Manchester is definitely one of the UK’s most fun cities and, thanks to its famous football clubs, iconic music scene, wealth of historic sights and amazing foodie vibes, there’s certainly plenty to discover and explore there.
… And that doesn’t even take into account, the fab things to do around this city.
From nature walks to beautiful towns and villages, the coast or even one of the UK’s highest mountains, there’s no question that one of the best things about visiting Manchester are the amazing day trips you can enjoy from this city.
So, to get you inspired for your next trip to this brilliant part of the UK, here’s my top 10 picks for the best Manchester day trips…
More Useful Info
- How to Spend a Day in Manchester
- Complete Guide to the Best Mam Tor Hike
- 35 Best Places to Visit in Yorkshire
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#1 The Peak District
The Peak District is one of the easiest and most enjoyable Manchester day trips you can have, so no surprise it makes the top spot on this list.
Filled with cute villages like Bakewell and Matlock, along with glorious market towns like Buxton and amazing walks, such as Mam Tor and Kinder Scout, there’s so much to do in this huge National Park that you’ll definitely need at least a few days to see it all.
If you only have a short amount of time however, I recommend selecting one part of the Peaks and doing that well, rather than overstretching yourself.
Which part you head to will depend on whether you are catching public transport (likely to be a train) into the Peaks, or whether you’ve got your own wheels and can drive there – giving yourself a bit more flexibility and option to get off the beaten track.
Driving takes as little as 40 minutes and is a great way to enjoy the stunning scenery of this green and hilly landscape to its fullest. Don’t miss the scenic Winnatt’s Pass in particular if you’re heading here in a car.
Otherwise, for those you catching a train, the Hope Valley Line (which travels between Manchester and Sheffield), is a great option to go with. Boasting stops throughout the Peak District including Hathersage, Hope and Edale – all great choices for cute village vibes and some super walks – make sure you book tickets in advance for the best prices using Trainline.
Once in the Peaks, don’t miss the chance to visit historic spots like Chatsworth Estate, eat a classic Bakewell Tart or snap some of the gorgeous elevated views from top spots like Derwent Edge.
Finish up with tea and cake in a quintessential café or a pint of ale in a classic English pub – there’s plenty to choose from across the Peak District.
Alternatively, if you don’t want to do any of the planning and logistics yourself, then another great option is to take a guided day trip from Manchester to the Peak District, check out this top-rated option for more inspo.
#2 The Lake District
And next up on this list of the best Manchester day trips, we come to another area of great English natural beauty, and that is the stunning Lake District.
Located slightly further away from Manchester than the Peaks, and up to the north of the city, the Lake District is the UK’s largest national park – famous for its stunning mountain scenery and yes, you guessed it, beautiful lakes.
Windermere and Ambleside are the 2 hotspots here and well worth visiting if you’re looking to tick some gems off your bucket list.
Otherwise, areas such as Langdale Valley, Ullswater and the North Lakes are great options for those looking to delve a little deeper and escape the big crowds.
Unsurprisingly, walking is a top pursuit to enjoy in the Lakes and, even if you’re coming here for the day from Manchester, there will certainly be time to get in a good hike if you set off early, so don’t forget your hiking boots.
Scafell Pike – the highest mountain in England – is located near Wastwater and makes for a great challenge, as does summitting the mighty Helvellyn.
Otherwise, water sports on the lakes – such as kayaking and paddleboarding – are also on offer and Coniston Lake (the 3rd largest in the district) is a great place to head for these.
Once again, driving is going to offer you the greatest flexibility for this Manchester day trip but, if you’re on the train, then regular services to Oxenholme from Manchester are a great option and can be booked in advance via Trainline.
Oxenholme is in the beautiful Kendal area of the Lakes and the rail journey here takes around 2 hours from Manchester, so make sure you set off early to get the best from your day.
From Oxenholme you can then find connections to Kendal, Keswick, Windermere and Penrith via local bus or train – although this might be a bit of a stretch if you’re only coming for a day.
Otherwise, this brilliant day trip from Manchester to the Lake District is a great way to see a lot in a short amount of time. Taking an organised trip also means you won’t have to worry about either driving or getting yourself around from the train station when you arrive into the Lakes – making it a real time and hassle saver
#3 The Yorkshire Dales
Gosh, we really are romping through some of the most beautiful areas in England on this list of top Manchester day trips aren’t we?! But quite frankly, why wouldn’t you when they can all be enjoyed within just a couple of hours from this city?
So, even though we’ve already looked at The Peaks and The Lakes, there’s no way I could get through this list and not also mention the stunning Yorkshire Dales National Park, which is another northern gem famous for its beautiful scenery, hiking, cute villages and quaint charm.
Like the Lakes and the Peaks, the Dales also cover a huge area, so if you’ve only got a day to explore here, I certainly advise picking one part and taking a day to discover this area, rather than stretching yourself too far.
Malham is a great option in my opinion if you’re coming by car. Check out this post I wrote all about visiting Malham for a day to learn more.
Otherwise, the Ingleton Waterfall Trail is an easy and accessible walking gem in this part of the world.
And if you’re coming by train from Manchester, I’d advise setting out early, as you’ll likely have to change in Leeds as part of a journey that could take over 3 hours.
A better option if you don’t have your own transport therefore, would be to take a day tour to the Yorkshire Dales from Manchester.
This superb option offers the opportunity to visit Hawes and Haworth (the home of the Bronte sisters), admire Malham Cove and the Ribblehead Viaduct, as well as discover the highest single-drop waterfall in the UK – wow what a day!
If you’d rather stick to the city vibes when it comes to your Manchester day trip, then just down the road is another top UK city you can’t miss.
Yes, if you haven’t visited Liverpool before, you simply gotta go!
Home to the famous Beatles, a couple of iconic football clubs, an amazing set of museums and galleries and, let’s not forget the birthplace of our Cilla (if you’re not from the UK I apologise about the insider joke, but now is the perfect time to educate yourself about Cilla Black), Liverpool is an absolute treat.
There’s so much to do in this city you’ll be hard-pressed to fit it all into a day, but check out my list of the top things to do in Liverpool to cut down your research time and give yourself the best chance of jam-packing in all the highlights.
If you’re looking for a short highlight list, then don’t miss the wonderful Maritime Museum, which houses the International Slavery Museum and is absolutely worth a visit. Learn more here.
And another wonderful English city that makes for a great day trip from Manchester is the historic gem of York.
Located in the county of Yorkshire (perhaps unsurprising!), York is one of the oldest cities in the UK and has a ton of history still on display from both the Roman and Viking periods, when it experienced its historic heydays.
On the edge of the Dales, you can drive to York from Manchester in under 2 hours, otherwise trains run direct from Manchester Victoria station to York in around an hour and 20 minutes, and can cost as little as £10.
Gran a bargain by booking in advance via Trainline, because the advantage of not driving here is that you’ll have all your energy to explore once you do arrive in York – a must as, despite being a small city, there’s a lot to see here.
Check out my pick of the 25 best things to do in York here – this list is designed to be fitted into a day trip, which is very handy!
Top spots include the famous National Railway Museum, the York Minster (a giant Cathedral) and the quaint cobbled Shambles – a street which dates back to medieval times, but is now a Harry Potter-inspired treat full of quirky independent shops inc. a potion and broomstick retailer!
But now it’s time to cruise back to nature, and I’m not talking about any old nature day trip from Manchester here, I’m talking about an excursion to one of the UK’s top beauty spots and Wales’ highest peaks.
Because coming in at number 6 on this list, it’s good old Snowdon.
Located in North Wales, within Snowdonia National Park, this area of outstanding natural beauty makes it a popular spot – so if you’re visiting in the summer months don’t expect to find yourself alone there.
However, set off early in your car from Manchester to make the 2.5 hour drive ahead of the crowds, and you’ll certainly be able to summit this mountain and get back down in a long and enjoyable, if not exhausting, day!
There’s 6 major routes to climb up Snowdon, so again, in order to save time, it pays to do your research about which trail to opt for (largely a decision based on difficulty) ahead of your day trip here from Manchester, so that you know exactly where to drive to begin your chosen ascent.
Alternatively, if you prefer things a little more on the sedate side, this great day trip to North Wales, Snowdonia and Chester could be just the answer.
At 11 hours long, it’s not for the faint-hearted, but does mean you don’t have to drive and can just sit back, relax and enjoy the ancient castles, quaint towns and glorious landscapes of Conwy, Betws-Y-Coed and Chester among others.
Or, alternatively, you can just head to Chester for the day from Manchester instead.
Yes if you want to explore this historic city at a slower pace, then you could easily spend a good few hours wandering the ancient streets here that have all been home to Roman, Viking, Norman and Anglo-Saxon conquests.
With the largest Roman Amphitheatre in Britain, the most complete city walls and a 1000 year-old Cathedral with Europe’s finest example of medieval carvings, there’s no question there’s a lot of old stuff to get your teeth stuck into in Chester!
Very regular trains taking just over an hour from Manchester make this an easy-to-access day trip too – and it’s also a great one for families with the amazing Chester Zoo on the doorstep as well.
But if it’s coastal vibes you’re after on your Manchester day trip, then it’s hard to get better than the iconic destination of Blackpool, with all her seaside glitz and glamour!
An hour and half to drive to, trains take only an hour and ten minutes and tickets can be grabbed via Trainline for as little as £6.
The sandy beach here is pretty nice – just watch out for the tide! – but it’s the all-singing, all-dancing, all-flashing Blackpool Pleasure Beach Amusement Park that really tends to draw the crowds.
After this, check out the iconic Blackpool Tower, which is home to the famous Tower Ballroom, the Tower Circus, the Blackpool Dungeons and the Blackpool Eye.
Personally, Blackpool is not my cup of tea, but I know many of you love it, which is why it’s making this list!
#9 Delamere Forest
And in at number 9 on this list of top Manchester day trips, it’s another nature instalment, this time in the form of Delaware Forest.
Managed by Forestry England, and located to the southwest of Manchester, you can easily drive here or catch a train to Delaware station.
On arrival, you’ll be rewarded with a peaceful and quiet setting, where you can bird watch near the lake or stroll the easy walking trails.
For those after a bit more adventure, there’s a GoApe treetop adventure here too, as well as segways available for rent and a great 6km Hunger Hike Trail that offers steep climbs and beautiful views over Blakemere Moss.
Open 8am-8pm in the summer and 8am-6pm in the winter, this is a must for those wanting to get some forest feels away from the city.
#10 Salford Quays
Is this a cheat number? I’m not sure!
That’s because even though Salford Quays is pretty close to Manchester – you can access it within half an hour from the city centre by tram – it is technically a separate city!
Part of a huge regeneration effort, this now lovely riverside area is home to a famous media area, where many major production channels have offices and studios.
Salford Quays are also a really nice place to stroll along the river on a sunny day and boat cruises are also on offer if you’re feeling flash!
Getting a tram to Salford Quays is super easy from Manchester as explained – especially as you can now just tap on and tap off using your contactless card – and this makes it one of the most simple day trips from Manchester that still offers loads to enjoy.
Top Manchester Travel Tips
When to Visit Manchester?
Manchester is great at any time of the year, but the summer months of June through August are probably the best option for enjoying these top Manchester day trips.
How to Get Manchester?
Catching a train or bus to Manchester is easy from destinations around the UK, including London.
Check out Trainline to compare coaches and train journeys – including timetables and prices – and book both at some of the best prices.
You can also easily drive to Manchester. If you need to rent a car, check out these good deals.
How to Get Around Manchester?
Public buses and trams all ply the city – you can pay onboard using your contactless card, which makes things really simple.
There’s also 3 great free bus lines that take you around most of the city centre too – just simply hop on and off them whenever you need.
Finally, you can also walk around Manchester.
Although the city is spread out, wandering the streets is a lovely way to stumble across hidden gems and really get a feel for this place and its people.
Where to Stay in Manchester?
From brilliant hostels and hotels, to great apartments and bed and breakfasts, check out this list of top Manchester accommodation options.
Travel Insurance for the UK
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Alternatively, if you’re a long-term traveller, digital nomad or frequent remote worker seeking travel health cover, check out Safetywing’s Nomad Insurance policies.
Travel Money in the UK
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So there you have it, the 10 best Manchester day trips to inspire your travels in the north of England.
Which is your favourite on the list?
Let me know in the comments box below…