5 of the best holidays for the price of a return rail journey from London to Manchester

It is no secret that rail transport in the United Kingdom is too expensive. Today, the issue was brought to the fore when Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester, tweeted to show that the price of an Anytime Return from Manchester to London today will cost you the princely sum of £369.40.

This comes the day after the Government launched a ‘Great British Rail Sale’, featuring a rather cringe-worthy video performance from Transport Secretary Grant Shapps promising cheaper train tickets, with savings of up to 50 per cent.

Clearly the savings aren’t affecting all services quite yet. So where in the world could you travel, for the price of a return railway jaunt between Manchester and London?

Below we round up five holiday options which highlight how much further your 36,940 pennies can go – where your window view will be slightly more impressive than the industrial edgelands of Crewe or Milton Keynes, and where your dining option will be more than a bag of nuts and an instant coffee.

Return flights to Toronto

Cost per person: £368

If you’re considering a transatlantic city break in 2022, New York City might be your first port of call. But why not consider Canada’s largest city, Toronto, which you can reach in under eight hours from the UK?

Our expert, Doug Wallace, says: “Cosmopolitan and cultured, fun and fun-loving, with an icing of unpredictability just to make things interesting, Toronto takes pride in being the dynamic, creative and safe sum of all its parts. 

“The city’s roots show in myriad ways, with more than 200 cultures represented on the streets. (The fact that there are three Chinatowns and two Little Italys speaks volumes.) This is one of the reasons why the culinary scene is such a big deal – there are more ingredients in the pantry to pull from. With four world-class sports teams, a spirited arts scene and a vibrant waterfront with its own airport, Toronto makes both a rewarding end destination and a great pit stop.”

Air Transat is selling return flights from Manchester to Toronto for £368 per person, departing Tuesday October 4, 2022 and returning the following Tuesday on an overnight flight.

If you’re considering a transatlantic city break in 2022, swap New York City for Toronto

Credit: Getty

A week-long all-inclusive holiday in Corfu

Cost per person: £368.50

For a whole 90 pence cheaper than an anytime return ticket from Manchester to London, you could spend an entire week in Corfu with all of your food and drink covered. In May, the weather will be delightful at around 24 degrees celsius.

Our Corfu destination expert, Helen Iatrou, sings the praises of the popular Greek holiday island: “Corfu has long enticed conquerors and holidaymakers with its intoxicating mix of historical monuments, lush hillsides, blue skies, sand and pebble beaches and calm, azure waters. 

“British and French influences can be seen in Corfu’s atmospheric Old Town – however, it’s obvious that the Venetians, who stayed around for 400 years, exerted the greatest sociocultural impact on the island.”

Tui is selling a seven-night all-inclusive package to the Mareblue Beach Resort in St Spyridon, Corfu. Flights depart from London Luton on Friday May 13, 2022 and return the following Friday.

Enjoy the historical monuments, lush hillsides, blue skies, sand and pebble beaches of Corfu

Credit: Getty

A long summer weekend in Paris, for two

Cost for two: £268

Why settle on a solo anytime return ticket to Manchester, when for £100 cheaper you could travel with your loved one to the most romantic city on Earth? 

Our resident Parisian expert, Eleanor Aldridge, says that a weekend is plenty of time to explore the wonders of France’s capital: “The beauty of Paris is that even in 48 hours you can totally immerse yourself in its contradictions. A morning spent outdoors beneath the spring blossom in Sceaux or Parc Monceau calls for an evening in an arthouse cinema. 

“Lazy breakfasts in Left Bank cafés might lead to late-night rooftop drinks or a concert in a tiny jazz bar. Remember that you can cross the city in less than an hour: there’s nothing to stop you spending the morning at the Fondation Louis Vuitton and an afternoon floating up the canal on an electric boat from La Villette.”

Eurostar is selling return tickets from London St Pancras International to Paris Gare du Nord, departing Friday June 10, 2022 and returning on the Monday, for £134 per person.

Take the Eurostar and spend the morning in Parc Monceau gardens before an evening at an arthouse cinema

Credit: Getty

Three nights in a cosy cabin in Devon

Cost for two: £315 

If it’s connectivity you’re after, you might be better staying on board and trying to log into the Wi-Fi on your Manchester to London service (good luck with that). If you’re looking to cut off from it all, however, boutique glamping purveyors Canopy and Stars have a range of brilliant cabins, huts and treehouses across the country and in Europe. 

Canopy and Stars sells three nights at the River Dart Cabin at the Dartington Estate in Devon. The repurposed fisherman’s cabin is a few steps from the river, where you can spend lazy afternoons paddling before wrapping up around the fire pit. A cabin for two for a three-night stay in September 2022 costs £315.

Canopy and Stars have a range of brilliant cabins, huts and treehouses across the country and in Europe

Credit: Canopy and Stars

A bouji villa in Kefalonia

Cost: £337 per person

What would you prefer: 161 minutes zooming between Manchester and London, or a full week spent in a deluxe villa on the Greek island of Kefalonia? The island offers something a bit more sophisticated than the likes of Mykonos and Corfu, with fashionable Fiskardo attracting yachting sorts and Myrtos Beach offering some of the clearest waters in the Med.

Vintage Travel has a villa in the gorgeous northern region of Kefalonia, with views out towards the sea and Ithaca beyond. Agata sleeps four in two bedrooms, with stays in June starting from £1,348 for seven nights (£337 per person).

Agata sleeps four and offers views out towards the sea and Ithaca beyond

Credit: KOSTAS FRAGIAS/Vintage Travel

Have train fares in the UK caused you to change your plans and head abroad for a holiday instead? Tell us about it in the comments section below