6 Best Day Trips from Manchester

Emma in the web team

Written by Emma in our web team

7 min read | Published 20 February 2023 | Updated 03 January 2024

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. As well as shopping and sports, you can indulge in influential art galleries, global cuisine, and dozens of bars and clubs.

But what if you already live there and fancy a change? The city’s location means that whichever direction you travel in, you are surrounded by some amazing days out.

To the east, there’s the Peak District and West Yorkshire. Up north sits the Lake District National Park and to the south it’s Macclesfield and Derbyshire. Go west and you’ll quickly get to Cheshire and Liverpool. But keep going and the North Wales coast and Snowdonia beckon.

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 a full day at one of the many attractions near Manchester.

Travelling from Manchester

If you’re excited about a day out from Manchester and want to travel while saving some money, then we’ve got plenty of Ways to Save.

Once you’ve looked at how to save on your fares, you’ll be ready to pick where you want to travel. With that in mind, let’s explore some of the best day trips you can take from Manchester.

1. Chester

A view of the traditional Tudor style buildings synonymous with Chester and the Mediaeval Rows
Chester is famous for its rich history. The city walls were originally built by the Romans, and they are still pretty much intact, with one or two modern replacements. In fact, you can walk all the way around them in about an hour.

There are also Roman ruins in the city, including an impressive amphitheatre.

As you can wander into the city centre, you’ll come across the Mediaeval Rows. This is where shops and restaurants at ground level have a covered walkway above them, with access to another layer of shop fronts.

The city is bustling and atmospheric, with entertainers and the town crier making appearances. You should also enjoy a guided tour of the beautiful cathedral, and pop to the market for some sensational street food.

There’s also Chester Zoo to visit, and there’s no mystery as to why it’s such a popular attraction. It’s one of the best zoos in the country and features on the Channel 4 show The Secret Life of the Zoo.

Returning as a grown-up, maybe with children of your own, gives you a completely different view of the place. There is a whole range of exotic animals and gardens to explore, and you’ll learn all about the conservation of flora and fauna in this marvellous place.

For a day around Chester, you can reach the city by train via Manchester Piccadilly. The journey takes just over an hour.

2. Liverpool

An aerial close-up of the tower of the Royal Liver Building in Liverpool
Liverpool is one of the best cities to visit for a day out or a weekend away. Home to two multiple-cup-winning football clubs and countless great bands, this world-famous port city sits at one end of the first-ever inter-city railway.

The line connected Manchester and Liverpool in 1830, and is still in use today.

Visit the Liverpool or Everton grounds for a match or a tour, then pay homage to Liverpool’s other greatest export with a visit to The Beatles Story.

You can see recreations of iconic exhibits like John Lennon’s white piano, the Sergeant Pepper outfits and the Cavern Club. The story is an audio-visual adventure that takes you from the band’s humble beginnings to global stardom.

You can also jump on a tour bus and see Penny Lane and Strawberry Fields while you’re at it, for a true Beatles-centric trip.

There’s also ample history at Liverpool’s museums and galleries. The most notable are 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. Enjoy some fish and chips or Italian, Greek, Spanish, Thai or Mexican, or just grab a coffee.

You can journey from Manchester to Liverpool in around 45 minutes, which is ideal for a day trip.

3. Colwyn Bay

A picture of the beach at Colwyn Bay in North Wales at sunset
We could have recommended any resort along North Wales’s coastline, but we’re limiting ourselves to a two-hour journey from Manchester. So the furthest possible destination made the most sense, and that’s Colwyn Bay.

It’s one of Wales’s best-loved holiday resorts thanks to its gorgeous golden sands and promenade. But don’t miss Michelin award-winning chef Bryn Williams’s bistro at Porth Eirias. You’ve also got to visit ‘The Grate Cheese Deli’, one of Wales’s true hidden gems.

If you’ve got time for a Welsh excursion then there are direct trains to Colwyn Bay from Manchester Piccadilly with Transport for Wales. Depending on which station you’re closer to, it might be a little quicker to change at Chester.

Either way, the journey will take approximately two hours, with much of the journey taking in some truly stunning views of the sea and mountains.

4. Macclesfield

Hovis Mill in Macclesfield, with the canal and barges in the foreground
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.

Macclesfield is a beautiful town on our West Coast train line. It’s 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.

Another unexpected treat is that the town is home to not one but four museums. There’s the Silk Museum, Paradise Mill, The Old Sunday School and West Park Museum. Each tells a different story 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 the huge Lovell Telescope which became famous in 1957 when it detected the Soviets’ secretive Sputnik satellite. In 1969, it tracked Apollo 11 as it landed Neil and Buzz on the moon and it’s still scanning the skies to this day.

You can easily spend a day in the museum, science centre and huge arboretum. There, plaques representing the planets hide amongst the trees, at their relative distances to the sun. If you have kids, they will love finding them.

Macclesfield is only 20 minutes away from Manchester Piccadilly, ideal for a daytime jaunt.

5. Blackpool

A photo of Blackpool Tower at night, fully illuminated, with the beach in the foreground
Blackpool is northern England’s entertainment capital and it is a short hop away from Manchester by rail. The seaside town is known for the Tower and Ballroom, rollercoasters galore, the illuminations, fresh air, and fun.

At its heart, Blackpool remains a traditional holiday resort, with piers, theatres, bars, and arcades to entertain people of all ages. It’s definitely not a quiet, sleepy resort.

The only exceptions are the stag and hen parties, as well as the work days out in the clubs and bars, but it’s all good-natured and accommodating. It doesn’t matter what your taste in entertainment is, you’ll find something in Blackpool.

Better yet, Blackpool is just over an hour away by train.

6. Tatton Park

The gardens at Tatton Park, Cheshire, featuring a small footbridge over a lilypad-strewn pond
Just past Altrincham to the southwest of the city is Tatton Park. It’s a National Trust property based around a grand stately home, Tatton Hall. It’s one of the most visited attractions in the northwest, not just because of the hall, but also because of the extensive grounds.

Explore the children’s play area, a working farm, a cafe selling local produce, the wonderful walled herb gardens and a fine greenhouse. You might know it from the Tatton Flower Show, which is held annually on the grounds.

Tatton is perfect for a tour from Manchester. Head for Knutsford Station and you’ll be at the gate in 40 minutes. It’s a bit of a walk through the grounds thereafter, but there are plenty of taxis in the town.

Travelling from Manchester by train

An overview of Manchester Piccadilly’s platforms, taken from above, early in the morning
Once you’ve decided where to go for a day out, you can start looking at trains to get you there. Whatever day trip you’ve got your heart set on, Avanti West Coast can help.

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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