Manchester Travel Guide

England  #4 in Best Day Trips from London

Getting Around Manchester

The best way to get around Manchester is on foot due thanks to the city compact layout. It's also easy to get around by bike with many dedicated bicycle lanes. If you get tired, hop on a Metrolink tram, which can reach most places in the city quickly and efficiently. There's also a free bus network, covering most of the city center. If you need to get somewhere quickly, you can always rely on the city's regulated black taxis.

Manchester Airport (MAN) is the city's closest airport (located 10 miles south of the city center), and the U.K.'s third-largest airport. Direct flights are available from many U.S. cities. You can take a black taxi from the airport to the city center for around 22 to 28 pounds (roughly $29 to $37) to travel 10 miles. You can also take a train to Manchester's Piccadilly Station or a Metrolink tram; trains run between the airport and the city center roughly every 10 minutes with one-way trips costing approximately 3 pounds (about $4) online. Metrolink trams, which run every 12 to 15 minutes, take airport travelers to Cornbrook outside the city center, and you can take a variety of trams into the city center from there.

If you're coming from London, trains to Manchester leave from London's Euston station; the 200-mile trip takes around two to three hours. You can also get from London to Manchester by bus; a number of different coach companies offer the service, including Megabus and National Express.

On Foot & By Bike

The best way to experience Manchester is by walking it. Although you can't get everywhere in the city on foot, you can reach most of the city-center attractions quite easily. And although the city isn't laid out on a grid, a good city map will keep you from getting lost. Visit Manchester offers maps on its website. 

If your feet need a break, consider hopping on a bike. There are a variety of marked bike lanes and paved cycle paths throughout the city, as well as a handful of bike rental retailers. Transport for Greater Manchester offers a curated list of cycling paths in the city on its website.

Tram

Manchester's Metrolink tram system consists of seven different lines that make 99 stops in close proximity to many of the city's major attractions. Fares are determined by the number of zones you travel through (most of the main city center attractions are concentrated in zone 1). Keep in mind: When you buy a ticket, you'll have to choose which zone or zones you want to travel through. Your ticket is only valid for your chosen zones and you cannot travel through a zone without a ticket valid for that zone. Single tickets are valid for two hours. For travel in just one zone, fares start at 1.40 pounds (about $1.75). Travel cards are available and may be a good idea if you're planning to use the Metrolink a lot throughout your stay.

Bus

The city's free bus system (conveniently called "free bus") runs three circular hop-on, hop-off routes throughout central Manchester, connecting train stations with businesses and some of the city's top attractions. These buses run daily about every 10 to 20 minutes as early as 7 a.m. and as late as 11:30 p.m. Transport for Greater Manchester also operates a variety of city-wide bus routes, including to and from the airport. Fares for these routes are calculated by route.

Car

Manchester is just like any big city in that you'll have to deal with headaches like traffic and parking should you decide to rent a car. If you want to brave traffic and high parking rates, you can find useful tools (such as a map of parking lots) on the city's tourism site. If you don't have your own wheels but would like them, you can rent a car at Manchester Airport, as well as several locations throughout the city.

To drive in the U.K., Americans won't need to pick up an international driver's license. Also, remember that Brits drive on the right side of the road.

Taxi

The Manchester City Council sets the taxi rates for the fleet of black Mantax cabs; even though they're regulated, fares can get pretty pricey pretty quickly. Your best bet for saving money is to rely more heavily on public transportation and save the cab for a time when you need to get somewhere quickly. The best way to book online or wait at a taxi rank (pick-up point). Ride-hailing smartphone apps like Uber are another option.

Explore More of Manchester

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