8 ways to see lively Liverpool

James March

James March

Any talk of Liverpool usually means The Beatles are never far away. While the bright spotlight that's due to shine on the city when it hosts May's 2023 Eurovision Song Contest will illuminate the city's fine musical heritage, there's far more to see and do in lively Liverpool.

Hop on a 'Ferry Cross the Mersey'
Hop on a 'Ferry Cross the Mersey' © Pete - Adobe Stock Image

Sitting on the grand River Mersey, the city's majestic architecture, pulsating nightlife, ferocious football passion and gregarious character form one of the UK's most distinct corners. Here, we look at how to fill a weekend in Merseyside's most famous port city.

Where to stay in Liverpool: you'll find all the big names have accommodation in Liverpool from Millenium Hotels* and Radisson* to Hilton*, not to mention countless boutique and independent places to stay as well.

Take in some sublime architecture

Looking up at Liverpool's grandiose streets and buildings, it feels incomprehensible that this was once one of England's most maligned and deprived cities during the late 20th century.

Second only to London for having the most listed buildings in the UK, the city's "Three Graces" on Pier Head (Royal Liver Building, Cunard Building and the Port of Liverpool Building) are the pièces de résistance.

The unmistakable Liver Building
The unmistakable Liver Building © EWY Media - Adobe Stock Image

But don't miss the neoclassical architecture around Lime Street Station (itself impressive) such as the World Museum and St George's Hall.

Take the famous Ferry Cross the Mersey (thanks for that one, Gerry & The Pacemakers) for a more widescreen view, where you'll also get to see lesser-heralded sights such as the multi clock-faced Victoria Tower and the imposing Wallasey Town Hall.

Dive into The Beatles

Only the most pious of travellers could visit Liverpool and pretend The Beatles never existed. The sheer amount of history and reference points dotted around the city makes a Fab Four excursion just too irresistible, and there's a veritable smorgasbord to choose from.

For the casual fan, the colourful presentation and myriad memorabilia at The Beatles Story by Albert Dock is a good start, while a night at the legendary Cavern Club is a rite of passage.

Inside the famous Cavern Club
Inside the famous Cavern Club © Chris Stanley - Dreamstime.com

Enthusiasts, however, will love seeing the real-life Penny Lane on the Magical Mystery Tour, stepping down into the Casbah Coffee Club basement to see where The Beatles played their very first gig in 1959.

Alternatively, sip on a pint at the spit and sawdust Ye Cracke, where John Lennon used to drink as a young art student.

Hideaway in world-class museums

Did you know Liverpool once had an elevated railway (amusingly known as 'The Dockers' Umbrella') running for seven miles along its waterfront?

After being knocked down in 1956, it's unlikely visitors even know of its existence but the angular Museum of Liverpool does a fine job of bringing the railway and many other local curiosities to life.

Over at the Albert Dock, the poignant International Slavery Museum acknowledges Liverpool's significant role in the slave trade as a port city.

Meanwhile, the Maritime Museum offers fascinating permanent exhibitions into the doomed liner Lusitania and Liverpool's untold story with the infamous Titanic.

Sip local beer in absurdly ornate settings

From the stained glass dome of The Vines' Billiards Room to the mint-green tiled arches of Dr Duncan's, Liverpool is blessed with some of the UK's most elaborate watering holes.

Its pubs mirror the grand architecture of the streets and there's a handful that really need visiting to be appreciated, so don't miss the circular mahogany bar at the Philharmonic Dining Rooms.

While enjoying this ostentatious pub crawl, take the chance to sample some excellent local beers such as the Nelson Sails Again NZ pale from Neptune Brewery or Oatimus Prime mosaic pale ale from Top Rope Brewing.

Discover a proud local arts scene

While Tate Liverpool is probably the most recognisable name on the city's arts scene, there's plenty more to delve into.

Dating from 1716, The Bluecoat is the city's oldest building and now a quirky contemporary arts centre that's also home to several independent shops and a peaceful garden.

Bluecoast arts centre in Liverpool's oldest building
Bluecoast arts centre in Liverpool's oldest building © Ken Biggs - Alamy Stock Photo

For further artistic inspiration check out Merseymade, a friendly space inside an old redbrick Victorian building that's home to local artists in residence who often use distinct Liverpool iconography in their work.

Head further south into the industrial chic of the Baltic Triangle where the likes of Jamaica Street are splashed with gaudy graffiti.

Book a tour: check out the variety of tours in Liverpool from Viator*, which offers everything from river cruises to walking, e-bike and film-location tours to guided Beatles-themed trips.

See the Mersey from the water

The famous ferry isn't the only way to explore the River Mersey. From canoeing to stand-up paddleboarding, there are plenty of options for getting out onto the water and taking in the city from a new perspective.

Two-hour tours with the Liverpool Watersports Centre start from the centre's base in Queens Dock and paddle through the South Liverpool Docklands passing stunning sights like the Three Graces towards the Albert Dock before returning back to base.

Just remember that this isn't the Mediterranean and the winds from the Irish Sea can whip up some occasionally difficult conditions.

Experience the local passion

Red and blue are more than just colours in Liverpool. The historic football rivalry between Liverpool FC (red) and Everton FC (blue) goes back over 125 years, with their first meeting played in 1894 and continuously since the 1962-63 season.

Feel the passion at a local football match
Feel the passion at a local football match © M Vogel - Dreamstime.com

With their stadiums separated only by the green expanse of Stanley Park, it's a divide that's virtually unique in English football and the matchday experience is always filled with passion.

If you can't grab tickets to a game, both Liverpool and Everton offer immersive stadium tours led by local guides full of old stories, vivid characters and unmistakable humour.

Find peace in the city

Liverpool's a pulsating place, and sometimes the energy coming from the likes of Matthew Street or Slater Street can get a little much. Thankfully, there are a number of spots to get away from everything.

Since redevelopment in 2010, the pagodas, lakes, streams and waterfalls of the Festival Gardens have become a pretty and serene spot a couple of miles south of the city centre.

Part of Anthony Gormley's Anorther Place sculpture
Part of Anthony Gormley's Anorther Place sculpture © Jason Wells - Adobe Stock Image

They're easy to reach by Merseyrail in under 20 minutes, as is Crosby Beach on the northern side of Liverpool.

Famous for Antony Gormley's ethereal Another Place sculptures, its undulating dunes and sandy shores are perfect for feeling the breeze in your hair, away from the hum of the city.

Weather in Liverpool

  Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Maximum daytime temperature °C
Hours of sunshine (daily)
Days with some rainfall
Sea temperature °C

The above guide shows the weather in Liverpool. Find out more about conditions across the country in our complete guide to the weather in England.

Ready to book your city break? Find great deals on accommodation and savings on trains and coaches in our complete collection of travel discounts.

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James March

James March

Posted on Thursday 13th April 2023 in: City Culture Europe UK

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