On September 4th 2022, bus companies across Greater Manchester had their entire pricing structure reformed, with one-way tickets capped at £2 for adults, as Andy Burnham’s public transport improvement plans were fast-tracked as a direct response to the cost of living crisis.
So, with such a monumental event, we got to thinking of how best we could celebrate, as well as help you to make the very most of this new bus offer. For the more people that use the buses now, the longer the price cap can remain at £2.
As a result, we’ve poured over bus maps and timetables to bring you the very best (and furthest away) villages, towns and neighbourhoods which you can get to for just two quid…
Straddling the Pennines and made up of some of the most picturesque and quaint villages that you’re ever likely to visit, Saddleworth is well-known as the ‘posh end’ of Oldham, and is a fantastic destination to visit on a weekend, packed with great boozers, some lovely restaurants and world-class walks and trails.
Taking the 84 or X84, you’ll travel through Oldham, Lees and Grotton, eventually hitting Greenfield, home to The Railway Inn, one of the first (or last) stops on the fabled cross-Pennine ‘Ale Trail’, and a jumping-off point for a big walk around Dovestones Reservoir.
Just a short walk down the road from Greenfield is Uppermill, probably the most populous village in Saddleworth and home to an impressive array of restaurants, countryside pubs and shops. One must-visit spot is the newly refurbished Sorella – an excellent family-run Italian restaurant that’s added a bit of modern sophistication to the usual village offerings.
Further up the road, you’ll find the villages of Delph; home to The Old Bell Inn with their 1300 gins, Diggle; home to the wonderful Grandpa Greene’s ice cream, and Dobcross; where you can sit by the fire in The Swan with a pint and a pie.
Ah, the legendary, almost mythical 192, which will take you all the way from outside Spar on Piccadilly Approach to Stockport Town Centre for two quid. One word of warning though, this bus can be absolute carnage after dark – so keep your wits about you.
Recently heralded as the “Soho of the North” it’s almost impossible to keep up with the sheer number of new venues and shops opening up in Stockport at the moment – a far cry from less than a decade ago when the town was in vital need of revitalisation and development.
So much has happened in Stockport since 2017 that it’s almost unrecognisable, a weekend or evening destination spot now with some phenomenal eateries, great boozers and plenty of independent stores and creatives that are really making an exciting scene down there.
Top of the list of places to visit, especially if you see yourself as a ‘foodie’ is Where The Light Gets In, one of the UK’s most exciting restaurants, and up there as the greenest. Down on Lower Hillgate you’ll also find pottery studio and bakery, Yellow Hammer, alongside some cracking bars including The Spinn Off, Cracked Actor and Notion from Ate Days a Week.
For a more detailed run-down of the shops, spaces, cafes and venues across Stockport, check out our (exceptionally well written) guide right here…
A suburb that needs no introduction, Altrincham has been accessible from the city centre ever since the Metrolink first began rolling all the way back in 1992. Recently named the ‘Best Place to Live in the North West of England‘ by The Sunday Times, Alty has become a blueprint for the regeneration of towns, a destination described as “suburbia meets utopia“.
The market town saw a massive effort back in 2014 to turn the tide of decline, from a high street with the highest vacancy rate in the UK, to a bustling area filled with exciting independents in just a few years. Many attribute this to the impressive Altrincham Market, but there are a whole host of things that went right that reversed the decline into prosperity.
Now, the town is home to some fantastic eateries, from brunch bliss at Blanchflower to Italian gastronomy at Sugo Pasta Kitchen. There’s also the new(ish) One Central shipping container village, Tre Ciccio, UNAGI, The Con Club, Bernie’s and Porta, to name a few.
Altrincham is also, rather strangely, home to three dedicated Belgian Bars, serving up those rocket-fuel lagers that get you hammered after half a bottle. Most recently the town welcomed Bier Zot to this offering, an intimate bar on Greenwood Street.
Finally, Altrincham is right on the cusp of Dunham Massey, a huge estate that dates back to the 11th Century and features a 300-acre deer park, stunning gardens and a lake, the Grade-I listed Georgian Hall and thousands of ancient trees to explore.
You can catch the X41 from Chorlton Street and it’ll take you all the way to the thriving market town of Ramsbottom, home to the world-famous Black Pudding Throwing Contest, the East Lancashire Railway, loads of independent retailers and award-winning restaurants, pubs and cafes.
With a varied and exciting restaurant scene, maintained by the likes of Tre Ciccio and Baratxuri & Levanter, Ramsbottom is a fantastic spot to visit on a weekend, especially if you’re after a cracking Sunday Lunch, where the Eagle & Child, and the Holcombe Tap are more than happy to assist with.
One of the best ways to explore Ramsbottom is to partake in the legendary ‘Rammy Mile‘ – a boozy scenic route that allows you to visit the town’s many excellent bars and pubs, whilst enjoying all of the quaint sights along the way.
You may be forgiven for thinking Bury is just another long-forgotten former mill town that’s in decline, but recent years have seen an influx of independent shops, bars, restaurants and cafes appear, turning this unassuming little town into a very worthy weekend destination.
Taking the 135 from Piccadilly Gardens, you’ll pass through Heaton Park (which is also well worth a stop off), Whitefield and then Bury, home to the world-famous Bury Market and indeed – good old black pudding.
The market itself is still going strong, with over 370 stalls selling everything from fresh local produce, high-quality fruits and veg, local cheeses and everything from the latest fashions to electrical goods, books and toys.
Bury is also home to Europe’s largest arcade – Arcade Club – with over 300 retro and state-of-the-art machines, and the culture vultures amongst you are well served with The Met and the Art Museum and Sculpture Centre.
Another trip on the 192 now, except this time you’re going to get off early in Levenshulme – home to what are arguably the best kebabs in the entirety of Greater Manchester, as well as a diverse and interesting mix of eateries and bars.
Famed for their super-fresh breads, kebabs, shawarma and fatayer, Levenshulme Bakery opens up every day from 10am.
Run by three fellas each of Kurdish heritage, Alonso, AJ and Zheko, they can be found grafting and baking their super-fresh Turkish breads for their meaty fillings and toppings. They’re generally considered to be the very best kebabs in Manchester, and we’re inclined to agree.
More recently too, A Star Shawarma has really started making a name for themselves too – helping to turn Levenshulme into a must-visit destination for any kebab connoisseur out there.
Also worth a visit is the Levenshulme Antiques Village opposite TROVE, as well as the worst kept secret in all of Manchester – ‘The Secret Lake‘ just off the Fallowfield Loop.
You’ll have likely seen Prestwich mentioned a lot in the news, and indeed on Manchester’s Finest, over the last few years, mainly as the suburb forges a trail in becoming home to a roster of independents to rival the likes of Altrincham and Chorlton.
You’ll find some fantastic independent neighbourhood eateries and bars up here, including the brand-new concept from Elencot – Dokes Anglo Saxon Pizza, Osma, All The Shapes, and The Goods In, plus an unrivalled selection of authentic Jewish delis serving up super-fresh bagels, especially on a Sunday when they offer smoked salmon and cream cheese ‘specials’ with all the trimmings.
Up there with must-visit food and drink destinations in Greater Manchester must surely be Lupo, a quintessential Italian cafe experience, with superb coffee, outstanding baked goods, cannolo, pizzas, pasta, and cakes – all set in a random industrial estate.
Prestwich is also, of course, bordered by Heaton Park, a massive green space where you can walk for hours, feed some ducks, stroke some goats and jump on a boat and re-live that bit in Bridget Jones where Hugh Grant falls in the water.
Heaton Mersey, Chapel and Moor, plus the often forgotten Norris – four neighbourhoods that we’ll conveniently group into ‘The Heatons’ and which are easily reached via £2 bus from town on the 42A, which takes you through Fallowfield, Withington and Didsbury.
There’s A LOT to see, do, drink and eat in ‘The Heatons’ and to list everything that you should do would be pure folly here, so I’ll just pick the very best bits from a consistently excellent bunch of independents.
Starting in Heaton Chapel, and La Capilla is one of the very best Mexican restaurants in the city, delightfully authentic, and completely independent – you can’t help but just want to stay here eating and drinking all day. Across the road, you’ll find Heaton Hops, The Barkside and the legendary Littlewoods Butchers, perfect for a proper steak for your tea.
There’s so much to do around here that multiple visits are probably necessary – which are now made easier and cheaper with the £2 cap on the bus fares.
Championing the delights of Salford and North Manchester, take the 34 or 34A through Salford and you’ll end up in the rather trendy neighbourhood of Monton, and stay on there long enough and you’ll be in Worsley – famous for its picturesque canal walks and mock Tudor buildings.
Worsley Village itself is a great spot in which to explore the history of the Bridgewater Canal, birthplace of the transport revolution and an integral part of the development of Manchester in the 18th Century.
Littered with stunning period black and white timbered houses and woodlands, the canal at Worsley makes for a picturesque weekend walk, one where you can add a few extra hours in which to fully explore the village itself, packed with boozers, cafes and some great eateries.
Monton is also well worth a visit – if only for the truly excellent Wandering Palate – purveyors of fine wines and indulgencies, alongside Farm & Fish from the team behind the massively popular Butcher’s Quarter.
You can take the 42 bus to Manchester Airport and it’ll cost you £2, and from there you can go literally anywhere in the entire world.
Here’s a selection of some of the best places you can go for cheap this Autumn…