Northern England is a hotbed of urban delights, overflowing with pubs and live music, museums and restaurants. In the buzzing hub of Manchester (and in neighbouring Liverpool) history fills the streets, but many visitors come to pay homage to sporting heroes and music legends.
Icelandair offers frequent cheap flights to Manchester from North America for an afternoon at Old Trafford, followed by pints in a pub or an all-nighter at a club.
Before you go cheering for Man U or City at a football match, do you fancy some live music and urban treats even further north? When you book flights to Manchester with Icelandair you have the opportunity to add a stopover in Iceland at no additional airfare.
Manchester was shaped by the Industrial Revolution, and there are museums that cleverly detail the city's rich heritage. The People's History Museum does a super job telling the stories of Manchester's boom. There are also great art galleries, a brilliant war museum, and one of the world's oldest public libraries.
A considerably newer addition to the city is the National Football Museum, with exhibits explaining why Manchester is a football powerhouse and what the game means to the locals. Pay homage to Manchester United on a tour of their home stadium, Old Trafford (also known as the Theater of Dreams). This is the pinnacle for fans - it's hallowed ground, with capacity for 76,000 spectators. You can tour Manchester City's home ground, too, to compare facilities and stoke fierce intercity rivalries.
he city's dining scene is booming and you'll eat well, especially in the Spinningfields and Northern Quarter districts. Spinningfields is a modern development that's become a sleek dining and shopping hub, while the Northern Quarter has a more creative, bohemian feel.
In the city center, check out the remarkable Corn Exchange - a grand Edwardian building from 1903 that has been reborn as an upmarket food hall, home to a dozen or so restaurants. For something less sleek, peruse the offerings of the so-called 'Curry Mile', part of Wilmslow Road running through the center of Rusholme in South Manchester. Here, flavors from the subcontinent and the Middle East are big, cheap and aromatic.
All the football kit and diehard fan souvenirs you'll ever need are available here. There are good shopping areas in the city center (where Harvey Nichols and Selfridges reside); along King Street and the Spinningfields quarter (for high-end international brands); and in the indie-minded Northern Quarter.
In the Northern Quarter, check out the quirky offerings at Afflecks indoor market - we're talking vintage clothes, vinyl records and offbeat treasures. The Manchester Craft & Design Centre is well worth a visit, for handmade goodies like textiles, jewelry and ceramics. For mall meandering, head 5 miles west of the downtown area to the Trafford Centre, home to three department stores, cinemas, restaurants and 200-plus stores of retail therapy.