As the North West’s biggest and best-connected city, Manchester offers easy transport access to some of the country’s top destinations.

Featuring tranquil coastlines, lush mountains and more, here are some of the best places you can spend the day and be back in time for tea.

Chester | Cheshire

Featuring Britain’s largest Roman amphitheatre, oldest racecourse and a cathedral bearing flawlessly preserved medieval carvings, Chester’s cobbled streets offer a peerlessly broad tour of human civilisation packed within its full-circuit defensive city walls – the only structure of its kind in the country. Ideal for families, visitors can stroll along the same paths used by Vikings and Legionnaires alike, shop along The Rows – itself 700 years old – or head straight to Chester Zoo, which houses over 20,000 animals.

Chester is just 40 miles southwest of Manchester, and takes around an hour to reach both by train and by car.



Llandudno | North Wales

Perhaps the platonic ideal of seaside towns, Llandudno is a beloved time-locked day trip destination that will likely outlast the collapse of our sun. Sat in the shadow of the Great Orme – a huge limestone headland which offers trams to its summit and Britain’s longest toboggan run back down – Llandudno features a bustling centre, a sprawling two-mile promenade, a spacious sandy beach and a fun-packed Victorian pier which reserves modernisation exclusively for its arcade machines and ice cream flavours.

Llandudno is just under two hours from Manchester City Centre both by car and by train.


Jodrell Bank | Macclesfield

A short trip south of the city, regional astronomy hub Jodrell Bank invites visitors to ‘find their outer space in a field in Cheshire’, with four pavilions full of exhibitions and events. Perfect for space-obsessed kids (and parents), the UNESCO World Heritage Site has been delivering world-renowned educational day trips across the cosmos for over fifty years.

Jodrell Bank is around 40 minutes from the city centre by car.

Liverpool | Merseyside

Casually world-dominating cultural output, a huge selection of galleries, thrumming nightlife and a unique urban quarter? Perhaps we aren’t so different after all. Serving Mancunians throughout history as the perfect change of scene for retail therapy, museum strolls and big nights out, Liverpool remains the ultimate short stop. Eminently walkable, visitors can see the entire city centre in a long afternoon, heading from the Georgian Quarter’s charming terraces to the Baltic Triangle’s suntrap bars – all while keeping a comfortable distance from Anfield.

Liverpool is under an hour by train from Piccadilly, and about 40 minutes by car.

Lyme Park | Disley

Sat on the edge of the Peak District, Cheshire’s Lyme Park is the archetypal National Trust day out. With a thousand-acre deer park, woodlands, cafes, off-lead dog walking areas, the Old Hall and a neo-classical mansion at its centre, Lyme Park is an accessible slice of history amongst the county’s best scenery.

Lyme Park is around 45 minutes’ drive from Manchester City Centre, and under half an hour by train

Edale | Peak District

Offering easy access to Castleton’s caves and comforts, Edale village is a gateway to the wider Peak District and some of the UK’s best rural landscapes. Featuring a range of accommodation options and nearby attractions, Edale marks the starting point of Britain’s first and most famous long-distance walking path, the Pennine Way.

Edale is around 75 minutes’ drive from Manchester, and under three quarters of an hour from Piccadilly by train.

Lake District | Cumbria

Whether it’s a spartan trek across achingly beautiful mountain ranges, an afternoon spent on the shore of England’s largest lake or a mellow browse around the various romantic market towns, the expansive diversity of the Lake District offers every imaginable component of the ideal day trip. From Kendal to Keswick and Windermere to Wastwater, the country’s most popular holiday region requires several visits to fit everything in.

Car journeys to Oxenholme (gateway to the Lakes) take just over 2 hours, while a train is around 1 hour 20 minutes.

Hebden Bridge | West Yorkshire

Shorthand for progressive, modern, creative communities, market town Hebden Bridge is known as one of Europe’s best places to visit – and live. Quaint and unassuming, the gorgeous countryside village features a staunchly independent high street, endless artisanal cafes and an irresistibly hospitable atmosphere.

Hebden Bridge is just over an hour’s drive, and only half an hour by train from Piccadilly.

Formby | Merseyside

Another National Trust gem, nature hotspot Formby is a coastal idyll just north of Liverpool. Lined by woodlands and rolling meadows with views out to sea – punctuated by the occasional shipwreck – Formby’s enormous beach is perfect for families, dogs and even horses.

Formby is an hour’s drive from Manchester City Centre or around 90 minutes by train.

Tue 23 May
Wolf McFarlane
Published on:
Mon 8 Apr 2024