Liverpool is the kind of city that gives you an obsession. There’s a lot to be said about a city that’s been left behind by its government but still able to grow and thrive. It rose from the ashes of the dying industrial revolution and reinvented itself into a European capital of culture and a northern powerhouse.
Liverpool is an inclusive and diverse city with a little bit of something for every type of visitor. Whether you’ve got a weekend to spare or a lot less, you’ll find yourself running out of time with the endless supply of foodie heaven, cultural delights and scouse hospitality.
- 1 Liverpool’s main attractions
- 2 Liverpool’s Best Food & Drink Options
- 3 Getting around Liverpool
- 4 Places to stay in Liverpool
- 5 Don’t miss out on Liverpool’s…
- 6 Liverpool survival guide – things to know
Liverpool’s main attractions
The Albert Dock
Liverpool’s Albert Dock is as old as the city itself but it hasn’t always been the tourist hub it is today. The Albert Dock was once a working dock and then later left to ruin. The current waterfront is an urban renewal dream where you can dine out in style, grab an ice cream from a retro British ice cream van, or simply walk the water’s edge at dusk.
The Albert Dock is home to a wide range of Liverpool’s best accommodations, restaurants and bars. The Albert Dock is a pricier area than the main city centre, but it is definitely worth a visit, even for budget travellers. There’s nothing quite like a summer sunset over the Mersey with Pier Head and the famous Liver Building in the backdrop.
Throughout the warm months (May-September), you’ll find a range of weekly events and festivals that occupy The Albert Dock and Liverpool’s waterfront. Time your visit for a July weekend for a lively Liverpool experience.
Pier Head and the Mersey Ferry
Pier Head, or George’s Pier Head as it’s officially called, is Liverpool’s famous skyline, but you won’t see it from Liverpool. Take the ferry across the Mersey for the best views of this UNESCO world heritage site, and don’t forget your camera. The Mersey Ferry costs £10 per person and the water can be choppy, but it’s definitely worth the risk for the photo opportunities.
George’s Pier Head is home to Liverpool’s iconic Royal Liver Building, the Cunard Building and the Port of Liverpool Building. You can also jump on The Isle of Man ferry from Pier Head, but I’m not sure I’d be keen to brave the Irish Sea. If you’ve got the stomach for it, The Isle of Man Steam Packet Company operates the ferry service from Prince’s Landing Stage.
Penny Lane, the Cavern Club and the Beatles Experience
One of the biggest tourist lures to Liverpool may come as a surprise to you, but may also be a super obvious one. The Beatles were born and bred in Liverpool and the city won’t let you forget this in a hurry. Whether you begin your Beatles experience on Menlove Avenue to visit John Lennon’s childhood home or start your Beatles tour on the famous Penny Lane with a swift cold one in the Penny Lane Wine Bar, it’s up to you. Whatever you do, don’t miss out on Mathew Street and make sure The Cavern Club is at the top of your Liverpool/Beatles bucket list. The drinks are well-priced, the music is live and there’s absolutely no phone signal at all.
As a tourist in Liverpool, Matthew Street is definitely the place to be on a Friday night. Check out some live music, visit the Cavern and when you’ve had enough to drink, try your hand at some karaoke. Matthew Street attracts a large number of European and Chinese tourists all looking to visit the famous Beatles haunts, so do not be shy – the locals are friendly and even the bouncers aren’t afraid of joining in the fun.
The Met Quarter, Liverpool One and Concert Square
Liverpool City Centre is as fusion as fusion can be. From classic British boozers where the old men prop up the bar to designer shops in the Met Quarter to Paradise Street and its many restaurants in the Shopping Mecca that is Liverpool One, there’s something for everyone. In the winter months you can visit the Christmas Markets or try some ice skating in Chavasse Park, which is situated in front of Paradise Street and overlooks The Albert Dock. Some of Liverpool’s favourite bars and restaurants can be found in Liverpool One. Remember the name Palm Sugar, grab yourself frozen strawberry daiquiri – a Liverpool favourite – and thank me later.
Why not participate in one of Liverpool’s best sports? No, I’m not talking about football. Try your hand at some shopping. If you don’t have the cash to shop in Hugo Boss, Jack Wills and Jo Malone, skip the Met Quarter and head straight to St. John’s indoor shopping centre for some cheap and occasionally tacky trends.
On a Saturday afternoon, the streets of Liverpool’s City Centre become an ocean of frantic shoppers both male and female all looking for the perfect outfit for a Saturday Night. Time your stay to fall over a weekend. Scousers know many things, but looking good and partying hard are certainly at the top of that list. For cheap booze, lots of laughs and the cheesiest music in the city check out Concert Square and try not to trip on the cobbles.
The Bombed out Church and Liverpool’s Cathedrals
In order to gain city status in the UK, you must have a cathedral and well, Liverpool is so important that it’s actually home to two. I guess that makes Liverpool twice the city.
The Anglican Cathedral and The Metropolitan Cathedral sit at opposite ends of one long street. That street is called Hope Street, and it runs right through Liverpool’s Georgian Quarter.
The Anglican Cathedral is deep brown and antique looking with a large tower that is home to some of the best views of the city. The Metropolitan Cathedral on the other hand, is probably the most peculiar church you have ever seen. The light grey, circular building almost resembles a crown. At first, it may not be so appealing, but believe me that its obscure beauty will grow on you.
If you aren’t too bored of churches, Liverpool’s ‘Bombed Out Church’ is a must see. Officially known as St. Luke’s, the church lost its roof during the Liverpool Blitz in 1941. St Luke’s is technically a ruin but that’s not to say it isn’t still a useful landmark on the Liverpool map. Regular yoga lessons, concerts and art exhibitions are all held at the Bombed Out Church, along with a regular soup kitchen for Liverpool’s homeless residents. Volunteers are always welcome.
Sefton Park and the West Coast
Finally, if you want to get out of the busy city centre, head to one of Liverpool’s many parks. I’d recommend Sefton as a personal favourite of mine, and do not leave until you’ve seen the 18th century Palm House and botanical gardens. Alternatively jump on the Mersey rail and head to Crosby Beach, Liverpool’s answer to Bondi, where you’ll catch a glimpse of the iron men sculptures titled ‘Another Place’.
Liverpool’s Best Food & Drink Options
This section is specifically aimed at the foodies here. Now I don’t want to alarm you, but Liverpool will leave foodies so spoilt for choice that you’ll have to return. Take a trip to Chinatown – it’s a 5-minute walk from The Bombed out Church and home to the oldest Chinese community in Europe. Not only is Liverpool’s Chinatown the only place you can sit down to eat at 3am, it’s also home to the largest Chinese arch outside of China, and I must admit it’s certainly impressive.
For culinary deliciousness, head straight to Bold Street and do not pass ‘GO.’ You’ll find Mexican, Jamaican, Lebanese, Indian, Moroccan, Peruvian, Italian and more. Yes, more. Bold Street is home to many of Liverpool’s prized independent restaurants. I’d recommend Raggas for some spicy jerk, Bakchich for some Lebanese street food and hummus overload or Mowgli for the best vegetarian Indian cuisine in the city.
If you plan on spending a while in the city invest in an Independent Liverpool card that will grant you access to endless discounts to all of Liverpool’s independents.
Getting around Liverpool
Almost anything you want to see in the City Centre is accessible on foot. Otherwise, the well-connected public transport in Liverpool can take you anywhere else.
If you decide to visit Penny Lane or stop off on Sefton Park, take the 86 buses that now run 24 hours a day. It will cost you £2 per journey and selective services run right through to the airport (86C for Liverpool John Lennon Airport). The Queen Square bus station and Liverpool One bus station are the main transport hubs, with Liverpool Lime Street Station being the biggest train station for national trains. Liverpool Central is also an important station to mention because if you decide to head to Crosby Beach or Formby you’ll need to take the Mersey Rail train from here.
Places to stay in Liverpool
There are lots of places to stay in Liverpool, but booking in advance is almost always necessary. Weekends are the busiest, and around Christmas time it’s almost impossible to find a reasonably priced hotel.
For budget travellers – Hatters Hostel Liverpool is located in the heart of the city centre, just a ten minute walk from The Albert Dock and Liverpool One. There’s also a bar, and although I’ve never been in it, I can only imagine how rowdy it gets on a Saturday night. If you do want to be closer to the waterfront try booking a room at Liverpool’s YHA, a super family friendly hostel with great cheap privates.
Mid range – For mid-range prices check out these chain hotels: IBIS, Travel Lodge and Holiday Inn. Rather than fork out for an expensive apartment or hotel, some of Britain’s most popular chain hotels can be found right in town. There’s a whole range to choose from in Liverpool, and if you’re not planning on spending much time in your hotel anyway, you won’t mind the repetitive décor.
High price range – If you’re really looking to push the boat out (no pun intended) don’t be afraid to check out Liverpool’s Titanic hotel. It’s one of the city’s top rated and best-selling hotels by a mile, and in the perfect location for tourists. For other high end hotels, you can try The Hard Day’s Night Hotel, The Shankly Hotel, Hamptons by The Hilton and Signature Living.
Don’t miss out on Liverpool’s…
Events! Liverpool is the North West’s event epicentre with everything from football tournaments and free music festivals to theatre and street carnivals. Time your stay in the city of Liverpool with some of the great events that happen throughout the year. Summer is festival season and winter is always best to grab a pint and a pie at one of Liverpool’s two world famous football stadiums.
Liverpool is also home to Europe’s biggest free music festival (Liverpool International Music Festival) Or LIMF as its better known.
Liverpool survival guide – things to know
Liverpudlian’s are often known as scousers. This is for two reasons. First of all being scouse, a traditional stew eaten in Liverpool that dates back to when The Albert Dock was a working dock. Scouse is known as a sailor’s dish and no visit to Liverpool is complete without trying some. Secondly the accent is scouse and at first you may not be able to understand the locals, but don’t worry you’ll get used to it.
Use Alpha and Delta Taxis. Don’t pay Black Cab prices, and download the Alpha or Delta app for much cheaper (and reliable) taxis, if you need to take one.
Student Discounts are widely accepted in stores and restaurants. There is also a discounted student price on the busses in Liverpool. Remember to bring your student card though.
Pack an umbrella as the North West of England isn’t always too kind to locals, and it’s not very often that we get through a full week without rain. Chances are you’ll need that umbrella.
Liverpool to the locals is London minified, with all the great features of a capital city without the title to go along with it. You’ve probably considered visiting Manchester, and Liverpool is only a short, cheap train ride away. Do not forget to add Liverpool to your UK bucket list. It seriously is not one to be missed.
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Bryony is a Tourism Management graduate currently working in Digital Marketing and living in Liverpool, UK. She has always had itchy feet and this burning desire to travel has taken her to 31 different countries mainly in Europe and Latin America. Bryony describes herself as a passionate person who loves learning, exploring and developing as a human. Follow her on her site travelsandmore to learn about her travels. You can connect with her on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter here.