Manchester Travel Guide

England  #4 in Best Day Trips from London

Getting Around Manchester

The best way to get around Manchester is on foot. Most of the best things to do are clustered in the city center and are easily reached on foot (just be sure to pack a comfortable pair of shoes). If you get tired, hop on a Metrolink tram. These trams can reach most places in the city quickly and efficiently. There's also a free bus network called Metroshuttle, but it only runs routes throughout the city center during limited hours. Still, it's a better option than driving in Manchester, which presents the twin difficulties of parking and traffic. If you need to get somewhere quickly, you can always rely on the city's council-regulated taxis, though they're pretty pricey.

Manchester International Airport (MAN) is the city's closest airport (located 11 miles south of the city center), and direct flights are available from many eastern U.S. cities. You can take a taxi from the airport to the city center for around £22 GBP (roughly $37 USD). You can also opt to take a train to Manchester's Piccadilly Station; trains run between the airport and the city center roughly every 10 minutes with one-way trips costing between £4 and £5 GBP ($6 to $8.50 USD). If you're traveling from London, a train might be the best way to go. Trains to Manchester leave from London's Euston station; the 200-mile trip takes around three hours. You can also get from London to Manchester by bus; a number of different coach companies offer the service, including Megabus, GoEuro and National Express.

On Foot

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.

Tram

Manchester's Metrolink tram system consists of six different lines that make 76 stops in close proximity to many of the city's major attractions. You can buy single journey or round-trip tickets (called return journeys), which vary in price depending on how far you travel. Keep in mind that if you purchase a single journey ticket, you need to use it within 90 minutes of its purchase. Another option is to purchase a day travel card, which allows for unlimited transport on all Metrolink tram routes. Adult fares range from £5 to £7 GBP (around $8.50 to $12 USD) depending on the times of day for which they're valid. Weekend travel cards are also available for £5.80 (around $10 USD) for adults; children's passes can be purchased at a discounted fare. You should also note that if you're found traveling on the tram without a valid ticket, you could get smacked with a £100 GBP fine (about $165 USD).

Bus

Metroshuttle is a free bus system that runs three circular routes throughout central Manchester, connecting train stations with businesses and some of the city's top attractions. These buses run about every six to 10 minutes from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday. The buses run shorter hours on the weekends, and two routes aren't in service at all on Sundays. Manchester also has a Nightbus that operates different routes throughout the city center from midnight until as late as 3:30 a.m. Keep in mind that this bus only runs every 30 minutes or so on Fridays and Saturdays. A one-way ride on the Nightbus will cost you no more than £3 GBP (about $5 USD).

Although the Metroshuttle and Nightbus are the best ways to get around the city center, you may find that you need to travel further afield — to the airport, for instance. FirstGroup runs one network, and an unlimited day pass costs £4 GBP (about $6.50 USD). Stagecoach runs another bus network, and you can purchase a one-week pass for £12.50 GBP (about $21 USD).

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 International Airport (MAN), 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 other 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 a taxi is to call one (061 230 3333), book online or wait at a taxi rank (pick-up point).

Explore More of Manchester

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