10 of the best places for people watching in Manchester
Salford Quays

Manchester is a great city for people watching all manner of folks, from early morning commuters to late night revellers.

If you fancy sitting back with a hot coffee or a cold beer and watching the world unfold before you, here are ten great spots to do just that.

Gorilla

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Grab a seat by the huge glass windows at this industrial-chic bar, restaurant and club under the railway tracks. It’s a great spot to watch the hustle and bustle of Whitworth Street West, including the lengthy queues for gigs at The Ritz over the road.

54-56 Whitworth Street West, M1 5WW – thisisgorilla.com

The Piccadilly Tap

You see all walks of life at train stations, regardless of the day or time. For a great view of the comings and goings at Manchester’s main station, check out the little outdoor seating area a stone’s throw away at The Piccadilly Tap. You can try beers from top brewers in the UK and abroad, too, and even pick up a bottle to take away for your journey home.

Gateway House, Piccadilly Station, Station Approach, M1 2GH – piccadillytap.com

The Refuge at The Palace Hotel

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There are plenty of nooks to people watch from at newly-opened The Refuge, with a large restaurant space, a winter atrium and a cosy den with pool and table football, as well as a 40 foot granite bar. From business meetings and lunch dates to shoppers grabbing a coffee or cocktail, there’s plenty going here throughout the day and night.

The Palace Hotel, Oxford Street, M60 7HA – refugemcr.co.uk

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El Gato Negro

The main first floor dining room at this elegant bar and tapas restaurant features floor-to-ceiling windows, offering a great view of swanky King Street. It’s great for people-watching inside – we spotted the cast of Cold Feet enjoying drinks there on our last visit – or you can grab a gin and tonic and check out the outdoor terrace to watch the passers by ambling along this luxurious shopping street.

52 King Street, M2 4LY – elgatonegrotapas.com

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The Quays

The Quays in Salford offers wonderful views of The Lowry building, the large Plaza, the terraced areas down to the canal, the Lifting Footbridge leading to Trafford Wharfside and the Imperial War Museum North, as well as MediaCityUK. You might even spot a celeb or two heading to the TV studios. There are plenty of places to eat and drink, or just grab a takeaway coffee and take advantage of the waterside views.

The Quays – thequays.org.uk

Grindsmith

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As well as serving some of the best coffee in Manchester, Grindsmith is a people watching paradise, overlooking busy Deansgate – and the Church of Scientology. It’s a good spot for working away from the office too, so take your laptop and enjoy a seasonal coffee and a sweet treat while catching up on emails and watching the world go by.

231-233 Deansgate, M3 4EN – grindsmith.com

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Salvi’s Mozzarella Bar

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The Corn Exchange is stuffed food of food and drink options, but the al fresco seating outside Salvi’s Mozzarella Bar offers an unrivalled view of shoppers and passers by in in Exchange Square.

22b, The Corn Exchange, Corporation Street, M4 3TR – salvismanchester.co.uk

The Alchemist Spinningfields

With a heated, canopied year-round terrace with enough space for 100 drinkers, diners and poseurs, The Alchemist offers a great peek at Spinningfields life. Whether you’re after a lazy brunch, a selection of Tapetisers to share, or a crazy cocktail from a foaming Bubblebath to a Dead Red Zombie, take a seat on one of the chic white benches and enjoy watching the crowds.

3 Hardman Street, M3 3HF – thealchemist.uk.com

Velvet on Canal Street

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Vibrant Canal Street is a great spot for people watching, whether it’s a sunny afternoon spent observing the crowds going by or an evening amidst the drinkers, clubbers and hen parties. Independent boutique hotel, bar and restaurant Velvet offers a prime spot in the heart of the Gay Village, with a canal-side outdoor seating area, open from midday in the summer months.

2 Canal Street, M1 3HE – velvetmanchester.com

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Caffe Grande by Piccolino


Caffe Grande serves breakfast, brunch, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner until late, and the bustling alfresco terrace overlooks busy Albert Square – perfect for a relaxing coffee or an alfresco lunch from the pizzeria or pasta bar while you watch the crowds.

8 Clarence St, M2 4DW – individualrestaurants.com/piccolino

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Main photo: isit_ric / Flickr / CC