From Manchester Airport to city-centre hotels
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If you are staying at one of the recommended Congress hotels, or anywhere in the city centre (downtown) of Manchester, the Airport rail link is the fastest way to reach your destination.
Direct services run from the Airport to both the main terminus at Manchester Piccadilly and the more central Manchester Oxford Road. From these stations, you can reach any of the recommended Congress hotels: see From Manchester rail stations to the Congress venue and accommodation.
You will find the rail link at Manchester Airport by following signs from Arrivals to “The Station” (this is the name for the Airport’s combined train, bus and coach station, serving all three terminals).
Journey times vary from 13 minutes (non-stop) to 25 minutes. Piccadilly services depart at approximately 5-minute intervals in the daytime, and there are at least three services per hour at all times from 04.00 to around 01.20 (1.20am).
As of March 2013, a single (one-way) ticket from Manchester Airport to Piccadilly or Oxford Road costs £4.70 during peak travel hours or £4.00 off-peak.
Taxi or private hire
A car journey to most city-centre locations will take around 25 to 30 minutes, and is likely to cost between £20 and £30. The train is probably preferable unless you have mobility difficulties or heavy bags.
Note the distinction between two varieties of taxi in the UK: true taxis (‘black cabs’, ‘Hackney cabs’), available for immediate hire, and private hire vehicles (‘minicabs’), which must be pre-booked. Manchester Airport offers an uncomplicated booking service on arrival. Private hires are generally cheaper, but you may have to wait for your car. You can hire a black cab straight away from the rank outside the terminal building.
Some of the larger hotels offer shuttle services from the Airport, but we can’t advise on this. Please check directly with your hotel.
The number 43 bus is a 24-hour service running directly from the Airport to a range of city-centre locations. Few travellers use it for this journey, as it is much slower than the train (around 65 minutes) and only slightly cheaper (£2.90 for a single ticket as of March 2013).
Visitors with an amateur or professional interest in the history of urban and suburban change may, however, be interested to approach Manchester this way (see video). You will pass, in sequence, through a section of flat Cheshire farming country; the vast twentieth-century social housing scheme of Wythenshawe, laid out as a “garden suburb”; the Sharston industrial estate; West Didsbury, a leafy commuter suburb; Fallowfield, dominated by University students; the largely South Asian district of Rusholme; and the zoned modular concentration of the city’s hospitals and universities.
All buses leave from the Airport’s combined bus, train and coach station signposted as “The Station”. For bus services from the Airport to other locations in the area, see the Manchester Airport bus advice page.