Blackpool is classic English seaside, amped up. The city hums with a theme park, infamous nightlife and the one million lights of its Illuminations. By day, visitors of all ages promenade between arcades and ice cream stalls on the three stately piers. By night the bars come alive with cabaret shows, world-class DJs and cocktails in every colour. Blackpool is a thrill ride with an easy-going alter ego, all wrapped up in sand dunes, droll souvenirs and old Victorian glamour.
Most hostels in Blackpool have private rooms, although you'll find small dorms in some. Several are decorated with fishing nets and buoys for a nautical theme, while others have sea views and outdoor terraces to take in the ocean air. You can start your day English-style with a free cooked breakfast, and many Blackpool hostels have restaurants for evening meals too. Free Wi-Fi is standard in a Blackpool hostel, handy for planning which sights to take in next.
Piers divide Blackpool seafront into its two Shore areas. You'll find North Pier and The Blackpool Tower on North Shore. The town centre sits between here and Stanley Park's elegant fountains and rose gardens. South Shore is home to the Pleasure Beach amusement park, South and Central Piers and the Blue Flag-awarded South Beach. St Anne's is 20 minutes south of town. It's a peaceful alternative to the busy main beach with rolling sand dunes and regular kite festivals.
Blackpool Pleasure Beach is a top attraction, jam-packed with rollercoasters and hair-raising entertainment. From there it's a short walk to the first of the piers, lined with street artists, cafés, and arcades. On the observation deck of the Eiffel Tower-inspired Blackpool Tower, views stretch to the Irish Sea. At its base is The Blackpool Tower Ballroom. It gives a glimpse into the town's glamorous side, with huge, twinkling chandeliers and a competition dance floor. Don't forget to look down in North Shore – the Comedy Carpet pays homage to the jokes and comedians of Blackpool's trademark sense of humour.
Both Manchester and Liverpool are options for getting to Blackpool, with half-hourly direct trains from either taking less than two hours. However, trains from these cities' airports and to English cities further afield include a change at Preston, which is half an hour away. The main station is Blackpool North, just 10 minutes' walk from Talbot Square in the centre of town. To get around, use the tram and bus systems, which both have useful day and week-long travel card options.