From great restaurants to awesome architecture, there’s plenty to do and many places to explore in Manchester. And while you’re there, there are more fascinating English cities worth visiting, just a train ride or drive away.
The birthplace of The Beatles, home of two hugely popular soccer clubs and one of the world’s most famous horse races, the Grand National steeplechase – the fifth largest metropolitan area in the UK is worth seeing even if you’re not a fan of the above mentioned. An approximate 50-minute train ride from Manchester, there’s plenty to explore in the north-west of England.
Situated on the River Mersey, the city’s Albert Dock (above) is a huge attraction for visitors. It’s one of six locations that make up the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Liverpool Maritime Mercantile City, and the docking complex and warehouses also comprise the largest single collection of Grade I-listed buildings in the UK. Here, you’ll find galleries and museums, restaurants and bars, as well as free events and cool festivals. The Magical Mystery Tour leaves from here and includes visits to the homes of musical legends John Lennon and Paul McCartney.
When it comes to entertainment, Liverpool boasts the Art Deco-style Liverpool Philharmonic Hall and the Echo Arena Liverpool (above) for live concerts, and of course, sports fans will want to experience a game at Anfield, the home of Liverpool FC.
If exploring the great outdoors is more your thing, take in the fresh air at one of the city’s beautiful parks like Sefton Park, or throw on a swimsuit and catch some rays on Formby Beach (above). From the golden sands, you can see the mountains of Cumbria and have unobstructed views of the Irish Sea.
Looking for a luxurious way to chill out? Formby Hall Golf and Spa Resort (above) is the go-to spot for visitors who have been sightseeing all day or shopped to their hearts’ content, and need a good rubdown.
Also 50 minutes by train from Manchester is Leeds, where all you have to do is look around to experience the art and culture side of Leeds. There’s the Black Prince sculpture in City Square, and the Leeds Song Tunnel – an artwork comprising 60 typographic panels, each featuring a different song and artist – in the subway tunnel on Woodhouse Lane.
Opera fans will appreciate the fact that Leeds is one of the only English cities outside of London to have its own opera house, the Leeds Grand Theatre. The city is also home to many great galleries and museums, including the Middleton Railway museum, located at the oldest working railway in the world. Henry VIII’s armour and weaponry are displayed at the Royal Armouries (above) in Leeds, adding to the rich history of the city.
The city’s outdoor spaces are not to be missed, with Golden Acre Park in the north of the city boasting a stunning array of trees, plants and animals. The perfect picture opportunity can be found at Lotherton Hall, which is home to more than 130 different species of birds, including pretty pink flamingoes.
Similarly, Harewood House (above) is known for its stunning landscape, with various gardens and a farm on site which makes it a great place for a family day out. Queen Victoria visited in 1835 just before her coronation, and the site was also one of the filming locations for the UK TV series, Victoria.
Save time for some cool dining out experiences including Michelin-starred restaurant The Man Behind the Curtain, which is known for its 10- to 14-course tasting menu. Grade I-listed building, the Leeds Corn Exchange (above) hosts some great fairs amidst its tenants of indie bookshops, boutiques and eateries.
You’ll never get bored in this Roman-founded city that’s full of fascinating architecture and cool, cobblestone streets, just an hour and 20 minutes from Manchester by train. The very walkable city is full of medieval-era attractions such as 13th-century Gothic cathedral, York Minster (below), the National Railway Museum and Clifford’s Tower, the largest remaining part of York Castle which offers great views of Old York from the top.
You can’t visit the city without experiencing the legendary Betty’s Cafe Tea Rooms, which is famous for its tasty cakes and sandwiches. The decor of the Belmont Room was inspired by the retired RMS Queen Mary ocean liner and makes for a great photo opportunity. The colourful Walled Garden at Scampston Hall, which is still a family home today, is a great place to visit during the summer months. Even when the weather disappoints, York’s fascinating historical buildings will provide lots to do and see.
Obsessed with all things medieval? Barley Hall, named after the first chairman of the York Archaeological Trust, archaeologist professor Maurice Barley, when they rescued it from demolition. With its beautiful ceilings, and what’s said to be the only window made with horns in England, the medieval townhouse has been decorated to replicate what it would have looked like when then-Lord Mayor of York Master William Snawsell lived in it in 1483. The venue houses six costumes from the BBC drama, Wolf Hall (above), so TV fans will especially enjoy a trip here.
Taking a boat along the River Ouse (above) is a great way to see Northern Yorkshire and the city’s stunning architecture. The walled city was founded in 71 AD and is where the Saxons fought the Vikings in 1066.
– TEXT BY LEAH SIMPSON
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This article was originally published by Singapore Press Holdings.