UK holidays

Discover our UK holidays and mini breaks travel guides, news and reviews. Whether you’re hoping to visit London or York for the weekend, we have you covered.

What to do for a weekend in Manchester via National Express 🚌

Manchester - What to do for a weekend in Manchester - The LDN Gal

What to do for a weekend in Manchester 

Manchester is a thriving city, brimming with things to do and places to see. However, getting around the UK can be a bit of a nightmare at the best of times, trains may be slightly quicker but prices are extortionate. So, I opted for a cheaper – and in my opinion – far more comfortable alternative. If you are wondering what to do for a weekend in Manchester, read on…

Departing Oxford just after 8am, I boarded my National Express coach to Manchester. I have to admit, I was pleasantly surprised, all National Express coaches come with leather seats, air conditioning, power sockets and toilets as standard. They ever offer a downloadable entertainment system VUER for free, which offers films, TV programmes and magazines.

VUER, National Express to Manchester - What to do for a weekend in Manchester - The LDN Gal

If you have ever been on a long coach journey before without a charger and toilet – and I have – it is not a fun time. The coaches are modern and comfortable, with adjustable leg rests, spacious seats and supported head rests – just perfect for a little mid-journey snooze. With a brief stopover to switch coaches in Birmingham, we were off again and before you know it, we were in Manchester, ready to explore the sights.

We arrived in Manchester city centre at around 1pm and were ready to kick start our weekend of cafes, culture and cocktails galore. Here are my top 10 things to do for a weekend in Manchester:

Top 10 things to do for a weekend in Manchester

Manchester Art Gallery, Manchester - What to do for a weekend in Manchester | The LDN Gal

Manchester Art Gallery, Manchester

We needed an infusion of culture so headed to the Manchester Art Gallery. The gallery is spectacular, housing an assortment of classic and contemporary pieces. A particularly interesting exhibition space was dedicated to the relationship between art and mindfulness. And Breathe… allowed guests to stop and pause for a moment, appreciating the connection between the two.

Afflecks, Manchester - What to do for a weekend in Manchester - The LDN Gal

Afflecks, Manchester

You could spend an entire day in and around the Northern Quarter, soaking up the area before strolling through Afflecks indoor market and many a quirky shop. There is lots of retro, nostalgic and vintage treasures to be found and bought in Afflecks. It’s a lot of fun to rummage around the many shops and I have to admit, it reminded me of Camden Market on a much smaller scale.

John Rylands Library, Manchester - What to do for a weekend in Manchester - The LDN Gal

John Rylands Library, Manchester

The John Rylands Library was founded by Enriqueta Rylands in memory of her husband, and is housed in an impressive Neo-Gothic building. Step inside, and you will discover its grand history and architecture, alongside its vast collection of treasured books and manuscripts. We were lucky to stop by as the Women Who Shaped Manchester exhibition was on. It detailed the journeys of incredible women, past and present. Women who used their wits and determination to overcome many a societal challenge.

National Football Museum, Manchester - What to do for a weekend in Manchester - The LDN Gal

National Football Museum, Manchester

I am not a fan of the great game but the National Football Museum is impressive. My other half was delighted, heading around the various exhibitions and it was a highlight of his trip. Inside, discover a diverse range of worldwide memorabilia and interactive skills-based challenges. The penalty shoot game ever featured the old Wembley goal!

Starters, eXchange Food and Drink Lounge, Manchester - What to do for a weekend in Manchester | The LDN Gal

eXchange Food and Drink Lounge, Manchester

The eXchange Food and Drink Lounge is a rustic restaurant that does not fail to impress. Within, discover a restaurant area, bar, sports screens and even a kids area. Perfect for all the family, the eXchange Food and Drink Lounge offers incredible dining, spectacular cocktails and an evening of chatter and memories. Read my review of my experience here.

The Liars Club, Manchester - What to do for a weekend in Manchester - The LDN Gal

The Liars Club, Manchester

While in Manchester, we proved to be frequent patrons of The Liars Club. It is a tropical tiki bar with an enviable selection of global rum and a vibrant and funky interior. The cocktails were incredible and good-value for money. You could lose hours sipping away listening to Reggae tunes aplenty. They even offer a two drinks for £10 happy hour on weekdays!

Sunset by Australasia, Manchester - What to do for a weekend in Manchester - The LDN Gal

Sunset by Australasia, Manchester

Sunset by Australasia is an Instagram dream. It offers a  stunning pastel pink and gold interior, alongside an outside terrace embellished with vibrant flower wall and plush seating and cushions. Sunset by Australasia is gorgeous – but the cocktails are even better. So, grab a frozen Prosecco sorbet blend and let the world go by for a few hours.

Sugar Junction interior, Manchester - What to do for a weekend in Manchester - The LDN Gal

Sugar Junction, Manchester

Sugar Junction is a coffee, cake and cocktail lovers dream. This vintage venue in the Northern Quarter offers lots wholesome and homemade produce. I had a cake (gluten free, which was a nice touch) alongside pink lemonade – which was beautifully decorated. My other half opted for a rather filling and well presented sandwich, which was accompanied by chips. You can enjoy breakfast, brunch throughout the day and afternoon tea – or a cocktail or two, if you feel inclined. 

Home Sweet Home. Manchester - What to do for a weekend in Manchester - The LDN Gal

Home Sweet Home, Manchester

Looking for the best pancakes in town? Home Sweet Home offers an American breakfast and brunch in a cosy and quirky location. The pancake stacks are huge, doused with fresh fruit, cream and sauces – there are some savoury options too, don’t fret. Do be wary though, if you get there at the weekend and are looking to quash your  comfort food cravings, there may be a bit of a wait.

Bees in the City at Manchester Cathedral, Manchester - What to do for a weekend in Manchester - The LDN Gal

Manchester Cathedral, Manchester

We spent some time in Manchester Cathedral, appreciating the many Bee in the City bee’s dotted around its interior. Although Manchester Cathedral is rather small, it was as expected, beautiful. It is the perfect place to take a few moments away from the hustle and bustle of the busy city centre.

So, if you are looking for a fabulous UK city break, look no further! There is plenty of things to do for a weekend in Manchester.

You can book your next journey to Manchester (or the rest of the UK) with National Express here or give them a call on 0871 7818181.

National Express travels to over 900 destinations nationwide and offer thousands of tickets for £5 or less (plus a booking fee). The best bit? Travelling by coach proves to be the most environmentally friendly form of public transport!

Where would be your first stop in Manchester? Have you traveled via National Express before?

Stephanie xox

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This post is in collaboration with National Express

Top 10 things to do in York, England on a budget 🍫

York Minister, England | The LDN Gal

York Pass: top 10 things to do in York, England

A city famed for its culinary delights such as chocolate, Yorkshire puddings and even their tea, some may say that York has it all. Here are our top 10 things to do in York, England.

Step into the beautiful city of York and be prepared to stand in awe. This Medieval walled city is brimming with attractions and bursting with a quaint charm that is hard to find elsewhere in the UK.

Surprisingly, York is rather small city considering its fascinating and lengthy history. Bordered by just two miles of Roman walls, the city centre is easy to navigate on foot and it lends itself to being a perfect destination for a long city break.

So, when exploring York, what must you do and see? Here’s my recommendations on the top 10 things to do in York on a budget, including the best sights to see and the best local hotel to unwind in.

The best thing? Pretty much all of these top 10 things to do in York attractions are free to visit with the York Passthere’s over 30 included!

Top 10 things to do in York – visit York, England on a budget 

York Minister Stained Glass Window Interior, York - The LDN Gal

York Minister:

The York Minister is a grand Gothic cathedral, highlighting pretty much all of the Gothic architectural styles over its development. It is famed for its ornate Medieval stained glass and is one of the largest churches of its kind in Northern Europe. Within, discover its artefacts, wander through the undercroft museum and take a trip up the tower. Did you know, no building in York can be higher that the York Minister?

York Minister is free with a York Pass – the tower is charged additionally

York Dungeon, England | The LDN Gal

York Dungeon:

You really cannot prepare yourself for what you will discover in York Dungeon. Pre-warned by the staff of its gruesome interior on entrance, its safe to say you are put on high alert. A few posed pictures are thrown into the mix before you and the group await your guided tour to start. As you wait in this darkened room – be sure to not mistake people for statues – a door creeks and you are beckoned in. The 75 minute tour takes you through York’s dark and dreary 2,000 year history via 10 live shows from Vikings to the plague and Guy Fawkes to Dick Turpin. Consequently, you will learn about bandits, witches and heretics and leave with an elevated heart rate.

York Dungeon is free with a York Pass

River Ouse cruise, York City Cruises, York - The LDN Gal

City Cruises York:

On a summers day, what better way to explore a city than on its waterways? An hour long cruise on the River Ouse is a charming affair with City Cruises York. Your captain will navigate you, enhancing your local knowledge with a myriad of interesting facts. Basically, expect folk, wartime and downright peculiar tales, as you watch life in York slowly go on by.

A daytime City Cruises York cruise is free with a York Pass

JORVIK Viking Centre, York - The LDN Gal

JORVIK Viking Centre:

Entering the JORVIK Viking Centre, I was not quite sure what to expect. As you make your way downstairs, you discover an excavation site beneath a glass floor, making for interesting viewing as you are informed of its origin and purpose. Follow the room round, and you are greeted with a hanging ride cart, select your language, secure your seat and you’re off! You gently weave through Viking Jorvik (York) and are greeted with a host of realistic animatronics, their at times woeful tales narrated within your cart. On exiting, discover Viking artefacts found within this archaeological site –  and a few skeletons to boot!

JORVIK Viking Centre is free with a York Pass

York's Chocolate Story, York - The LDN Gal

York’s Chocolate Story:

Ever wondered how chocolate was made? Now’s the time to find out within the UK’s most famed chocolate city. York founded many an esteemed chocolate making company. This includes the famed Terry’s and Rowntree, responsible for the chocolate orange and Kit Kat respectively. Who’d have thought that all these family favourites were founded in the same place! On York’s Chocolate Story’s guided tour, you’ll delve into chocolate’s dark history. You’ll discover the chocolate making process via interactive workshops and will devour a few sweet treats along the way – as well as get to have a go at creating your own!

York’s Chocolate Story is free with a York Pass

York City Walls, York - The LDN Gal

York City Walls:

Across York you will quickly discover the city walls, it is a sight to marvel in a UK city. These Medieval walls encircle the city in parts with around two miles to peacefully stroll along. They offer some incredible views from their ramparts and make for some cute photo opportunities!

The York city walls are free for all

York Castle Museum, York - The LDN Gal

York Castle Museum:

York Castle Museum offers a multitude of fascinating and varied exhibitions detailing over 400 years of York history. These include a walk through Victorian York down a recreated street, a history of toys, the best of the 60s, a focus on the body and health, powerful women, fashion history and even a throwback to WW1. Lastly, you will get to explore York Castle Prison beneath which allows for reflection on York’s sinister justice system over 1,000 years – the infamous highwayman, Dick Turpin, even had a spell in these harrowing cells. You will leave with many an interesting fact and lets face it, a superb local knowledge of York’s history.

York Castle Museum is free with a York Pass

Clifford's Tower, York - The LDN Gal

Clifford’s Tower:

Clifford’s Tower is the only real structure that remains of the former York Castle, originally built by William the Conqueror. In its long history, the castle has served as a tax office, treasury, an administrative headquarters, a court, military base, royal mint and the city’s former prison! Once you ascend its gruelling steps, the rather dilapidated Clifford’s Tower offers a wonderful panoramic cityscape view.

Clifford’s Tower is free with a York Pass

The Shambles, York - The LDN Gal

The Shambles:

The Shambles is a quaint cobbled street in York, close to The Shambles market and many of York’s attractions. Here you will find cafe’s, restaurants, bakery’s and a host of themed shops. It is said that The Shambles inspired J.K. Rowling’s Diagon Alley in Harry Potter. Therefore, any self-confessed ‘Potterheads’ will find three stores dedicated to the franchise within The Shambles. So, it is certainly a must see for fans.

The Shambles is a public street and free for all

Yorkshire Museum, York - The LDN Gal

Yorkshire Museum:

The Yorkshire Museum offers history buffs a treasure trove of delights. Inside, take a stroll on a genuine Roman mosaic floor, see the Middleham Jewel and gaze at a four and a half billion year old meteorite. The best part? The new Yorkshire’s Jurassic World exhibition where you will have the chance to learn more about and actually feed an actual dinosaur – it’s a lot of fun! Most noteworthy, The Yorkshire Museum is simply brimming with archaeological, historical and geological finds.

Yorkshire Museum is free with a York Pass

Where to stay in York

Middletons Hotel York Double Bedroom, York - The LDN Gal

We stayed at the Middletons Hotel in York, around a five minute walk into the town centre. The hotel is situated amongst beautiful landscaped lawns and gardens. There’s plenty of places to sit out in the sunshine, with picnic tables and a decked area, there is even a pond.

Almost every corner of the Middletons Hotel is embellished with flowers and the buildings are a mixture of complimentary architectural styles. Furthermore, the rooms are clean, spacious and bright and there’s a bar, restaurant and gym available to use onsite. What more could you want?

So, how much can you save with a York Pass?

So, how much did we save with the York Pass? With all these attractions in mind, they totalled £83.10. We took our time and did these over two days but all of these attractions could be easily visited in a single day. A one day York pass is £42 and a two-day is only £60! If you get it done in a day, that is a saving of £41.40 each!

Lastly, for more inspiration on where to go in York with your York Pass, take a look at the Visit York website.

Have you ever been to York? What did you think of our top 10 things to do in York?

Stephanie xox

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This post is in collaboration with York Pass and the Middletons Hotel