Manchester brims with fun activities. Whether you’re exploring and admiring historical architecture, watching football, museum hopping, or throwing back pints at a pub, you’ll find something that keeps you well entertained. However, like any city in the world, the scenery can become monotonous, igniting a longing to see something new.
Thankfully, Manchester sits within two hours of several epic locations. Let your imagination run wild in the Lake District, an inspiring area for many long-gone poets, or step back in time while you walk the medieval city walls lining York. The following day trips in Manchester cater to a spectrum of moods: active, adventurous, historic rewind, relaxed, and more. Just read this article, pick your outing for the day, pack your car (or head to the train), and off you go!
The Lake District
The Lake District beautifully blends active adventure, relaxation, and commemoration of times long gone within 2300-square kilometres. With glistening lakes, craggy fells, undulating green countryside, it’s easy to understand why Beatrix Potter, William Wordsworth, and Samuel Taylor Coleridge kept coming back here—and why it attracts high numbers of holiday goers today.
The collection of lakes invites relaxation, the trails carved through undulations attract hikers and mountain bikers seeking unique vantage points, and writers and poets come to lay their footprints in the faded steps of literary greats.
How to Get to the Lake District from Manchester
By car: Around 1 hour and 30 minutes
To get to the Lake District from Manchester, you’ll need to choose whether to go north, east, or south first. To get to the east, follow the M6 motorway. For the south, take junction 36 and then A590. To go north, take Junction 40 and A66 or A592.
For public transport, take the National Express Bus from Manchester Coach Station to Carlisle, which will take 2 hours and 40 minutes. In addition, various trains can take you to different locations in the Lake District.
Where to Go in the Lake District
The Lake District covers a pretty ample space, making it essential to choose where to go before figuring out the directions! Arguably two of the most popular spots are Keswick, located in the northern region of the Lake District, and Windermere, situated in the south.
Some also claim that Hawkshead, Cartmel, and Grasmere sit atop the list of prettiest villages in the Lake District!
Ever wanted to step in a time machine to medieval times, so you could, just for a moment, see what it was like to live centuries ago? Well, a visit to York will give you something similar when you walk the ancient streets crisscrossing behind 13th-century walls. And in the centre of the maze of history soars northern Europe’s biggest medieval cathedral, where the intricacies and vivid details of the gothic architecture will have your jaw dropped.
Visitors like to walk York’s walls, which open up at 8 am and close at dusk.
How to Get to York from Manchester
You can get to York from Manchester either by car or public transport! If you’re going by car, expect to drive for 1 hour and 20 minutes. Taking the train from York to Manchester takes around the same amount of time as it would to drive!
Peak District National Park
Don’t expect to find amphitheatres of peaks peppering Peak District National Park, but more lakes, moors, valleys, and gorges, oddly enough. Officially established as a national park in 1951, the area has evolved into a favourite.
One of the more popular activities you can do here is walking, with the Mam Tor Walk, Dovedale Walk, Kinder Scout Walk being some of the best by-foot excursions in the national park. You’ll find so many that cater from anyone to beginners, families, and experienced hikers.
How to Get to Peak District National Park from Manchester
By car: Around 1 hour
It’s best to look up which hike you want to try or which village you want to visit in the Peak District, and then plan your route accordingly!
Where to Go in Peak District National Park
You’ll find several walks sprawling, including Mam Tor, from Castleton, a quaint village that boasts tales of local history. Another popular destination is Ashford-in-the-Water, thanks to Britain’s most scenic bridge and architecture harking back centuries. Or, you can spend some time at Edale, a tiny village that marks the end or start of the famous Pennine Way. The Kinder Scout Walk also begins from here!
Little Moreton Hall
Meandering among the strange, lopsided walls of Little Moreton Hall makes for a fantastic day trip from Manchester. Etched with storybook-like character and quirks, a visit to this Tudor manor house is one you won’t forget. Those who’ve explored this 500-year-old wonky mansion have all wondered how it remains standing after so many centuries—the craftsmen clearly had unique imaginations and undeniable skill!
After exploring Little Moreton Hall, spend some time checking out the manicured Knot Garden—if it’s restored by the time you go. Unfortunately, in 2019, the garden became infected by box blight, forcing this beautiful garden to become a long-term fixer-upper project. But you can head to the tea rooms or check out the “pre-loved” novels at the bookshop while this is underway.
Little Moreton Hall makes for a fun outing for all ages!
How to Get to Little Moreton Hall from Manchester
By car: 1 hour
To get to Little Moreton Hall from Manchester, get onto the M6 before taking exit A534 to Congleton/Sandbach from junction 17. Shortly after, you’ll turn left onto Old Mill Rd/A534 before taking a right onto Wallhill Lane and then continue straight onto Brownlow Heath Lane. 0.5mi later, go right onto Congleton Rd/A34. Take a left after another mile of driving, and you’ll find Moreton Hall to your left.
It takes around two hours to get to Little Moreton Hall from Manchester via public transport.
Snowdonia National Park
Experience the closest area to a fairytale escape in Wales’ Snowdonia National Park. Discover tall peaks surrounding valleys and feel like wherever you go, some folklore character could pop out and say hi at any moment—it’s truly magical here! Anyone into mountain biking, hiking, climbing, trekking, road biking will find an activity that caters to them.
Like we’ve mentioned before, one of the best ways to relish Snowdonia’s mythical beauty is to explore it on foot. Some epic (but challenging) hikes are Snowdon Horseshoe Hike or the Crib Goch Hike. In contrast, some more family-friendly walks are Llyn Ogwen Hike and Coed y Brenin Walk.
How to Get to Snowdonia National Park from Manchester
By car: Around 2 hours
It’s best to choose which trailhead you want to go to know where to drive! There is also a range of lovely villages to choose from, furthering our point of picking a spot and then looking up the directions.
Taking public transport from Manchester to Snowdonia will take way too long for a day trip.
Where to Go in Snowdonia National Park
Snowdonia is not only swathed in mystical scenery, but the villages dotting the area take the wonder of Wales’ famous national park to the next level! A popular village to visit is Betws-y-Coed, where incredible 360-views await. Or, head to Caernarfon, a market town that boasts Caernarfon castle, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Meanwhile, adventurers may want to head to Llanberis, which is nestled deeper in the hills of Snowdonia.
Whether you choose a village or a walk, you’ll find something magical in this national park.
Not in the mood to drive far for a day trip? The market town of Altrincham, formed in 1290, makes for an easy option to escape the city. History buffs and tourists alike will appreciate the medieval market square, which features a whipping post (restored), which serves as a horrific reminder of the pain once inflicted on those speculated to be involved in witchcraft and thieves. Another great spot to visit is Dunham Massey Hall, where you can explore the lovely, well-maintained grounds and the White Cottage!
How to Get to Altrincham from Manchester
It takes around 30 minutes to reach Altrincham by both car and public transport.
To get to Altrincham from Manchester by car, follow the A56 before turning left onto Barrington Rd/B5164. Continue along this road, and you’ll reach Altrincham.
Yorkshire Dales National Park
Let the scenery forming Yorkshire Dales National Park sweep you into a swirl of time that harks back to centuries past. The collapsing green valleys peppered with dry stone dykes and historic villages with sheep roaming the land make it seem like some magician pressed pause on a master remote, which is why the scenery feels of yore.
And don’t forget about the limestone karsts soaring in the southern Dales!
But the rural scenery and supernatural-like limestone karsts aren’t even the main attraction points. Eager adventurers love to challenge themselves by climbing the Yorkshire Dales’ Three Peaks: Ingleborough, Pen-y-Ghent, and Whernside.
The most popular activities here are cycling, cave explorations, and walking.
How to Get to Yorkshire Dales National Park from Manchester
By car: Around 1 hour and 30 minutes
To get to Yorkshire Dales National Park, we advise choosing which village or adventure you want to take on before you start driving. There are so many different spots to start!
Where to Go in Yorkshire Dales National Park
For a vast selection of walks, we suggest heading to Malham! However, if you’re chasing stunning scenery and everlasting architecture, Kirkby Lonsdale makes for a great day trip visit. Hawes is another beautiful location.
You’re probably thinking, “Why would I want to leave one city for the other?” Well, we’ve got one word for you, and one word only: Beatles. Some of the younger generations may not know this, but Liverpool was the birthplace of one of the greatest bands of all time (this is up for debate, okay—but not on an outdoor adventure website)! And Liverpool isn’t shy when it comes to highlighting the Beatles.
Your first stop should be The Beatles Story on the Albert Dock. You can also take a bus or cycle tour to check out all of the spots dedicated to the Beatles.
Get your Beatles’ fix, and then head back to Manchester!
How to Get to Liverpool from Manchester
It can take around 1 hour to reach Liverpool from Manchester by car. And if you’re taking public transport, expect your journey to take anywhere from 40 minutes to 1 hour and 30 minutes. It’s helpful to choose where you want to go to know how to get there!
Where to Go in Liverpool
Besides the suggestions related to the Beatles mentioned above, we suggest checking out Tate Liverpool, an inspiring art gallery. Of course, a visit to the Liverpool Cathedral won’t disappoint, and if you aren’t afraid of hits, check out the Radio City Tower. Shopaholics can explore the independent stores lining Bold Street. There’s a lot to do in Liverpool!
Nidderdale Area of Natural Outstanding Beauty
Where to even begin with Nidderdale Area of Natural Outstanding Beauty? Seriously, though…the area comprises 509.5mi of trails snaking through moorland, pastoral countryside, and moody woodland. And there’s the collapsing ancient ruins and longstanding field barns accentuating the already-stunning scenery.
Head to the Brimham Rocks and Moor Walk to check out the rocks carved by ice, continental shifts, and wind 320 years ago. Kids will love climbing these peculiarly shaped rocks. Marvel at the fusion of ruins and countryside fields on the Greenhow Walk or bask in the rolling green hills and bodies of water on the Swinsty and Fewston Reservoir Walk. Horseback riders can also take advantage of the 105.6mi of bridleways!
To get started, the best area to start is the Swinton Estate, where 20,000 acres of gardens, ruins, and countryside surrounding a castle will keep all ages entertained!
How to Get to Nidderdale Area of Natural Outstanding Beauty
By car: 2 hours
It’s best to choose a village, trailhead, or area to explore before checking the GPS directions. If you follow the links provided for the walks above, you’ll find directions leading you directly to the trailhead!
Where to Go in Nidderdale Area of Natural Outstanding Beauty
You could go to Harrogate, the closest town to Nidderdale, or head to one of the many charming villages dotting the area—Pateley Bridge, Masham, or Ripton.
Sunny day? Shirts off, bathing suits on, and get on that water! You have to take advantage of catching rays when a rare cloudless block of time comes along, right? A great place to soak up the sun is Hollingworth Lake. Walk around the lake, take on some water sports (kayaking, canoeing, windsurfing, rowing, etc.), and then replenish with a pint or two at a pub along the shore.
How to Get to Hollingworth Lake from Manchester
By car: 50 minutes
To get to Hollingworth Lake from Manchester, take the M62 to Elizabethan Way/A640 in Milnrow, go through Milnrow, and follow the Elizabethan Way/A640, B6225 and Smithy Bridge Road toward your destination.
Public transport takes around 45 minutes!
Which day trip from Manchester stands out to you?