Vying with Heathrow and Gatwick in size, Manchester Airport (MAN) receives flights from 20 British destinations and sees a steady stream of travelers, Mancunians and, of course, footballers. There’s a decent selection of places to pick up books at Manchester Airport and you can also find plenty of places for clothing and bites to eat; don’t miss the branch of Gregg’s in Terminal 1 arrivals—this chain does cheap, northern pastries at their best. The airport is 12 miles south of the city centre (and 164 miles from London). There are several trains an hour from the airport to Manchester Piccadilly.
Train travel between London and Manchester can be more expensive than flying, but if you’re eager to ease your carbon footprint and take in a bit of the British countryside, sleek Virgin Trains styled like airplane cabins leave London Euston for Manchester Piccadilly. A return trip takes just over two hours and starts at 54 GBP. For other destinations, visit National Rail Enquiries.
For bus travel to Manchester, National Express is Britain’s main long-distance bus company, serving Chorlton Street station in Manchester’s city centre. From London, expect to pay about 40 GBP for the return trip, although you can often find money-saving "fun fares." You can travel from Manchester to just about any city in England by National Express coach. An hour-long hop across to shopping mecca Leeds costs about 8 GBP depending on the time of day you travel.
Manchester transportation systems provide plenty of options. Manchester’s tram network starts at Piccadilly station, with three lines heading out toward Bury, Eccles and Altrincham. If you’re going to Salford Quays (for the Imperial War Museum North) hop on an Eccles-bound tram. Old Trafford is a tram stop on the line that goes out toward Altrincham. A return ticket during peak hours costs 3.30 GBP.
Manchester train services run between Piccadilly Station, Victoria, G-Mex, Salford Central and Oxford Road, but there’s no real reason to opt for the train over the tram or the bus.
If you really want to immerse yourself in Manchester traffic (really?) you can hire a car at a number of locations in and around the city centre. Try Enterprise (0161 833 9311), Budget (0161 228 2808) or National (0161 834 3020). From the inner city ring road, there are signs to most attractions and destinations, but parking in Manchester will lighten your pockets considerably.