Manchester is a great base from which to explore the rest of the UK and Europe. There are four national parks within an hour's drive away, and Manchester International Airport offers daily flights serving over 200 destinations further afield.
The thriving north-west of England is one of Europe's largest regional economies at £120 billion, and is a major hotspot for creative industries; MediaCity in Greater Manchester is home to the BBC alongside more than 50 creative and digital companies.
The rural Midlands
The Peak District is Britain's first national park, and covers a vast area in the centre of the UK, starting a short distance east of Manchester's outer limits. Moorland, hills and dales give way to meadows, forests and streams, in the midst of which can be found some of the prettiest villages in the UK.
The Peak District is great for lovers of outdoor pursuits, with hundreds of hiking trails and mountain treks. There's also the recently opened Go Ape, an adventurers' playground set high in forest treetops.
For those who prefer a more relaxed approach to countryside recreation, there are a number of stately homes to visit, including the famous Chatsworth House.
Alternatively you could get a relaxing aerial view of your surroundings by taking a cable car down the hillside at the Heights of Abraham country park.
The rural north-west
To the north-west of Manchester lies Cumbria, home to the beautiful Lake District. As the name suggests, the region is famous for its many lakes and the surrounding mountains.
The Lake District is the second largest national park in the UK. Home to Scafell Pike, the highest mountain in England, and some of the country's biggest lakes, the area's unique beauty draws millions of visitors each year.
The mountain treks and hiking trails will lead you through some of the most breathtaking natural landscapes in England, and you can take a boat ride on one of the many lakes - a wonderful way to see the countryside.
After an active day of exploring there are lots of quaint, cosy pubs where you can try Cumbria's famous cuisine, in particular its Cumberland sausages.
The Lake District has also been a place of inspiration for many celebrated writers, including Beatrix Potter and William Wordsworth, and you can visit the houses where they lived and created their most famous works.
Both are set in stunning villages, which you can explore on foot. You might even want to stop off and sample tea and homemade cakes in one of the many traditional English teashops.
Welsh is one of the oldest languages in Europe, and the country from which it originated has retained much of its old world charm.
You can explore the rich and interesting history of the area, and experience a bit of traditional Welsh culture, less than an hour from Manchester.
The North Wales coast is famed for its spectacular landscape, and has plenty to offer water sports fans. It also has some of the most picturesque mountainous regions in the UK, and is home to Mount Snowdon, the highest peak in Wales.