London to Football-Mad Manchester by Train, Bus and Car and Air

Travel Directions London to Manchester

••• Millennium Bridge and Lowry Center at Salford Quays, Manchester. Getty Images

Thousands of travelers make the 202-mile, Manchester-to-London journey every day. The city is rapidly becoming the capital of the North of England. It has a lively music scene, more than a hundred thousand university students at four different universities and it's the headquarters of the BBC sports establishment. It is also home to two major Premiership Football Teams, Manchester United and Manchester City.

In May, 2017, the Manchester Arena, the city's major pop music and entertainment venue was bombed after an Arianna Grande concert, killing 22 and injuring 250. The arena is connected to Manchester Victoria Station, a major terminal for trains to the north (Liverpool, Leeds, Newcastle) and train travel to that station was disrupted for about 10 days. Train services are now back to normal and there's more good news from Manchester Arena, which expects to open for its full event schedule by mid- September 2017.

More about Manchester

How to Get to Manchester

By Train 

Trains leave for Manchester Piccadilly Station from London Euston Station every 15 to 20 minues throughout the day. The journey takes about 2 hours and 20 minutes with round trip, off-peak advance fares starting at £44 when purchased in advance as 2 one-way off-peak tickets (These fares were checked in late 2017, but fares change frequently so it's best to check the National Rail Enquiries Journey Planner closer to the time you want to travel.)

UK Travel Tips The cheapest train fares are those designated "Advance" - how far in advance depends upon the journey as most rail companies offer advance fares on a first come first served basis. Advance tickets are usually sold as one-way or "single" tickets. Whether or not you buy advance tickets, always compare the "single" ticket price to the round trip or "return" price as it is often cheaper to buy two single tickets rather than one round trip ticket.

Make sure you check the schedules carefully. Because so many business travelers go to Manchester for the day, the earliest trains attract the highest peak fares. It can mean the difference between paying £22 and £175 each way. Later trains are cheaper.

By Bus

There are frequent coach trips between London Victoria Coach Station and Manchester Central Coach Station throughout the day. The journey takes from 4 1/2 to 6 1/2 hours and costs between £11.50 and £39.50 each way. Bus services can be booked online. There is usually a booking fee of £1.  

Because of the length of this bus journey, going there and back on the same day by bus or coach is not really practical. If this is your chosen mode of travel, an overnight stay is probably the best idea. 

UK Travel Tip National Express offers a limited number of "funfare" promotional tickets that are very cheap (£6.50 for a £39.00 fare, for example). These can only be purchased on line and they are usually posted on the website a month to a few weeks before the trip.To find them, visit the National Express Fare Finder. Use it to find the lowest fares and exclusive online offers. The page has an online calendar that shows different fares for different days of the week. If you can be flexible with your travel plans you can save a lot of money.

By Car

Manchester is 202 miles northwest of London via the M1, M6, and M56 motorways. It takes about 4 hours to drive.

Because of roadworks on the M1 (in 2017), approaches to Manchester can become very congested during the rush hour and during random, unpredictable times of day. This can really add hours of bumper to bumper traffic to a trip. And once you arrive in the city, parking can be expensive. Keep in mind too that gasoline, called petrol in the UK, is sold by the liter (a little more than a quart) and the price can be between $1.50 and $2 a quart.

By Air

Because so many business people travel between London and Manchester, travel by air may be a practical alternative. British Airways flies to Manchester Airport from London Heathrow or London City Airport. The flight takes about an hour and, in September 2017, flights were available for under £120 round-trip.