Burnley has good road links from the West, North and South. The M65 runs through the town and is easily accessed from the M6 and M66(A56). Junction 10 is the main junction for the town with limited access from Junction 9 and 11. Access from the East using the A646 is slow, and from the North via Colne suffers from significant congestion. From the North it is often quicker to use the M6/M65.
Rail links to the town are adequate. The town has two stations within walking distance of the town centre, Burnley Central and Burnley Manchester Road, with a third, Burnley Barracks serving a housing estate and the fringe of the town. Burnley Central is the only staffed station but tickets can be purchased on the train at the other stations. Burnley Manchester Road has an express services to Blackpool North, Preston, Leeds and York, taking approximately 35 minutes to Preston and and hour to Leeds. There is also an hourly stopping service from Burnley Central to Preston, Blackpool South and Colne. The journey time is approximately 58 minutes to Preston but has earlier and much later trains than the service to Burnley Manchester Road. Safety on board the trains is usually good with a Guard onboard all services, however Burnley Central is located in quite an isolated area of town after the nearby retail park closes at night so those unfamiliar with the area should ideally arrange to be met or leave the area quickly.
Burnley has a comprehensive local bus service, where single tickets can be purchased. Consider a day or weekly pass if multiple journies are required, these can be purchased from the driver and are inexpensive compared to single fares. An excellent express bus service operates between Manchester and Burnley, the "X43", which is branded as "The Witch Way" with distinctive silver and grey double decker buses. These operate up to every 10 minutes peak times and 15 minutes off peak. In the evenings and Sundays a 30 minuet service is provided. Journey times are approximately 1h 5mins but can be longer in rush hour. The bus departs from Chorlton Street in Manchester. They do NOT depart from the coach station but the street adjacent to it. Alternatively they stop on Deansgate outside the Moon Under Water public house. This is a request stop so give a clear signal to the driver that you want it to stop but generally there are people waiting for it anyway. Fares are (Manchester to Burnley or Nelson) £5.50 single and £9 return (valid for one month) or a day ticket can be purchased for £9 allowing unlimited travel on local buses in Burnley on the day of purchase only. Additional buses to Burnley can be caught from Halifax, Rochdale, Skipton, Keighley, Blackburn and Preston but these are local buses that can take a significant amount of time.
There is also a once daily Megabus+ to/from London using a coach and train to reach Burnley in approximately 5hr 30mins. The coach leaves Burnley for London early morning and returns from London (train to East Midlands) late evening and arriving in Burnley around 3am. However fares are very cheap, starting from £1 in advance and rarely breaching £9 for a single.
The nearest airports for Burnley are located at Manchester, Leeds/Bradford and Blackpool. Manchester has the largest number of services. Manchester Aiport has rail services to Preston where connections to Burnley can be made. Alternatively a train to Manchester Picadilly and the X43 can work out cheaper but requires an awkward walk from Picadilly station. Pre-booked taxis start from £40 but expect to pay £60+ on the day. Agree a fare beforehand. By road it takes approximately 50 minutes but allow extra time in rush hour. Blackpool Airport has an hourly stopping train to Burnley Central taking approximatly 90 minutes. There is no viable public transport from Leeds/Bradford airport to Burnley.
There is an extensive bus service covering Burnley and the surrounding areas. The strikingly designed Burnley Bus Station, with its angular roof and purple/glass facade is worth visiting in its own right, but is also the place to find all the relevant information.
Taxi ranks are everywhere, both London cabs and independents. Expect to pay more in the London style cabbies, and make sure you agree the price at the independents, as they are not averse to trying to rip you off, especially if you're obviously out of town and/or drunk. Prices are mainly reasonable, though. Rough prices are £4-5 for a journey to/from the town centre from the suburbs and £6-£8 for a cross town journey (as of July 2012) in a private hire but if in any doubt agree a price either over the phone or before the driver sets off. Unlicensed taxis are not uncommon (especially on Friday and Saturday nights) and even legitimate taxis must be pre-booked if they are private hire for the insurance to be valid. There are numerous taxi offices within walking distance of the bars and clubs. Females should be especially careful before getting into a taxi to make sure it is genuine, and even then, sensible precautions should be taken. Attacks aren't common but not unheard of.
The main sites worth visiting in Burnley are Towneley Hall and Gawthorpe Hall. Both are large country houses with impressive gardens. Towneley Hall houses a museum. Opening times vary but Towneley gardens has no access restrictions and can be visited anytime.
There is limited evening entertainment in Burnley other than having a drink. A standard bowling alley and cinema befitting a medium sized town are to be found, but don't expect anything exceptional. Burnley FC are a football club in the second tier of English football with occasional big cup matches. Tickets can normally be bought on the day unless its an exceptionally important fixture. In the 2012-2013 a derby with local rivals Blackburn will provide for a heated spectacle but Police presence will be high due to a high threat of violence. However neutrals are unlikely to be targeted.
The pubs in Burnley are generally busy most of the time but don't expect very classy establishments or clientele.
Alternative the X43 is available to spend an evening in Manchester, the last one back to Burnley does not leave until 11pm. On Saturday nights there are departures every hour from 11pm until 3am Sunday morning. All day tickets bought on the Saturday are still valid on the night services on Sunday mornings.
However Burnley makes an excellent base to explore the surrounding countryside and villages which are very pleasant. Haworth, Downham, Barley amongst others and the market towns of Clitheroe and Skipton are well worth a visit. A car provides the most convenient way of visiting these places but even small villages have a bus service through most of the day but check when the last one is, most do not have an evening service.
Burnley has a medium sized shopping area, perhaps slighly bigger than might be suggested by the size of the town due it being a focus for those from some of the smaller places around. All the essentials can easily be found and a there are a few small versions of fashion chains such as River Island and Next. However, don't expect anything unique or different and there is little in the way of high class stores. For serious retail therapy, Manchester City Centre or the huge out of town Trafford Centre are the best bets where nearly every taste is catered for. Both are around a 40 minute drive.
Burnley is devoid of good quality restaurants in the town centre and Wetherspoons is probably the best bet. There are a couple of notable pubs that provide good quality food in attractive settings, these being The New Waggoners on Manchester Road and Sycamore Farm on Liverpool Road. Neither are walkable from the town centre but a taxi should be inexpensive. Given the lack of good restaurants in Burnley these both get very busy at the weekends. There are a couple of generic family pubs but these are best avoided if possible. Not because of anything desperately wrong with them but because of the souless nature of "family pubs" populated by weekend Dads in Burnley.
Alternatively there are some lovely pubs in the villages that surround Burnley that service good quality food. Two notable ones are The Tempest Arms at Elslack and The Calf's Head at Worston. There is Frankie and Bennys, Pizza Express and Nandos at Bury which is a 25 minute drive and every chain you can think of in Manchester, a 40 minute drive.
Burnley has a very lively nightlife scene for a town of its size. Student night tends to be Thursday night, with the offers that brings. Friday's crowd is similarly youthful and Saturday sees a slightly older clientele.
The Boot - A standard Wetherspoons establishment. Nice layout inside, good range of drinks and standard pub food fare.
There are no luxury hotels in Burnley centre, the nearest ones being the Oaks in nearby Reedley or the Dunkenhalgh about 8 miles away. A couple of budget hotels are located on the fringes of town, a Travelodge and Premier Inn. Both are at least 15-20 mins walk from the centre. A Holiday Inn Express is a well presented alternative with large carpark located 2 minutes from J10 of the M65 and 2 mins walk from Burnley Barracks railway station. This to is a 15 minute walk from the town centre, although a shortcut is available but not recommended at night or for vulnerable persons.
Various Bed and Breakfasts are available for those on a budget but the quality is variable, although all should be clean and safe.
There are some rough areas so get local advice before going somewhere unfamiliar, but if you exercise discretion and stay in the main populated areas, you should encounter no problems.
Areas to be careful with include Burnley Wood, Stoops Estate and Stoneyholme, which have had problems with anti-social behaviour in the past.
It is generally safe at night in the town centre but stay with the crowds. With the exception of Sanctuary Rock bar, all bars and clubs are on main streets or surrounded by other bars so if it feels quiet you've gone the wrong way. Even Sanctuary is only just off a main street and should be no more than 2 minutes walk from the main "drag". Most people are friendly and approachable but a few are intent on trouble. The most likely cause of being attacked would be giving too much attention to a lady. Heavy drinking and drug use is fairly common in Burnley so reasoning with the male that you were just "having a chat" (regardless of your intentions) may not work. Avoid taking too much interest in ladies with male partners present if in any doubt, even if you have previously befriended the man.