Manchester was hailed as the world’s first modern city in the early 19th century, and the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution...
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... still bristles with confidence and energy today. Whether you're coming for the buzzing cultural scene, one of the two huge football teams, or something else entirely, you'll be joining over 40 million leisure and business visitors a year. Manchester shows no signs of slowing down.
Helly Hansen Watersports Centre
Helly Hansen Watersports Centre is the largest centre of its kind in North West England, and offers everything from kayaking to windsurfing, snorkelling and diving. It’s in Salford Quays, 20 minutes from the city centre.
Manchester is home to the UK’s longest real-snow indoor ski slope. Test it out at Chill Factore out in Trafford Park. If you want to change things up, this enormous snow centre also has a 12-metre-high ice climbing wall.
Cycle the Bridgewater Canal
Opened in 1761 and credited with being England’s first canal, the Bridgewater runs 39 miles between Worsley and Manchester. You can easily enjoy bite-sized bits of it on towpaths-turned-cycle-paths along The Bridgewater Way.
Walk Saddleworth Moor
Lace up your boots and walk Saddleworth Moor, just 40 minutes east of Manchester city centre. It’s part of the Pennine Way, so even a short stroll here means you can claim to have walked on ‘Britain’s toughest trail’.
Trek Treetop Manchester
Head to Heaton Park and fly across the forest at Treetop Manchester. Zip lines soar 15 metres above ground on the most intrepid courses, but there are plenty of routes for more timid visitors too.
You'll be surprised what you can find within two hours of Manchester – if you're willing to do a bit of travelling, you'll find everything from stately homes to stunning national parks within relatively easy reach.
Spend an afternoon strolling round the Regency mansion at Lyme. It’s less than an hour’s drive south of Manchester, so you’ll have plenty of time to explore the grounds and admire the resident red deer. It’s a National Trust property, so expect well-marked trails and year-round events.
Peak District National Park
The wild Peak District is unbelievably close to Manchester – you can drive to the park's western boundary in less than an hour, and reach several of its best little towns and villages from Manchester Piccadilly on the Hope Valley railway line. Serious hikers will want to take on Kinder Scout (alight at Edale if you're doing it by train). If you want something tamer, pick from countless hiking and biking trails, or simply hunt down a country pub and enjoy the scenery.
For something completely different, head to Blackpool. It’s a little over an hour's drive, but gives you a classic British seaside experience that feels a whole world away. Vintage trams trundle up and down the promenade, the views from the iconic Blackpool Tower still impress, and the famous Blackpool Pleasure Beach has been bringing in the punters since 1896.