While Manchester frequently falls into the shadow of England’s capital city of London, it’s also a great place to use as a base to experience a myriad of awesome day trips. Whether you are intrigued by the prospect of exploring some hidden gems in Northern England, or perhaps inspired to hop on the train and head south to London or other convenient locations, the list of potential day trip destinations is endless. For those of you visiting North-West England for the first time, you will likely want to spend several days experiencing the rich history and culture of the city itself, but you should also consider venturing out to experience some of the best day trips from Manchester.
Best Day Trips from Manchester
Manchester is a city famous for a plethora of reasons – home to iconic musicians such as Oasis and The Smiths, one of the largest football (or soccer in the US) teams in the world with Manchester United and of course, a collection of architectural masterpieces that epitomize a variety of genres including Modern, Contemporary, Georgian, Roman and Gothic.
However, there is something quite magical about heading outside of Manchester and exploring a collection of destinations that perhaps you may not have considered previously for a day trip. Some of these locations are places you could easily spend several days yet still experience in less than 24 hours, while others are the perfect place to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life and enjoy a few hours relaxing in solitude.
We are delighted to introduce a collection of day trip destinations from Manchester and want to thank our friends from across the globe for sharing some of their favorite spots that are easily accessible, either via a road trip or by train. Manchester is home to both Victoria Station and Piccadilly, both of which offer great access to different parts of the UK in only a couple of hours. Let’s take a look at the destinations that should be on your radar when you next visit England’s second city!
- Hadrian’s Wall
- Hebden Bridge
- Lake District
- Peak District National Park
- Snowdonia National Park
- Yorkshire Dales
Distance from Manchester: 131 miles Road Trip Duration/Directions: 2 hours 20 minutes (Click Here for Directions)
Rapidly becoming one of the most popular hiking destinations in Europe, the World Heritage listed Hadrian’s Wall is set in spectacular scenery only 2.5 hours from busy Manchester.
Hadrian’s Wall run the width of the country, from Bowness-on-Solway in the east to Wallsend in the west. Along the wall you will find dozens of towers, forts, gates and settlements, all set in the high country of the English-Scottish borderlands.
Besides the most popular Hadrian’s Wall walks (which can take 6 days in total), there is a new Hadrian’s Wall cycleway and small historic settlements like Haydon’s Bridge. At the major forts, there are museums and exhibitions that chart the decision of the Roman Emperor Hadrian to give up on the idea of holding on to Scotland and instead to retreat to England and build a very large wall in 122 AD.
At Housesteads Roman Fort you can look down from a tall escarpment into Scotland, walk alongside the Wall, tour the remaining fortifications, and visit the interactive museum.
Lunch in historic Haydon’s Bridge and a visit to the Twice Brewed Inn at nearby Bardon Mill after hiking Hadrian’s Wall will give you a true taste of the northern borderlands on a short day trip.
Thanks to Monique from Trip Anthropologist for sharing why this World Heritage site is an experience you cannot afford to miss as a great day trip from Manchester.
Distance from Manchester: 29 miles Road Trip Duration/Directions: 59 minutes (Click Here for Directions) Train Duration: 37 minutes (from Manchester Victoria)
Hebden Bridge is a 37-minute train journey north-east of Manchester Victoria. The West Yorkshire mill town has a reputation for being a gay-friendly, creative hub. If you’re looking for gifts or souvenirs browse Hebden Bridge’s bookshops, art shops and independent stores.
The town presents plenty of places to grab a drink or to dine, including The Art Café and family-friendly Stubbing Wharf. If it’s a sunny day it can be pleasant to unpack a picnic while watching colorfully painted barges gliding along the Rochdale Canal. Strolling alongside the canal to one of the neighboring towns, Mytholmroyd to the east or Todmorden to the west, is an option that gives a sense of region’s heritage.
Wear sensible shoes for the steep walk up to the village of Heptonstall whose White Lion gastropub is another dining option. The shell of the 13th-century St Thomas à Becket warrants the walk, as do the views into the Calder Valley. The poet Sylvia Plath is buried in the churchyard.
Thanks to Stuart Forster from Go Eat Do for highlighting the lesser known destination of Hebden Bridge as a great spot to visit on a day trip from Manchester, either as a road trip of quick 35 minute train journey.
Distance from Manchester: 100 miles Road Trip Duration/Directions: 1 hour 47 minutes (Click Here for Directions) Train Duration: 2 hours (from Manchester Piccadilly)
Hull is just a two-hour journey on the train or by car from Manchester. It’s a great place for a day out for people of all age ranges. It’s quite a compact city which is perfect for shopping or if you want to go for something to eat. A lot of the old banks have been turned into pubs or restaurants and there are some lovely places to eat in the old town or by the marina.
The Deep is one of the UK’s largest aquariums and it is a great place to pass a couple of hours. Make sure you stay for the tank feeding. If you’d rather not spend much money Hull boasts some excellent free museums. The Streetlife Museum, Maritime Museum, Arctic Corsair and Spurn Lightship are all free and more than worth a visit. If you have time to head out of town East Park is a beautiful park with some excellent facilities.
Thanks to Suzy McCullough from Yorkshire To Do With Kids for sharing a few reasons why Hull should be on everyone’s radar as a viable day trip option from Manchester.
Lake District National Park
Distance from Manchester: 89 miles Road Trip Duration/Directions: 1 hour 54 minutes (Click Here for Directions)
The Lake District National Park is a beautiful part of Cumbria and perfect for outdoor enthusiasts. The area also has strong connections with literature. The homes of William Wordsworth in Grasmere and Beatrix Potter are popular attractions and well worth a visit. There are plenty of scenic drives to enjoy, and some delightful quaint villages such as Hawkshead to stop for afternoon tea.
Exploring the numerous walking trails around the lakes and surrounding fells is one of the main reasons tourists visit. Many have breathtaking views, and whether you’re an enthusiastic hiker or not, there are paths suitable for all abilities.
You can enjoy a boat ride on Windermere, Coniston Water, Ullswater or Derwentwater and other water sports such as kayaking. For those who prefer dry land, there’s an abundance of museums, Wray castle or Blackwell arts and crafts house to name but a few.
Lovers of food will not be disappointed either as the area has several Michelin starred restaurants. You can reach the Lake District from Manchester either by catching the train to Windermere from Piccadilly station or by car. Head north on the M6 motorway, and you’ll see the signs to the area. It will take you around an hour and a half whichever mode of transport you choose.
Thanks to Fiona from Passport and Piano for highlighting one of the iconic national parks in Northern England that is definitely worth considering as a great day trip from Manchester.
Distance from Manchester: 18 miles Road Trip Duration/Directions: 37 minutes (Click Here for Directions) Train Duration: 28 minutes (from Manchester Victoria)
Just 20 minutes direct on the train from Victoria Station is the quaint village of Littleborough. Offering a completely different pace of life from the busy city streets the historic centre of the village is characterized my centuries old sandstone cottages, pubs, independent shops, cafes and the imposing 200 year old St Mary’s Church. The Red Lion pub is a real local but friendly experience.
Wandering under the railway arches and along the historic Rochdale Canal a short walk outside of the village is the picturesque Hollingworth Lake. A Victoria reservoir set in the rolling hills of the Pennines it offers a leisurely 4.5km scenic walk, water sports, pubs, cafes and the famous Mr Thomas’ chippy!
If you want something even more adventurous then you can take a short drive or taxi ride outside of Littleborough to the imposing Blackstone Edge on the moors above the village. At 472 m above sea level, the gritstone escapement offers incredible views over Greater Manchester and back to the city centre itself. Climbing, hiking and mountain biking is popular up here and accessible from the road side. The Whitehouse Pub is also a great place for food and drink afterwards!
Thanks to Nic from The Roaming Renegades for sharing another quaint, hidden gem that is definitely worth visiting from Manchester…it may not be the first place you think about visiting in Northern England, but it certainly won’t disappoint!
Distance from Manchester: 35 miles Road Trip Duration/Directions: 55 minutes (Click Here for Directions) Train Duration: 35 minutes (from Manchester Victoria)
Despite what you may have heard, Liverpool isn’t just about football or The Beatles (although a love of the Fab Four does help, given all the attractions dedicated to them).
Less than an hour away from Manchester by either car or train, the UK’s fifth biggest city is a seamless mix of hipster hangouts and heritage precincts. In fact, several of the more historic areas on and around Liverpool’s waterfront have been granted World Heritage Status by UNESCO including William Brown Street, a cluster of celebrated and beautiful buildings along a cobbled street plus the Royal Albert Dock Area.
Fast forward to the more modern elements of Liverpool’s regeneration such as the retail heaven that is the brand new Liverpool One shopping centre, or the retro and vintage stalls on offer in the Baltic Triangle, alongside numerous bar and street food pop-ups – there is a lot to love about Liverpool!
Thanks to Caroline and Neil from CK Travels for sharing another of England’s iconic cities that is conveniently located for a day trip from Manchester along the M62 or via train.
Distance from Manchester: 209 miles Road Trip Duration/Directions: 3 hours 45 minutes (Click Here for Directions) Train Duration: 2 hours 11 minutes (from Manchester Piccadilly)
With its iconic buildings, museums, shops and restaurants, London is just 2 hours from Manchester by train.
If it is your first time, don’t miss the city’s main attractions such as Tower Bridge, the London Eye, Houses of Parliament, Piccadilly Circus and Buckingham Palace. The capital has many worthwhile museums, most of which are free, but note that many are closed on Mondays.
Shopping and eating out is popular with day-trippers and tourists. Not many other areas can compete with the number of shops lining Oxford Street and Regents Street or the restaurants located in nearby Soho.
Using a day travel card you can travel as much as you want on public transport across London. The tube is a very efficient way of getting around but at least once during your trip try to take a double decker bus so you can appreciate some of the sights during the journey.
Another good way to see London is on-board one of the many river boats. Tickets can be bought at any of the boat stops along the River Thames.
Thanks to Kristin from Adventures with Ensuite for highlighting why England’s capital city is a viable day trip from Manchester. While London is a stretch by car for a day trip, a convenient high-speed train journey in only two hours makes this a great option if you are staying in Northern England but want to take a trip to the capital.
Distance from Manchester: 52 miles Road Trip Duration/Directions: 1 hour 25 minutes (Click Here for Directions)
When it comes to day trips from Manchester, Malham sets the standard. This small village located in the Yorkshire Dales National Park has so much to offer.
Firstly, the village itself is super cute. You will discover the typical Yorkshire architecture and some delicious food in the local delis and pubs.
But the best thing about Malham is its nature. You will find many walks! The most popular is Malham Cove. This very unique natural cliff offers some of the most beautiful views in the area. If you are a Potterhead, you will also enjoy discovering it as Malham Cove was used as a Harry Potter filming location in the 7th movie. It takes about 25 minutes from the village if you take the short walk. However, if you are willing to walk for a couple of hours, you should go on the Janet’s Foss and Malham Cove loop. It’s way prettier and actually easier than the other one.
Another great way to discover Malham is going to Malham Tarn. You can walk around the lake and enjoy a picnic there. It takes about 1 hour and a half to get to Malham from Manchester (by car). Please note that the roads are very narrow and can get quite busy in summer so make sure you are driving slowly.
Thanks to Pauline from BeeLoved City for highlighting why the Yorkshire town of Malham should be on your radar for a future day trip from Manchester.
Distance from Manchester: 146 miles Road Trip Duration/Directions: 2 hours 28 minutes (Click Here for Directions) Train Duration: 2 hours 33 minutes (from Manchester Victoria)
Newcastle is about 2.5 hours from Manchester. True to its name, the castle is one of the Newcastle highlights. Some portions remain of the 13th century stone castle, including Castle Keep and the oldest medieval fireplace in England. See the fireplace on a castle tour but you can also view castle wall fragments while strolling around town—one great section is near the Newcastle Chinatown gate. The Romans established Newcastle as the eastern edge of Hadrian’s Wall and it is fun to imagine everything north of here as outlaw territory.
But Newcastle offers modern attractions along with ancient ones. Walk across the Tyne River on the artistic Millennium Bridge and notice the futuristic Sage Gateshead performing arts venue. The massive Angel of the North art installation is worth a stop on your drive to or from Manchester. Newcastle itself has a lot of funky public art pieces.
Make sure to have a pint at Old George Inn (est. 1582) which was the favorite pub of King Charles I. In fabulous Grainger Market, I love the quirky Marks & Spencer—which retains its original look and skinny counter footprint from 1895, is the smallest M&S, and serves no food (only merchandise).
Thanks to Charles McCool from McCool Travel for highlighting with the North-East city of Newcastle is an ideal day trip from Manchester to experience a blend of historic and modern attractions.
Distance from Manchester: 81 miles Road Trip Duration/Directions: 1 hour 54 minutes (Click Here for Directions) Train Duration: 2 hours 8 minutes (from Manchester Piccadilly)
Nottingham is a vibrant city in the Midlands and makes a great day out from Manchester. There are so many fantastic things to do in Nottingham that a day trip may not be long enough.
Steeped in history, Nottingham Castle was the starting point of the British Civil War in 1642. Learn about the fable of Robin Hood and check out the tributes to Nottingham’s favorite outlaw all around the city.
Underneath the city is a network of hand-carved caves, take a tour to see them or just visit one of the oldest pubs and venture into the cellars. You can see the caves in The Bell Inn, Ye Olde Salutation and Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem and enjoy a pint while you are there.
Another must see is the fantastic Wollaton Hall and deer park home of the Nottingham natural history museum and Nottingham industrial museum. Stepping inside the park you will find it hard to believe that this grade 1 listed Elizabethan Mansion, set in over 500 acres of tranquil parkland with free roaming red deer and fallow deer is just minutes from the busy city centre.
Thanks to Steph from Book It Let’s Go for highlighting why Nottingham is a destination that should be on your radar when visiting Manchester as it’s the perfect day trip excursion.
Peak District National Park
Distance from Manchester: 25 miles Road Trip Duration/Directions: 48 minutes (Click Here for Directions) Train Duration: 1 hours 23 minutes (from Manchester Piccadilly)
One of the most beautiful national park sandwiched in midlands, Peak District is a great place for outdoor activities and hiking. Whether you want to spend a day, weekend or even a week, there’s plenty of things to do here.
From Manchester drive towards Castleton in Hope Valley (33 miles). Make sure the route takes you through Winnats Pass, a winding pass and limestone gorge which makes for a great photo opportunity. Castleton is a beautiful village and is the starting point for many hikes including the famous Mam Tor.
The circular route (Castleton – Mam Tor- Great Ridge) that begins and ends in Castleton is a moderate hike with a distance of 5.5 miles, taking roughly 3-4 hours. From the summit, the views of Hope valley and Edale valley are breathtaking. Alternatively, you can hike the Winnats Pass circular route (5 miles walk) passing through Speedwell Caverns and Cave Dale.
Next, drive to LadyBower Reservoir, a gorgeous lake located in the heart of Peak District. A great place to relax or indulge in some water activities like boating, swimming, canoeing. End your eventful day in Bakewell, a small market town in Peak District, which is also known for their Bakewell Pudding.
Thanks to Anuradha from Country Hopping Couple for highlighting another of the UK’s iconic national parks as a great place to get away from city life for a day.
Distance from Manchester: 20 miles Road Trip Duration/Directions: 37 minutes (Click Here for Directions) Train Duration: 1 hours 7 minutes (from Manchester Victoria)
Rivington is a rural area in Lancashire and the perfect place to head if you’re looking for a day out in the countryside. Many of the man-made landmarks you’ll find in Rivington were created by Lord Lever in the Victorian Era including the Italian-style gardens, a scale replica of Liverpool Castle and lots of beautiful stone steps and bridges.
Rivington is home to Winter Hill, which is 1,496 feet high. At the top of the hill you’ll find Rivington Pike, an ancient beacon which dates back to the 16th century. Here, you can enjoy a picnic with some of the best views in Lancashire. On a clear day, you can easily see the sea and Blackpool Tower, 25 miles away.
Walking and mountain biking are really popular in Rivington and there’s also a high ropes course in the woods which is well worth a visit. There are several tea rooms in the area, including the stunning and historic Great House Barn which serves tea, snacks and ice creams.
Thanks to Jenni Fielding from Cruise Mummy for sharing another gem that is just a short distance from Manchester and well worth exploring for a day trip.
Distance from Manchester: 13 miles Road Trip Duration/Directions: 40 minutes (Click Here for Directions) Train Duration: 1 hours 20 minutes (from Manchester Piccadilly)
Saddleworth is a collection of villages just outside Manchester, on the edge of the Peak District. The Saddleworth villages that will be of most interest to visitors are Greenfield, Uppermill and Dobcross. Greenfield has a train station with direct links to Manchester, and it’s also where you’ll find Dove Stone Reservoir, a popular local beauty spot.
Uppermill is a vibrant village, full of bars, restaurants and coffee shops. Saddleworth Museum is in Uppermill and gives a good introduction to the area’s history and the many wonderful Saddleworth traditions.
Saddleworth is home to an annual brass band contest which attracts the best brass bands from all over the world, with each village holding its own competition. Yanks weekend celebrates the time when Richard Gere filmed a WW2 film in the area, while the late-summer Rushcart weekend culminates in a gurning competition, morris dancing and bare-chested wrestling.
Walking up the Huddersfield Narrow Canal from Uppermill, you’ll come to Dobcross. The centre of Dobcross has a gorgeous market square, surrounded with pretty weavers houses dating back to the 1700s. When you visit Saddleworth, don’t miss the walk up to Pots and Pans, a war memorial which has stunning views of the surrounding countryside.
Thanks to Helen from Helen on her Holidays for highlighting why the collection of villages that collectively make up Saddleworth are a great way to explore the inherent beauty of Northern England.
Distance from Manchester: 43 miles Road Trip Duration/Directions: 1 hour 2 minutes (Click Here for Directions) Train Duration: 1 hours 46 minutes (from Manchester Victoria)
The village of Saltaire in Yorkshire is just under 2 hours from Manchester by train making it the perfect option for a day trip. Saltaire was built in the 19th century by Titus Salt, a wealthy mill owner, to provide housing and amenities to his factory workers. This was revolutionary at the time and not only is Titus Salt recognized as one of greatest Victorian philanthropists, the village is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
I recommend taking the Heritage Trail around the village to discover points of interest as you walk. Pick up a guide at the Information Centre in the Mill opposite the train station. The village is still lived in today and you will get a sense of just how well Salt’s workers were cared for with almshouses, a school and a Church built for them.
Head to Salt’s Mill after exploring the village and enjoy art works by local artists including David Hockney. In fact the Mill has the largest collection of Hockney’s in the world on display. You will even find he has designed the logo on the paper serviette’s in Salt’s Diner which is the perfect place for a bite to eat. Salt’s Mill is also home to cafes, restaurants, a small museum and many shops, so plenty to peruse before catching a train back to Manchester.
Thanks to Tracy from Tracy’s Travels in Time for highlighting the Yorkshire village of Saltaire as being a quaint day trip option from Manchester.
Snowdonia National Park
Distance from Manchester: 95 miles Road Trip Duration/Directions: 1 hour 57 minutes (Click Here for Directions)
If you want to get away from the city for a while and experience some of the most incredible nature in the UK, head to Snowdonia National Park.
The drive from Manchester is about 2 hours and you’ll pass some beautiful places along the way, but don’t dawdle too much or you’ll miss out on the best things to see in Snowdonia (of course, you can always extend your Wales road trip and grab a hotel in the National Park).
Pretty much everything in Snowdonia involves being outdoors, so make sure you bring appropriate clothing for the time of year. TOP TIP – ALWAYS expect rain in Wales… even in mid-summer! If you like hiking, Snowdon is the place to go (on a clear day you can see Ireland from the top). For history, head to Caernarfon Castle – one of the best in the UK – or visit the Snowdon Mountain Railway.
You must try a lamb dish in Wales- it’s practically a religion. We highly recommend the Rhug Estate for its incredible deli counter and delicious foods.
Thanks to Kat from Wandering Bird for highlighting why a trip to Wales is well worth it to experience the beauty of Snowdonia National Park.
Distance from Manchester: 120 miles Road Trip Duration/Directions: 2 hours 15 minutes (Click Here for Directions)
The fishing town of Whitby may be small, but there’s plenty to do on this day trip to the east coast. The most famous landmark here is Whitby Abbey. A beautiful ruined medieval church overlooking the harbor. Visitors have the pleasure of tackling the famous 199 Steps to reach the abbey from the harbor but the views are worth it.
History lovers should check out the Captain Cook Memorial Museum. The man who discovered Australia and New Zealand learned his trade in Whitby, so why not learn more about the man himself? Make your way to Whitby beach and you’ll pass the impressive Whalebone Arch. These are real whale bones and serve as a reminder to Whitby’s whaling past. Plus the views of the harbor and abbey are great from the arch!
Of course, no trip to the seaside is complete without some fish and chips! The Magpie Cafe is said to have the best fish and chips in town. But the word is out so expect long queues! Other activities around the harbor include crabbing, boat rides, whale watching and horseback riding (don’t forget the Dracula experience). With so much on offer, a day trip just might not be enough!
Thanks to Jeff from A Life of Y for highlighting why Whitby is well worth taking a road trip from Manchester to explore this North East coastal town.
Distance from Manchester: 71 miles Road Trip Duration/Directions: 1 hour 22 minutes (Click Here for Directions) Train Duration: 1 hours 19 minutes (from Manchester Victoria)
York is one of the most historic cities in England and parts of it take you back in time. It was founded as Eboracum by the Romans in 71 AD. If you are visiting as a day trip from Manchester, there are a few things in York that you must see.
The breathtaking cathedral, York Minster, is one of the largest and most important churches in England. It’s worth the small admission fee to go inside and admire the architectural details and lovely stained glass. Near the Minster, you will find the Shambles which is arguably, the most beautiful street in England. Some people think it was J.K Rowling’s inspiration for Diagon Alley.
Next, I recommend you walk around the city on top of the walls. It is a fun way to see this picturesque city. Once you’ve worked up an appetite, it’s time for afternoon tea at Betty’s. If you have more time in York, you could also visit Clifford’s Tower, the York Dungeon, the Chocolate Story, or the National Railway Museum.
Thanks to Anisa from Two Traveling Texans for sharing a few reasons why one of England’s most historic cities is the perfect day trip destination from Manchester.
Yorkshire Dales National Park
Distance from Manchester: 54 miles Road Trip Duration/Directions: 1 hour 13 minutes (Click Here for Directions)
The green, rolling landscapes of the Yorkshire Dales is a 1 hour 40-minute drive from Manchester and is a perfect destination to escape the busy city. Take a challenging hike around spectacular Malham Cove, a 230-foot-high natural stone amphitheater. The circular hike encompasses Malham Tarn – one of two natural lakes in the Dales – Gordale Scar gorge and Janet’s Foss waterfall.
Explore underground at Stump Cross Caverns or White Scar Cave, visit iconic Aysgarth Falls or Hardraw Force, England’s highest single drop waterfall. Indulge in the famous cheese at the Wensleydale Creamery, or sample the craft beer at the breweries in Dent or Askrigg. Enjoy home cooked food in Britain’s highest pub, the Tan Hill Inn near Reeth.
On your return to Manchester, stop at the spa town of Harrogate to visit Betty’s Tea Room, a 100-year-old tea room much loved by Yorkshire locals. You cannot leave Yorkshire without a cup of Yorkshire Tea and Betty’s signature Fat Rascal cake!
Thanks to Sinead from Map Made Memories for highlighting why the Yorkshire Dales is a great area to explore during a day trip from Manchester.
One of the real attractions of spending time in the UK is the ability to take a plethora of amazing day trips. Whether you are traveling locally or heading further afield courtesy of the high-speed train service, the list of day trip destinations is endless. If you are staying in Manchester, you are perfectly located to explore Northern England but also know that you are a short two-hour train journey from the capital.
We would like to thank all of our amazing friends from across the globe for sharing their highlight day trip destinations from Manchester and hopefully you will be inspired to visit some of the lesser known spots on your next trip to the UK.