Getting around the city center in Greater Manchester is not difficult but being in a new city can be confusing at first. Central Manchester has a major official public transport body called the Journey Planning Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM). Their website has a plethora of journey planning tools that can help you get around the city while you are here.
The best thing to do before you even get to Greater Manchester is to download some Manchester maps. In fact, you can find a Manchester maps download on the TfGM website too. Other journey planning tools include an itinerary planner, a list of bus companies, train schedules, Metrolink trams, and specially selected tours you may enjoy. The bus, train, and tram are the main ways to get around.
Downtown Manchester is where you will find the most attractions, shopping, and dining so that is also where you will find most of the transport choices. You can find other journey planning tools to help with your own itinerary through the Manchester United website where you will see all options of transport.
Manchester is also a very bike-friendly city so you may want to find out where to go to rent some bikes. There are a number of cycling paths around the city due to the locals who use bikes for their daily commutes. Not only is it good for you physically, but it is also great for your budget and you can see a lot more if you are on a bike versus being on a bus, train, or tram.
No matter how you get around in the great city of Manchester, you will surely enjoy your stay! But make sure you take advantage of some of the art and culture at the Manchester Art Gallery, Manchester Museum, and the Manchester Cathedral.
Sports fans will like visiting the National Football Museum, Old Trafford, Etihad Stadium, and The Brotherhood of Pursuits and Pastimes. But you cannot take your luggage with you to any of these places, nor would you want to. Drop them off at one of our Manchester luggage storage locations first.
How to get around Greater Manchester
The city of Manchester is the least vehicle-dependent city in the UK with just 245 cars per 1,000 residents. However, it can be very congested with so much to do and see in one place, downtown Manchester. In fact, it has been ranked one of the most congested cities in Europe. So, utilizing public transportation while you are in town just makes sense.
There are many ways to get around Manchester with the city center being so close to the main public transportation systems. The city also has what they call City Hosts that are available around town offering public transport info and maps. Some call these the Manchester Welcome Hosts because they are all around Manchester offering to help with your own itinerary.
Of course, your own journey is going to be unique compared to others, so the help you may need can vary greatly from what someone else may need. That is why it is a good idea to download the Manchester Welcome app and to visit the Hosts to get some detailed Manchester maps. The itinerary planner they offer is a big help for anyone who needs to get around Manchester.
How to get around Manchester by train
Using local trains
You can also use the local trains to get around Manchester and beyond. This is one of the favorite public transport options that connect Manchester to Scotland, England, and Wales as well as the airport and suburbs of the city. There are more than 90 stations in the suburban Manchester train system to get you in and around Manchester all day long.
The main terminus in Manchester is Piccadilly, with the next being Victoria through Northern England and Oxford Road for passing rain services into the Midlands, Scotland, and Wales. The smallest station is Deansgate, which has limited rail services.
Riding the Manchester Metrolink
The Manchester Metrolink, also known as the Metrolink Tram, is the largest and longest light rail service in England and has almost 100 stops all over the city and beyond. It is very popular with the locals because it can be faster and easier than driving to get from point A to point B around Manchester.
In fact, trams run every six to 12 minutes and the system carries about 30 million passengers per year. Trams have been getting people around the city since 1877 and with the work being done, they plan to bring their total annual passengers to 50 million.
You choose your own journey plan and check out the Metrolink Tram schedules to find out which tram stop or stops you need to use. The Metrolink tram network provides good coverage in the city and into the surrounding areas with a total of nine stops in the downtown area, connecting with the local trains.
Important things to know about riding the Manchester Metrolink
Each of the four zones has its own pricing guide. For example, a one-way trip in zone one will cost you just under $2 if you are over 18 years old. But if you are going to be doing a lot of traveling around during your stay, it would benefit you more to purchase a one-day travel card.
A travel card will cost you under $5 for one zone so if you make just three trips, you will have already saved money. If you plan to travel to multiple zones, the price is just a bit higher but you can use the tram all day until the last tram. Those under 18, over 60, and families who travel together are entitled to a discount.
How to pay
You can use the mobile ticketing app or the contactless debit or credit card to purchase a ticket to get you around the city center. There are also a plethora of ticket machines at every stop so you can purchase one there as well. If you plan to be in the city for a while, consider getting a System One Travelcard. This will get you access to the bus, train, and tram for one day, one week, or one month.
Routes and hours
The hours for certain routes may differ but the general hours from Monday through Saturday are typically 6:00 AM until 12 midnight. On Sundays, the hours are usually 7:00 AM to 11:00 PM. However, these are subject to change so you should always check the app for updated schedules.
It is simple to transfer between Metrolink lines since many of them connect at various points. The prices are different as they change depending on the zones you are traveling in and out of, although it does not cost you anything to change lines. Also, you do not have to tap in and out if you are using a contactless card to pay.
How to get around Manchester by bus
Riding TfGM buses
TfGM also has a range of bus lines connecting Greater Manchester in addition to the Metrolink. There are over 100 different buses available going all over the Manchester city center and neighboring communities. These include bus trips from the city to Manchester Airport, which also runs a limited overnight schedule.
The huge network of buses services an average of 225 million passengers per year. Manchester buses run every 10 to 20 minutes with an extensive system leading in and around the city. They even have a free bus in Manchester that you can access under certain conditions. Some of the busier bus routes run every few minutes, so taking the bus is one of the fastest and easiest as well as the least expensive modes of transportation.
The Manchester Piccadilly Gardens Bus Station is one place that you can transfer from the bus to the train since most trains run through there or Manchester Victoria. The tickets for the System One AnyBus tickets cost less than $10 and are valid for up to one day of unlimited travel on most buses. However, you may want to check into the free TfGM buses, too.
Free TfGM buses
The Official Public Transport Body of Manchester offers three free bus routes also known as metro shuttle bus routes that cover many of the attractions and points of interest in the Manchester city center. This is what they call a hop-on hop-off bus system where you can get around Manchester and the surrounding areas, visiting many popular stops on your own itinerary.
This free bus delivers at the city center a free hopping and shopping service that allows you to use your own itinerary planner on your own journey at the pace that you want. In downtown Manchester, these three free bus routes can be found within a short walking distance with stops like Medieval Quarter, Chinatown, Manchester Victoria Station, and the Manchester Picadilly Station.
Seriously, who does not like a free bus no matter where you are going? The three free bus routes in the city can be found on the TfGM website or just go to Manchester maps download and get the routes there. You can also find more information from the Manchester Welcome Hosts or from the official public transport body website as well.
How to get around Manchester by car
If you want to provide your own transportation, you can rent a car. There are several rental car companies including Hertz, Enterprise, and Avis as well as Turo, Europcar, National, and Alamo. However, they drive on the left side of the road and everything in the car is on the opposite side so it takes some getting used to.
Taxis and cabs
You can hail a black cab just about anywhere in Manchester or use an app on your phone to book one from anywhere you happen to be. A taxi or cab typically costs about $7 to get you across the Manchester city center. The most common taxi services include Manchester Taxi, Street Cars Manchester, and MMA Transfers, and All-United Cars.
Manchester is also full of ride-sharing app companies like Uber and Lyft. The price for one of these is usually a few dollars cheaper than any kind of taxi service. It is also much faster since there are so many drivers competing for pickups. Either way, the ride-sharing apps are probably your best choice if you just need to get from point A to point B.
Can I get around Manchester by foot?
Due to the fantastic layout of this great city, walking is still one of the best ways to get around Manchester, which is perfect since it is completely free and you have no boundaries set by bus, train, and tram routes. Manchester is easy to explore on foot, with a city center that you can navigate in less than half an hour, which makes walking a great idea when dining out or exploring Manchester museums.
Other transport options for Greater Manchester
Biking around Manchester
Manchester is a beautiful city for cycling and most programs encourage bike usage. There are many safe bike paths and dedicated bicycle lanes in the more crowded area. Find a place where cyclists can get free parking in the city. Manchester Bike Hire and Brompton Dock are among the city's popular bike rental companies.
Take a free bus, walk, and more
The fun thing about getting around Greater Manchester is that there are so many options. See the city on one of the free bus routes or get to know Greater Manchester by foot. The city is indeed walk-friendly and totally bikeable so you do not even need public transportation for some areas. The trains offer great options that make getting from point A to Point B a simple task. No matter how you make your way about the city, you will certainly enjoy every minute.