20 Best Day Trips From Manchester By Train – Cities & Nature

lake district manchester day trip

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Manchester is a creative, diverse city with lots to see and do. Although it would be difficult to get bored, there are plenty of day trips from Manchester should you want to explore further afield.

Located in the northwest of England, Manchester is close to Sheffield, Leeds and Liverpool. If you’re more motivated by nature than city life, you’re in luck: Manchester is lodged between the Peak District and the Lake District. It’s also not far from North Wales.

MANCHESTER DAY TRIP ESSENTIALS

Accommodation: Booking.com
// Hostelworld

Activities: GetYourGuide
/ Viator

Getting there: Air
(Kayak) train (Trainline), bus (Busbud)

Map of the best Manchester days out:

Click to open in Google Maps

How to take day trips from Manchester UK

Train is my preferred method of transport in North England. It’s the fastest way to get around and can be pretty affordable for short distances. Although travelling further afield in the UK (for example from London to Manchester) can feel extortionate, none of these trips listed will cost more than £30 return.

I use Trainline to get the best prices on UK train prices.

Read next: How to travel the UK on a budget

Buses often take longer but can be even cheaper. Use Busbud to compare prices and availability of the major bus networks like National Express, Megabus and Flixbus.

For more rural destinations like the Lake District, you may wish to check out organised day tours from Manchester. My preferred option is GetYourGuide for the variety of options but Viator often has decent deals, too.

Although you can take all the below day trips near Manchester by public transport, a final option is to hire a car. Compare prices on Rentalcars.com.

With no more ado, here are the best days out from Manchester, England…

1. Liverpool (journey time: 1 hour)

liverpool day trip itinerary

Despite the rivalry between the two cities, one of the best day trips from Manchester is to Liverpool, just an hour away by train. In my personal opinion, Manchester is the cooler of the two cities with better food options, however I’m still a huge fan of Liverpool.

Things to do during a Liverpool day trip include exploring the Royal Albert Dock area where you can take a boat trip and visit museums including the Beatles Story, the Museum of Liverpool and the Tate. Don’t miss Mathew Street to see legendary Beatles spots such as the Cavern Club.

For a hidden gem, pay a visit to the Bluecoat, a modern art gallery with a lovely cafe and inner-city garden. Nearby, shoppers will be in their element at Liverpool ONE with over 170 high street shops and restaurants.

For food and drink, tuck into trendy eats at the Baltic Market, dine at stylish popups inside Duke Street Market or grab Asian food in Chinatown.

Getting to Liverpool as a day trip from Manchester: From Manchester Piccadilly, trains take 1 hour and prices start from £2.90. Bargain! Browse train tickets from Manchester to Liverpool.

2. Peak District (journey time: 45 minutes) – best day trip from Manchester for hikers

Peak district hiking
One of the most beautiful Manchester day trips

The rolling limestone hills of the Peak District surely constitute some of England’s most beautiful scenery. Although it would be hard to decide whether the Lake District or Peak District is more beautiful, it’s fair to say the Peak District is easier to reach as a day trip from Manchester by public transport.

From Dovedale and Lathkill Dale valleys in the south to the craggy Dark Peak area in the north, there’s a wide variety of hiking routes for different levels of ability. The highest point is Kinder Scout, best accessed by the Jacob’s Ladder hike.

A beautiful hike suitable for casual hikers (including those wearing trainers rather than proper hiking boots) is Mam Tor. To reach the area by public transport during a day trip from Manchester, arrive into Edale station. Turn left out of the station to begin the Mam Tor hike.

Top tip – mobile signal is patchy at best when you exit Edale station so make sure to download a map or screenshot the route beforehand. There aren’t many signs directing you to Mam Tor.

After hiking Mam Tor, I continued on foot to Castleton, a picturesque village in the Hope Valley. Here I rewarded my hiking efforts by indulging in afternoon tea at a cute cafe. Finally, I followed signs to Hope and caught a direct train back to Manchester Piccadilly from the station.

Getting to the Peak District as a day trip from Manchester: Take a train from Manchester Piccadilly to Edale. A day return should be £12. If you do what I did and journey back from Hope, you should technically purchase an extra ticket to cover the Hope to Edale stop. Book tickets from Manchester to Edale.

Peak District by day tour: to see more of the Peak District during a one day trip from Manchester, consider a Peak District group trip inc Poole’s Cavern & Bakewell (and try Bakewell tarts in their birthplace).

3. Lake District (journey time: 1 hour) – the most beautiful Manchester day trip

Lake district from manchester day trip

Although the Lakes are considerably further than the Peaks, it’s possible to visit during a day trip from Manchester as long as you’re prepared to pick just a tiny patch to explore. With over 2,000km of countryside encompassing mountains, woodland, towns, villages and – of course – lakes (16 to be precise), you couldn’t thoroughly discover the Lake District in a month let alone a day.

Popular things to do in the Lake District include taking a scenic boat cruise across Lake Windermere, seeing where Beatrix Potter used to live and write at Hill Top National Trust property, eating famous sticky toffee pudding in Cartmel village, hiking the Old Man of Coniston, and relaxing afterwards with cafes and boat trips from Coniston Water.

Getting to the Lakes as a Manchester day trip: If you’re hoping to take a Lake District day trip from Manchester by public transport, your best bet is to travel by train to Oxenholme. From here, you can go gorge walking, kayaking and canoeing. Book tickets from Manchester to Oxenholme.

To see the Lakes in better depth without your own vehicle, take a choice of day tour beginning in Manchester. This includes transport and commentary as you visit some of the Lake District’s most beautiful destinations.

If you have longer, follow my itinerary for a weekend in the Lake District.

4. Llandudno (journey time: 2 hours) – a Manchester day trip to Wales

Llandudno wales

A day trip from Manchester to another country? It’s possible and, better yet, will only cost you £13!

With great rail connections, North Wales is easily accessible from Manchester. There are plenty of points of interest ranging from climbing Mount Snowdon to exploring postcard-perfect Portmeirion and heading further afield to Anglesey Island and Holy Island.

One of the easiest places to reach from Manchester is Llandudno, a traditional Victorian seaside town with bags of charm and a perfectly-preserved pier (voted Pier of the Year, dontcha know!).

When you’re not playing arcade games and eating fish n chips and candy floss, other things to do in Llandudno during a day trip from Manchester include taking the cable car or tramway up to the Great Orme, wandering in Happy Valley Botanical Gardens and discovering Alice in Wonderland connections via the moble app trail.

Getting to Llandudno from Manchester: Direct trains from Manchester Piccadilly to Llandudno Junction start from £13, taking 2 hours. If you leave early and return late afternoon/early evening, it’s easy to visit North Wales as a day trip from Manchester. Book tickets from Manchester to Llandudno.

When to visit: This trip is best taken during the summer months, ideally on a sunny day. If you don’t like crowds, try shoulder season from March-May or September-October instead.

5. Conwy, Wales (journey time: 2 hours)

Just 15 minutes from Llandudno is Conwy, a coastal town widely known as the best-preserved walled city in Europe. Worthwhile activities in Conwy include walking the city walls for spectacular views of the harbour and Snowdonia, visiting the smallest house in Britain and exploring Conwy Castle.

Since time will be tight if visiting Llandudno and Conwy during the same day, choose one or split them into different day trips from Manchester.

Getting from Manchester to Conwy: trains from Manchester Piccadilly to Conwy start from £30, taking 2 hours and changing in Chester. Another option is travelling to Llandudno Junction then catching a 15-minute bus to Conwy. Book your train from Manchester to Conwy.

If you want to see rural Wales as a Manchester day trip by public transport, consider a day tour. GetYourGuide offer a North Wales adventure for £49.

6. Sheffield (journey time: 2 hours)

Sheffield day trip from manchester

Another easy Manchester day trip destination is Sheffield, the UK’s fourth-largest city, famous for its once-booming steel industry.

When it comes to Yorkshire charm, Sheffield’s city centre doesn’t disappoint. Tour the many free Sheffield tourist attractions such as the Winter Gardens, one of the largest temperate glasshouses in the UK, home to over 2,000 plants collected from various countries around the world.

You also have the infamous Kelham Island and its majestic museum telling the story of Sheffield’s contribution to the world’s steel market. At the museum, you can see cutlery items made in Sheffield which hold international importance.

Sheffield is also praised for its many independent shops and restaurants. With places like the Lucky Fox and Tamper Coffee House, you’re in for a well-deserved meal before heading home.

Getting to Sheffield from Manchester: It’s a short 50-minute journey through the Peak District by train direct from Manchester Piccadilly station. Book your tickets from Manchester to Sheffield.

Entry submitted by Daniel from Urban Abroad.

7. Chester (journey time: 1.5 hours)

Historic buildings sheffield

If you’re looking for memorable day trips from Manchester, head west to the beautiful city of Chester. It started life as a Roman fortress and is now a wonderful mix of Roman, Tudor and modern design.

One of the first things you’ll see is the fortress walls surrounding the inner city. Chester is the only UK city with a full circuit of walls; you can walk along them for the full 1.8 miles, soaking up spectacular views. Admire the Eastgate clock, built for Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee, and King Charles’ tower where he stood and watched his troops being slaughtered during the English Civil War. 

Other places to visit include Chester Cathedral which took 500 years to build (and is impressive enough to warrant it!) and the Roman Gardens with the ruins of a bathhouse and the biggest stone amphitheatre in Britain. There are also countless Tudor houses and streets to admire, plus wonderful shops, cafes and restaurants. 

For lunch, don’t miss the Jaunty Goat. There are two of these cafes in Chester, one vegan and one not. The Flower Cup also does a delicious brunch. 

Getting to Chester from Manchester: The train from Piccadilly takes about 1.5 hours; tickets start from £8.80 each way. Book your train tickets to Chester.

Entry submitted by Kat from Biker Girl Life.

Combine North Wales and Chester into the same day with a Conwy, Snowdonia & Chester day tour from Manchester.

8. Harrogate – (journey time: 2 hours) a relaxing day trip from Manchester

Betty's tearoom Harrogate manchester day trip

Just shy of a two-hour train ride from Manchester is Harrogate, a Victorian spa town in North Yorkshire. If you have relaxation and a little indulgence in mind, Harrogate makes the perfect Manchester day trip.

Since the discovery of mineral-rich spring water in the 16th century, Harrogate has attracted visitors seeking restoration in the supposedly-therapeutic waters. Today, spas in the town offer treatments including baths, massages and manicures thanks, in part, to a recent reinvestment in its spa culture.

Book your treatments at Turkish Baths Harrogate located in the Harrogate Royal Baths building before your day trip. This building is known for its lavish Turkish-style interior and a history of royal clientele. To learn more about Harrogate’s spa history, visit the Royal Pump Room Museum.

If soaking in iron and sulphur-infused mineral water isn’t for you, check out Harrogate’s gardens and parks. These include the Royal Horticultural Society’s Harlow Carr Gardens about a half-hour walk west of the city centre. You can also indulge in some shopping at Victoria Shopping Centre. 

For a bite to eat, enjoy an afternoon tea in the famed Bettys Café Tea Room. Don’t forget to grab some treats for the train ride home at Farrah’s Olde Sweet Shop. 

How to get to Harrogate from Manchester: The fastest way is to catch the train at Manchester Victoria and change in Leeds. Book your Manchester to Harrogate tickets.

Entry submitted by Ada from Beyond Yellow Brick blog.

9. Knaresborough (journey time: 2 hours)

Knaresborough day trip from manchester

Knaresborough is a pretty market town in North Yorkshire that makes for a wonderful day trip from Manchester. The bustling town is full of lovely black and white chequerboard buildings and picturesque views, the best from Knaresborough Castle out over the town and Knaresborough Viaduct.

Another great way to take in the views is from a boat on the River Nidd. Hiring a rowing boat is a popular pastime and a great way to take in Knaresborough at a leisurely pace.

Knaresborough’s most notable attraction is Mother Shipton’s Cave. Opened in 1630, it’s England’s oldest tourist attraction and tells the story of Ursula Sontheil, better known as Mother Shipton. She was a prophetess supposedly born in the cave around 1488. People travelled from far and wide to hear her predictions of the future.

For a bite to eat, Two Brothers Grill and Pizzeria serve excellent pizzas, pastas and burgers. For fine dining, award-winning Storm Restaurant offers an indulgent 3-course a la carte menu, a lighter lounge menu and traditional afternoon tea.

How to get to Knaresborough from Manchester: By train public transport, the journey is around two hours. Catch a train from Manchester Victoria to Leeds, then take the Northern service directly to Knaresborough. An adult ticket costs around £28 each way. Book your Manchester to Knaresborough tickets.

Entry submitted by Hannah from Get Lost Blog.

10. Nottingham (journey time: 2 hours)

Wollaton Hall nottingham

Nottingham is the largest city in the East Midlands and makes for an easy day trip from Manchester.

Things to do in Nottingham include visiting Nottingham Castle to learn about the history of the city and descend into the caves underneath it. During the City of Caves tour, you’ll learn how the caves were carved by the residents of Nottingham, and the purposes they’ve had over the years, from wine and beer cellars to Victorian slums and air-raid shelters.

Families will love visiting the Robin Hood attractions, while photographers will feel inspired at Wollaton Hall. Just minutes from the vibrant city centre, this Elizabethan Grade I listed mansion is set in over 500 acres of parkland full of free-roaming red and fallow deer. 

Finally, visit Hockley for an eclectic mix of bars and restaurants including Mandarin restaurant serving authentic Chinese food at reasonable prices. For dessert, don’t miss Doughnotts on King Street for Instagrammable treats.

Getting to Nottingham from Manchester: there are multiple daily trains from Manchester Piccadilly station to Nottingham, taking 2-3 hours and costing £30 return. Book your Manchester to Nottingham trains.

Entry submitted by Steph & Lewis from Book It Let’s Go!.

11. Shrewsbury (journey time: 1.5 hours)

shrewsbury-from-manchester

Shrewsbury is a historic town in England with a history dating back to Roman times. The half-timbered buildings date from the 12th and 13th centuries, Shrewsbury Castle was built as early as 1074, and Shrewsbury Cathedral is one of the finest examples of Norman architecture in Shropshire.

The old town is locked in the loop of the River Severn, the longest river in the UK. The riverbanks and Quarry Park are lovely places to relax after getting lost in the tiny streets that resemble scenes from Harry Potter.

Shrewsbury also hosts Shrewsbury Folk Festival (July), Shrewsbury International Food Festival (September) and a Gin Festival (April). If I can think of one ways to make your Manchester day trip even better, it’s gin!

How to get to Shrewsbury from Manchester: Trains take between 1 hour and 90 minutes and cost as little as £15. Book your Manchester to Shrewsbury tickets here.

Entry submitted by Travelling Twins.

12. Alton Towers (3 hours)

Alton towers

If you’re looking for adventurous day trips from Manchester, consider Alton Towers in Staffordshire. Not only is it one of the best theme parks in the UK, but it has some of the world’s best thrill rides, as well as vast grounds, gardens, forests and lakes. Board the cable car to enjoy panoramic views as you travel between the themed districts.  

Alton Towers is particularly popular during the autumn months as it hosts events such as Oktoberfest, Scarefest and a firework extravaganza for bonfire night.

How to get to Alton Towers as a day trip from Manchester: Take a train to Uttoxeter (changing in Stoke-on-Trent) taking around 1.5 hours total, then transfer to a 1-hour bus to Alton Towers.

Entry submitted by Kerry from VeggTravel.

13. York (journey time: 1.5 hours)

York is a charming town in the north of Yorkshire and one of the best day trips from Manchester for history lovers.

The most popular attraction is York Minster, one of the most beautiful cathedrals in England. This 7th-century cathedral boasts outstanding Gothic architecture and impressive stained glass. Next, explore York’s museums including JORVIK Viking Centre and the York Dungeon. Foodies, don’t miss the Chocolate Story Museum!

There are also plenty of free activities in York such as walking the York City Walls for incredible views of the city, relaxing at York Museum Gardens home to friendly squirrels, and strolling The Shambles, the oldest street in the city with plenty of quirky shops.

Finally, head to Betty’s Tea Room for a delicious afternoon tea or SPARK for international street food.

How to get to York from Manchester: Trains take 1 hour 40 minutes and cost as little as £9.70 each way when you book in advance. Book your Manchester to York trains.

Entry submitted by Cristina from My Little World of Travelling.

Nearby day trips from Manchester (max 30 minutes away)

If you’re short of time and budget, consider the following. These can be taken as half-day trips but most offer enough entertainment (and more importantly, food options) that you could stay all day.

These are the best Manchester day trips within a 30-minute radius…

14. Hebden Bridge (journey time: 30 minutes)

Hebden bridge manchester day trip

This market town in West Yorkshire is easy to reach during a day trip from Manchester. Thanks to the creative types who moved to Hebden Bridge in the 1970s, there’s a real independent feel with lots of quirky shops and cafes.

However, the real charm isn’t the high street but the countryside. Talk a leisurely walk along the Rochdale Canal soaking up views of the Calder Valley and Pennine hills. Finish with pub grub at Stubbing Wharf, a towpath pub serving hearty pies and locally-produced sausages. Hebble End Coffee Lounge is another cool spot with funky decor and espresso martinis.

Getting to Hebden Bridge from Manchester: Hop on a 30-minute train from Manchester Victoria bound for Leeds. Book your tickets.

Another place to consider when visiting Hebden Bridge is…

15. Hardcastle Crags (journey time: 30 minutes)

Hardcastle Crags

Hardcastle Crags in West Yorkshire comprises 400 acres of woodland approximately 30 miles northeast of Manchester near Hebden Bridge.

Explore unspoilt countryside by completing the Gibson Mill Walk or the slightly longer Railway Trail starting from Heptonstall. These allow you to learn about the 19th-century mill, enjoy the views from the top of Hardcastle Crags and see the remains of an old railway bridge.

However, the ultimate way to discover everything this area has to offer is a 10 mile long circular walk past lush valleys, epic landscapes, waterfalls and Hardcastle Crags’ stunning rock formations and historical sites.

Pack your own picnic or stop for coffee and a bite to eat at Gibson Mill. Although Hardcastle Crags is owned by the National Trust, it’s free to visit even for non-members.

Getting to Hardcastle Crags as a Manchester day trip: Trains depart every 20 minutes from Manchester Victoria to Hebden Bridge station. The journey takes 30 minutes and costs £13 return. Book your ticket.

Either start your circular walk from Hebden Bridge or take bus 596 to Heptonstall.

Entry submitted by Kitti from Kitti Around the World.

16. Trafford Centre (journey time: 30 minutes) – best Manchester day trip for shopping

Unlike the rolling hills and valleys of the Lakes and Peaks, the only thing you’ll discover at the Trafford Centre is decadent consumerism. Although a trip to a shopping centre might not sound like a travel adventure, the Trafford Centre is somewhere that needs to be seen to be believed.

In the Urmston district of Greater Manchester, just five miles from the city centre, this ginormous shopping centre and leisure complex could keep you busy for multiple days, not just one. Every major high street retailer has a slot here, plus there’s a cinema, SEA LIFE centre, Laserquest and LEGOLAND® Discovery Centre.

For 2021, there’s even a replica of the Squid Game doll supplied by Netflix. Rather you than me!

When you get hungry, there are some ridiculously OTT food courts including a replica of New Orleans and a bustling Chinatown. It’s not a location for supporting independent businesses (see my Manchester food guides for that) but there’s a range of popular restaurants like Bill’s, Five Guys, Wagamamas, Nando’s and Yo Sushi.

Getting to the Trafford Centre: There’s loads of free parking or you can arrive by tram. Catch any line to Cornbrook followed by the Red Line to the Trafford Centre. Buses X50 and 250 will also take you there.

16. Saddleworth (journey time: 30 minutes)

Saddleworth is a naturally beautiful area in Greater Manchester on the west side of the Pennine hills. It’s easy to explore the entire area during a Manchester day trip if you have a car, and slightly more limiting (but still doable) if you’re coming by train.

Arrive into Greenfields station and walk or take a bus to the Uppermill area which has all the charm of a countryside village, just 25 minutes from Piccadilly. Take a walk in Brownhill Countryside Centre and get cosy in a cafe afterwards. Saints Cafe does excellent chocolate-dusted cappuccinos and coffee cake.

However, the highlight of Saddleworth is walking in Dovestones Reservoir, just a five-minute drive from Greenfields station. You may be able to hail a taxi if you’ve arrived by public transport.

Getting there: Catch a train from Manchester Piccadilly to Greenfield (25 minutes) from £5.50, then hop on a 6-minute bus to the Uppermill area.

18. Salford (journey times: 30 minutes)

Stay occupied during a day trip around Manchester by heading to Salford Quays. This hub of culture and entertainment just east of the city centre is home to the BBC headquarters and a bunch of museums and dining options.

Although Salford stretches far beyond the Quays incorporating green spaces like Peel Park and Salford Museum and Art Gallery, the most impressive part – and the easiest to explore by public transport – is Salford Quays.

On one side of the water is MediaCityUK, home to the BBC as well as a selection of eateries (check out Vertigo for plant-based brunches) and outdoor pop-up bars in the summer. Cross the water to visit the Lowry, a theatre, art gallery and charity using proceeds to improve local lives. See upcoming shows, exhibitions and workshops on the website.

Getting to Salford Quays from Manchester: From St Peter’s Square, take the Blue Line (tram) to Harbour City and walk five minutes to the Quays. The journey should take 30 minutes.

19. Altrincham (journey time: 30 minutes)

Altrincham market manchester

This market town in Trafford is one of the trendiest suburbs in Greater Manchester, not to mention the most expensive. Apparently, it’s the quality of the schools in Altrincham that have attracted fancy types and pushed up the house prices. Although living here may be out of the question, it makes for a cool day trip from Manchester city centre.

The best thing to do in Altrincham for foodies is visit Alty Market, run by the same people as the Northern Quarter’s Mackie Mayor, one of the coolest places to eat in Manchester. From fancy, veggie Asian cuisine to hearty pies with mash, there’s something for all taste buds. Find a shared table in this covered market and order via mobile app.

Altrincham also has some cool coffee shops like Stubborn Mule Brewery and Two Brothers. Eat brunch at Common Ground and dinner at Sugo Pasta Kitchen. If you have time, explore the 300-acre deer park at Dunham Massey.

Getting to Altrincham as a day trip from Manchester: Take the Green or Purple Line (tram) to Altrincham Interchange. Northern Rail trains also make the journey. Either method will take 30 minutes.

20. Chorlton (journey time: 20 minutes)

Chorlton

Chorlton is another cool and upmarket neighbourhood worth exploring during a Manchester day out. Just three miles from Manchester city centre, it’s a good place to explore for half a day with excellent food and drink options. It’s also a chance to spot grand houses and see how the other half live!

Beech Road is the place to be seen with lots of boutiques and cafes. Notable places to eat and drink in Cholton include Into The Woods cafe, Double Zero Neapolitan Pizza and Little Yeti serving delicious momos (Nepalese dumplings).

To escape the city, head for a walk in Chorlton Water Park.

Getting to Chorlton from Manchester: The Pink Line and Blue Line trams (destined for Didsbury) call at Chorlton.

Enjoy these Manchester day trips!

I hope you have a better idea of the various days out from Manchester and how to get there and back.

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TRUSTED RESOURCES FOR VISITING THE UK

Flights (international and domestic): I use Skyscanner to find the best-value flights, using the ‘search by month’ tool to find the cheapest dates. You can also use the ‘to anywhere’ feature if you’re flexible on where you’re going.

Car hire – use Rentalcars.com to compare car rentals and campers in the UK (and all around the world).

Confused about visas? I use iVisa to check visa requirements and apply for visas online

For UK trains, I use Trainline. The search feature allows you to compare prices with other modes of transport.

For buses, I use busbud. It’s the only site that compares UK coaches and buses. Find London to Manchester journeys for £1! 

For hotels and self-catering apartments, I use Booking.com. You can filter by review score and price to find the best-rated budget places. For hostels, I use Hostelworld.com.

Browse UK tours and activities on GetYourGuide.

Pack the latest copy of Lonely Planet UK.

Need travel insurance? I use World Nomads. They cover 150 countries and have 24-hour emergency assistance.

day trips from manchester

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