What are the best budget-friendly day trips from Manchester?

11 June 2024

Manchester, the vibrant city in the Northwest of England, is renowned for its rich industrial heritage, bustling music scene, and iconic football clubs. Besides its local charisma, it also serves as an excellent starting point for numerous short, budget-friendly trips. In this article, we'll walk you through some of the best day trips from Manchester that promise a memorable experience without leaving a hole in your pocket.

Visit the Lake District National Park

First on the list is the Lake District National Park. Known for its picturesque landscapes and tranquil lakes, it is an ideal destination for nature lovers, adventurers, and peace-seekers. Just under two hours from Manchester, the Lake District can be easily accessed by car or public transportation.

The park offers an array of activities that cater to different interests. You can embark on a leisurely cruise on Lake Windermere, England's largest natural lake, or take a serene walk by the lake-shore. For the adventurous souls, the park provides a myriad of hiking trails, ranging from easy strolls to challenging treks, each offering breathtaking views of the unspoiled beauty that the park unfolds.

For a budget-friendly visit, avoid peak travel times, pack a picnic lunch, and explore free walking routes which are aplenty. The park, being open throughout the year, allows you flexibility in planning your trip according to your convenience and budget.

Wander in the Town of Chester

Chester, a beautiful walled city located an hour's drive from Manchester, is a must-visit destination for history buffs. The city's medieval walls, Roman ruins, and charming half-timbered houses provide a glimpse into its rich history dating back to Roman times.

The highlight of your trip will undoubtedly be the Chester City Walls, the oldest, longest, and most complete in Britain. A walk along these walls offers an intriguing perspective of the city's past and present. Chester Cathedral, the Roman Amphitheatre, and the distinctive two-tiered Rows are other attractions that you can visit without spending a penny.

Although the city offers a plethora of paid attractions, you can still have a fulfilling day out in Chester by merely strolling through its quaint lanes, admiring its unique architecture, and soaking in its timeless charm.

Discover the National Trust Properties

If you are passionate about heritage and conservation, National Trust properties around Manchester are worth your time and money. They offer a great day out, encompassing historical houses, beautiful gardens, and stunning countryside.

Dunham Massey, located about 10 miles from Manchester, is a Georgian house set in a magnificent deer park. You can explore the house, stroll around the gardens, or just relax in the park. Another option is Tatton Park, a historic estate with a mansion, gardens, and a farm. The entry fee to these properties is quite reasonable, providing a budget-friendly outing.

Remember to check the opening times and prices beforehand. National Trust members can enjoy free entry to these properties, making it a beneficial investment if you plan to visit multiple sites.

Explore Peak District National Park

Another national jewel within easy reach from Manchester is the Peak District National Park. The park, just an hour's drive from the city, boasts spectacular landscapes, diverse wildlife, and a rich cultural heritage.

Whether you wish to enjoy a peaceful walk amidst nature, embark on a challenging hike, or visit charming villages, the Peak District caters to all your desires. The park's most famous walks include Mam Tor and Kinder Scout. Both walks are moderately challenging but reward you with panoramic views of the surrounding countryside.

While there is no entrance fee to the park, it's advisable to plan your visit during off-peak times to avoid crowds and secure affordable parking.

Take a Stroll in the Town of Buxton

Last on our list is Buxton, a spa town located on the edge of the Peak District National Park. Known for its natural spring water and Georgian architecture, the town offers a relaxed and enriching day out from Manchester.

Buxton's top attractions include The Crescent, a fine example of Georgian architecture, and Poole's Cavern, a two-million-year-old limestone cave. If you're there on a sunny day, a walk in the Pavilion Gardens is a must. With 23 acres of beautifully landscaped gardens, it's a perfect place to unwind.

While these attractions may charge an entry fee, the town itself, with its beautiful buildings and relaxed atmosphere, can be enjoyed at no cost.

Manchester offers an array of budget-friendly day trips that cater to a variety of interests. Whether you're seeking adventure, history, architecture, or merely a change of scenery, these top destinations will provide a delightful escape from city life without straining your budget.

Take a Day Trip to Liverpool

A day trip from Manchester to Liverpool could be a fantastic option for music and history lovers. A mere hour's drive from Manchester, Liverpool is globally famous as the birthplace of The Beatles.

Start your day in Liverpool with a visit to the Beatles Story, a museum dedicated to the iconic band. While there is an entry fee, it is a worthwhile investment for any Beatles fan. Liverpool is also home to the Cavern Club, where The Beatles played many of their early gigs. Entrance to the club is quite affordable, especially on weekdays.

After immersing yourself in Beatlemania, explore Liverpool's rich maritime history at the Royal Albert Dock. It is home to several free museums, including the Merseyside Maritime Museum and the Museum of Liverpool. Stroll along the waterfront, admire the historic buildings, and soak in the bustling atmosphere.

If you have time, visit the stunning Liverpool Cathedral, the largest in Britain. Entry is free, but donations are welcomed. Finally, enjoy a walk at the Pier Head, part of the UNESCO-designated World Heritage site, the Liverpool Maritime Mercantile City.

Wrap Up Your Day at Blackpool

Blackpool, a seaside resort on the Lancashire coast, can be an excellent day trip from Manchester to wrap up your travel itinerary. It is easily reachable from Manchester in less than two hours by train or car.

Blackpool is best known for its Pleasure Beach, an amusement park offering a wide range of rides and attractions. While tickets can be a bit pricey, there are often discounts available online. Moreover, the iconic Blackpool Tower offers a magnificent panoramic view of the coast. While it requires an entry fee, the experience is worth every penny.

In contrast, a walk along the Blackpool Promenade or a visit to the three Victorian-era piers won't cost you anything. If you're there in the autumn, don't miss the Blackpool Illuminations, a spectacular light show that stretches six miles along the promenade.

Remember, while Blackpool can be a fun experience, it can also be crowded during the summer and school holidays. Therefore, plan your trip during off-peak times for a more relaxed and budget-friendly visit.


Exploring the area around Manchester doesn't have to be an expensive affair. Each of these proposed destinations offers a unique experience and a delightful change of scenery. Whether you're after nature, history, architecture, or just a relaxing day out, these budget-friendly day trips from Manchester are sure to offer you a memorable experience. Always remember to plan your trips strategically to avoid crowds and secure affordable transport, thus ensuring a perfect day out from the vibrant city of Manchester.

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