Manchester – Newcastle – Edinburgh

...Industrial heritage and history meets nature

Recommended itinerary

Three cities, two countries – and so many views


Manchester – Newcastle:
approx. 150 miles
Travel time by train: approx. 2.5 hours

Newcastle – Edinburgh:
approx. 120 miles
Travel time by train: approx. 1.5 hours
Travel time by bike: approx. 12 hours or a five-day tour

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A sustainable way from A to B

All of the city centres are compact, meaning you can get by without a car. You’re therefore best off going by train to reach the different road trip stops. In just a few hours, you’ll have left one city and be taken straight to the centre of the next.

Alternatively, you can even go on a several-day-long cycling tour from Newcastle to Edinburgh. This route is part of the National Cycling Network (Route 1). The Coast and Castles Tour follows the Southern North Sea Cycle Route along the coast from Newcastle upon Tyne to Berwick upon Tweed. From there, it takes you inland via Melrose to the Scottish capital. After five to seven days, (depending on how athletic you are) you will arrive in Edinburgh.

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Starting point: Manchester

Our Motel One locations in Manchester

Manchester is considered to be one of the world’s first industrial cities. The grey image of the city is a thing of the past and a large, creative music scene is bringing a breath of fresh air and a modern feel to the city. A good public transport network aims to also make the city greener and help Manchester become carbon-neutral by 2038.

Things to do
The highlights of Manchester include the historic buildings and libraries, such as the John Ryland Library and Chatman’s Library (both of which are free of charge). Those exploring Manchester and its sights on foot will find that the city has much more to offer. Art and culture enthusiasts, in particular, will get their money’s worth off the beaten track. They’ll be drawn to the Northern Quarter, where they’ll find colourful murals on the house walls, a creative scene, small record shops, concert venues and studios.

Green and (almost) free

  • Culture with a capital C: Most of the city’s museums and attractions offer free admission – every day. Architecture enthusiasts love a visit to Manchester Cathedral, those interested in art are drawn to Manchester Art Gallery, while hobby scientists and families head to Manchester Museum.
  • Getting around: Most of the city can be explored on foot. If you prefer to use public transport, you can use the free buses, which transport passengers free of charge.
  • Nature’s spectacle: Every night (admittedly, especially when the sun is shining), nature puts on a performance at Salford Quays, as the sun reflects off the water by North and Central Bay and the glass buildings in shades from red to orange to pink. This can be admired while relaxing on the dock wall with a delicious picnic or bite to eat purchased from Mackie Mayor food hall.

Delicious food and drink
Until a few years ago, vegetarian and vegan restaurants were still a rare commodity in the former industrial city. The scene is now booming with Japanese-Mexican fusion food at Peter Street Kitchen, soul and street food at Mowgli and Herbivorous. Vegan brewery cuisine can be enjoyed at Doghouse and Bundobust. In addition to vegan food, Sandbar also offers vegan beer and relies fully on renewable energies. For dessert, head to Ice Shack.

Outdoor adventures
A huge green space was established in Manchester early on. At 240 hectares, Heaton Park is the largest park in Great Britain and, with its forests, meadows and small lakes, offers the opportunity to immerse yourself in the greenery. Those drawn further out of the city can drive to one of the many surrounding national parks. The Peak District awaits, with chalk cliffs and moorland (approx. 20 km, 1.5 hours away by public transport). Also worth a detour are the Lake District, boasting the largest lakes in the country and UNESCO World Heritage status (approx. 130 km, two hours away by public transport), and the Yorkshire National Park, with waterfalls, green hills and caves (approx. 100 km, 2.5 hours away by public transport).

Summer in the city
Mancunians love a good party – and in the summer, they like to party outdoors. Parklife Festival is the biggest festival in the UK and transforms Heaton Park into a party zone with hip-hop, pop, rock and house beats. A highlight is the flower show, where flower installations are set up all over the city and live music fills the streets. There’s also the jazz festival, outdoor cinemas and a constant revolving door of street parties.

Those in need of a cool down from all the partying can cool off at Dock 9 at Swim Salford Quays on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Or, they can take a ride to Hathersage Swimming Pool in the Peak District – the 1930s swimming pool has a charm all of its own.

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Stop 1: Newcastle upon Tyne

Our Motel One Newcastle

Newcastle, or Newcastle upon Tyne in full, was for decades the most important hub of English shipbuilding. Today, the cityscape has changed and the university town near the coast is a stronghold for modern architecture, art and science.

Things to do
The highlight of the historical sights is the eponymous castle, Newcastle. The fortress from the 12th century is no longer complete but still offers great insights inside, for example in the historic living room. Just a few minutes’ walk away lies Grainger Market, where many locals stock up on their food supplies. Opposite, at the top of Market Street, we’ve a little insider tip: the Central Arcade – a beautiful Victorian-style shopping arcade. On the way there, the view of the Grey Monument accompanies you. The memorial is dedicated to former Prime Minister Charles Grey, who gave his name to the famous Earl Grey tea. It’s also worth just taking a stroll around, for example, through High Bridge Quarter, where the oldest pub in town and many vintage shops invite you to browse.

The many bridges that cross the river here are many centuries more modern but no less architecturally impressive. The Millennium Bridge, in particular, with its incline and large arch, is a must-see. The view is particularly picturesque at sunrise or sunset, reflected in the water and the glass facade of the Sage Gateshead concert hall. A branch of the Tyne then continues into the Ouseburn Valley. The artists’ quarter feels like a village – the farm that you can visit also adds to this vibe.

Green and (almost) free

  • Kids go free: Although the city can easily be explored on foot or by bike, families using public transport will be glad to hear that children can ride the metro for free.
  • Art & culture: Admission to nearly all of the city’s museums is free of charge. Art enthusiasts will be drawn to the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, Laing Art Gallery, Shipley Art Gallery or The Biscuit Factory (where you can even buy art). Science and rail buffs will be happy at the Stephenson Railway Museum or exploring natural history at the Great North Museum.
  • Get the lowdown: The free app Newcastle’s Best is not just a great tool for tourists. Here, you can find plenty of background information about the sights of the city. Plus, new food spots are also added regularly.

Delicious food and drink
In 2009 and 2010, Newcastle was voted one of the most progressive cities in the area of sustainable food by the UK network Sustainable Food Cities – so finding sustainable restaurants is no problem. The university town also offers the national dish that simply has to be sampled on any holiday in the UK – fish and chips – only vegan. A meatless full English breakfast is available at Camber Coffee. If that’s too hearty for you, head to Super Natural Cafe for brunch or Glazed for doughnuts.

A few gastro spots may surprise you with their unusual locations. The Carriage Pub (which also serves vegan fish and chips) is housed in a former train station, Kiln is a ceramics shop and restaurant in one, and the vegan pub Ship Inn sits in a brick building under a bridge. Those opting for a picnic can shop at the monthly vegan market on Grainger Street or at Nil Living – Newcastle upon Tyne’s first zero waste and refill shop.

Outdoor adventures
Exploring the countryside is made easy from Newcastle. Many of the surrounding nature destinations can be reached using the well-developed local transport network. One destination is the Angel of North in the Northumbrian countryside, a statue of an angel with a wingspan of 54 metres.

A detour to Tynemouth is a must. Just a 15-minute train journey and you, too, can feel the sand between your toes.
If you’re looking for a bit of greenery, why not head to Jesmond, northeast of the city centre? The park with woodland, an old mill and waterfalls is a little oasis and just a short walk from the West Jesmond metro station.

If you’re a history buff, then don’t miss out on a detour to Hadrian’s Wall at the end of Wallsend metro station. The fortification wall built by the Romans is 120 kilometres long. It can be hiked along the Hadrian Wall Path National Trail to Bowness on Solway in six to eight days.

Summer in the city
Once it starts hotting up in the summer, it’s a good idea to explore the city from the water. Kayaks, SUPs and canoes are available from CBK Adventures or Sup Newcastle.

If you’d rather stick to dry land, then you’ll appreciate the city’s summer festivals. At The Hoppings, the largest funfair in Europe, you can enjoy rides, concerts and performances. Live acts and theatre also attract crowds at the Mouth of the Tyne Festival. UK Pride brings colour and diversity to the city’s streets.

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Royal history meets spectacular views in Edinburgh. The city is built on seven hills (it’s not as exhausting as it sounds) and is lined with many cobbled streets. Therefore, the most convenient way to discover the Scottish city is on foot.

Things to do
One possible starting point for exploring the centre of Edinburgh is the castle on Castle Hill. From here, head down the Royal Mile towards the Palace of Holyroodhouse. You’ll pass the Gothic Cathedral of St. Giles and, a few cross streets away, Calton Hill. Leave the hill on your left for the time being and return to it at sunset. The Royal Mile leads first to the Palace of Holyroodhouse (the official residence of the royals in the city) and then on to the local mountain Arthur’s Seat, where you’ll get to admire one of the most spectacular views of the city and the surrounding countryside – even stretching to the coast in good weather.

In the evening, head back to Calton Hill, where you’ll find the National Monument, Nelson Monument and the Observatory – a popular gathering point to watch the sun disappear behind the city. We recommend pre-ordering a picnic basket at Black Rabbit, a vegan deli and coffee shop, or stocking up on goodies at one of the many markets (e.g. Stockbridge Market, Pitt Market or Grassmarket) and tucking into them up here.

If you want to learn more obscure stories about the city, you should book a tour with Invisible City. The social organisation offers formerly homeless people jobs as city guides. On themed tours, you can learn more about the women of the city, for example, or be shown the dark side of Edinburgh on crime tours.

Green and (almost) free

  • Nature in all its glory: Admission to explore the luscious greenery at the Royal Botanic Garden is free of charge (excluding the greenhouses). Although admission is free, you have to book a ticket in advance.
  • Culture with a capital C: Whether you fancy the National Museum of Scotland, the Scottish National Gallery, St. Giles’ Cathedral or the Museum of Childhood, admission to many attractions is free of charge but often must be booked in advance. Tip: go to the sixth floor at the National Museum of Scotland. If you’re lucky, you may be able to access the roof terrace and enjoy a panoramic view of the city.
  • Audio guide: The University of Manchester has put together several audio guides to explore the city on your own. You’ll learn exciting facts about Edinburgh and the region along the way.

Here’s a money-saving tip:
For attractions, it’s worth buying tickets online in advance. These are often a little cheaper than buying them on the day.

Delicious food and drink
Haggis, probably the most famous Scottish dish, is anything but vegan with its main ingredient being sheep stomach. However, those who prefer meatless cuisine no longer have to miss out on sampling some traditional food. FacePlant Foods offers a vegan haggis. Another classic, the full English (or Scottish!) breakfast, is also available meatless at Seeds for the Soul. Those who have had enough of hearty home cooking and are after something lighter will find plenty to eat at the vegetarian restaurants David Bann, Pulse Home Cooking or Hendersons, the country’s oldest veggie restaurant. If you’ve got a hankering for something sweet, you can stock up on doughnuts, ice cream and artisan chocolate at Considerit.

Outdoor adventures
Scottish nature unfolds just a few steps from the old town. In the suburb of Leith, you can stroll along the Water of Leith Walkway by the small river to Dean Village, which enchants with colourful and historic houses.

Just outside of the city lies Lauriston Castle. There’s plenty of rest and relaxation in the large gardens with groves and an award-winning Japanese garden. If you want to actively explore nature, you can tire yourself out in the Pentland Hills Regional Park southwest of the city on more than 100 kilometres of trails.

Summer in the city
Edinburgh summers are spent enjoying outdoor parties, concerts and festivals. The largest cultural festival in the world takes place here every year: The Fringe Festival. Numerous other events are also held such as small food festivals, the jazz and blues festival and the Big Beach Busk at nearby Portobello Beach. The beach isn't only worth a visit in summer. It’s the perfect place to listen to the sound of the North Sea waves – or cool off in them.


Fancy exploring further?
Then let’s head to Glasgow! Our tips for a road trip between the two Scottish cities.

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