Manchester on a shoestring

A guide to visiting Manchester on a budget

We have collated a selection of information about attending the Conference on a limited budget.  Please note that the information here was correct at the time of publication (August 2019). Please check with the venues to confirm acceptance of delegate badges for any discounts avoid any disappointment.

Train transport to Manchester

  • Virgin Trains offer discounts of up to 20% off Advance ticket prices if you travel in a group of between 3-9 people.  See their group travel page for further details. Virgin Trains also have a ‘Best Fare Finder’ to help you identify the cheapest tickets for your trip at the time of enquiry (prices do change).

Transport around Manchester

There is a FreeBus which links the Manchester train stations to the city centre, shops and local businesses.  This is a ‘hop-on, hop-off’ bus which operates on a circular route. 

  • FreeBus Route 1 operates: Piccadilly Rail Station via Station Approach, Piccadilly, Portland Street, Charlotte Street, King Street, Cross Street, Market Street, St Mary’s Gate, Deansgate, Peter Street, Mount Street, Albert Square, Cross Street, King Street, York Street, New York Street, Portland Street, Chorlton Street, Aytoun Street, Auburn Street, to Piccadilly Approach.
  • FreeBus Route 2 operates: Piccadilly Rail Station via Station Approach, London Road, Fairfield Street, Whitworth Street, Whitworth Street West, Deansgate, Quay Street, New Quay Street, Irwell Street, Trinity Way, Chapel Street, New Bailey Street, Bridge Street, Deansgate, Victoria Bridge Street, Chapel Street, Victoria Street, Hunts Bank, Victoria Station Approach, Todd Street, Corporation Street, Withy Grove, Shudehill, Thomas Street, High Street, Church Street, Dale Street, Ducie Street, to Piccadilly Approach.

You can download or print a copy of the routes as a map here.


  • You can access free Wi-Fi on board the FreeBus, look for the hotspot called ‘FreeBusWifi’.  You will need to complete a registration page and agree to the terms and conditions.  You only need to do this once.
  • In buildings owned by Manchester Council, you can access ‘BusybeeMcr’ free all day.
  • On Metrolink tram services, you can access ‘Metrolink WiFi’ which is free all day.
  • There is an on-street network as well called ‘FreebeeMcr’ which is free for the first 30 minutes and then has a charge of £3 for the rest of the day.
  • Manchester Airport offers free Wi-Fi for up to 4 hours in any 24 hour period.  Connect to the ‘_FreeWiFi’ network.  Other paid for access is also available at a premium rate.  
  • Coffee shops, cafes and restaurants may also have Wi-Fi available so it is worth asking.


  • IATEFL have rooms reserved through Reservation Highway. You may find alternative accommodation completing an internet search yourself directly.

Places to eat

  • Central Library Café (within the Central Library): 2 minutes from the Conference venue; offers sandwiches, snacks and sweet treats. 10% all food and drink with a valid delegate badge (please confirm with Café before ordering).
  • Revolution cocktail bar and restaurant (Deansgate Locks, 7 minutes’ walk from the Conference venue).  Happy Hour: Sunday to Friday from 17.00-21.00, 25% food to delegates with a valid Manchester Central badge. Please confirm with Revolution before placing your order.
  • This and That Indian Café (3, Soap Street, Manchester, in the Northern Quarter) offers rice and three curries for up to £7.00.  Family run business established in 1984, all food is homemade and prepared using fresh whole spices.
  • Rudy’s (Petersfield House, Peter Street, Manchester, M2 5QJ and Ancoats, 9 Cotton Street, Ancoats, Manchester, M4 5BF) offers freshly made pizzas daily, using traditional ingredients and methods.  Walk in restaurant only, booking in advance is not possible.

Places to visit - free entry

Central Library first opened in 1934, this grade 2 listed building underwent a £50 million refurbishment in 2010. The library is home to the Henry Watson Music Library where you can compose your own music, DJ on the mixing desk and use the library’s collection of instruments to learn to play the piano or drums. Some collections will require a pre-booked appointment, please refer to the Central Library website for further details.
Opening times: Monday – Thursday 09.00-17.00, Friday – Saturday 09.00-17.00, Sunday – closed
Address: St. Peters Square, Manchester, M2 5PD

The John Rylands Library was built over 100 years ago as a gift to Manchester from John Rylands, one of Manchester’s most successful industrialists. It is in the Victorian Gothic style. The collection includes the oldest known piece of the New Testament, illuminated medieval manuscripts and a 1476 edition of Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales.
Opening times: Monday 12.00-17.00, Tuesday – Saturday 10.00-17.00, Sunday 12.00-17.00
Address: The University of Manchester, 150 Deansgate, Manchester, M3 3EH

Manchester Art Gallery hosts a collection of works in Victorian and contemporary surroundings. The gallery promotes art as a means of achieving social change. Pre-Raphaelite paintings, craft and design works and early 20th Century British art can be found here. If you are planning to visit to see a specific work, please contact the gallery first to see if it is on display.
Opening times: Monday 11.00-17.00, Tuesday – Sunday 10.00-17.00
Address: Mosley Street, Manchester, M2 3JL

Manchester Museum has collections covering Ancient Egypt and Sudan; a Vivarium; Earth Sciences (pre-historic life, rocks and minerals); money (including Greek and Roman coins); animals (with 1 million preserved animals); plants and fungi; and entomology (including insects, spiders, centipedes and crustaceans). Other collections are closed for renovation, we advise that you check nearer your visit for any particular collection you wish to visit.
Opening times: Monday – Sunday 10.00-17.00.
Address: The University of Manchester, Oxford Road, Manchester, M13 9PL

Science and Industry Museum is home to the oldest surviving passenger railway station and the world’s first railway warehouse built in 1830. The railroad proved revolutionary for Manchester’s development. There are live demonstrations of historic working equipment and participatory science shows.
Opening times: 10.00-17.00 daily. Some special exhibitions and events may incur a charge.
Address: Liverpool Road, Castlefield, Manchester, M3 4FP


The People’s History Museum is the national museum of democracy, telling the story of how Britain developed – its past, present and future. The museum provides opportunities for people to learn about, be inspired by and get involved in ideas worth fighting for: ideas such as equality, social justice, co-operation, and a fair world for all.
Opening times: Monday – Sunday 10.00-17.00
Address: Left Bank, Spinningfields, Manchester, M3 3ER


Keep checking back as we will add more information in the run-up to the Conference.