Come for the history, stay for the ace bars and market stalls. Chester is famed for its ancient walls dating all the way back to 80BC. Stone bridges link various footpaths through the city, leaving a beautiful stamp of heritage. Yet Chester’s also grown into a modern hangout – chic venues such as Havana and The Suburbs share the limelight with drinking dens like Ye Olde Boot Inn.
Then you have Chester Zoo and Racecourse, world-famous for their respective takes on animal magnetism. Head to either before sampling the local hospitality. You might even leave with a pile of jewellery from the city centre: there are over 20 stores on display.
Liverpool is a close rival to being the best city in the North West. There’s a waterfront romanticism to the place which we’re hard-pressed to find anywhere else in the UK with quite the same zest for music, art and grassroots events.
A train from Piccadilly can get you there in under an hour if you time it right. At Lime Street, swerve the typical attractions (Liver Building, Concert Square, Wheel of Liverpool) for lesser-known haunts like the Baltic Triangle, a collection of pop-ups and warehouses to the west of Albert Docks. Swap the Cavern Quarter for Par Street while you’re at it: a nirvana for cocktail and vinyl lovers.
If you’re expecting a giant water bottle, you may be let down. However, this spa town has scenic walks, stately buildings and weird detours for the errant naturalist. Head underground to Poole’s Cavern where vast limestone caves suit a selfie. Once you’re out, follow the Ring of Trees trail, which threads around trees and scrub for 19 km.
We suggest stopping by the Old Hall Hotel too – the oldest in the country! It has a superb range of local ales and great food. Take a drink through to the opulent lounge, where wing-backed armchairs sit around a fireplace.
North on the M62, past Oldham, sits 118 acres of crystalline water. Hollingworth Lake is ideal for long walks and picnics, not to mention an exhaustive cycle route. Two bike trails – one 10 miles, the other 20 – loop through the landscape, which really can knock you for six in the sunshine.
Elsewhere, windsurfing and other watersports are a common sight in the distance. Is there a better way to grin madly with a full view of the South Pennines? If so, we haven’t found it.
There’s more to this village than meets the eye. Take, for example, the Traders Club, host to Laura Marling, The Fall and other music legends over the years (and a finalist for NME’s Small Venue of the Year). Or how about the classic Picture House: a marvel of 1920s architecture, red walls and all, showing hidden gems from the world of film.
There’s a renowned market, of course, through Thursday to Sunday, where you can busy yourself with trinket-shopping all day. Hebden Bridge barely has any chain stores, lending the edge of the unknown to that next great outfit or recipe book. You’ll probably want to catch the train here as well, since it takes around twice as long to drive.
Satisfied? We’ve only scratched the surface. Keep hunting for day trips around Manchester, using the slick transport links we know and love. There’s plenty more happening in the city too… Keep checking back for new ideas, or talk to us about an apartment with good connections on all sides.