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You could be forgiven for thinking Wigan is just a far-flung suburb of Manchester, but in fact this town has been around since Celtic times (that’s before the Romans) and achieved great fame during Britain’s Industrial Revolution with coal mining and the Wigan Pier. To be honest, there isn’t a great deal to lure tourists to Wigan any more, although the town is a good alternative to staying in bustling Manchester. Travellers more interested in the fascinating area between Liverpool and Manchester will find Wigan an ideal base of operations.
Who to Book With
A few car hire companies are located within Wigan, including big chains like Enterprise and small firms such as Westwood Car Hire. You will find their offices near the two train stations and in the industrial parks around Wigan. It’s also very easy to pick up a rental in Manchester itself. No matter what month you plan to travel to Wigan, making an advance booking online typically results in lower rates than last-minute bookings.
Best Time to Go
Wigan’s finest season for travel runs from early spring in April through to the end of summer in September. This is when temperatures reach into the 20s (°C) and rainfall is at its lowest levels. It’s also the busiest time of year for tourism, however, so consider coming in May or September if you want to avoid the crowds but still enjoy pleasant weather.
Need to Know Essentials
Provide the following documents when you collect you rental vehicle:
- A valid UK or EU driving license
- A printed confirmation sheet of the rental
- A second form of ID
- The credit card from the original reservation
Wigan is one town where it really pays to have your own wheels. It’s feasible to walk around the town centre, but to do any form of travel it is infinitely more convenient to have a car hire. A range of car parks like Galleries and Water Street make it fairly simple to find a place to park in downtown Wigan. Rates start at around £1 per hour and top out at around £6.50 for more than six hours. Street parking is also available at 324 pay and display spaces that cost £1 for an hour and have a maximum stay of three hours.
The M6 is the closest UK motorway to Wigan, running just west of town. The M61 runs along the eastern flank of town, with several trunk roads connecting together like a web. This is one of England’s most populated areas, so there are multiple roads, no matter which direction you are heading in. Traffic is relatively light in Wigan, even in the centre of town; compared to Manchester, driving here is a dream.
Buses are the most extensive form of public transport in Wigan, but still cater primarily to residents and not tourists. More convenient transport is available with the taxi companies, while trains run to many suburban towns. The only feasible way to move around Wigan with ease and economy is with a car.
Wigan boasts two train stations with good connections, both local and long-distance. The North Western Station runs regular trains to London Euston, Liverpool and Glasgow via Virgin Trains. Wallgate Station handles the trains to Manchester and the nearby suburbs via Northern Rail. Both train stations are good places to arrange a rental vehicle.
Wigan is considered part of the Manchester greater metropolitan area, so its bus network provides excellent connections both within Wigan and beyond to the many towns that ring Manchester. First Manchester is the main bus company serving Wigan.
Travellers without their own vehicles will find taxis a helpful means of transportation within Wigan. It is easiest to phone a local company like Blue Star Taxis and arrange for a speedy pick up any time of day or night. Cabs are also often waiting at the two train stations when trains arrive.
Although Wigan may not impress with its sightseeing options, it serves as a very centrally located base for driving around the area encompassing Liverpool and Manchester. These two exciting cities are equidistant from Wigan, while coastal towns like Southport and the Wirral are also within easy striking distance for a day’s outing.
Liverpool - Offers its visitors the full package. From its historic UNESCO Pier Head Waterfront to the buzzing nightlife scene, this city seems to offer a little bit of everything. Besides all the history on display, there are also two major EPL football clubs and a vast array of urban amenities to enjoy.
Manchester - This is the big player to the west of Wigan, widely considered the capital of northern England. Its industrial roots have been replaced by a very trendy cosmopolitan scene that balances out the treasure trove of historic landmarks with top-ranked football clubs and performing arts venues.
Southport - This is one of the easiest seaside resort towns to reach from Wigan. Golfers know this town well thanks to its 14 awesome courses, but there’s also a charming medieval old town, a fun seaside scene and loads of Victorian parks that hark back to Southport’s prominence as a holiday spot in years past.