Liverpool or Manchester ?

Liverpool or Manchester, which city should I visit?

If you are considering a cheap day trip or a budget short weekend away up north, then you could do a lot worse than visiting the friendly and bustling cities of Liverpool and Manchester.

However, which is best? Well, we think that this is an incredibly difficult question to answer as both cities have popular places to visit. So, we’ll highlight all of the wonderful attractions and things to do in each city, so that you can then make an informed decision. 


Without question both cities places to hit the shops. You just have so much choice! 

The place to go shopping has to be Liverpool One. Opened in 2008, this is now very much the central hub for shopping. Prior to this, the main shopping district used to be that of Church Street, which still boasts all of the top high street shops, but for a truly exciting shooing experience and, to bag the top designer brands, you have to visit Liverpool One.

Other shopping hotspots include the St. John’s Shopping Precinct, located by the Liverpool Playhouse, as well as Bold Street, that hosts the more quirky and unusual shops. 

Accommodation Liverpool

Spending the day shopping in Manchester is a truly magical experience, as there are so many places to shop until you drop! We’ve all heard of the Trafford Centre and you could easily spend the day shopping in there.

However, the Manchester Arndale centre is also a great place to find bargains and all those well known chain stores. For something a little different, it is highly advisable that you visit the Northern Quarter, as here you will frequent really interesting vintage stores with bargain prices. 

Accommodation Manchester
People with shopping bags walking


While spending a day sightseeing you will want to visit all of the most famous landmarks that the city has to offer you. Not only will this enrich your visit, but sightseeing is entirely free, so great for watching those pennies. 

One wonderful aspect is that the city skyline is dominated by its many archaic landmarks and buildings. Pier Head is home to the iconic Liver Birds and while visiting the bustling dock area, it’s wonderful to go for a sail on the world famous Mersey Ferries.

They do a guided tour and you can stop off in the Wirral at either Birkenhead (home to Paul O’Grady) or Seacombe. While in the dock area, you must also have a wander around the Albert Dock. Landmarks that you must see include the Catholic Cathedral, known affectionately by Scousers as Paddy’s wigwam, St Georges Hall, the World Museum and The Bluecoat centre, all within a short walking distance of each other. 

Liverpool Albert Dock area
Liverpool Albert Dock

Manchester is such a beautiful city for a day visit. You’ll be able to see the Town Hall, which is, without a doubt, the most stunning building in Manchester. It’s neo-Gothic splendour really takes your breath away.

Manchester Central Library, located on St Peter’s Square, is a stunning round building with five looming pillars at its entrance. Surprisingly, here you will also find a basement cafe and theatre to go alongside the thousands of books.

The Imperial War Museum and Manchester Opera House also make wonderful photo opportunities. What you really must do when in this city for a few days is to take a slight detour to neighbouring Salford and to have a stroll around Media City. 

Manchester City Hall with tower
Manchester City Hall

Eating out

You really will be spoilt for choice when you visit either city. You can choose from budget eateries, light snacks to exquisite restaurants. It all very much depends your taste and budget. However, each city has its own unique take on food.

When in Liverpool you really must visit China Town, which is just outside of the city centre, situated along Nelson Street. There are so many Chinese restaurants to choose from that you really will be spoilt for choice. Of course, Liverpool also boasts the usual fast food outlets as well as a host of boutique eateries located in Liverpool One.

The Philharmonic Dining Rooms in Hope Street, is also great for something a little bit different, and you don’t have to see a show in order to dine. 

You really have to discover the joys of the Curry Mile when in the south of the city. Located along the length of Wilmslow Road, you could even do a quick tour of several curry houses. Of course, Manchester is home to other famous restaurants, that are situated more centrally, and which won’t break the bank.

Cheap eateries include those of The Kitchens in the Springfields area of the city, Northern Soul which is perfect if you love grilled cheese, located on Church Street, and The Bakchich Lebanese restaurant which is located off Oxford Street. You can grab a satisfying meal at all of these places for under a tenner. 

Food sign outside English pub
Great British Pub Food

Free attractions

If you are on a tight budget, then you’ll be pleased to know that both cities have an absolute wealth of free attractions for you to enjoy! 

When in Liverpool, the World Museum is free entry, and is located on five floors. It has an affordable cafe and makes for a great morning/afternoon out. The Dinosaur floor is also pretty impressive.

Other free attractions include those of The Bluecoat centre that is a grade two listed building that is home to various art exhibitions, the Walker Art Gallery and the Super Lamb Banana, a work of Japanese art located on Tithebarn Street, not far from the docks. 

Manchester also has many free attractions for you to enjoy. Most Museums are free entry, including Manchester Museum where you can see Stan the dinosaur, MOSI and Manchester Art Gallery.

The Lowry, which is based out at Salford Quays is also well with visiting and won’t cost you a thing, this really is an impressive glass and steel construction. Situated to the south of the city is Castlefield, a sprawling urban park that features walkways. canals, and hidden cafes. 

woman visiting a museum in the UK
Museum and Art Gallery


Dancing the night away, or sipping a cocktail at a bar, is the perfect way to end an evening.

Liverpool of course boasts the world famous Cavern Club, whereas Manchester is home to the Comedy Store. Both cities are also fantastic to take in a live show, such as at the Liverpool Empire or Playhouse Theatre, while in Manchester you can frequent the Manchester Palace Theatre or The Royal Exchange

What we would choose

To be perfectly honest, this is a difficult decision, but it would be a great idea to combine the two cities into one short break.

Spend a day and night in Manchester, followed by a fun day in Liverpool. The reason being that Liverpool is more easily navigated, with all of the main attractions within a short walking distance of each other, as opposed to Manchester, which is a sprawling city.

For example, Manchester Museum is located on Oxford Road, whereas The Museum of Science and Industry is located on the other side of the city, along Liverpool Road. If you plan to travel by train, then there is a cheap rail ticket available between Liverpool Lime Street to Manchester Piccadilly or Oxford Road.

Liverpool Lime Street is located in the city centre, so once you embark from the train you can pretty much enjoy seeing everything that this city has to offer you straight away. To save money, especially if you are on a tight budget, then it is advisable to book your train tickets online, and well in advance. 

Whatever you decide, we do hope that you enjoy your stay in either of these two very friendly cities, where the locals will make you feel at home.