Manchester – York
Manchester is known for its two major football teams: City and United. But it’s also the home of the very first passenger railway station. Today, there are four main stations in the city center. So there’s really no excuse not to go!
Manchester has seen a major transformation. No longer an industrial center, the Salford Quays, or “The Lowry” as its simply called, is a complex named after the painter L.S. Lowry, a combined theater and gallery, including a free museum dedicated to Lowry.
The Trafford Centre, another transformative project that was the longest and most expensive in the history of the United Kingdom, is a large, indoor shopping center. It’s size is so massive, it provided the setting for a daytime TV show on the BBC. The food court, called “The Orient” is home to a whopping 60 restaurants.
Need a rest? The award-winning Heaton Park is one of the largest municipal parks in Europe, covering 610 acres of parkland. This is just one of over 130 open spaces within the city.
Manchester started with the Romans and morphed into a morose industrial wasteland. Thanks to a passionate effort to turn this city into something special, Manchester has achieved an international reputation as a vibrant and dynamic destination.
From here, head two hours to York, another Roman city that has propelled itself to the 21st century.
York is filled with medieval treasures – some perfectly intact, others in a state of elegant dilapidation. That’s because York dates all the way back to the 7th century. Situated at the confluence of the Rivers Ouse and Foss, the city has a strong Viking history.
You too can be part of the invasion at the Jorvik Viking Centre. Go back to 975AD in this living medieval museum. Tour a reconstructed Viking settlement and see what life was like in the 10th century. Our guess? Difficult. Ask questions with the on-site “Viking” staff (perhaps wearing the cliched hat with horns.) You can see this museum and other sights on our York City Sightseeing Tour bus, which has a stop right in front of the train station.
You’ll definitely want to see heart of the city in Shambles. Dating to the 14th century, the name probably comes from the name Fleshammels, which literally means flesh shelves. This is York’s old meat market, but today, you’ll only find meat hooks hanging outside a number of charming shops and eateries in this ancient district. Some buildings are so crouched together, you can literally stretch out your arms and touch both sides of the street.
Before leaving, have an afternoon tea at Betty’s of York. The line is always out the door and for good reason. The scone with jam and clotted cream are a revelation. Just like the ease of traveling between Manchester and York on board BritRail.