Nanostructured ZnO:Mn thin films have been prepared by sol–gel dip coating method. The content of Mn in the sol was varied from 0 to 12 wt%. The effect of Mn concentration on the optical, structural, and morphological properties of ZnO thin films were studied by using Fourier transform infrared (FTIR), UV–visible and photoluminescence (PL) spectroscopy, X-ray diffraction (XRD) and scanning electron microscopy (SEM). XRD results showed that the films have hexagonal wurtzite structure at lower content of Mn. The diffraction peaks corresponding to ZnO disappeared and two diffraction peaks of MnO2 and Mn3O4 appeared at the highest value of doping concentration (viz., 12 wt$\%$). SEM results revealed that the surface smoothness of the films improved at higher content of Mn. The optical band gap of the films decreased from 3.89 to 3.15 eV when the Mn concentration increased from 0 to 12 wt$\%$. The PL spectra of the films showed the characteristic peaks linked to band-to-band, green and yellow emissions. Besides, the PL intensity of the samples decreased with increase in Mn concentration.