Some might argue that these days Manchester is second only to London when it comes to a buzzing shopping and restaurant scene. This makes it the perfect place to go for a city break with plenty of bargain hunting and eating on the agenda. There’s always something new here, from pop-ups to vintage clothes stalls or one-off events. Take a look at a few of our recommendations to fire up your enthusiasm for a trip to marvellous Manchester.

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Shop for vintage bargains

Victoria says: “Manchester has a fantastic assortment of stores, from luxury through high-street to vintage. The city is lucky enough to have its own vintage hub in the Northern Quarter with an amazing selection of stores and cafes. One of my favourite places to seek out a bargain is inside Afflecks Palace , where a large selection of alternative stalls sell some amazing vintage garments – you can always come away with a bargain.

Also, a little walk away on Oldham Street, is Retro Rehab, a gorgeous little boutique that sells the most beautiful retro garments for the vintage lover. After you have done your shopping, you can then settle down at Home Sweet Home or Teacup nearby and enjoy a hot chocolate. It’s such a lovely way to spend the afternoon.”

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Francesca also loves Afflecks: “One of my favourite places to shop in Manchester has to be the famous Afflecks Palace. Afflecks is one of the most well-known hot spots in Manchester. It’s mostly known for its unique styles and some may say kooky stores and boutiques. It consists of 4 floors of many different shops that sell things such as clothing, jewellery, hair and beauty products, music and even fancy dress. I love this place because the atmosphere is so friendly and you can just be yourself there. It’s so great to have a place as different as this pretty much on my doorstep because it gives so much uniqueness to so many different people.”

Seek out some culinary delights

If you love a touch of authenticity with your tapas then seek out El Rincon de Rafa at 244 Deansgate. This is a great option for a night out with friends, with an extensive menu of choices to suit everyone and plenty of chatter all around from enthusiastic patrons.

For a quieter, more romantic atmosphere, try the Grill on the Alley at 5 Ridgefield. Here you can expect subdued elegance, soft lighting and a cracking steak, with a menu featuring everything from Wagyu fillet to grilled lobster. They also do a great line in cocktails with classics like a Pina Colada sitting alongside a Rosewater Collins and an orange and cinnamon Manhattan.

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If you’re looking for something a bit out of the ordinary then why not try the Australasia? It bills itself as ‘a stylish but laid back slice of modern Australian life, down under in Manchester’. With a menu inspired by a blend of Pacific Rim, European and Japanese influences, this is a truly unique dining experience for this side of the Northern Hemisphere. Sample the delicate flavours of gado gado salad or just plain gorge yourself on a cannon of lamb, Japanese breadcrumbs and miso mustard with plum wonton – sigh – foodie heaven.

If you’d like the chance to check out all the great shops and restaurants in Manchester and stay at a great city centre hotel, then why not enter our competition to win a one night stay and dinner for two at the Thistle Manchester City Centre

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