Most famous as the birthplace of The Beatles, Liverpool has history, soul and just the right amount of edge.
FOR FAB FOUR FANS
Various tours offer the opportunity for fans of The Beatles, the iconic English rock band who released famous songs such as Hey Jude, Penny Lane and I Want To Hold Your Hand, to follow in their footsteps, including The Beatles Story Museum with its memorabilia, photographs and films in Albert Dock, and the rebuilt Cavern Club, where the Fab Four first performed on 9 February 1961. Other related sites include the Cavern Walks, The Beatles Shop and 20 Forthlin Road, the former home of frontman Paul McCartney, where the band wrote and rehearsed many of their early songs.
FOR GENTRIFICATION DEVOTEES
The superbly restored Albert Dock is now home to luxury apartments, designer boutiques, restaurants, cafés and museums, including the International Slavery Museum and the Border Force National Museum. The first Victorian structure in Britain to be built using only bricks and iron, the impressive block of buildings on the city’s World Heritage Site waterfront is a sight to behold.
FOR ART AFICIONADOS
Since its opening at Albert Dock in 1988, Tate Liverpool has become one of the most visited art galleries outside London. Its proximity to the city centre by foot and the sheer number of special exhibitions it hosts every year make it a must-see. It brings together artwork from all over the world, including by Gustav Klimt, Pablo Picasso, Andy Warhol and Claude Monet. Entry to the National Collection featuring the works of artists including L.S. Lowry, Cindy Sherman, Louise Bourgeois Mamelles and Glenn Ligon is free of charge. It also holds talks, exhibitions and workshops as well as activities for the family. Take a break at the museum café for breathtaking views across the Albert Dock.
Take time to visit the Walker Art Gallery for its rich collection of works by Italian, Flemish and French masters from the 14th century to the present, including masterpieces by Rubens, Rembrandt, and Rodin. Its claim to fame is its display of 18th to 20th-century English paintings and sculptures, from artists such as Gainsborough, Hogarth, and Moore. Don’t miss the poignant farewell scene at Liverpool’s Pier Head, as depicted by John J. Lee, entitled Sweethearts and Wives.
FOR MUSEUM HOPPERS
For its rich history, Liverpool naturally has a lot of museums. The main one to visit is the Museum of Liverpool, which celebrates the city’s unique geography, history, and culture, using displays related to the port and its people. Period costumes, decorative art as well as objects representing the city’s social and urban history, along with oral testimonies, archaeological material, and photos are on display. The museum is also home to the famous Lion steam engine, built in 1838 and star of the film The Titfield Thunderbolt. The Museum is currently hosting an exhibition on the personal and creative chemistry between The Beatles frontman John Lennon and his wife Yoko Ono. Told in their own words, Double Fantasy – John & Yoko is a free exhibition and runs until 22 April 2019.
For seafaring enthusiasts, the Maritime Museum exhibits the many thousands of emigrants who left Britain via the Mersey for North America between 1830 and 1930. It also has an impressive collection of artefacts, including ones from the 13th century, when Liverpool was established as a fishing port. Entry to see exhibits exploring Liverpool’s role in the story of the tragic Titanic passenger vessel is free of charge and should not be missed. Continue your museum run the next day at the World Museum for a most fascinating account of how humans have impacted the world.
FOR FOOTIE FANATICS
It’s impossible to write a travel guide on Liverpool without mentioning football. The city has two great clubs – Liverpool FC and Everton FC – depending on who you ask. The clubs, two of the most famous and oldest English football teams, offer stadium tours, but better still, time a visit to coincide with a match for a thrilling experience.
FOR ARCHITECTURE ENTHUSIASTS
Regardless of one’s belief, make time to see the majestic Liverpool Anglican Cathedral. Britain’s biggest cathedral and the fifth largest in Europe is quite a sight, with its stunning architecture, both exterior and interior. Get up to the top of the tower for unrivalled panoramic views of the city and beyond, and if you can, time it to catch a Mersey sunset. The Cathedral also offers a choice of two dining venues – the Mezzanine Café inside the Cathedral serves coffee, tea, soups and sandwiches, while the Welsford serves a traditional Roast Dinner on Sundays. The cathedral is free to enter but the audio tour is highly recommended.
St George’s Hall, another architectural gem just across the Lime Street train station, is widely regarded as one of the finest neo-classical buildings in the world. Opened in 1854, it has hosted landmark celebrations, concerts, conferences and weddings.
FOR THOSE WHO LOVE A GOOD TOUR
Tours are aplenty for visitors to get first-hand knowledge of the city. The Shiverpool Historic Ghost Walks is a theatre-led ghost and history tour experience. The tours introduce creepy historical findings in a series of theatrical performances presented by “Spirit Guides”. The Beatles Magical Mystery Tour is a two-hour tour of all the places associated with the Fab Four, including childhood homes of band members, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr, and places that inspired some of their most popular songs. The tour ends at the iconic Cavern Club on Mathew Street, where the band first played more than 50 years ago. It is today a thriving live music destination.
FOR NATURE LOVERS
Arguably the most-loved green space by Liverpudlians is Sefton Park. Classified as a Grade One listed park by English Heritage, the 80-hectare park looks like a natural landscape rather than a man-made park. In spring, locals make a beeline for the millions of golden daffodils around the lake, while the carpets of bluebells give it a countryside feel. The famous Palm House, a restored glass-panelled building, is located within the park, which also features many distinctive curved paths, a boating lake, statues of Eros and Peter Pan, and a café.
FOR CULTURE ADDICTS
A UNESCO World Heritage site, St George’s Quarter boasts some of the finest Victorian architecture in Britain, including St George’s Hall, Central Library and the Walker Art Gallery. William Brown Street is an entire street of cultural attractions in imposing buildings, all of which are free to enter. To fuel up after all the walking, Queen Square Arcade is a central hub of restaurants, bars and entertainment. Arguably the most famous Liverpool neighbourhood is the Cavern Quarter, with its numerous bars and restaurants. It is also where the annual summer music event, International Beatle Week, is staged. Mathew Street, a focal point in the city’s nightlife and in the history of The Beatles, is where the tribute statue of John Lennon stands.
Opposite the Club, Cavern Pub features an exterior wall with the names of the artists who have played at the Club since it opened in 1957. Among them are great performers such as Chuck Berry, Eric Clapton, The Who, Stevie Wonder, Elton John, Jimi Hendrix, and Adele. Less than five minutes’ walk from the street is the Beatles-inspired Hard Day’s Night Hotel, a tribute to the band.
For a less-than-polished look, The Baltic is one of the fastest-growing areas of Liverpool. Once the well-worn factory and workshop of the 1800s, it is now the heart of the Independent Liverpool scene and houses digital and creative businesses.
With 35 kilometres of coastline, Southport is the perfect place to relax and unwind. The classic seaside resort has scenic parks and gardens, fabulous shopping and an array of restaurants. Stroll down the U.K.’s oldest iron pier and try the old penny slot machines in the Pavilion at the far end or ride traditional carousels at Funland.
First on the list to try is a proper bowl of Scouse, short for Lobscouse, a stew made from lamb, mutton or beef, potatoes, carrots and onions. Maggie May’s Café Bar is said to serve the best bowl of this traditional wholesome goodness.
One of Liverpool’s oldest drinking establishments, Thomas Rigby’s serves noteworthy pub food and more than 40 types of beers from around the globe. Get a seat at the large enclosed courtyard at the rear for a relaxing meal from the crowd. For something upmarket, the intimate small cover restaurant Röski, run by Masterchef: The Professionals winner Anton Piotrowski, transforms fresh British produce into Instagram-worthy fine-dining dishes, but be prepared to burn a hole in the pocket.
- BEST VIEWS – Take the 50-minute round-trip journey on the Mersey Ferry for incredible views of the Liverpool waterfront. The cruise includes free entry to the U-boat Story at Woodside Ferry Terminal, where you can see a real German World War 2 submarine.
- CITY TOUR – A great way to sit back and take in the city is via the Liverpool Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour. It gives you the freedom to explore the city at your own pace. Commentary comes in multiple languages.
- BEST TIME TO VISIT – The autumn months of September, October and November are the best time to visit as the weather is pleasant and mild and the city is less crowded too.