I love the UK. This past March I had the opportunity to visit both London and Manchester and I fell in love with both. Each city is its own entity and it was an amazing experience to see both at once, to fully grasp the similarities and differences between the two. What you might not know is that you can see both London and Manchester in one long weekend. Virgin Trains in the UK makes visiting the two together an easy task.
The train between London and Manchester runs about every 20 minutes. It’s a smooth ride and if you splurge on first class tickets, you’ll have comfortable seats, a lunch and fast wi-fi. The distance between London and Manchester by train is about 2 hours so you’ll have plenty of time to catch up on sleep, work or whatever else you need to do to prepare for fast-paced London.
Since there are so many cool things to do in London and Manchester, you can easily extend your weekend even further on either end if you want. And if you need help figuring out what to pack, check out our guide on travel outfits for London .
Itinerary for a weekend in Manchester & London
THURSDAY- SATURDAY: MANCHESTER
If you’re traveling by plane, it’s easy to arrive to Manchester via the Manchester Airport. It’s a simple airport to navigate and I was able to catch a flight from the USA to Manchester in only 2 short hops, though it’s easy to find nonstop flights from the East Coast for only $250-300 (one way) and $400-$500 (RT) if you’re booking in advance. You can catch a taxi or an Uber from the airport to the center – cost is about 16 euros. I’d also recommend an Uber for getting around the city if you’re not up to walking.
Where to stay in Manchester
King Street Townhouse Hotel – The King Street Townhouse Hotel is beautiful and I’d highly recommend it as the hotel to stay in while visiting Manchester. It’s part of the Eclectic Hotels group and sports a charming interior and a fantastic location. The rooms are decked out in cute decor and the floors have the prettiest porcelain tiling. The hotel is within walking distance of plenty of shopping, restaurants and coffee shops. Don’t miss one of the most instagrammable spots in Manchester: the view at the top; you can either enjoy it while sipping on a cocktail at the bar or while lounging in the small pool.
Things to do in Manchester
Museum of Science and Industry – If you’re a science nerd, head over to this museum for some fun. When I visited, they had a robot exhibition on display and it was the most intensive exhibition I’ve ever seen. I was astounded as to how realistic some of the robots were! Entrance into this museum is donation based.
Chivas Regal Whisky Blending – This is for all whisky lovers. You’ll learn fun facts like how whisky came about, the difference in spelling between “whisky” and “whiskey” and then you’ll have the chance to create your own masterpiece blend to take home with you. Tip: be sure not to add too much of the “smoky” blend.
Victoria Baths – Manchester is currently working on restoring the Baths to their original glory but for now, you can see this spectacular site and tour its beautiful stained glass interior, mosaic floors and Edwardian elements. Public opening times are each Wednesday afternoon (guided tour) and the second Sunday of each month (open day). Sometimes the Baths holds fun events so be sure to check the calendar to see if there’s an event taking place while you’re visiting.
Places to eat in Manchester
Wood – If you fancy elegant dining, then head over to Wood. Every plate is artistically designed and full of flavor. My favorites out of my 5 course meal were the meat dishes and the dessert.
The Mackie Mayor – With probably the coolest restaurant interior I have ever seen, The Mackie Mayor boasts a reclaimed Victoria market hall filled with artisan food traders. You have so many options to choose from: vegan, vegetarian, meat, Italian, pasta, coffee, cocktails. Basically, everything.
Evelyn’s Cafe Bar – Evelyn’s has a super cute interior and coffee that’s perfect to satisfy your caffeine cravings. It’s got a pretty central location as well so it’s easy to stop in.
The Refuge – This restaurant has a beautiful interior and is open for brunch, lunch and dinner depending on the day of the week that you visit.
SATURDAY – MONDAY: LONDON
As mentioned earlier, transportation to London from Manchester is fairly quick, very easy and reasonably priced (anywhere between 36 pounds – 54 pounds depending on your class of ticket). And since you’re ending your trip in London, you can just fly out of Heathrow or Gatwick. If you’re coming from the USA, Heathrow will probably be your most logical option. You can either take the Tube or an Uber from city center to the airport. The ride will be about 45 minute to an hour depending on traffic. You can take the Tube or bus, however, once you’re inside the city. 9 times out of 10 it will be faster than trying to taxi or Uber anywhere.
Add London to your epic Europe itinerary
Where to stay in London
The Landmark London – The Landmark London is amazing. Top notch breakfast display, excellent rooms, friendly staff, and an absolutely gorgeous interior that will make you awkwardly snap photos while people are staring all around you. The main dining area is flanked by winding staircases, tall palm trees, and the tallest of ceilings making you think you’re standing in a conservatory of some sort and not a hotel in downtown London. I can’t recommend this hotel enough.
Things to do in London
LONDON MARRIOTT HOTEL COUNTY HALL TEA – The London Marriott Hotel County Hall offers an elegant and classic approach to afternoon tea. You’ll be served with an array of sandwiches and sweets along with delicious tea. The views are amazing as you can spot London Eye and snaps across the river.
CHINATOWN – This is a fun spot to walk around and take photos of. It’s a small area and easily covered in an hour or so. Be sure to stop by the Bubblewaffle shop and grab an amazing waffle to chow down on while strolling about.
Where to eat in London
SAINT AYMES – Visit and grab a unique gold flecked and glittery unicorn latte. I got the chance to actually make one myself and trust me when I say there’s an art to it! Just look at the photos and you’ll be convinced! Saint Aymes is the definition of instagram-worthy. It sports the most beautiful flower display on the exterior along with beautiful tiled ground and cute chairs. The interior has two flower walls and again, cute chairs and tables. The designers have done an excellent job with the design so take advantage and snap away.
LANDMARK LONDON – Breakfast here was amazing and so extensive. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen such a great buffet and made-to-order selection so I’d definitely recommend a visit here.
TRADER VICS – Be sure to also check out Trader Vics if you want to transport yourself to a tropical setting where mai tais and rum cocktails are on the menu.
Check out our guide to Cool Things to Do in London!
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