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The Quays covers the four areas of Salford Quays, Trafford Wharf, Old Trafford and Trafford Centre to the west of Manchester city centre.


Salford Quays

Manchester is 40 miles inland, but became a major seaport at the beginning of the 20th century when the Manchester Ship Canal enabled ocean-going vessels to sail beyond the Mersey to reach Manchester docks. The canal remains in use but is too small for present-day container ships, so the docks declined and became derelict, and the whole city west end was a polluted brownfield eyesore. A bold regeneration scheme was launched in 1986, which converted the area into a buzzing modern district with major attractions and striking architecture. It must rank as the most successful such regeneration in the UK to date, a testament to what can be achieved with vision, entrepreneurial dynamism, and lots of investment (subtle hint there to the UK government). "The Quays" span the River Irwell: the north bank is in the separate City of Salford and its attractions are the Lowry gallery, theatre and retail centre, and Media City with the BBC studios. The south bank is in Trafford in the City of Manchester, with the ITV studios, Imperial War Museum North, Manchester United and Lancashire county cricket ground.

In the 21st century a large retail and leisure complex has grown up at Trafford Centre, which is anything but central at the western edge of the city next to the M60. This is a separate development two miles from the Quays, but there's lots to do there, and in 2020 new transport links connected it better to the Quays, so it's described on this page.

See Salford for other parts of that city, which takes in a triangle of land stretching out to country villages.

Get in


By tram

Map of the Manchester Metrolink
Map of Manchester/The Quays

Metrolink trams (orange and light blue lines) take 20 min from Manchester Piccadilly via St Peter's Square, Deansgate and Cornbrook to Salford Quays and MediaCityUK, with the blue line continuing to Eccles. The Quays and Eccles are in Fare Zone 2 so a single journey from the city centre is £2.80; trams run every 10 min 6 AM-midnight.

Eastbound, these lines continue through Piccadilly to Ashton-under-Lyne. Change at one of the central stops for trams to Old Trafford, Stretford and Altrincham; to East Didsbury; to Wythenshawe and Manchester Airport; and via Victoria to Bury and to Chadderton, Oldham and Rochdale.

A new tram line opened in April 2020 from the city centre to the Imperial War Museum North, Old Trafford and the Trafford Centre.

By bus


Buses to this area have mostly been axed in favour of the tram. Those that still run go south of the city centre, handy for the University Quarter but not for Piccadilly or Victoria.

By train


Trains are convenient for central Salford and for Trafford Park, but the stations are a mile or so from Old Trafford and the Quays. The special matchday trains direct to Man United stadium were axed in 2018.

By car


Find your way onto the M60 orbital motorway. Exit at junction 9 for Old Trafford, junction 10 for Trafford Centre, and junction 11 for the M602 spur into Salford Quays.


Imperial War Museum North
Going to Work (1943) is one L. S. Lowry's most famous paintings and is available for public viewing in The Lowry.
  • Modern architecture: The area is full of boldly-designed buildings, including the Lift Bridge spanning the River Irwell between The Lowry on Salford Quays and the Imperial War Museum North on Trafford Wharf.
  • 1 Imperial War Museum North, Trafford Wharf Rd, Stretford M17 1TZ. Daily 10AM-5PM. While the IWM in London contains tanks, guns, planes and uniforms, the North museum is focused on the social impacts of war, with less military hardware on display. Free. Imperial War Museum North (Q1393304) on Wikidata Imperial War Museum North on Wikipedia
  • 2 The Lowry, Pier 8, The Quays, Salford M50 3AZ, +44 343 208 6000. Su-F 11AM-5PM, Sa 10AM-5PM. This award-winning modern building contains two theatres and a large art gallery, with many works by L.S. Lowry (1887-1976). When he was 22 his family moved from a leafy suburb to Pendlebury, an industrial district of Salford; he detested but then became fascinated by its landscape. Initially he tried to paint in the Impressionist style but the results were gloomy, so he took to using a flake-white ground, and populated the scenes with his characteristic "matchstick men". He also secretly painted the disturbing "marionette" works, only found after his death, and only displayed on request. Gallery is free. The Lowry (Q3521692) on Wikidata The Lowry on Wikipedia


Old Trafford football stadium
  • Go to the theatre at The Lowry, details above.
  • Watch football at 1 Manchester United FC, Old Trafford, Sir Matt Busby Way, Stretford M16 0RA, +44 161 676 7770. United plays in the Premier League, England's top tier. The stadium has a capacity of 75,000, and sells out against top-calibre opposition, such as the other big names in English football, and for European tournaments, with matches against Liverpool being taken the most seriously by fans. You should have little trouble getting tickets for lower-ranked opposition, from either the club's official website or the Ticketing Office. The women's team play in the Women's Super League, their top tier, with home games at Leigh Sporting Village near Wigan. In 2022 Old Trafford hosted the opening game of the UEFA Women's Euro Finals, and the opening game and finals of the Rugby League World Cup, both tournaments postponed from 2021. Manchester United F.C. (Q18656) on Wikidata Manchester United F.C. on Wikipedia
  • Manchester United Museum & Tour, +44 161 868 8000. M-Sa 9:30AM-5PM, Su 10AM-4PM, closed matchdays. Tour of the stadium facilities, plus museum of the club's history from its 1878 founding as Newton Heath, through the managerial eras of Busby and Ferguson, and a glittering cast of players. Exit via the gift shop: the club merchandising Megastore is within the east stand. Standard tour adult £25, under-16 £15.
  • Watch cricket at 2 Lancashire County Cricket Club, Emirates Old Trafford, Stretford M16 0PX (Tram to Old Trafford). Lancashire CCC were promoted in 2019 and now play in Division One of the County Championship. Test matches (5-day internationals) are also played here. Also here are Manchester Originals men's and women's teams playing in The Hundred short game. The stadium itself is worth a look; rebuilt by 2017 it has a capacity of 19-26,000, boosted to 50,000 for rock concerts. It also serves as one of England's home venues in international cricket. Lancashire County Cricket Club (Q2725657) on Wikidata Lancashire County Cricket Club on Wikipedia
  • 3 MediaCityUK. Has TV studios that you can visit. MediaCityUK (Q6805379) on Wikidata MediaCityUK on Wikipedia
    • BBC has tours daily from 10:30AM-3PM, book online. Tours take 90 min, adult £13, child £9. There's also a CBBC tour for children.
    • ITV has the Coronation Street tour, Sa Su 10AM-4PM but only when the set isn't in use for recording. Adult £32, online booking essential.
  • 4 Trafford Centre is a large leisure and retail park by junction 10 of M60, five miles west of the city centre. Attractions include:
    • 5 Chill Factore, +44 161 749 2222. Ski on a 180-m artificial snow slope for skiing and snowboarding. Chill Factore (Q5098999) on Wikidata Chill Factore on Wikipedia
    • iFLY. Not quite skydiving, as you float in a wind tunnel with no parachutes involved. iFLY (Q64767105) on Wikidata iFLY on Wikipedia
    • Trafford Golf Centre. Golf at driving range.
    • Sea Life Aquarium. Part of Merlin Entertainments, which also runs the Blackpool Tower and Madame Tussaud's. It has a large range of habitats and creatures.
    • Legoland Discovery Centre. Smaller than the Legoland theme parks. It is aimed at children aged 3–10, and even more surely at their parents' wallets.
Trafford Centre has four budget hotels and lots of eating places.


  • Lowry Outlet Mall is next to The Lowry theatre and gallery.
  • Trafford Centre: see above for this large leisure and retail park.


  • A dozen chain outlets around the Quays and Media City, including Cafe Rouge, Pizza Express, Nando's and Prezzo.
  • The Lowry and Imperial War Museum North both have good cafes with views.
  • At the match: you are permitted to bring your own food, but not alcohol, including any large amounts concealed within your bloodstream. Snacks are available within the stadium. Man Utd's "Red Cafe" is open daily 9AM-4PM not on home matchdays, when it's reserved for corporate schmoozing.
  • The traditional post-match meal is a fearsome curry somewhere along Rusholme's "curry mile", which is in the University quarter a mile or so east.


The Lowry
  • Lime, Lowry Outlet Mall, Salford Quays M50 3AG (next to Lowry Gallery), +44 161 869 0440, . Su-W 11AM-11:30PM, Th-Sa 11AM-1AM. Lively bar and restaurant on the square outside the Gallery.
  • Lots more on the Quays, eg Cafe Rouge, Craftbrew, The Botanist, and Dockyard.
  • At the match: Alcohol is not permitted in the football or cricket grounds, and will be confiscated by stewards. Plenty of bars and cafes in the nearby streets.


See also Salford and Castlefield pages for other nearby accommodation.
  • 1 Holiday Inn Express Salford Quays, Waterfront Quay, Salford Quays M50 3XW, +44 871 902 1623, . Comfortable, clean hotel though rooms are small. B&B double £90.
  • There's another Holiday Inn in Media City. Other budget choices are the Ibis, the Marriott and Travelodge all along Trafford Road, and the Premier Inn on Ontario Basin with another in Media City.
  • 2 Copthorne Hotel, Clippers Quay, Salford Quays M50 3SN, +44 161 873 7321, fax: +44 161 873 7318, . Four star hotel. Good service, decent sized bedrooms. Free parking. B&B double £130.
  • 3 Trafford Hall Hotel, 23 Talbot Road, Old Trafford M16 0PE, +44 161 848 7791. Great location near Old Trafford football ground on transport routes into the city, gets booked out for big matches. Tatty hotel which is halfway through a much needed refurbishment. B&B double £60.
  • Hilton Garden Inn[dead link] is built into the cricket ground, and the best rooms have a view of the pitch.
  • Trafford Centre at junction 10 of the M60 has no less than three Premier Inns and a Holiday Inn Express.

Routes through The Quays
SaleStretford  SW  NE  Castlefield-PetersfieldSpinningfields-Albert Square

This district travel guide to The Quays is a usable article. It has information for getting in as well as some complete entries for restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.