Around the city: my favourite places

Every year students from all over the UK and beyond, come to study at The University of Manchester. For most students, this will be their first real opportunity to explore the city and see what makes it such a fantastic place to live, work and study. 

This year over 350 undergraduate students have enrolled at Manchester with a scholarship, thanks to the generosity of our donor community. This vital support removes barriers for students from disadvantaged backgrounds and gives them the freedom to make the most of their time in Manchester and experience student life to the fullest.

We asked two of our first-year students and scholarship recipients, Haris and Ella, to take us on a tour of their favourite places on campus and in the city. Through the photos and stories below you can find out where they love to spend time and why these places mean so much to them. 

If you studied at Manchester yourself, you’ll no doubt have many memories of your time in the city. And you might have had your own favourite places which helped make your time as a student here so special.  

If you recognise these spots or you’d like to share some of your favourite places to spend time in Manchester, please feel free to let us know in the comments.

Haris, BDS Dentistry

Haris is in his first year of study here at Manchester and is also the recipient of an undergraduate scholarship, made possible thanks to the generosity of our donor community. Below Haris has shared his favourite parts of the city, in his own words.

Image of Haris

St. Peter’s Square 

St. Peter’s Square, Manchester

I cycle through St. Peter’s Square each time I am commuting, dodging pedestrians left, right and centre whilst simultaneously hoping I don’t get flattened by the tram. A marvellous library is at the centre of it all, a great place to spend half a day browsing. As well as the library, there is also the funerary monument erected in honour of British soldiers who fell during World War I. Not to mention the Midland hotel, which I had often looked at and wondered what the huge red building was for.

The mixture of old and new architecture is definitely nice to look at, whether you’re casually walking by or rushing for the tram. It’s a good place to sit down and soak in the atmosphere and vibe of Manchester. You will always see a stream of university students going to Piccadilly, Market Street or the Arndale centre to do their shopping, so it can get quite busy. However, in the evening hours, it offers a calming seclusion whilst also benefiting from being a very public, open and safe area to relax and unwind.

Heaton Park  

Heaton Park, Manchester

Every Saturday morning at 9am, I come here for the weekly 5km Parkrun whether it’s raining, hailing or snowing. This is what I wish I could say if I still had the drive and motivation to continue doing so. Don’t get me wrong, I have been a fair few times and have thoroughly enjoyed it every time, however because I cycle to and from the University and work so often, I find I have already had the main benefits of exercise through cycling.

The reservoir in the park and the relentless uphills are just some of my favourite parts. Whether you come here to see the ducks, walk the dog or go for a jog, nothing is better than connecting back with nature. I love the fact that you can get some fresh air despite being so close to the city. It’s a good place for everyone; families, couples, friends etc. There are places to get a bite to eat, an animal area, swan boats for hire as well as Heaton Hall to explore. The wildlife, scenery and walking trails makes this a place not to miss.

Mosque McDougall Prayer Hall

Mosque McDougall Prayer Hall, Manchester

Last but definitely not least is McDougall Mosque. Situated South of the University campus, it is not only a prayer hall but a space to study. It also provides an opportunity to network with other students, from courses you’ve never even thought of, and is a place to eat the finest local cuisine.

The Islamic Society (ISOC) host their Friday socials here during term time, which are open to anyone. They also hosts weekly Qur’an classes, sports competitions and clinical examination practice for medical students. I recently took part in helping ISOC and Medology deliver interview practice for prospective medical and dental applicants, with all proceeds going to charity to help the floods in Pakistan.

We’re very blessed to have a Mosque on campus, which helps bring the community together to arrange all these events. Not only do Muslim students congregate here but people of other religions and beliefs too. Every week you’ll either meet someone new or learn something new. And that’s why I know this is the best place on campus, because it’s a place where you can grow.

Ella, LLB (Hons) Bachelor of Law 

Ella is also in her first year of study here at Manchester and is the recipient of an undergraduate scholarship, funded by our donor community. Below Ella has shared her favourite places around campus, in her own words.


The John Owens Building 

The John Owens Building, Oxford Road

One of my favourite places on the University campus is the John Owens building, the quad and the area surrounding it. It is absolutely gorgeous and I often find myself going there to sit on one of the benches and simply admire the architecture. I also sometimes come to this part of the University in my spare time to read, as in my opinion, it is one of the best places to do this. It’s very quiet and calming here so there are not many distractions, and I can read in peace.  

The John Owens building maintains its beauty on the inside as well, with stained glass windows decorating the halls. I often go to this building to visit the lovely Donor Relations Team and I am always in awe. This may take the top spot of my favourite place at the University due to its beauty and the happiness I feel when I’m there. 

Blackwell’s bookshop 

Blackwell’s bookshop, University Green

Another of my favourite places on the University campus is Blackwell’s bookshop. One of my favourite things to do in my spare time is read, so I’m always on the hunt for a new good book to read (even if I already have a few on my bookshelves that I haven’t read yet).  

I have always found bookshops a fantastic place for me to clear my mind and forget all of my assessments and deadlines, as I can easily become immersed in the atmosphere. I love how quiet and calming it is there. There is also a little cafe on the second floor, which I haven’t visited yet but it looks very quaint. It seems like the perfect place to get some hot chocolate during the wintertime and study or catch up with friends. 

Feel free to share your own favourite places in Manchester in the comments below!

11 thoughts on “Around the city: my favourite places

  1. What to see in Manchester! Why not the Roman Fort in Castlefield? Liverpool Road Station? The Cathedral? A mill or two?

  2. In 1974-1977 I was part of the delightful group studying Music. The faculty building was a cinema but now used by the University for admin I understand. Next door we have the ‘Toblerone’ student accommodation block – still there but now much more secure and safer (quite right too!). Favourite building or rather favourite haunt was the Whitworth Arms (the Wittie), next to Whitworth Park with its award winning museum. Spent many (too many?) Hours in the Wittie. Seem to remember I spent most of my 21st in there… Pint of Marston’s please , barman!

  3. Great blog and nice to see new students enjoying Manchester as I did (and continue to do!). New Islington Marina, the River Irwell, and Peel Park are defo favourites of mine.

    A note to whoever uploaded the article – the skyline photo must be at least 10 years old – defo time for an update 🙂

  4. I was a Zoology Bsc student from 1982 until 1985 at the University. I immediately found a place to admire, relax and be inspired by – the Owens University Museum on Oxford Rd, right opposite the Williams building where I spent the days being lectured and in dissection labs. The space was free entry and contained the most stunning Egyptian exhibition amongst other amazing ethnic and cultural collections on show, not to mention the incredible Taxonomic animal collection upstairs. I remember wandering the galleries in a complete absorption mood of feeling treated to this amazing space.

  5. I wonder whether current students would be interested in stories from former students on their experiences of places around the city. Your story on Haris’ mention of St Peter’s Square reminded me of that pleasant place. I was a Psychology Honours student in 1964-5 when we set up an experiment there to measure whether different classes of vehicle (bus/taxi/car etc) were more likely to give way to different pedestrians (male/female, young/old, etc). We set up a park bench as an observation post. But one student team decided to make themselves less conspicuous as observers by pretending to read a newspaper (The Guardian??) while observing through a hole in the paper. Regretably, their device was ‘sprung’ by the police, who became suspicious – the observation post was opposite the Midland Bank branch.

    1. Hi Don, thank you for your comment. We’ve shared your comments and others with our students who helped work on this blog, and I’m sure they’ll be interested to read your stories and memories!

  6. What great photos and I do thank Haris and Ella for sharing. My favourite was the the John Owens building as it is a view I can recall from memory. Of course I remember St Peters Square as well but could not have told you that was the picture without the caption to confirm. I have heard of Heaton Park and am pretty sure I would have walked past at some point in my wanderings. Alas the passage of time and limited memory capacity cannot confirm for sure. A lovely photo nonetheless. Now we come to the big surprise as I ask what happened to Haigh and Hochland? (Not sure of the spelling here 40 years on!) In my undergraduate days of 1980 to 1983 H&H had a shop in a precinct near a bridge over Oxford Road to serve UoM and a further branch somewhere near UMIST all in the days before the big merger of course. If I recall correctly Blackwell’s was the University of Oxford’s bookshop “back in the day”. Great to visit this web site and reminisce a little as I recall fond memories of UoM.

  7. Interesting that Haris listed Heaton Park. In our courting days when we were saving to get married and could no longer afford theatres, cinemas, dance halls, Joan and I used to visit Heaton Park after work in the evening. It was so pleasant that time escaped us and we had to climb over the wall because the gates had been long closed.
    I am talking about the early 1950’s after I graduated BScTech (Hons) 1950. We married 1953 and enjoyed a wonderful 67 years.

  8. The photo of the Owens building prompted me to recall Caff of the late 1950s where I spent many hours with fellow students from different faculties. Gone, I suppose!

  9. I’ve always lived in Manchester so it was great to do my degree in my home city as a ‘mature’ student. Manchester has so much to offer – if you love music like I do, there’s plenty of it. I play piano at Central Library in the incredible music library. The parks are amazing; my wife and I love Fletcher Moss and Stenner Woods. The old buildings like the Royal Exchange, Town Hall and Midland Hotel are beautiful. A previous post mentioned Haigh and Hochland bookshop – I knew Ernest Hochland well, he was a great man. Sadly the business was taken over, but his name should never be forgotten, he served so many students. You can never be bored in Manchester! !

  10. I was an Erasmus student in Manchester in 2007. I loved being in the city and regularly come back to explore what has changed and what has stayed the same. Back then I lived in Withington, which had a small town vibe but was still conveniently close to the city centre and its night life, and I still think it’s the best district of Manchester. I also loved to stroll around the canals in Castlefield on a Sunday, it was always really quiet there at that time of the week.

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