Did you know that you can fly direct from Manchester to Barbados? And direct from Manchester to America? I love the concept of regional flights and fly from my local airport, Cardiff, whenever I can. Queues are often shorter, airports friendlier and most important of all: there’s less time trekking to the airport, more time in the destination.
Ah, but where can you fly long haul direct from Manchester?
Here’s my suggestion for you: New York, Boston and Bridgetown in Barbados.
Does New York need an introduction? With her yellow taxicabs, Statue of Liberty, Central Park and Time Square, Manhattan bursts with iconic symbols everywhere you look.
Yet, don’t be fooled. If you’ve visited before, there are plenty of reasons to go and visit again. New York is a city in love with change, switching old railway tracks into open-air museums on the High Line and building staggeringly beautiful architecture in and around Ground Zero.
The Oculus, designed by Santiago Calatrava, may “just” be a train station but its wings reach into the skies on the outside. Inside, the structure gleams in white like the ribcage of a whale.
For a truly instagrammable view of New York, walk along the Brooklyn bridge to DUMBO. And then, just for the thrill of it, ride to the top of the Empire State Building. Or even the Chrysler. Up to you whether or not you hum songs from Annie at the same time…
Boston has to be one of the most overlooked cities in the US, even though it holds so many famous places and stories. It’s the home of ivy-clad Harvard, the early footsteps of the War of Independence, numerous Oscar-winning movies and even the oldest baseball stadium in America at Fenway Park.
Most visits start by retracing how it all went wrong between Britain and America by following the 2.5 mile long Freedom Trail.
Luckily, everyone’s on good terms today.
Today’s Boston sees a resurgence of art and creativity in the Sowa district. Elsewhere, lazing in the sun (in summer) or huddling in the snow (it gets COLD here!) on Boston Common remain as timeless as ever.
Boston suits a long weekend trip but with a week to spare, hire a car and drive to see more of Massachusetts. Day trips include the house where Louisa May Alcott wrote Little Women and Salem, location for the witch trials that inspired Arthur Miller’s The Crucible.
With more time, head north to the beaches and lighthouses of Cape Ann or south to the salty shores of Cape Cod and the islands of Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard.
Recommended reading: A Road Trip from Boston: A Two Week Massachusetts Driving Itinerary
Barbados may have a reputation for turquoise water and sandy beaches - and so it should! This gorgeous Caribbean island excels at relaxing beach life but there is more to it than that.
As the second largest island in the Caribbean, Barbados has a wide range of accommodation, from the exclusive 2000/night properties on Sandy Lane to the large resort hotels, exclusive villas, family-based services and adult-only spots that promise to be quiet and splash-free.
The capital Bridgetown deserves your time since its historic centre and garrison have been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
And make sure to take a tour of the island to see the incredibly diverse natural landscapes on display away from the hotel beaches.
One section in particular is known as the “Scotland district” on account of its similarity to the hills of the highlands. Sounds unlikely? That’s why you have to see it with your own eyes.
Beneath the sea, swim with turtles and snorkel . On dry land, Barbados excels at golf.
Oistin’s Fish Fry is the place to be on a Friday night, serving street food with a pulsing vibe. And a cooking lesson spent preparing flying fish and coo coo means you’ll never look the same way at a wooden spoon again!
And all that Caribbean talk about pirates and rum isn’t entirely misplaced. Visit the Mount Gay Distillery to taste a flavour of both.
Recommended reading: Bajan Recipes; Flying Fish and Cou Cou in Barbados
Don’t rush to and from the airport. It’s worth spending time in Manchester before taking a direct long haul flight to America or the Caribbean.
What Manchester lacks in the sunshine department, it makes up for with character.
Worldwide, Manchester means football, Old Trafford and Sir Alex Ferguson and you can visit the “Theatre of Dreams” even if you can’t get tickets for a game.
Elsewhere, Mancunians prefer to focus on their industrial heritage and timeless grit.
Walk between the Castlefield Urban Heritage Park, the Science and Industry Museum and the People’s History Museum. And make sure to see the neo-gothic John Rylands library, glowering over its rare manuscripts and handy café.
By Train – once at Manchester Airport, it’s quick and easy to get to the terminals. However, most connections from the rest of the country stop at Manchester Piccadilly, the station at the heart of the city. From there, you need to switch trains. Airport services run approximately every 10 minutes and the journey takes around 20 minutes.
By Car – Manchester airport lies 10 miles south of the city, with all the pick-up and drop off options you’d expect. Official airport parking, including pre-booking, is available online.
By Bus – If you’d rather stay in the heart of Manchester to see the city and then catch a bus to the airport, all is well. A range of bus services run from Manchester out to the airport, day and night.
By Coach – Luckily, you don’t need to head into the city centre to travel by coach. The hub is right at the airport. National Coaches run from Manchester across the country so if you just want to fly in and out, then this may be the right fit.
Disclosure: Some of the links contained in this post are affiliate links, which means I may earn a small amount of money when they're clicked on. This is at no extra cost to you and you can trust that I only recommended places and things that I'd spend my own money on!
Hi, I'm Abi, a doctor turned writer who's worked with Lonely Planet, the BBC, UNESCO and more. Let's travel more and think more. Find out more.
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