11 Unmissable Day Trips from Manchester (By Train & Car!)

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The following list of day trips from Manchester is brought to you by Tilly from TillyText, a Manchester local! Read on for her roundup of the greatest Manchester day trips, and how to access them by car or train.

There’s a reason it’s hard to drag yourself away from Manchester.

Well, there’s about nine. Music, shopping, culture and one-hell-of-a-night-out. It’s true when they say Manchester truly has everything you could wish for from a great Northern city in the UK. 

But so do the areas surrounding Manchester, too. You’ve got the swoon-worthy Lake District so beautiful that Taylor dedicated a whole entire song to it on her album – in fact, pretty much all of the cute quaint little towns outside Manchester look like they belong in the Folklore universe. 

Not to mention the bustling cities of York and Liverpool that are on hand to help you experience a distinctly different flavour of a good British knees-up!

So, if you’re lucky enough to have set aside a whole weekend to explore Manchester and its surrounding areas, why not jump on the train (or snag a lift) to do one of these fab day trips – after smashing through this 24 hours in Manchester itinerary, of course.

Save this list of Manchester Day Trips for Later!

You’ll be very glad you did.

1. Liverpool

The argument over which is a better city has made Mancunians and Liverpudlians even feistier over the years (an achievement in itself!). An easy way for you to settle this debate is to visit them both yourself. 

If you’re a big Beatles fan, there’s plenty of fun Beatles-themed Liverpool activities, like the Magical Mystery Tour, a fascinating 2-hour tour over every spot in the city the band ever laid eyes on. Or head to the British Music Experience Museum to fully cement the idea that no one has contributed more to British music than Northerners. 

Finish the day by testing out some of Liverpool’s incredible beer gardens and terraces, before moving onto Matthew Street or one of the city’s very many Irish bars for a night out you definitely won’t forget in a hurry. 

And yes, that photo of you and the John Lennon statue will definitely look good in the morning.

How to get to Liverpool from Manchester: The drive to Liverpool takes just over an hour if you’re willing to deal with city centre parking. Equally, you can get a direct train from either Manchester Victoria or Manchester Picadilly to Liverpool Lime Street for less than £10.

The Beatles statue in Liverpool
Photo by Neil Martin on Unsplash

2. Crosby Beach 

Look, no one is going to the North of England for beaches. That’s what the South is for! 

But that doesn’t mean there aren’t some great coastal spots up there too. One of these is Crosby Beach. 

Crosby Beach is just outside Liverpool city centre, which makes it a very doable day trip from Manchester. Come summer, the beach is full of groups of friends enjoying those endless summer evenings with a picnic blanket, music speaker, and can of supermarket gin and tonic. 

And the pièce de résistance to Crosby Beach? The 100 cast-iron figures stretching the coastline, many of which are in the water when the tide comes back in. So, no. You don’t need to call the coastguard to rescue that random person who is stuck still in the far distance.

How to get to Crosby Beach from Manchester: Unless you’re driving to Crosby Beach, the quickest way to get there from Manchester is taking a train from Manchester Victoria or Manchester Picadilly to Liverpool Lime Street, and then changing onto a train to Blundellsands & Crosby station. The beach is a 10-minute walk from there.

Iron figures by Antony Gormley at Crosby Beach in United Kingdom
Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

3. Hebden Bridge

There’s no doubt that Manchester has its fair share of vegetarian eateries, independent coffee houses, and shops full of everything and anything. 

But so does the small market town of Hebden Bridge. And some might even say it does it better!

After it was taken over by former hippies in the 1970s, Hebden Bridge quickly became home to a vibrant arts and culture scene, locally sourced and independent businesses, and a melting pot of free-thinking and liberation. 

The reason I love Hebden Bridge is because it’s one of the more unique day trips from Manchester. Where else are you able to spend hours trawling through one-of-a-kind stores stocking eco-friendly clothing, and also go wild swimming, too?

How to get to Hebden Bridge from Manchester: Direct trains from Manchester Victoria to Hebden Bridge take less than 30 minutes and cost less than £5.

Canal river boats in Hebden Bridge. UK
Photo by Stephen Wall on Pixabay

4. Hope Valley (The Peak District)

Much like how Evermore is Folklore’s chaotic younger sister, the Peak District is the dramatic and all-encompassing counterpart to the more serene and cool-as-a-cucumber Lake District. 

If you’re looking to find yourself in the Peaks’ many gritstone ridges and stark moorlands (or just fancy getting away from the hustle and bustle of Manchester city centre for the day) head to Hope Valley. 

Here, you can strap on your walking boots and complete one of the many renowned nearby walks like Mam Tor and Kinder Scout. 

And the best reward after a couple of hours hiking in the Hope Valley? A cold pint of cider or a hot mulled wine in one of the local villages – depending on the season you visit. 

However, I’d argue a Sunday roast goes well whatever the weather. 

How to get to Hope Valley from Manchester: Hope Valley is a great option for those who want to explore The Peak District without a car. You can get the train from Manchester Piccadilly to Hope (Derbyshire) for about £7.50 and takes less than 50 minutes.

5. Buxton

It’s okay that Manchester isn’t the prettiest city. Why? Because Buxton’s just over an hour away. 

Step into the set of Bridgerton (not literally – that’s Bath, but Buxton looks close!) in this quaint town full to the brim with Georgian and Victorian architecture that’s guaranteed to make you swoon. 

You could take a romantic stroll in Buxton’s Pavilion Gardens while keeping an eye out for the Duke of Hastings looking for his next wife, or rent a boat and go rowing in the lake desperately hoping that Anthony will appear soaking and shirtless on the promenade!

After trying (and sadly probably failing) to be married off into perhaps the greatest literary family out there, you can dry your tears on Buxton’s outdoor adventure Go Ape course where you’ll have so much fun swinging through the trees, you won’t even notice the humungous camel toe from your harness…

How to get to Buxton from Manchester: You can get a train from Manchester to Buxton that takes just over an hour, and starts from just £5 if you book in advance.

6. York

Small and mighty – that’s the best way to describe York. And fitting everything into only one day might be a challenge, but it’s definitely possible. 

You just have to keep an eye on the time you spend getting lost in this medieval city’s higgledy-piggledy back lanes, the number of cups of tea you drink at Betty’s Tea Rooms, and the photos you take in the 2,000-year-old Gothic halls of York’s cathedral!

If you still need convincing that York is worth the visit, why not trust the thousands of people who have voted it as one of the UK’s top tourist destinations? They probably went to the city’s Viking Centre, too… yep, you read that right.

How to get to York from Manchester: There are tons of trains that go between York and Manchester every day. The journey takes about 1 hour and 40 minutes and can cost as little as £6.90 if you book ahead of time.

Early morning view of York Minster in York, UK
Photo by Karl Moran on Unsplash

7. The Lake District 

Find out if those Windermere peaks really do look like a perfect place to cry by visiting the Lake District for a day. 

Compared to the Peaks, the Lakes are a little further out of Manchester – but they’re definitely more than worth the extra journey…

You could honestly just go to The Lake District for the jaw-dropping scenery itself, but if you’re up for it, there are also a few short-ish hikes that’ll really help you understand why Taylor kept begging to go back here. 

The Old Man of Coniston route takes you up and through some of The Lakes’ steepest and most spectacular peaks, passing the many remnants of discounted copper mines. No doubt the incredible view from the top from leave you speechless and unable to shout all the many Wordsworth puns in your repertoire. 

Finish your day trip to The Lake District by visiting some of the other imaginatively named towns like Ambleside or Lakeside. The best way to get there? Across Lake Windermere on a boat, of course. Oh, Taylor would be so proud!

How to get to the Lake District from Manchester: The easiest way to get to the Lake District is to drive, however, it is possible to get the train. There are over 30 direct trains from Manchester to Oxenholme Lake District every day. Just be wary of the walk on the other side to get to the different hotspots.

Buttermere, Cockermouth, in the Lake District
Photo by James Armes on Unsplash

8. Stockport

If you’d asked a Mancunian about the best Manchester day trips ten years ago, they would never have said Stockport. However, this historic market town is now well and truly on the map. 

Just seven minutes on the train from Manchester Picadilly, Stockport is the definition of a great day trip destination: accessible, affordable, and different enough from the starting point 

Take Stockport’s unique hat museum, for example. That’s not in Manchester! And the gorgeous 1930s art deco theatre that does afternoon tea. You can’t find that in the city! 

Aside from some brilliant cultural landmarks and museums (don’t miss Stockport’s Staircase House, a Medieval townhouse that’s been converted into a museum), there are also tons of great places to eat and drink in Stockport. 

See here: Where the Light Gets In, an open kitchen/restaurant where the chefs aren’t separated from the diners, and the soon-to-be-opened curry banquet hall with room for 1500+ people looking for some delicious Indian cuisine across four staggering floors.

Need I say more?

How to get to Stockport from Manchester: There’s no need to drive to Stockport. You can take a direct train from Manchester Picadilly which takes as little as 7 minutes, or the 203 bus which (unsurprisingly) takes slightly longer.

Stockport cathedral in Stockport, UK
Photo by Philavert on Pixabay

9. Haworth

Fans of the Brontë sisters, this one’s for you. Step into the world of Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights with a visit to Haworth, a quintessential village just off the Yorkshire moors. 

With cobbled streets lined with shops and cafes, and majestic steam trains bringing visitors to their very own moorland adventure, Haworth belongs in every Gothic romance. 

There’s also the must-visit Brontë Parsonage Museum where keen Brontë buffs will delight in showing you around the house of these female literary legends. 

Just remember to bring your Cathy or your Heathcliffe with you…

How to get to Haworth from Manchester: The far easiest way to get to Haworth is by car. However, you can also get there by train – it’s just a little long-winded. You could either get the train from Manchester Victoria to Hebden Bridge, before taking the hourly 500 bus to Haworth over the moors. Equally (and a much more fun way) to get to Haworth from Manchester is by taking a train to Leeds, then a train to Keighley. At Keighley, hop onto the restored Keighley and Worth Valley steam train.

Brontë Parsonage Museum sign in Haworth, Keighley, UK
Photo by Hannah Smith on Unsplash

10. Dovestones

If you’re keen to escape the hullabaloo of Manchester city centre but have vowed never to be that person who pretends to like hiking, Dovestones is a great middleman. 

Part of the Peak District National Park, a day trip to Dovestone Reservoir will give you the chance to experience the unique beauty of the Peaks, but on a much more toned-down scale; a popular walk in the Dovestone Reservoir is a pretty flat circular route around the Reservoir edge and briefly up into the Twilight-esque forest. 

Hold on tight, Spider Monkey!

Those in desperate need of some cool countryside air often head to Dovestones with a picnic in tow, ready to be eaten near the end of the trail on the allocated picnic benches. 

If it’s chilly, you’ll also likely see many walkers warming themselves up on their flasks of tea and hot chocolate!

How to get to Dovestones from Manchester: Annoyingly, Dovestones isn’t very accessible by public transport, so your best bet is to go by car (or head to Hope Valley in the Peak District instead.)

View from Dovestone Reservoir, Oldham, UK
Photo by Josè Maria Sava on Unsplash

11. Chester 

Chester is my Roman Empire. No, really. This historic city is home to the largest Roman Amphitheatre in Britain – not to mention some great places to grab some grub and a pint.

I often find cities that feel like you’re reading a history textbook aren’t usually as good for eating, drinking, and shopping – but that doesn’t fly with Chester. 

You could spend hours nosing about independent and high-street brands in Chester’s Tudor-style half-timber buildings or following the Roman walls along traditional boozers and local pubs!

Slightly left-field suggestions for a Chester day trip include a visit to Chester Zoo (one of the UK’s largest zoos that’s so famous it appears on British TV) and kayaking or paddleboarding along the River Dee. 

Equally, having a drink and a mooch around the Roman ruins is great, too.

How to get to Chester from Manchester: You can get a direct train to Chester from Manchester in 50 minutes for as cheap as £5.80 if you book ahead of time.

Chester city from above, UK
Photo by Rachel Hannah Photo on Unsplash

Did we miss any of your favourite Day Trips from Manchester? 

Let us know in the comments!

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