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In 2002, the Lancashire community of Preston became England's 50th city during Queen Elizabeth II's Golden Jubilee. Preston may be one of the nation's newest cities, but its historic buildings are still among its main attractions. The 1882 Harris Museum and Art Gallery towers above the outdoor Flag Market, where several street performances are staged. The Forest of Bowland, River Ribble and Fylde coastal plain surround this peaceful community, set less than 30 miles from the larger cities of Blackpool, Liverpool and Manchester.
Who to Book With
Many Preston visitors find it most convenient to rent their vehicles at Blackpool International Airport, Manchester Airport, or Liverpool John Lennon Airport. All three airports lie less than an hour from Preston, whose own rental car companies include National, Budget, and Europcar branches along Blackpool Road. Easirent and Adelphi Self Drive are among the city's most common independent companies. Online booking is perhaps the best way to find good bargains.
Best Time to go
Preston and the rest of inland Lancashire receive even more rainfall and cool weather than most other parts of the United Kingdom. Temperatures, however, vary less dramatically here than in other regions of the country. Summer may be Preston's biggest and busiest tourism season, but this relatively small community offers cheaper hotel and vehicle rental prices throughout the year compared to its nearby larger cities.
Need to Know Essentials
These documents are needed when claiming car hire in Preston:
- An International Driving Permit or UK local driving license
- A passport or another form of secondary identification with a photo
- The credit card used to secure the reservation
- Printed rental confirmation
The United Kingdom's first motorway stretch, the Preston bypass, welcomed its first drivers in 1958 and is now part of the M55 and M6 motorways. The construction of this historic motorway also included the world's first traffic cones. The Preston bypass was initially built to help motorists avoid traffic jams while driving to the Lake District or Blackpool. Today, the M61 is the main motorway between Preston and Manchester, while the M55 remains the main route to Blackpool. Walton-le-Dale and Preston PortWay are the city's two park-and-ride locations.
No fewer than three major airports are located under an hour's drive from Preston, whose Guild Wheel public footpath recently opened in 2012. Preston is also home to a historic rail station, an extensive city bus network and at least five reliable taxi companies. Driving, nonetheless, remains the city's most efficient means of transportation.
Preston's rail station has served the community since 1838, although it has been renovated and expanded several times over the years. The city is a significant stop along the West Coast Main Line, Great Britain's busiest mixed traffic rail route. Virgin Trains offers National Rail tickets from Preston to every major city in Great Britain. Tickets between Preston and Manchester Piccadilly cost as little as £7.50 each, while the journey to Liverpool Central rail station costs around £12.
Paulstaxi, one of the about five reputable taxi companies based in Preston, offers a wheelchair-accessible seven-seater Hackney carriage among its vehicles. Taxi fares may vary depending on traffic, but the average cost of the journey from Preston to Blackpool Airport is around £35.
The promotional £1 Megabus journeys to London are Preston's cheapest intercity bus transport option, but National Express buses also travel between Preston and destinations across the United Kingdom, Spain and France. Stagecoach is now Preston's largest inner-city bus provider. The transportdirect website is the best place to compare bus fares to, from and around Preston.
The peaceful and intimate community of Preston provides the perfect base for a Lancashire holiday. Preston lies 15 miles east of Blackpool, 26 miles from Liverpool and 27 miles from Manchester. Those craving more rural retreats will find the legendary Lake District and the Yorkshire Dales National Park are just an hour away. The nearby Beacon Fell Country Park also stands in the heart of the Forest of Bowland.
Blackpool - The seaside resort of Blackpool remains Britain's most popular seaside retreat. Attractions are located on all seven levels of Blackpool Tower, an Eiffel Tower replica containing an aquarium, a circus and a glass elevator leading to an observation deck. Thrill-seekers can choose from no fewer than 11 roller coasters at Pleasure Beach Blackpool, still one of Great Britain's biggest funfairs. The Blackpool Illuminations light show helps stretch Blackpool's summer tourism season well into autumn.
Liverpool - The Merseyside city of Liverpool may be most famous for the Beatles, but Europe's oldest Chinatown and Great Britain's biggest collection of national museums outside of London can also be found here. Fans of the Fab Four will not want to miss the world's only Beatles themed museum, located alongside Albert Dock's numerous other attractions.
Manchester - This city has long battled with Birmingham for the status of England's second most populous city. This former industrial city now boasts one of the nation's most diverse shopping districts, a vibrant arts scene, as well as Old Trafford, Manchester United's home ground. Wildlife roams around the city walls of Castlefield, where the ancient Romans first established the settlement of Mamucium.