Pick up your hire car at Manchester Airport and enjoy the sights and sounds of this modern, cosmpolitan city.
"Yes we've got the musical heritage, but Manchester is about so much more. Recently the city has become more successful than Oasis and the Smiths combined and we're up there with the best in Europe!"
To be fair, it's pretty much true. The city has shaken off almost every northern stereotype going and has emerged as a successful, cosmopolitan 21st century urban destination.
Shopping, culture, canals... they are all present. But don't let that make you think the city has lost touch with its roots. There are musical treats aplenty hidden away.
The city is at its most lively during term time. The students certainly play their part, but there is plenty to do away from the bars offering discounted booze.
The north-west isn't particularly noted as a year-round sun trap. If you're in town, and haven't got a personalised fair weather guarantee from Michael Fish, a cagoule could be advisable.
While the city centre does boast many upmarket eateries, a trip down the Curry Mile promises to do exactly what it says on the tin.
There are plenty of celebs that would be the toast of many other cities but, love or loathe them, you'd have to say that the Gallagher brothers of Oasis are currently Manchester's most famous sons.
Manchester is the birthplace of computing... well, kind of. The world's first stored-program computer was built at Manchester University in 1948. Beat that Google.
"Manchester... the belly and guts of the Nation." - George Orwell, The Road to Wigan Pier.
We compare prices from leading suppliers
You'll wish you were 16 again when you visit this treasure trove of trendy shops. But don't worry, there are no age restrictions on the door at this 'alternative department store'.
Park your hire car at the Church Street car park. Starting price is £2.
If you are into Victorian Gothic revival, look no further than Manchester Town Hall. And if that kind of architecture isn't your particular passion, the square it sits in is pretty nice too.
Limited metered parking is available just outside the town hall on Albert Square, or park at the Queen Street car park.
As you would expect, this is the place to seek out if you are after the best Chinese food in the city, but the area boasts much more besides the obligatory prawn toasts.
There is metered street parking in Chinatown but the spaces are very limited, so the car park in Reyner Street may be a better option.
Or to give it its shorter name, Salford Cathedral - a fine example of a neo-Gothic church that cuts an imposing figure on the Manchester skyline.
Metered street parking is available on Chapel Street or use the Salford Exchange Station car park on Victoria Street.
Manchester's urban heritage park offers the Science Museum, a plethora of pubs, waterside walks and a heavy helping of heritage. If nothing takes your fancy here you'd probably be better off staying in bed.
Try the car park on Stone Street. It costs only £1.
Though many of the city's football fans would consider this particular trip sacrilegious, Liverpool is another of the north's regeneration success stories and well worth the short drive west.
Take the M602 west out of the city. It becomes the M62 and takes you directly to Liverpool, about 35 miles away.
With its rugged good looks and countless idyllic villages to appreciate the brief, yet exhilarating, journey over the Snake Pass is time well spent.
Follow the A57 east of the city, which, after a short stretch on the M67, takes you into the Peak District.
The other 'district' easily accessible from Manchester has lakes - big ones. Anyone never to have experienced what may be England's most beautiful national park really is missing out.
Head out of the city towards the M61, which travels northwards and becomes the M6. You're looking at about an hour and a half to the Lake District.
If you've had enough of cathedrals, culture and countryside, give yourself a welcome break by visiting to the never-disappointing Alton Towers theme park. Oblivion awaits.
Head south on the A6 then follow the A523 until you see signs for the theme park. It's about 45 miles from Manchester.
" Enjoy driving in the centre of Manchester while you can - in a few years' time you might have to pay for the privilege when the congestion charge is introduced. In truth it can get a bit busy right in the centre during rush hour - especially around Chinatown - but for the most part your hire car will actually be moving, albeit slowly at times. If you really can't face the centre you can just park your hire car at one of the NCP car parks and take the free Metroshuttle bus into town. "