Manchester, United Kingdom
You’re now as likely to come across loft-dwellers quaffing mojitos as you are flat-capped tradesmen nursing pints of Newton & Ridley ale in the Rover's. For the cosmopolitan weekender – wanting to cheer on the Reds at Old Trafford, shop for denim on Tib Street, dine in a converted cotton warehouse and bar-hop in the Northern Quarter – Manchester is as vibrant and immediate as any European capital. The Industrial Revolution has been succeeded by a Residential Revolution, with grand old mills and factories now housing apartments, restaurants and bars, and elegant new glass and steel inventions transforming the landscape by the week. From the waterfront bars of Castlefield to the energy of the Gay Village and the boho chic of the Northern Quarter, the city centre is as neat and tight as a pass from Ryan Giggs. And the superb shopping goes some way to explaining why northwestern lads and lasses look as fine as they do.
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When to go
Summer means long, laidback evenings on bar terraces. There’s fun to be had all year round, though.
PlanesManchester Airport (+44 (0)161 489 3000) is a 15–20-minute train trip from Piccadilly station; a cab from the city centre should cost £20.
TrainsTrains to and from London Euston run as frequently as every half hour, with the journey on the Virgin Pendolinos taking just two hours and 20 minutes.
AutomobilesThe M56 leads to the joys of the M6 | and London in about four hours | if you’re lucky with the traffic around Birmingham. Be warned when parking in town: wardens hover like vultures.
TaxisBlack hackney cabs can be hailed from the street; for a dependable private firm, try Radio Cars (+44 (0)161 236 8033).