Although its industrial history has left parts of Manchester, England, somewhat grimy and ugly, the "capital of the North" has evolved into a thriving hub thanks to recent redevelopment. It is located 30 mi/50 km east of Liverpool.

One highlight is the Lowry Centre, home to galleries and eateries. Another is the futuristic building that houses the Imperial War Museum North (a branch of the excellent London institution) on the banks of the ship canal. You'll find good shopping, especially along King Street, and perhaps the best theater outside London.

For architecture buffs, the city's Victorian buildings are unrivaled. Other sights to see include the Museum of Science and Industry, the Manchester Art Gallery, the Whitworth Art Gallery and the John Rylands Library.

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