what age you are.
If you are in a wheelchair or have limited mobility, you will be pleased to learn that the museum is very accessible. Its exhibitions and galleries are fully wheelchair accessible; there are manual wheelchairs that can be hired, and entrance is free for carers and visitors with limited mobility.
Learn more about Manchester Museum’s accessibility.
The People’s History Museum (PHM) is the national museum of democracy. Visitors will be able to learn more about how democracy developed in Britain as the museum guides you through events from the past and present, as well as looking into the future. The different exhibits explore the radical stories of people coming together to champion ideas worth fighting for and how people can make a change for the future.
The museum doesn’t have accessible parking on-site, but there are public car parks close by that have spaces for Blue Badge holders. There are accessible entrances to the museum that have ramped access, lifts on all floors, and accessible toilets located throughout the museum.
Learn more about the People’s History Museum’s accessibility.
The Whitworth is part of the University of Manchester, and it is home to an internationally important collection of more than 60,000 works of art, textiles and wallpapers. If you love art, then visiting The Whitworth is a must. Some of what is on display at the gallery spans nearly 2,000 years, and there are exhibitions that look at historic art, modern and contemporary art, textiles from around the world, and over 10,000 wall coverings.
Jane Foster runs her own blog, and she has visited The Whitworth in the past. She loved the gallery and spoke about her experience of it: “I recently had a mini trip to Manchester and was fortunate enough to visit one of my favourite art galleries, the Whitworth Art Gallery.
“I studied in Manchester in the late 80s so used to visit here often, however, I'd not been back to visit it for over 20 years and boy had it changed! I entered using the main front entrance to discover a superb entrance hall with two very impressive, stylish shops on either side selling a range of very tasteful books, carefully chosen handmade objects, jewellery, ceramics, textiles and stationery.
“The other reason I was pleased to have visited the gallery was to see two of my favourite textile designers - Lucienne Day and Barbara Brown. I used to collect fabric from the 50s and 60s and had numerous examples by both these designers. It was fabulous to be up close again to some of these and to see them presented in such a beautiful gallery. It brought back fond memories of my student days - I used to also collect Midwinter china and had the Barbara Brown coffee set shown here. Worth a visit.”
Despite finishing fifth in the accessibility list of the most popular attractions in Manchester, The Whitworth is an accessible place to visit. There are assisted toilet facilities, wheelchairs can be hired, plenty of seating areas, and step-free access to the galleries. There is no accessible parking on-site, but there is on Denmark Road, which is directly adjacent to the gallery.
Learn more about The Whitworth’s accessibility.
It doesn’t matter whether you are a football fanatic or you are looking to plan a day out, the National Football Museum offers you a great insight into the ‘Beautiful Game’. You can learn about the original laws of the game and test your skills on the interactive games at the museum.
The museum is custodian of the world’s largest public collection of football objects and archives, and there are currently over 40,000 items within the collection, with 2,500 objects on display at the National Football Museum at any one time.
The museum has automatic doors at its entrance, lifts to all floors of the attraction, accessible toilets on the ground floor and levels 1, 2 and 4, and wheelchairs that you can hire free of charge. There are no accessible parking spaces on-site, but there are more than 130 accessible parking spaces in the nearby public car parks.
Learn more about the National Football Museum’s accessibility.
One of the most aesthetically beautiful attractions in Manchester is definitely the John Rylands Research Institute and Library. Not only does the institute promote world-leading research in connection with the University of Manchester, but upon entering, the grand Victorian library has an enchanting aura about it.
Simone, a Manchester local from the blog Manchester Mummy, shared her thoughts with us about this special attraction: “Even as a native, Manchester's architecture never fails to surprise me when wandering around. One of my favourite buildings to visit in the city is John Rylands Library. With a distinct 'Hogwarts' vibe, you are instantly captivated by the Victorian Gothic architecture from the moment you enter.
“The Grade 1 listed building features the most beautiful entrance hall and staircase that leads to the Historic Reading Room, which is a must-see. With high vaulted ceilings, stained-glass windows and little alcoves that were designed for private study, it really does feel like you are stepping back in time... and like you should be on your best behaviour!
“Whether you just want a look around, are interested in one of the available exhibitions or you are a student, a trip to Manchester is not complete without a visit to this popular city centre landmark!”
The entrance to John Rylands Library is fully accessible, thanks to a modern extension that links to the historic building. There are lifts available providing access to all floors of the library, except for the Historic Entrance. There are also chairs available on all levels. The attraction isn’t as accessible as some, however, partly due to its historic nature. There is no on-site disabled parking, and the one accessible toilet is in the basement (access via a lift); the key must be obtained first from the reception desk.
Learn more about John Rylands Research Institute & Library’s accessibility.
Manchester Cathedral is the seat of the Anglican Bishop of Manchester and the city’s parish church. The original church was built in 1421, undergoing changes when it became a cathedral in 1847. It is a striking example of Gothic architecture, featuring a notable nave with impressive, vaulted ceilings, a choir adorned with stained glass windows, and a restored Lady Chapel. The cathedral is renowned for its medieval misericords, intricate woodwork, and numerous memorials and monuments.
In terms of accessibility, Manchester Cathedral is the least accessible of these major attractions. However, limited accessibility is very typical of old churches and historical buildings. While some key features, like accessible toilets and universal access, are missing, the Cathedral does provide a level entrance and level access to the nave, choir, and Fraser Chapel.
Learn more about Manchester Cathedral’s accessibility.
Looking at 10 of Manchester’s most popular attractions as recommended by Google’s ‘things to do’ in Manchester feature, we assigned a score out of 10 to each attraction based on how they performed against different accessibility criteria.
The criteria looked at were:
You can see the full findings, scores, and resources used in this Google sheet.
READ ALSO: Most accessible attractions in Yorkshire
In this guide, we have explored the accessibility of Manchester's most popular attractions, revealing the available and unavailable facilities to those with limited mobility. If you could benefit from mobility aids such as straight stairlifts and curved stair lifts, please book a free home assessment.
For more accessibility guides, data-led content, and mobility articles, make sure to visit our news page.