Best Day Trips from Manchester
Situated in England's northwest, Manchester is known for its rich industrial heritage, its lively music scene, and its sporting culture. The city is also home to several world-famous museums and galleries, making it the perfect destination for a cultural break.
With all that there is to do in Manchester, you might be tempted to keep your trip within the city limits, but that would be a waste. Once you've explored all the best museums in Manchester, done the walking tours, and experienced the nightlife, you should look to escape.
When it comes to the best day trips from Manchester, this area of England offers the option to explore national parks, major cities, quaint villages, and interesting historical sites, many of which are less than two hours from the city.
With all the traveling you will be doing on these day trips, don't drag unnecessary items with you. Leave what you don't need in a Bounce luggage locker in Manchester, and you'll be ready to hit the ground running (not literally).
How to get out of Manchester
It's easy to get around Manchester and almost as easy to go on day trips from here. The city has over 600 bus routes, 8 tram lines, and 16 rail lines. To escape the Greater Manchester area, you'll typically rely on either a rental car or the train.
Rental cars can be picked up throughout the city and at the airport, and the two main train stations you're likely to use are Manchester Piccadilly and Manchester Victoria.
If you have an aversion to the train or renting a car, many companies run bus day trips from Manchester that are completely organized for you as an added bonus.
From Manchester to Liverpool
It makes sense that we would start our list of the best day trips from Manchester with Liverpool. It only takes about an hour to get from the Manchester City Centre to the other big city in the area. This Merseyside city offers lots of things to do for history buffs, music fans, and art lovers.
Liverpool is synonymous with The Beatles, and when in town, you can visit the iconic Cavern Club and the Beatles Story Museum. The museum tells the band's story, from their humble beginnings in Liverpool all the way through to their global superstardom. You'll get to see lots of memorabilia, including instruments, clothing, and personal items belonging to the band members. You can also tour Paul McCartney's childhood home, Penny Lane, and Strawberry Fields if you're a super-fan
Another interesting stop on your day in Liverpool is the nearby village of Wirral, where a highlight is the Port Sunlight Village. It's a purpose-built village with charming cottages that feels miles away from the city, even though it's basically still Liverpool. Don't forget to check out the Port Sunlight Museum for all the information on this unique area.
Another idea for your sightseeing in Liverpool is a visit to the Merseyside Maritime Museum. This museum tells the story of Liverpool's maritime history, from its days as a major port city to its present-day role as a gateway to Britain. There are lots of interactive exhibits to enjoy, as well as plenty of historic artifacts on display.
How to get to Liverpool
The easiest way to get to Liverpool is undoubtedly using the train. It's under an hour if you time it right, and you don't have to worry about parking or traffic. If you prefer to drive yourself, the journey takes roughly an hour without traffic.
From Manchester to the Peak District
When you want to leave city life behind, the Peak District is one of the most popular tourist destinations in England. Located in the heart of the country, this national park is home to some of the most stunning scenery in the UK. And, with Manchester being just a short drive away, it makes for the perfect day trip from the city, especially if you bring your walking boots.
There are plenty of things to see and do in the Peak District, whether you’re looking for a challenging hike or a leisurely stroll. For those who want to explore more of the great outdoors, there are numerous walking and cycling trails to follow. Or, if you’d prefer to take it easy, there are also plenty of quaint villages and towns to visit, each with its own unique character. Check out Congleton to start - it has beautiful countryside and the well-preserved Little Moreton Hall. This half-timbered mansion is definitely worth visiting as it dates all the way back to 1508.
How to get to the Peak District
The easiest way to get to the Peak District from Manchester is by car. The journey will take around an hour, depending on where in the park you’re headed.
From Manchester to the Lake District
The Lake District is a mountainous region in northwest England. A popular holiday destination, it is famous for its lakes, mountains, and forests and has inspired artists, writers, and musicians for centuries.
For day trip purposes, the easiest part of the park to get to is Lake Windermere. But, just because it's the closest doesn't mean you sacrifice anything. Lake Windermere is one of the largest in the Lake District, with 18 different islands to explore.
The area was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2017, and it's the second-most visited national park in the country, after the Peak District. The reason it's such a big draw is for its many activities, including walking, climbing, fishing, and boating.
Once you've had enough of the great outdoors, check out the charming villages that you'll find scattered throughout the national park. Our favorites include Hawkshead, with its traffic-free zone, and Grasmere, once the home of William Wordsworth.
How to get to the Lake District
There are many entrances to Lake District National Park, but generally, an hour's drive from central Manchester will get you there. Once you arrive at the park, you'll want to explore around, and a car is definitely the best way to go. Alternatively, the train takes about an hour and a half from Manchester Piccadilly to the Oxenholme train station, and then it's about a 20-minute walk from there. But, getting from place to place within the park will be a challenge.
From Manchester to Buxton
The Georgian town of Buxton is located in Derbyshire, close to the Peak District. It's well known for its natural springs, which have made it a popular destination for centuries.
Buxton is also home to Poole's Cavern, a limestone cave that's open to the public. The cave has been used as a shelter since the Bronze Age and is full of stalactites and stalagmites.
Today, Buxton is a lively town with plenty of things to see and do. In addition to its natural attractions, there are also several museums, art galleries, and shops to explore. Plus, if you're looking for some relaxation, the town's Thermae Spa offers a range of treatments using the local thermal springs.
How to get to Buxton
The easiest way to get from Manchester to Buxton is by car. The journey takes around an hour without traffic. Alternatively, there are regular buses that run from Manchester to Buxton, which take a bit longer but are cheaper and less stressful than driving in Manchester traffic.
From Manchester to York
Another great option for a day trip from Manchester is the historic city of York. Just a two-hour train ride away, this medieval city is full of things to see and do.
The main attraction in York is undoubtedly York Minster, one of the largest Gothic cathedrals in Northern Europe. But, there are also plenty of other historic buildings to explore, including the 13th-century Clifford's Tower and the Jorvik Viking Centre.
For those who prefer a more leisurely pace, strolling around The Shambles - York's medieval shopping street - is a must. This picturesque street is lined with timber-framed houses and independent shops selling everything from souvenirs to food.
Wander the ancient city walls, visit The National Railway Museum, or explore one of the many historical churches - York Minster is the most famous. And, if you're a Harry Potter fan, you can even take a tour of the real-life locations that inspired J.K. Rowling's magical world.
How to get to York
The easiest way to get to York from Manchester is by train. The train journey takes about an hour and a half, and there are direct trains available. The fastest route leaves from Manchester's Victoria station. If you prefer to drive, the journey will take a little less than two hours, depending on traffic.
From Manchester to Quarry Bank Mill
For a day trip with a difference, head to Quarry Bank Mill in Cheshire. This working cotton mill from the Industrial Revolution is now a museum, and it's a great way to learn about this important period in British history. The building itself is a sight to see, and once you visit, you'll understand why this is now a National Trust Grade II listed building.
The mill is set in 48 hectares of gardens and woodland, so there's plenty of opportunity to explore the surrounding area. And, if you're feeling energetic, you can even take a hike up to Tegg's Nose Country Park.
How to get to Quarry Bank Mill
The mill is one of the closest day trips from Manchester on this list. It's only about half an hour's drive south of Manchester, and this one is easy to get to using public transportation. Trains leave from Manchester Picadilly, and then it's just a 10 to 15-minute walk to the Apprentice House.
From Manchester to Chester
Chester is a beautiful historic city that's easy to reach from Manchester by public transport, making it the perfect day trip destination. There are plenty of things to do in Chester, but you should start with a trip to the Gothic Chester Cathedral, which dates back to the end of the 11th century. Visitors can explore the nave and crypt and climb the tower for stunning views over Chester.
Chester Castle is another must-visit spot here for history buffs. This medieval castle was built in the 11th century and has been used as a prison, military garrison, and stately home over the centuries. Today, visitors can explore the ruins of the castle, including the grandiose Great Hall, and learn about its fascinating history.
If you're traveling with kids (or not), a trip to the Chester Zoo is in order. It's home to over 15,000 animals. Highlights include the elephants, lions, and tigers, but there's also plenty to keep kids and adults busy, with a petting zoo, playground, and educational talks and shows.
Once you've seen the medieval walls, you should also take a tour of Chester's unique Rows. These covered walkways date back to the 13th century and link the main streets of Chester. Today, they're home to a variety of shops, cafes, and restaurants, making them the perfect place to take a break from sightseeing and grab a bite to eat.
How to get to Chester
It's really about the same in terms of time whether you drive to Chester or take the train. Either way, it's going to take about an hour.
From Manchester to Snowdonia National Park
To round out our list of the best day trips from Manchester, we're heading outside of England. Snowdonia National Park is in Wales and is only about a two-hour drive from the city. It's easily one of the most beautiful places in the UK, and the park is home to mountains, lakes, forests, and waterfalls, so it's the perfect place for a day of hiking and exploring.
In terms of what to do here, a hike up Mount Snowdon is sure to get your blood pumping. It's the highest mountain in Wales, and with six different routes to the summit, so you can choose one to suit your fitness level. Once at the top, you'll be rewarded with stunning views over Snowdonia National Park.
As you explore the park, you'll see waterfalls, lakes (Llyn Llydaw at the base of Snowdon is especially nice), and even some animals, like the local sheep and goats.
How to get to Snowdonia National Park
Your best bet to get here is by car. Everything is spread out, and the public transport links are patchy at best.
There are plenty of great places to visit on a day trip from Manchester. Whether you're interested in seeing other major cities, UNESCO World Heritage sites, the area's natural beauty, or quaint villages, you'll find it close to Manchester. Drop your bags and hit the road!