15 places abroad easier to get to from Manchester to have a weekend break than Cornwall

  • It costs over £100 to get to the southern peninsula of the UK 
  • Or to travel for less, it means over 12 hours journey time one way
  • Some places more than 1,000 miles further away are cheaper and easier to get to

The other day myself my partner were trying to book travel to see friends of ours in Falmouth, Cornwall.

We found return train tickets to be horrifyingly expensive due to changing services run by different providers, and the best compromise offer of getting a flight to Newquay and public transport to Falmouth still took us over the £100 mark each.

Combinations of coaches and trains or commercial hitchhiking like using BlaBlaCar worked out much cheaper, but took in excess of 12 hours one way – meaning that for a two-day weekend, you would spend 24 hours of it travelling, rendering the trip pointless.

Which led NQ to wonder: how many places you could get to for a weekend break?

To make this list, the destination must cost less than £100 return and take less than six hours one way to get to, making it worthwhile.

All the entries below are abroad and most of them are available with a direct flight from Manchester Airport. There are a few entries that have cheap direct flights from Liverpool, so we’ve added the return train cost from Manchester to Liverpool as well.

So where are 15 interesting places easier to get to from Manchester than Cornwall?

1. Cork, £44

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Okay, so you could probably have guessed this one. I missed Dublin off this list for being too obvious, but humour me to talk about the nearest city to the town I’m from.

Ireland’s second city is 33 miles further away from Manchester than Falmouth and has a great amount of culture to enjoy. The city was historically where prisoners were held before being sent to Australia, so forts and castles abound.

The city’s football club is now owned by its supporters and the level of support allows the club to afford to pay professional players, making it a rare and interesting club.

On the doorstep is the rolling Irish countryside, unrivalled on this continent in its bleak beauty. It may have a slightly chillier climate than Cornwall, but offers everything the British peninsula does for a fraction of the cost and travel time.

2. Amsterdam, £78

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The capital of the Netherlands is a bit more pricey, and the city itself is expensive, as I wrote about back in October, and you can use that article as a guide to the city.

It’s 308 miles away from Manchester, and a return flight is a bit pricey at £78, but with Dutch airline KLM flying you, you get a far nicer journey and treatment than on Easyjet or that other airline from one of my most reprehensible countrymen which I will not utter here.

As well as being a vibrant city, Amsterdam is pretty leafy and can provide a nice bit of countryside outside of the main hubbub of the city centre.

3. Brussels, £40

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Maybe you’re a fan of European politics and want to see where all the magic happens? If you are, you’re in luck, Brussels is quite simple to get to.

A short hop to mainland Europe and a more than reasonable price of £40 and you too can see the Manneken Pis, the Atomium and miniature models of European cities, comically dwarfed by the real life Atomium looming over the place.

Obviously, you’d go to Brussels for entirely different reasons than you’d go to Cornwall, but it is also worth noting, it’s actually cheaper to go to Brussels and look at a scale model of Big Ben than it is to travel to London and see the real life one… what on Earth is wrong with our rail system?

4. Copenhagen, £58

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The capital of Denmark is a destination well worth going to for a variety of reasons. Denmark usually tops the list of happiest nations, and while that is a spectacularly vague thing to measure, the people of Copenhagen are noticeably welcoming.

There is an insane mix of attractions packed into the city, including an old rollercoaster next to the train station, world famous architecture, a bustling arts scene and a hippy micronation, Christiania, which has something of a truce with the Danish authorities.

If you’re into countryside, Copenhagen may not be for you, but should be able to offer an interesting and engaging weekend break for all ages and interests. It is considerably cheaper than Cornwall despite being 363 miles further away from Manchester.

5. Berlin, £46

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There is a lot of history in the capital of Germany. It dates back to the 13th century, and the Cold War left an undelible mark on the city in terms of recent history.

404 miles further than Cornwall, yet less than half the price of travelling there, Berlin is surrounded by forests, nature reserves and lakes if you fancy doing something outdoorsy. 

If you want to stay in the city, however, you can visit the Reichstag, the German parliament, brimming with history, or go to the Sunday flea market, which has all manner of rare and vintage items for sale as well as events and music.

You’d struggle to find all of that in the entire county of Cornwall, yet alone localised to one urban area.

6. Carcassonne, £34

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You may have looked at this list so far and thought it’s all very well choosing other cities to go to, but I’d want to go to Cornwall for the seaside and more forgiving weather.

Well, what if I told you the cheapest destination on this list, at a full 740 miles away from Manchester is the gateway to the French mediterranean coast?

Carcassonne is just a short bus ride from the actual coast, but if you don’t want to inflate your costs, the town itself has a peaceful canal, a number of chateaus and is bordered by two wildlife parks.

7. Prague, £55

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This is where I start to run out of my own knowledge – the other places on this list I’ve been to, or been in the area of and so can work off some level of personal geography to describe reasons for going to the place.

Prague is a popular destination, at exactly 750 miles away from Manchester, because of its comparitively cheap cost of living. If you can afford the flights there, you can enjoy a weekend of decadence for relatively little.

The city is also famed for its colourful Baroque buildings and Charles Bridge which crosses the Vltava river.

8. Barcelona, £51

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I think Barcelona is the Manchester of Spain. The Catalan capital, has a generally agreeable climate, usually warm but not overpowering. 

Surrounded by mountains on one side for a bit of hiking and the sea on the other, at 610 miles further than Cornwall, Barcelona offers a fantastic variety of attractions.

The Gothic Quarter is rather like Manchester’s Northern Quarter, a grungey home of the arts and domain of hipsters. History fans can enjoy the Sagrada Familia and Picasso museum and for those interested in shopping, Barcelona has a mix of trendy stores and rare/vintage outlets.

As a milk-avoiding vegetarian, I found the northern Spanish city quite an easy place to find food. There are a number of vegetarian/vegan options in restaurants and stores, which is unusual for Spain, where meet is a far more culturally important part of the diet than in England.

9. Riga, £40

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Back to more wintry places, the capital of Latvia lies 923 miles away from Manchester. The airline that cannot be named offer a £40 return flight there, making it an entirely plausible weekend break location.

Similar to Prague in its cheap cost of living and stunningly colourful architecture, Riga also has the interesting point of being a former part of the Soviet Union, enriching its historical significance.

Every tavern in the city apparent sells Black Balsam, an alcoholic elixir that is even included in some medicines. You wouldn’t find that in Cornwall, and if somehow you could, the chances of being able to afford it after spending over £100 on travel are slim!

10. Lisbon, £54

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So at this point, you might say, OK, but what I actually want to do is look out across the Atlantic Ocean which I’ve not been able to do from any of the cities mentioned so far. 

Well good news, Lisbon is cheaper and the Portuguese capital, being 679 miles further south than Cornwall, gives you a pretty direct view across the Atlantic to the USA.

Arts, history and beaches are all abundant in Lisbon, although countryside is not too high up the list here, so Cornwall maybe has that over this one.

11. Krakow, £87

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One of the less affordable options is Poland’s second city, Krakow.

976 miles away from Manchester, Krakow shows an incredibly meeting between Western and Eastern influences in its architecture and culture.

The city has a lot of significance from World War II, due to its large Jewish population and relics of Nazi occupation.

Krakow has a vibrant amount of attractions, though, and does not need to be a sombre affair!

12. Budapest, £64

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Budapest is 1,021 miles away from Manchester. It’s a sad state of affairs when cities over 1,000 miles away are cheaper to get to than somewhere in your own country.

Split by the Danube, with a more forgiving climate than England and a surrounding of countryside outside the city limits, the only thing Budapest doesn’t have that Cornwall does is the sea.

Similarly to the capitals of Latvia and Czechia, the Hugarian capital is also cheap to stay in once you get there.

13. Kiev, £45

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Recently it was announced that a direct route would be opened from Manchester Airport to Kiev.

The Ukrainian capital, 1,152 miles further away from Manchester than Cornwall is, has been a relatively enigmatic place due to Soviet occupation and not being so eager to throw its doors open as other former Soviet nations.

Unlike other places on this list, you can view the iconic Orthodox Christian architecture, you’d find more famously on display in Moscow around this city.

14. Malta, £89

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Malta is the most expensive place on this list, but I’ve included it, because it’s worth noting that it’s cheaper and easier to get to an isolated, small island nation, 1,460 miles away, than it is another mainland part of this country.

I also included it, so people can’t say I’ve only talked about major cities which will have greater infrastructure than sparsely populated Cornwall, because Malta should absolutely not be easier and cheaper to get to.

If you do go, however, there are plenty of historical sites to visit. The historic walled city of Mdina is an interesting place you would not get to see in many other places, and the island nation’s mixture of English, Italian and African culture is really quite unique.

15. Marrakech, £84

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I hope it was worth reading to the end of this article to see this entry. This is what made me write it in the first place.

Marrakech is a city in Morocco. It is 1,535 miles away from Manchester. It is somehow cheaper and easier to get to than Falmouth, one sixth of the distance and without having to cross any international borders, let alone onto a different continent.

So it seems that it is cheaper to get to a city in Africa than a town in England from Manchester. I hope this list achieves two things. First, to give you some ideas of where you can have a cheap and interesting getaway. Second, to show you how poor public transport is in this country.

Countries geochart
Map of European countries cheaper to visit than Cornwall – the brighter the green, the cheaper they are, countries in white have no data