11 fun day trips from Manchester

Manchester, in northern England, is one of the UK’s best cities, with tons of things to do. But whether you’re visiting Manchester or if you live here, don’t miss out on some of the fantastic places you can visit on day trips from Manchester.

In this post I’ve collected together some of my favourite day trips from Manchester. I’ve lived in and near Manchester for the last 10 years so I’ve been able to try all these days out personally. I hope you find some great ideas for your next day out!

1. Saddleworth

My top tip for a day out from Manchester is Saddleworth – I loved it so much I moved here! Saddleworth is a collection of villages in the hills east of Manchester, around 40 minutes’ drive from the centre of Manchester or just over 20 minutes on the train from Manchester Piccadilly.

A view of the Saddleworth hills

In the Saddleworth villages you can go on some fantastic walks (both easy and challenging – there’s something for everyone) in beautiful countryside. There are fun events throughout the summer, including the famous Saddleworth Band Contests, which have been called the greatest free show on Earth.

Read about the top things to do in Saddleworth

2. Rivington

Rivington is a small village between Bolton and Chorley, to the north west of Manchester. The area is a popular destination for days out from Manchester, but because there’s so much to see, it doesn’t feel too crowded.

The Pigeon Tower at Rivington, one of the best day trips from Manchester

The Rivington Estate was bought by soap magnate Viscount Leverhulme (the founder of what is now Unilever) in the early 1900s. Part of the estate was donated to the people of Bolton, while Leverhulme made the upper hillside into landscaped gardens for his Rivington holiday home.

The major sights at Rivington are spread between Rivington Pike, at the top of the hill and the Rivington Reservoirs at the bottom. In between you can find the Pigeon Tower, which has amazing 180 degree views of west Lancashire, the remains of the gardens and, in Lever Park, the “ruined” Liverpool Castle, which is a replica of Liverpool’s long-vanished medieval castle.

3. Jodrell Bank

Jodrell Bank is an observatory in Cheshire and home to the amazing Lovell Radio Telescope. The Lovell Telescope was completed in 1957 and played an important role during the Cold War. It’s still operational today and is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

The amazing Lovell radio telescope at Jodrell Bank observatory

Jodrell Bank is a great day out from Manchester, especially since the new visitor centre opened in 2022, which holds an exhibition on the site’s history and a domed cinema showing immersive films about the universe.

Read more about visiting Jodrell Bank

4. Panopticons

For a day out with stunning views and free art, why not spend a day visiting the East Lancashire Panopticons? Between 2006 and 2007, local councils came together with artists to add four spectacular new sculptures to the landscape north east of Manchester.

The Singing Ringing Tree, one of the East Lancashire Panopticons

Each Panopticon is set in a spot where there’s a fantastic view. The Singing Ringing Tree in the hills above Burnley is probably the most popular, both for the jaw-dropping view across to Pendle Hill and for the “singing” noise it makes when the wind blows through its metal tubes.

Read more about taking a day trip to see the Panopticons

5. Standedge Tunnel

Head over (or through) the Pennines and discover one of the North’s most important engineering achievements, Standedge Tunnel. Standedge Tunnel is just west of Marsden in West Yorkshire and is still the longest, highest, deepest canal tunnel in the UK.

Tunnel End, near Marsden, West Yorkshire, the entrance to the Standedge Tunnel

You can take a guided canal boat trip into the tunnel, visit the museum and explore the grounds at Tunnel End, where there’s a nature trail, play area, wildlife garden and cafe. Marsden has lots of cafes, pubs and independent shops, while the hills around the village are full of scenic footpaths.

Marsden’s railway station is on the line between Leeds and Manchester Piccadilly, making visiting Standedge Tunnel an easy day out from Manchester by public transport.

Read more about taking a day trip to Standedge Tunnel

6. Yorkshire Sculpture Park

On a nice day, it’s hard to beat a day trip to Yorkshire Sculpture Park. Pack up a picnic, pack your sunscreen and head over to Barnsley for enormous artworks from Henry Moore and an ever-changing rota of world-famous sculptors.

Visiting Yorkshire Sculpture Park

Yorkshire Sculpture Park is set in the grounds of a former stately home and has a lovely lake that you can walk around, along with woods and fields (complete with sheep), so it’s great if you’re looking for a day out from Manchester with a dog or kids that like to run around.

Read more about taking a day trip to Yorkshire Sculpture Park

7. Talacre

For a beach day less than an hour and a half from Manchester, Talacre, located in Flintshire, North Wales, is one of the best places to go for a day out.

Talacre’s wide, sandy beach is perfect for a perfect, laid-back day by the seaside. While there are a few shops, restaurants and amusements, Talacre is no Blackpool, and it’s all the more wonderful for it.

The beach and lighthouse at Talacre, on the North Wales coast but an easy seaside day trip from Manchester

The nearby sand dunes are home to a rich variety of wildlife, making it a popular spot for birdwatchers and nature lovers, while the iconic Talacre lighthouse, which dates back to the late 18th century, stands watch over the coast.

Whether it’s flying a kite on a breezy day, building sandcastles, or simply enjoying a tranquil sunset, Talacre makes a wonderful day trip from Manchester.

8. Wycoller

Wycoller is a tiny hamlet just to the east of Colne, on the border between Lancashire and Yorkshire, and it’s a wonderful and great-value family day out from Manchester.

The lovely stream and packhorse bridge at Wycoller

Cars are banned here (unless you’re one of the handful of residents in the thoroughly covetable old stone houses) so access is on foot from the village car park. Keep your eyes peeled on the short walk, as Wycoller is full of wonder from the minute you arrive; hidden in the trees are magical fairy doors, part of a trail that loops around the village.

A stream runs through the middle of Wycoller, which you can splash through on the old ford or cross using one of the ancient bridges. On the other side of the stream you’ll find Wycoller Hall, a ruined country house which is great for exploring. There are lots of walks in the area, including one lovely walk up to one of the Lancashire Panopticon sculptures, from where there are wonderful views over the countryside.

Read more about visiting Wycoller

9. Saltaire

Saltaire is one of my favourite day trips from Manchester. At the centre of Saltaire village you’ll find Salt’s Mill, a huge old textile mill which was the largest industrial building in Europe when it opened in the mid-1800s. Titus Salt, who built the mill, also built a village for his workers, designed to keep them healthy, well-educated and occupied with morally-suitable pursuits when not at work.

Salts Mill in Saltaire. The scale of the enormous mill is still impressive for visitors today.

Today, the mill is home to art galleries, cafes and shops (including one of my favourite bookshops), while the village is a wonderful place to spend the day. Saltaire and Salts Mill have been a UNESCO World Heritage site since 2001.

Things to do in Saltaire include canal walks, a trip on the Shipley Glen Tramway, going to the park, experiencing the annual food festival and art trail and walks around the lovely streets of Saltaire village.

Getting to Saltaire from Manchester is really easy, both by car and by train, making it a great day trip from Manchester by public transport.

Read more about things to do in Saltaire

10. Haworth

Haworth is one of the loveliest places to visit as a day trip from Manchester. This Yorkshire village was home to the Brontë sisters and has a seriously gorgeous main street, filled with cafes and bookshops. At the bottom of the hill, you can catch a heritage steam train on the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway.

A steam train on the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway in Haworth

The Brontës’ house is now a museum, where you can see artefacts from their lives, including some of their astonishing “little books” which they wrote as children. The museum also has first editions of some of the sisters’ books, including Emily Brontë’s novel Wuthering Heights.

Haworth is also a great starting point for the walks on the moors that the Brontë sisters loved so much; don’t miss the Brontë waterfall, around 3 miles from the village.

Read more about visiting Haworth and Brontë country

11. Skipton

Skipton, at the gateway to the Yorkshire Dales, is just over an hour away by car from Manchester. At the heart of Skipton is its 900-year-old castle, which is one of the best-preserved medieval castles. Inside the castle, you can explore ancient rooms, towers, and courtyards on a self-guided tour.

The gatehouse at Skipton Castle. Visiting Skipton is one of my favourite day trips from Manchester.

After learning about the castle’s tales, the town centre beckons with a variety of shops. Whether you’re hunting for unique gifts or just browsing, there’s plenty to see, especially on market days, which are Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, all year round. To wind down, a walk or boat ride along the canal is a must.

If you found these ideas for day trips from Manchester useful, pin it for later!

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