So it is no surprise that the teams’ iconic home stadium, Old Trafford, and the Manchester United Tour which is held there, is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Manchester.
Where is Old Trafford?
Old Trafford is a suburb south-west of Manchester city centre.
The Old Trafford football stadium (home to Manchester United) should not be confused with the Old Trafford cricket stadium (sometimes called Emirates Old Trafford). The cricket ground is a ten-minute walk away from the world-famous football stadium.
The stadium tour is called the Old Trafford tour or the Manchester United tour – they are the same tour at the same place.
How to visit Old Trafford?
The easiest way to get to Old Trafford football stadium is to catch the tram on the Metrolink system from Manchester city centre to Old Trafford tram stop.
It is then a signposted, ten-minute walk in a straight line (past Old Trafford cricket ground) to the football stadium.
You will need a zone 1 and 2 ticket if travelling to and from the city centre. Tickets can be bought from machines on the platforms.
Alternatively, Old Trafford is a well-signposted, half an hour drive from Manchester city centre. There is ample parking available at the stadium.
The Old Trafford train stop is only used on match days so cannot be used to access your tour.
Or you can catch a bus to Old Trafford. Check out the transport guide for Greater Manchester for up to date routes and timetables.
Old Trafford Tour
What is the Manchester United Stadium Tour?
Old Trafford stadium is the biggest club football stadium in the United Kingdom outside the national Wembley stadium in London.
Old Trafford capacity is a mind-boggling 76,000 people!
The historic stadium has been Manchester United’s home ground since 1909 though it has been refurbished, updated and extended over the years. It was extensively rebuilt in the late 1940s and 1950s as a result of significant bomb damage during World War Two.
The Manchester United stadium tour lasts for approximately 80 minutes and takes you to different sites and viewpoints around and inside the stadium.
You will be part of an escorted group with a tour guide. It is not self-guided.
Manchester United Tour tickets
Old Trafford tour tickets are available online in advance but there are no tours available on match days.
Tours run daily at ten-minute intervals and you will need to choose a date and a time slot for your visit.
The tours sell out quickly for weekends and peak season days.
You can choose to upgrade your tour to have an ex-Manchester United player as your tour guide or combine a tour with a trip on a Manchester canal barge.
Manchester United Stadium Tour prices
Tour tickets include the stadium tour and access to the Manchester United museum.
Groups of between 4 and 8 people get a 15% discount online and all tickets are valid for one year after your initial visit.
Current 2019 prices are £25 for adults and £15 for children.
If you travel to Manchester by train, the Old Trafford tour is included in the 2 for 1 Go by Train offer but both the voucher and your tour must be booked in advance. Simply show your train tickets for that day when you collect your tour tickets. We saved £25 by travelling to Old Trafford by train.
Manchester United Museum
The Old Trafford museum can only be accessed as part of a tour ticket. You need to visit the museum before your tour begins as you cannot retrace your steps after the tour has finished.
The museum is on two levels (there is no information on entry as to how big the museum is!) so make sure you leave enough time for both levels.
On the first floor, there is a sparkling trophy room and a room charting historic European wins.
A darkly decorated room pays homage to the victims of the Munich air disaster.
On the lower level, there is a section about football shirts and profiles of Manchester United past players.
The museum is colourful and engagingly presented but due to limited space, there are only one or two small, interactive exhibits for children. There is a lot of reading required!
However, dedicated Manchester United fans will love the museum.
Manchester United Stadium Tour
The tour begins on the lower level of the museum where your timed ticket is checked. My son was delighted to learn he was allowed to keep his Man Utd lanyard!
The tour winds around the stadium utilising private as well as public areas so it feels as if you are being given ‘hidden access’. Non-English speakers can use a free to borrow audio guide.
There are a lot of stairs and steps on our tour.
You are not allowed to touch or walk onto the hallowed pitch!
What do you see on the Old Trafford Tour?
Sir Alex Ferguson Stand
The tour starts in the Sir Alex Ferguson Stand named in honour of the Scotsman who was the manager of Manchester United for 25 years!
It is the largest stand in the stadium with three tiers and a capacity for 26,000 people.
The acoustics in the stadium are good so we could hear our tour guide at all times, despite people in our group annoyingly talking over her!
Corner Pitch view
This corner of the stadium is where wheelchair users sit on match days. The terrace provides fantastic views of the stadium and you are given plenty of time to take panoramic photos.
The tour then moves inside to the surprisingly small Press Room where pre and post-match interviews are recorded in front of the media.
(As there are only 60 seats in this room, large press events – such as new player signings – are held at the team training ground).
Everyone on our tour was excited to see the players’ dressing room with the current teams’ shirts hanging in their individual stalls.
You are allowed to pose in front of (and with) your favourite players’ shirt. Again, this room was surprisingly small!
Old Trafford is unusual in the fact that the players’ tunnel lies on the corner of the pitch, not in the middle of it.
Our tour group divided into two lines, children in the front, and to accompanying Premier League music, we walked down the players’ tunnel.
I think this was my sons favourite part of the tour!
The Dug Out
You can see the pristine condition of the pitch as you walk alongside it to the Sir Bobby Charlton Stand. I wish the grass in my garden grass looked the same!
The enormous pitch is gently rounded to allow for surface runoff and hides the network of pipes underneath that create an effective, underground heating system.
The pitch costs a staggering £1 million and lasts for ten years. It is 97% grass with the rest woven nylon, weaved into the grass to prevent churning and damage to the surface.
You are allowed to sit in the managers and players seats in the dug out which is above the old players’ tunnel – the only surviving part of the original 1910 stadium.
The Sir Bobby Charlton Stand is the smallest stand with just a single tier but houses the VIP seats and suites as well as the media centre.
The tour ends all too quickly at the entrance to the Munich tunnel, above which a clock displays the exact time of the Munich air disaster.
Manchester United Tour tips
Arrive on time for your tour! It will not wait for you.
Leave enough time to explore the Old Trafford Museum before your tour starts as you cannot visit it after your tour.
If you wish to visit the official Manchester United shop (or megastore), book a tour early in the day or visit the shop before your tour. Some tours are after the shop has closed and you will not be allowed access to the shop afterwards.
Tours last approximately 80 minutes but our tour lasted only one hour. It was one of the last tours of the day so perhaps an earlier tour would have been longer?
Try to visit off-peak and mid-week. Weekends are busy! (Our tour group was large – 45 people! It took time to move around, people talked over the tour guide and we had to wait for people taking photos).
You can go to the toilet on the tour but the whole tour will wait for you whilst you go! To avoid embarrassment, go to the toilet before your tour begins!
My Manchester United Stadium Tour review
I found the tour interesting and informative and it was fun to see locations only seen previously on television.
The museum is packed with information and detail but needs more interactive exhibits to engage children.
There was plenty of time to appreciate the views and to take photographs but I found the tour short for £25 and just one hour long.
There were new and interesting facts given in the tour but I would have liked more information on how and when the stadium was built, how the pitch is maintained and the countless jobs that take place behind the scenes such as physios, nutritionists, gardeners etc.
It would be great for children to see that it is possible to have a career in the sport they love without being a footballer. Manchester United are missing a great educational opportunity here!
The staff we encountered are an asset to Old Trafford football stadium. From the security guard who quizzed my son about his role in our village football team and told him to ‘always play his best because you never know who is watching’ to the assistant tour guide who whipped the shirt belonging to my sons favourite player off the wall in the dressing room for my son to hold. And, of course, our patient tour guide!
If you are a lifelong, die-hard Manchester United fan, you will love the Manchester United tour.
And if, like me, you prefer the sport with more oval-shaped balls (rugby!) you will still enjoy the Old Trafford tour!
Have you visited any sports stadiums you would recommend?