There’ve been a few times in Manchester’s history where it’s really felt like the music centre of England. The nightlife there is notorious throughout England. However, it’s probably better known worldwide for its football.
Manchester is one of the biggest cities in England. Our BBC hub is up there in Salford, there’s an airport, and it’s not far from some of the best days out in the north.
I lived in Manchester for six months when I finished uni, and, to be honest, spent most of my time partying BUT there are some great days out from Manchester you can enjoy. I definitely should’ve made more of living there when I did.
Multiple train stations cater to day-trippers, the best day trips from Manchester are accessible via the extensive train lines from Manchester Piccadilly, Manchester Oxford Road and Manchester Piccadilly. From industrialised cities to nature escapes, I’ve found the best getaways within an hour or two from Manchester.
Once you’re done with the joy of the Northern Quarter, the Manchester Art Gallery and shopping at indie heaven, Affleck’s Palace, here’s what else you can do, ‘up north’.
So, if you want the joy of a big city for your nighttime entertainment, but want to get out and about in the day, then take a look at these day trips from Manchester to keep you busy.
Day trips from Manchester
1. Day trip to Liverpool
Manchester Victoria to Liverpool Lime Street only take 35 minutes, making the city the perfect day trip from Manchester.
2. Delamere Forest
Paved walking paths carve their way around 972 hectares of woodland, scented with musk of evergreen trees. Solid trunks angle high to spread its branches, layers of leafy growth offering shade for hikers. The Delamere Forest is one of my favourite day trips from Manchester thanks to the forest adventures you can enjoy there.
Apart from the generous trails featured within Delamere Forest, outdoor activity company Go Ape gives visitors a choice between serene strolls and tree-swinging fun. The best activity by far is the Tree Top adventure – you have to climb up platforms and travel over rope courses between elevated stations. Net climbing and zip wire stations are spread out over the estate.
To explore the area quickly, take the Segway tour.
You’ll definitely up your Segway skills since some spaces are rocky and sloped. Fun!
The Delamare Forest is about an hour’s drive from Manchester, making for the perfect day trip in Cheshire.
3. York from Manchester
The journey to York from Manchester is a longer 2 hour journey (or 1 hour 35 mins in the car) and history buffs will fall in love with this charming trove of heritage sights.
The Shambles should be first on the itinerary, a collective of 14th and 15th-century houses that somehow remains standing in their crooked forms. Butchers’ shops have transformed into characterful bookstores, knick-knack stores, decorative ware and other indie attractions. It’s said to have inspired Harry Potter’s Diagon Alley!
York has witnessed politics and warfare since 71 AD, including the rise of Constantine. Most of York’s top attractions are covered, such as the splendid York Minster (one of Northern Europe’s largest cathedrals), The King’s Manor, York City Walls, Fairfax House, York Castle Prison, Berden Hall and more.
The list of things to see in York is endless, so go ahead and plot your own tour on your day trip from Manchester.
And if you need something to do along the way – check out my BIG Yorkshire Quiz.
4. Chester from Manchester
Roman roots are strong in Chester – in fact, it was first conceived as a Roman fortress in 79AD. Aptly named ‘fort’ or ‘city of the Legion’, Chester’s burnished sandstone walls remain the sole full-circuit defensive wall in Britain.
Photographers will devour Chester’s ornate Eastgate Clock, a surprisingly solid piece formed by gold-tinted whirls and coloured pieces.
Chester Cathedral is another complex of aesthetic spaces; 14th-century quire stalls a stately contrast to its Falconry & Nature Gardens. From there, take a languid cruise down River Dee whilst enjoying afternoon tea onboard. The historic Rows feature unique boutiques in medieval frames for the romantics’ post-meal stroll.
Also, Chester Zoo, home to over 21,000 animals and one of the best zoos in England. Between dropping by the exotic habitats, you can grab some food and drink at the animal themed restaurants.
5. Port Sunlight Village
Imagining wide boulevards, picturesque cottages and landscaped parks? You need Port Sunlight Village. What was William Hesketh Lever’s project to build a village for his soap factory workers is simultaneously an architectural wonder.
Port Sunlight Village is about an hour’s drive from the city, and could be combined with a trip to Liverpool for a great day trip from Manchester.
Every single house in Port Sunlight Village has its own unique design. Also referred to as Arts and Crafts cottages, these buildings vary in colour and structure. To learn more about this purposeful, idyllic village, you can tour Port Sunlight Museum before visiting the neoclassical Lady Lever Art Gallery. The masterpieces showcased are mostly from the 19th century, collected by Lever himself.
Tea rooms and cosy pubs are scattered around this charming parkland for both locals and tourists to rest. One of the most chilled day trips from Manchester.
6. Lake District from Manchester
Everyone needs a break from city noise every now and then; a day trip to the Lake District is a gift in serenity, complete with vibrant landscapes.
Green dominates this natural reserve in forested patches, soft grasslands and manicured pastures. Delve into the mountainous ranges by train or car – it’s about an hour and 20 minutes from Manchester.
You could make a beeline for Lake Windermere on your day trip from Manchester; it’s the largest of the lakes. Walking boots are a must to fully take in the terrain, but pack water-bound shoes for a cooling ride on water. Picnics are popular among visitors too as there are plenty of fresh spaces to rest after a demanding hike.
Cosy market towns like Kendal and Ambleside are fantastic escapes too. You can spend afternoons browsing art galleries that display local talents. Traditional inns are in abundance if you’d like to stay overnight in country comfort.
READ MORE: 7 Great Small Towns Near Manchester You’ve Probably Never Been To
7. Southport from Manchester
Summer travelers shouldn’t miss out on Southport’s aquatic charms. Jam on your sunglasses and flip flops for a few hours of beachside relaxation on a day trip from Manchester. It’ll take you about an hour and 20 minutes to get here.
In Southport, canopied boulevards lined with Victorian buildings capture the eye, scalloped with scenic gardens for a balance of architectural marvel and natural charm.
If you draw into the city around noon, catch a bit at Lord Street before swanning down to the pier.
The pier area encompasses Southport’s top attractions: my vision of seaside vacation come to life!
Stroll down to the wooden pier with a takeaway bag of fish and chips in hand – absolute dreams. There’s an arcade nearby if you’re up for a challenge, or maybe you’d fancy a ride on the carousel?
The amusement park Southport Pleasureland is great for thrill-seekers for a more diverse itinerary.
8. Peak District from Manchester
Another National Park to rival the Lake District is the Peak District, featuring dramatic landscapes any photographer would love to immortalise. A day out in the Peak District is a great idea.
Pack your hiking shoes to better explore its diverse valleys and moorland plateaus.
If I were to list Peak District’s top natural attractions, Dovedale’s endless steps carved into steep limestone takes first spot. Dark Peak and Kinder Scout embodies the wilder edge of nature; expect ragged gritstone ridges and haunting moors.
There are plenty of treats for gentler explorers too. Lyme Park’s tranquil estate combines garden and red deer populace for an alternative ambiance. Haddon Hall and Chatsworth House are unexpected finds, mansions and manors that belonged centuries past but are no less beautiful now.
9. Bradford from Manchester
Bradford is often overlooked and it’s hard to understand why. While its grim past still lingers in monikers like the ‘UK’s most-improved city’, cultural riches run rampant, whether it is the well-respected Bradford Literature Festival or revitalised North Parade district. Saltaire, one of England’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites, preserves its manufacturing past.
The Bradford Industrial Museum is usually first up on a visit to Bradford, and has exhibits housed in a 19th-century mill. Fascinating right?
In contrast, the National Science and Media Museum is housed in sleek casing to discuss photography, film and television.
Bolling Hall is another lesson in medieval eras, with the manor house decorated with aged furnishings.
Haworth Village’s tribute to the Brontë sisters is definitely worth visiting. Their family home is turned into Brontë Parsonage Museum to display the manuscripts, letters and possessions of these 19th-century novelists.
10. Trafford Center, Manchester
The Trafford Center in Manchester is humongous and one of the busiest malls in England. Like the Metro Centre, the Trafford Center isn’t just one of England’s biggest shopping malls, but also offers different activities for families to enjoy.
You can watch the latest movie at the cinema, experience marine life by swimming in the underwater aquarium, and enjoy the giant LEGOLAND.
Most importantly though, the Trafford Centre is considered as one of the best shopping experiences in England. It not only offers local brands but several international brands as well.
READ MORE: The 6 Most Scenic Train Routes in England
Best day trips from Manchester
I hope these day trips from Manchester have inspired you to get out and see more of the area. Manchester is great, but sometimes it’s nice to go off and explore, you never know what you might find. There are also some fun day trips within Greater Manchester, if you want to stay closer to home.
If you have any more suggestions for days out from Manchester – let us know in the comments below.