York or Manchester?

I have about 3 days at the end of a trip to England with my mom that I'm having trouble planning. We want to see a northern city, either York or Manchester. Of course, when I mention this to people, they immediately exclaim, "You have to do both!" Well, we can't! Other places we're seeing include London, Haworth, and Whitby. Any thoughts? If you've been to both, does one spring to mind as more memorable? Thanks!

Posted by Elena
Pittsburgh
8 posts

I definitely vote for York over Manchester. York is more "small town" and historic. Compared to Manchester, it is the more charming town. You can certainly find plenty to do in York for three days, but I also went to Manchester on a day trip from York, so doing both is feasible. Enjoy your trip.

Posted by Mike
Yorkshire, UK
264 posts

I haven't spent a lot of time in Manchester but I think I would do York it has a lot more history to it in my opinion. I would think Manchester would be a lot more of a functional city.

Posted by Caroline
Manchester, UK
19 posts

I live in Manchester but went to university in York so have mixed opinions on this one.

If you're interested in Roman and Medieval history then York is for you. Its relatively small, you can easily manage most of the major sites in a day, but there is probably enough to see to spread over a couple of days. Theres definately more touristy things to do there.

Manchester is more modern. Its got some great but small museums and galleries in the centre, such as Urbis, the Manchester Museum and the Whitworth Gallery. There are things like the Lowry gallery in Salford which is easily accessible by tram. Manchester is a convienient base for day trips as its got great public transport links. It is also more of a shoppers city.

As the previous poster mentions its easy to do a daytrip from either city to the other. York is more compact so probably easier to do in a day. However if you've already done London then you might find Manchester quite similar but with less sights. York is more memorable as a city in itself. Manchester is a great base for exploring the area around it.

Posted by Laurel
Arlington, WA
829 posts

I have been to both. Manchester once and York three or four times. I'll take York any time it's one of my favourite places in England. The last time I was in York, we drove up to Whitby via Scarborough and Robin Hood's Bay. Lovely

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
17796 posts

Laura, I've been to both places and given the time you have available, my choice would definitely be York. There are lots of things to see and do there, including the famous York Minster (attending an Evensong service is wonderful!), the VIking Museum, other Museums and of certainly the walking tour that covers the history or York is very interesting. The view from the top of the Minster is fantastic, but I suppose not everyone would enjoy the long trek up the circular staircase. Just walking around "the Shambles" is an adventure! From York you could also do day trips to Castle Howard, Eden Camp (if you're interested in WW-2 history) or other sights in the area. Check Rick's book for a full list of attractions that might interest you.

However, I'm always one that tries to "have my cake and eat it too". Since this is the end of your trip, I'm wondering where your flight home leaves from? If you're flying out of Manchester, you might consider spending two days in York and one in Manchester. I found the Imperial War Museum North extremely interesting, and the area around the Trafford Quays (can't remember the exact name, perhaps Caroline could correct if necessary?) has lots of interesting places to visit.

Good luck!

Posted by Laura
Seattle
22 posts

I really appreciate everyone's input. I had been leaning towards York, and I think I'll definitely go with that. I like the idea of driving from York to Whitby. While I know we could hit Manchester too, the last big trip I took to Europe was one of those "different city every other day" type of itineraries, and I wanted this trip to be a little slower paced. Thanks again!

Posted by Cary
Gator Country, Florida
297 posts

And don't forget that Manchester is the second largest city in the UK - so it is a lot more overwhelming than York. York is very easy to manage on foot - from the train station onward.

Posted by Brad
Gainesville, VA
7213 posts

I haven't been to Manchester but York is a great place to visit.

Some places are good to visit once (Pisa comes to mind), York is a place I want to include any time I'm in the area.

Posted by richard
Yorkshire
277 posts

Has to be York.
In fact I live 20 miles form Manchester, but went on a day trip to York this week.
Do go to Choral Evensong at the Minster. Amazing.
Richard