5 unforgettable day trips from Manchester

Manchester isn’t just a great place to live for what’s there; it’s the ideal launch pad for trips to countless attractions within 2 hours’ train journey.
Sitting in the heart of Great Britain, Manchester has always been known as a great place for business and industry. Its location also means there are brilliant days out from Manchester, whichever direction you travel in. You’ve got the Peak District to the east, the Lake District National Park to the north, miles of beautiful coastline to the west and rolling countryside to the south. 

Best of all, this is all less than two hours away by train from Piccadilly Station. Make a nice early start and you can spend the whole day at one of the many attractions near Manchester. Whether you’re exploring alone, with a friend or taking the whole family, make sure you check out our Ways to Save page. It’s full of money-saving tips that can make a real difference, especially if you book ahead.

So if you’re a Mancunian with a day to spare or are on holiday in the area, here are some of the best places to visit near Manchester.


If you were born in Manchester, you no doubt had at least one school coach trip to Chester Zoo. There’s no mystery why it’s such a popular attraction, as it’s one of the best zoos in the country. Going back as a grown-up, maybe with children of your own, will give you a completely new appreciation of the place, with lots of exotic animals to see and gardens to explore.

Chester’s also famous for its rich history. First came the Romans, who left the city walls, amphitheatre and countless dress-up tours in their wake. Second are the medieval Rows, unique shopping and business streets set across two levels. Shopping, history and wildlife make Chester a brilliant day out from Manchester. Plus, at just one hour and five minutes away, all you have to do is hop on a train and go!.


The world-famous port city of Liverpool sits at the end of Manchester’s first ever inter-city railway. It’s a line that remains to this day, making the 45-minute journey one of the quickest and easiest by train. 

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 fab exhibits. A more diverse history is represented in Liverpool’s museums and galleries, most notably the Walker Gallery, World Museum, Tate Liverpool and Bluecoat.

Shopping and dining in Liverpool is just as diverse, with a thriving city centre and Albert Dock development hosting both mainstream and unique stores and restaurants to suit every taste and budget. If you like a tipple, there are dozens of welcoming bars to visit as well. Forget about the football rivalry and experience this city on a perfect day out.

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 we’d go to the furthest possible: Colwyn Bay. It’s easily one of the country’s best loved holiday resorts thanks to gorgeous golden sands, dozens of B&Bs and hotels, and great tourist attractions.

The Welsh Mountain Zoo is one such attraction and certainly gives Chester a run for its money. A big hit with both adults and kids, you can get up close to some rare and exotic species in luscious surroundings. For many day trippers, wandering along the Colwyn Bay prom, having a cup of tea in a seafront cafe or messing about on the beach is enough of a reason to go.

There are direct trains to Colwyn Bay from Manchester, 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.


The North of England’s entertainment capital is a short hop away from Manchester by rail. There are regular trains from Manchester Piccadilly to Blackpool, so why not forget about traffic jams and travel in comfort to this beloved resort? 

You can visit Blackpool for whatever reason you like, such is the diversity of the town’s attractions. Throughout the early 1900s it was best known for its trams, illuminations, tower and ballroom, all of which are still hugely popular. The arrival of the big name rollercoasters and other white-knuckle rides in the second half of the 20th century opened the resort up to a global audience of thrill seekers.

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


If you’d like a quieter, more relaxing day out, the town of Macclesfield to the south of the city is a quick nip away on the train. It’s a large market town that dates back centuries, and has rows of Georgian properties to give a clue to when its commercial heyday was. Nowadays, it’s something of a foodie haven, so you could easily spend a whole day chilling out in its restaurants and cafes and enjoying some cosmopolitan culinary treats.

Alternatively, spending the day browsing its shops is many people’s idea of a perfect day, especially shoppers who want something a little more laid-back than the city centre. You’ll find plenty of antique shops, boutique fashion stores, gift shops and delis alongside the chain stores – so there’s something for everyone. 

Another unexpected treat is the town’s museum-to-population ratio. Yes, there are 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.

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 Piccadilly – what are you waiting for?


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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