As one of the UK’s biggest cities, Manchester is very well-equipped for getting around. Handy, because there are so many corners of town you’ll want to discover! And, if you’re flying in via Manchester Airport, you’ll want to know how to transfer to the city and check into your Manchester hotel, pronto! Luckily, our guide has all the answers you need.
Getting around Manchester
Manchester Airport is one of the busiest in the UK. It’s about 11 miles from the airport to the heart of the city, and you can either drive or take one of the many public transport options available. But why not start or end your trip with a great night’s sleep at one of our Manchester airport hotels? We have two right on the airport doorstep: Runger Lane North and Runger Lane South, plus several more are just a short drive away.
If you need to get to the city centre from the airport, grab a taxi from outside the terminal buildings (fares start from around £16 into the city centre) or you can hire a car from one of the many rental companies on offer. In clear traffic, you’re looking at about a 30 minutes-drive, but factor in taxi queues or the time it takes to shuttle to your hire car.
For all public transport options, you’ll need to head to the airport’s transport hub. Called The Station, it’s reached via a walkway that leads from all three terminals. If you’re making several journeys or travelling all weekend or as a family, it might make sense to buy a 1-day or 7-day System One Travelcard. Buses to the city centre run every 10 to 30 minutes, cost less than £3 and take an hour. Look for the numbers 43 (which runs 24 hours a day), the 44 or the 105. Trams run every 12-15 mins into Cornbrook, which is just outside the city centre. From here, you just jump on another tram into town. It’ll cost you less than £5. Trains from The Station run every 10 minutes and take around 20 minutes to Piccadilly. Tickets cost less than £3.
While Manchester’s a big place, it’s easy to get around. Exploring on foot is a great way to appreciate the architecture, spy hidden corners and chance on little gems. But if you’re in a hurry to catch a show (or travelling with small children), there are lots of transport options with two, four or more wheels.
One of the most convenient ways of travelling around town is by Metrolink tram. Manchester’s Metrolink is the UK’s largest light rail network, with 93 stops on seven lines travelling in and out of the city centre. You can take a tram for free in the city zone if you’ve bought a train ticket from any Greater Manchester station to Piccadilly, Victoria, Oxford Road or Deansgate. Manchester runs a free city centre bus linking all the main train stations, shopping centres, car parks and tram stops. The Metroshuttle has three routes going from Piccadilly, Victoria, Oxford Road, Deansgate and Salford stations and you can hop on and off as often as you like.
If you’re making a night of it, Manchester runs a late night bus service on Friday and Saturday nights until around 3.30am. Night buses run regularly from Piccadilly Gardens, Shudehill Interchange and other city centre stops, with fares of £3 or less. If you prefer two wheels, Manchester has a great value bike hire scheme called Bike & Go. You can hire a bike at Oxford Road Station for a daily fixed charge of just £3.80 and then take it anywhere and keep it all day. There’s an annual subscription charge of £10 and you’re good to go! While Oxford Road is the only city centre station to offer Bike & Go in Manchester, you’ll also find the scheme at Altrincham, Wilmslow and Knutsford train stations.
Manchester train stations provide a gateway to the north of England, some interesting UK cities and an easy way to travel to the beautiful countryside in the surrounding area. Manchester has four main train stations - Piccadilly, Victoria, Oxford Road and Deansgate - with most services running to or through Piccadilly or Victoria.
From its main train station, Piccadilly, you can catch non-stop services to places like Chester, Windermere, Liverpool and York. Trains to London from Manchester Piccadilly take just over two hours and run every 20 minutes. Victoria Station is the place if you fancied a day trip to Blackpool - there’s a train every hour that will take you Blackpool North. It also offers trains to Leeds, Newcastle and Huddersfield. Oxford Road is handy for students, as it’s the station nearest to the University of Manchester and Manchester Metropolitan University campuses. You can catch trains here to Manchester Piccadilly, Crewe, Leeds and Sheffield.
Deansgate station is just 1km west of Manchester Piccadilly, and is on both the Manchester to Preston and the Liverpool to Manchester lines, both heavily used by commuters.