5 unforgettable day trips from Manchester

Manchester is a great city to visit but it’s also a great place to start your journey with connections to towns and cities all across the UK via train.

Emma in the web team

Written by Emma in our web team

4 mins read | February 20, 2023

Travelling from Manchester

Proudly northern and full to the brim with musical talent, Manchester is a city that we’d encourage all our customers to visit if you’ve got the chance. Not just for tourists or explorers, this ‘Northern Powerhouse’ is also a leader in northern business and industry.

Castlefield, Manchester

And, on top of all that, its location means that whichever direction you travel in, Manchester is surrounded by some amazing days out. To the east there’s the Peak District, to the north sits the Lake District National Park and to the south it’s Macclesfield and Derbyshire.

Best of all about these locations? They’re all less than two hours from Manchester Piccadilly Station by train. Make a nice early start, and you can spend the whole day at one of the many attractions near Manchester.

If you’re thinking (like we are) that this is a great idea for a day out or two then take a look at our Ways to Save page for some great options on how you can save money on your travel to these locations.

So – you’ve arrived in Manchester and you’ve got a day to spare, but where to?


Chester train times

If you were born in Manchester or lived there growing up, it’s more than likely that one of your school trips took you to Chester Zoo. There’s no mystery as to why it’s such a popular attraction being that it’s one of the best zoos in the country. But, returning as a grown-up, maybe with children of your own, gives you a completely different view of the zoo. There are a whole range of exotic animals and gardens to explore.

Chester is also famous for its rich history. You can’t miss the city walls built by the Romans as you wander around the streets of Chester. After you’ve finished exploring Roman ruins you can stumble across the Medieval Rows. These are filled with unique shops and local businesses set across two levels.

For all this Chester adventure it takes around 1 hour 5 minutes from Manchester Piccadilly to Chester by train.


As many of the people that work on our route will say, Liverpool is one of the best cities to visit for a day out or a weekend away. Home to Anfield and Goodison, this world-famous port city sits at the end of Manchester’s first ever inter-city railway.

If you’re not visiting Anfield or Goodison, you might want to pay homage to Liverpool’s other greatest export with a visit to The Beatles Story. You can see icons like John Lennon’s white piano, the Sergeant Pepper outfits and countless other exhibits. A more diverse history is represented in Liverpool’s museums and galleries, most notably the Walker Gallery, World Museum, Tate Liverpool and Bluecoat.

Once the educational part of the trip is over and you’re ready for some lunch then it’s always recommended to visit Albert Dock. You can enjoy some fish and chips, stare out to sea and watch the world go by.

Today you can journey from Manchester to Liverpool in around 45 minutes which is ideal.

Colwyn Bay

We could have recommended any of the resorts along North Wales’s stunning coastline. Since we’re limiting ourselves to a two-hour train journey from Manchester, we thought the furthest possible destination made most sense and that’s Colwyn Bay. It’s easily one of the country’s best loved holiday resorts thanks to gorgeous golden sands, Michelin award winning chef Bryn Williams’s bistro and an amazing amount of local produce (you’ve go to visit ‘The Grate Cheese Deli’).

If you’ve got time for a Welsh excursion then there are direct trains to Colwyn Bay from Manchester Piccadilly with Transport for Wales, but depending on which station you’re closer to, it might be a little quicker to change at Chester. Either way, the journey will take around one hour 50 minutes, with much of the journey taking in some truly dramatic views of the sea and mountains.


Blackpool Beach

Blackpool - The North of England’s entertainment capital is a short hop away from Manchester by rail. Known for its Eiffel like Blackpool Tower, rollercoasters and Ballroom; Blackpool has always been a favourite with our West Coast family.

At its heart, Blackpool remains a traditional holiday resort, with sandy beaches, piers, theatres, bars and arcades to entertain people of all ages. It doesn’t matter what your taste in entertainment is, you’ll find them something in Blackpool – and it’s only just over an hour away by train.


Macclesfield Canal

Ideal for a quieter day out, Macclesfield is a large market town that’s home to rows of Georgian properties. You’ll also find plenty of antique shops, boutique fashion stores, gift shops and delis to explore.

A favourite for pub crawlers who start at the top of the hill and then meander their way back to the station before heading home, Macclesfield is a beautiful town on our West Coast train line.

Another unexpected treat is that the town is home to not one but four museums (The Silk Museum, Paradise Mill, The Old Sunday School and West Park Museum) which all tell different stories about the region’s history.

If you’ve got time, hop in a taxi and you can visit Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre. It’s home to a huge radio telescope that rose to fame in 1957 when it detected the Soviets’ secretive Sputnik satellite, and then again in 1969 when it tracked Apollo 11 as it landed Neil and Buzz on the moon. You can easily spend a day in the museum, science centre and huge arboretum, where the planets of the solar system are hidden amongst the trees for you to find.

Macclesfield is only 20 minutes away from Manchester Piccadilly and our Avanti West Coast high-speed Pendolinos go straight there.

Getting there by train

So, have you decided where to go for a day out? Whatever day trip you’ve got your heart set on, Avanti West Coast can take you there. You can book any train journey through our Journey Planner, even if the stations and services aren’t run by Avanti West Coast.

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