Discover the cities of Manchester and Liverpool and the charms of the Lake District with the travel itinerary we enjoyed in Northern England, including the best places to eat, where The Beatles got inspired, hip neighborhoods and recommended tours.
While we did this itinerary in eight days, you might want to stretch it out further, spending more time in the Lake District or in the cities.
Day 1 Manchester, England
Second in size to London, Manchester has a rich history dating back to Roman times. This city also combines a hip music scene with football history and good places to eat and drink.
Get acquainted with the city by taking a walking tour. Make sure to hit the sites below or sign up with local Manchester guide and travel expert Jonathan Schofield, who’s written several guidebooks on Manchester and also leads walking tours. He led us during our filming for “Travels with Darley’s Northern England” TV episode.
- Royal Exchange Theatre: Once housed a thriving cotton exchange and today plays host to well known actors like Vanessa Redgrave and Kate Winslet, who perform theatre in the round in this special, historic venue. The architecture and history of this building are both unique and if you can snag tickets to a show… all the better. The Theatre is located in the heart of Manchester City Center and walking distance of the Manchester Town Hall and Market Street.
- Lincoln Square, named after Abraham Lincoln, because of the links between Manchester and the Union States during the American Civil War.
- The John Rylands Library: Open to the public, precious works are housed here, including the oldest fragment of the New Testament ever discovered, a 17th century copy of Shakespeare’s Sonnets, a Gutenberg Bible and other artifacts.
- Manchester Town Hall, located in Albert Square, steps from Lincoln Square.
Finish your tour with dinner at The Albert Square Chophouse. Housed in a refurbished Victorian warehouse, this restaurant offers up really tasty regional and British cuisine. Classic dishes like Black Pudding Scotch Egg, meat pie and mushy peas, Corned Beef Hash and Eccles Cake were on the menu during our visit.
Spend the night at The Lowry Hotel (50 Dearmans Place, Chapel Wharf, Manchester Tel + 44 (0) 161 827 4000), a modern hotel located on the banks of the River Irwell in the Chapel Wharf area on the Salford-Manchester boundary. If you like to walk, it’s a nice walk from Albert Square to the hotel.
Day 2 Manchester Continued
After breakfast, spend some time at the National Football Museum, where young and old can enjoy interactive exhibitions and learn about the sport that’s also known as soccer in the USA. From famous footballers of the past and present to English Hall of Famers, the museum’s interesting collections are spread across multiple floors, each with its own themes and stories.
Next, meet John Consterdine for a Manchester Taxi Tour, which can be catered to focus on general Manchester history, Manchester’s music history with iconic bands like The Smiths, and beyond. We explored the Castlefield area with its Roman history and Salford, the spiritual home of Coronation Street, which is the world’s longest running soap opera and filmed in Manchester. Salford is also home to Salford Lads Club, where you definitely want to snap a photo. The Smiths used the Salford Lads Club as their cover shot for “The Queen is Dead” album.
Next, head to the Northern Quarter for lunch. This is the more hipster area of Manchester. Pick from one of the many cool cafes and grab a coffee and dessert at Ziferblat Café, a unique coffee shop and workspace concept where patrons pay only for the time that they spend there. It’s located on Edge Street. Stop in the Manchester Craft and Design Centre, which is just around the corner from Ziferblat to enjoy the Manchester arts scene. This centre is home to working artists and their studios. After this, pop into one of the many pubs in the neighborhood for a pint and a bite.
Night at The Lowry Hotel.
Day 3- Yorkshire Dales
Say farewell to Manchester and travel north to Yorkshire. It’s about an hour and twenty minute drive from Manchester to the Devonshire Arms.
Check into the Devonshire Arms Hotel at Bolton Abbey. This ultra dog-friendly hotel is right by Bolton Abbey and is a charming, historic property. Take a walk around the grounds and over to Bolton Abbey, where the ruins of a 12th century Augustinian monastery invite travelers to wander through the past. Artists and poets, including Turner, Ruskin and Wordsworth all created works based on Bolton Abbey, and in addition to the ruins, an active church remains in use today.
Enjoy a traditional and casual dinner of fish and chips at the award winning Bizzie Lizzie’s in Skipton.
Day 4- Bronte Country
After breakfast, travel over Haworth and to visit the Bronte Parsonage Museum. This is where the Bronte sisters, Charlotte, Emily and Anne, were inspired to write great works of literature including Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre. The family moved to the Parsonage when their father became vicar in 1820.
If you have time, walk down from the Parsonage and past the chapel where Emily, Charlotte and their father are buried and up to the rugged, unforgiving moors. The trail is signposted.
Enjoy lunch this small town set within the beautiful Pennines.
This afternoon drive over to Saltaire to explore this UNESCO site which takes its name from its founder, Sir Titus Salt (1803 – 1876). Salt made his fortune in the Bradford textile industry, manufacturing fine woolen fabrics. Determined to escape the polluted and overcrowded town center for greener pastures, he made a bold decision to relocate his business and his employees to Saltaire. The River Aire runs through this picturesque and charming village on the outskirts of Bradford. If you’d like a tour, meet the very colorful character Maria Glot, who will talk you through the history of Saltaire.
On your way back, make a stop for a pint at The Fountaine Inn, Linton in Craven, a cute, small Yorkshire village. Enjoy the scenery en route and after in this area. It’s stunning.
If you didn’t eat at The Fountaine Inn, dine in the Brasserie or award-winning The Bulrington at the Devonshire Arms Hotel.
Day 5- Castle Howard & Harry Potter
After breakfast, check out of the hotel and drive about an hour and a half to Pickering. Take the North Yorkshire Moors Steam Train from Pickering to Goathland and enjoy the scenery of the North York Moors National Park. Goathland Station was the set for the fictional Hogsmeade station, serving both the village of Hogsmeade and the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardy, in Harry Potter films. Walk up the hill from the station to explore this small village, which gained fame as the setting of the fictional village of Aidensfield in the ITV program Heartbeat, set in the 1960s, and enjoy lunch at a pub. Take the train back to your car for the next part of the day.
Visit this Real Life Harry Potter Film Destination by TravelswithDarley
Downton Abbey Experience at Castle Howard by TravelswithDarley
Day 6- Cartmel
Drive about 15 minutes to the village of Cartmel, Cumbria’s foodie paradise. This town is small and walkable, so park somewhere and explore on two feet. You’ll want to walk a bit anywhere, as we recommend eating your way through this village.
Plan to visit the Cartmel Village Shop, which has baked its way through a quarter of a century, making what’s reputed to be the best sticky toffee pudding in the UK. Sticky toffee pudding is a dessert you’ll find on many menus in Great Britain and the pudding at the Cartmel Village Shop is really good. You can get it hot and eat it on site or get a cold, takeaway version.
Enjoy regional cheeses at Cartmel Cheeses, an artisan cheese shop in the heart of Cartmel, selling a huge selection of some of the world’s most special cheeses, as well as a very wide variety of local ones. The owner has great knowledge and welcomes tastings.
If you have time, check out Unsworth’s Yard Brewery, which brews its own, award-winning craft beers and is right beside Cartmel Cheese.
Make reservations in advance to have lunch at L’Enclume, a two-star Michlein restaurant run by chef Simon Rogan. It was also named best in the UK by 2014 Good Food Guide.
Stay tonight at The Drunken Duck Inn and enjoy dinner if you’re hungry and if not, a drink in the bar. This pretty inn with its individually decorated rooms is set above Ambleside in the heart of the Lake District. It’s about a 45 minute drive from Cartmel.
Day 7- The Lake District
The Lake District, also known as The Lakes or Lakeland, is a popular destination for Brits and travelers from further afield. The scenery here is comprised of mountains and lakes and is simply beautiful. Serving as an inspiration to poets and literary icons, there’s a lot to see and do here. One must is getting out on the water. Enjoy a lake cruise with Windermere Lake Cruises on the country’s longest lake.
Stroll through Grasmere, the home of the World famous Grasmere Gingerbread and the poet William Wordsworth. Arrive at Sarah Nelson’s Grasmere Gingerbread shop and wait in line to get this special gingerbread. It’s worth it! Explore Dove Cottage, St Oswald’s Church and Grasmere Village Centre.
It’s a little less than a two hour drive from Grasmere to Liverpool. Check into the Doubletree. Dine in the hotel this evening in the Jean Christophe Novellie restaurant.
Day 8- Liverpool: Home of The Beatles
After breakfast, delve into Liverpool’s maritime and music history at Albert Dock on the Liverpool waterfront. Revitalized in the 1980’s and today home to top museums, shops and restaurants, Albert Dock is a cool reminder of Liverpool’s Maritime past. Home to the world-renowned Tate Art Gallery and Mersey Maritime Museum, Albert Dock is also the site of The Beatles Story, a museum that charts the history of the Beatles. A recreation of The Cavern Club, a popular rock and roll venue where the Beatles often played in the early 1960’s, and the white room dedicated to John Lennon bring this museum’s core to new emotional heights.
Visit The Beatles Hometown- Liverpool, England by TravelswithDarley
Visit Hope Street, home of two spectacular Cathedrals, the Anglican and the Metropolitan and pop into one of the many pubs along this street.
Want to experience more of Northern England? Check out visitbritain.com for more ideas!