Like many cities in the north of England, Liverpool has had a mixed bag of a history. Sometimes its reputation hasn’t been great, but regeneration and investment in the arts have seen a vibrant and fascinating city emerge in more recent years. While once most people wouldn’t have considered a trip to Liverpool as anything close to desirable, now there’s so much to see and do that one trip just isn’t enough.
With a rich musical history and more to keep you busy than you can fit into a couple of weeks, Liverpool has a lot to offer. Situated on the northwest coast of England, the city is easily reached by the John Lennon Airport, Liverpool Railway Station, and good motorway links from anywhere in the UK. To help you plan your trip, here are eight great things to do in Liverpool.
1. Visit Liverpool Cathedral
Liverpool Cathedral, the largest cathedral in the UK, stands proudly atop the hill walk of Cathedral Gate, overlooking the city. Beautifully constructed with vast arches and stunning interior design, it’s a calming place to wander around and makes a fascinating tour. The cathedral’s founding stone was laid in 1904 after the previous city church, St Peter’s, was deemed “ugly and hideous.” Liverpool Cathedral is certainly neither of those things. You can spend a good hour or two in here, browsing the displays and the stunning stained glass. There’s also an impressive cafe and gift shop.
Pro Tip: Take a walk up Cathedral Gate in the evening and you’ll experience the cathedral lit up in golden tones from what looks like a theater’s footlights below. It’s a spectacular sight and gives the cathedral a majestic air.
2. Browse The Vintage Shops On Bold Street
Bold Street runs up from the city center and all the way to the railway station, and it’s the place to go for some good vintage shopping. Start your journey off in Soho’s and head up toward Cow Vintage, stopping off at Resurrection. Along the way you can also take in Barnardo’s and Oxfam for some true thrift store gems, finishing at The British Heart Foundation shop. There’s also Dig Vinyl for some rare old records. This area has some cute little independent cafes and small stores where you can shop for unusual gifts and then take tea and cake in a quirky little teashop. Bold Street is the city’s bohemian quarter and is popular with those visitors who like things alternative, unusual, and independent.
3. Take A Beatles Tour
Liverpool is probably most famous for being the birthplace of The Beatles, and it’s one of the main reasons people visit the city. There are a few tours you can take, but I found Liverpool Beatles Tours to be the best. The guides who drive you around the city and talk you through the places of interest are extremely knowledgeable and will answer your questions and even engage you in a song or two! We visited the former homes of Paul and John, which are owned by the National Trust and have their own very knowledgeable guides on hand, Penny Lane, Strawberry Fields, The Casbah Club, and the grave of Eleanor Rigby. There’s a stop-off for lunch -- we went to a small pizza house -- and plenty of time for taking photos. These tours are taken in small groups by car. Our stretch Mercedes seated eight of us very comfortably and Beatles songs were playing the whole time.
Pro Tip: Ask when you book about accessibility. One member of our party did have mobility issues and couldn’t view the upper floors of Paul and John’s homes, and the stairs down into the Casbah Club were a bit of a challenge, too.
4. Visit The Many Museums
Liverpool has an astonishing number of museums for a city of its size. Some are free to enter, large, and central, and some are privately owned, small and quirky, like The Piermaster’s House at the docks and Sudley House, which is a little further out toward the airport. Most people start with The Beatles Story, a comprehensive museum of the story of the fab four, situated in the city center. This one does get busy as most tourists will be heading here, so book your tickets in advance. A couple of museums with wider appeal are The World Museum and The International Slavery Museum, and there’s also The Museum of Liverpool and the Merseyside Maritime Museum.
5. Enjoy The Art Galleries For Free
Whether you like classical art or modern art, Liverpool has you covered. The Walker Art Gallery is one of my favorite art galleries in the country, and no trip to Liverpool is complete without a stop-off at this beautiful building. The interior is stunning with a cafe set amid a gathering of classical sculptures. There’s also a room on the ground floor dedicated to sculpture. The Walker has some traditional artworks that are permanent, but it also features a rolling program of temporary exhibits, including photography. The Tate Liverpool is down at Albert Docks and has an entirely altering program of exhibits. This gallery has its finger firmly on the pulse of the modern art world, and you’re guaranteed to see something brand new whenever you go. Both museums are free to enter, though viewing some exhibits may have a charge attached.
6. Get Something To Eat
Across from the Albert Docks in Liverpool’s shopping mall, Liverpool One, you’ll find all the familiar chain restaurants and takeaways, but if you want something more unusual, there’s plenty to take your fancy. For breakfast or lunch, or just tea and cake, head to Root Coffee, an independent cafe that has a good selection of coffees and loose leaf teas. For dinner, head down to Albert Docks and try out Rosa’s Thai Cafe. The food here is amazing, and I noticed there were quite a few Thai people eating here, which is always a good sign! For fine dining head to The Art School where the interior is as beautifully presented as the food. Everything here is designed down to the smallest detail and everything is a work of art. If you’ve been vintage shopping on Bold Street, nip into The Greek Taverna for some seriously good authentic Greek food.
7. Be Entertained At A Comedy Club
Liverpudlians famously have a great sense of humor, and if you want to spend some time being entertained with some true northern comedy, head to Liverpool Comedy Club. There are other comedy clubs in the city center, as this is a popular form of evening entertainment, but I can vouch for Liverpool Comedy Club as a great night out. This is a cozy club with a basement atmosphere to it, tucked away, making you feel as if you’ve discovered a hidden and secret spot. There’s a well-stocked bar and some seriously funny comedians. We turned up without knowing who we were going to see and discovered a hilarious new comedian.
Pro Tip: If you’re shy and don’t want to get called on to participate, sit at the back or by a pillar. If you love getting involved sit up front and you could become part of the act!
8. Admire Crosby Beach
For something a little further out of the city, take a short trip up to Crosby Beach. The windswept, sand dune-bordered beach is quiet, and it’s where you’ll find the art installation by Anthony Gormley, Another Place. As you reach the top of the sand dunes and look down on the wide beach you’ll see a scattering of figures all looking out to sea. These sculptures were placed strategically around the beach, some actually standing in the water, to evoke a feeling of contemplation and reflection. Made of iron, some of the statues are showing signs of being weather-worn, but there’s something beautiful and peaceful about standing out there with them. It’s fun to have your photo taken with the statues, and you’ll notice some people have left items, like hats on their heads and even T-shirts on their torsos.
Pro Tip: Even on the finest days, a walk down by the waterfront for the museums and Albert Docks can be bracing. Pack items to protect you against that wind chill coming in off the water. Liverpool is one of the windiest cities in England, especially when you’re right by the water. If you travel up to Crosby Beach the same applies. Be prepared for a sea breeze!
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