Things To Do & Where To Go in Liverpool
If you’re heading to the Grand National then there’s a very real chance that all you’re bothered about is the horse racing. It is, after all, one of the biggest days in the National Hunt calendar and offers plenty of excitement all of its own without needing to do much to add to the thrills and spills of the race.
Yet you’ll also be close to the centre of Liverpool, which is one of the best cities in the United Kingdom to spend a bit of time in. Look at any of the polls online about the country’s best cities and you’ll normally find Liverpool up there with the likes of Edinburgh, York and, don’t tell the locals, Manchester. So what is there to do in the home of The Beatles that makes it so good?
Watch A Football Match
Let’s start by talking about the obvious. Liverpool is known primarily for two things: The Beatles and the football. It’s the home of not one but two different football clubs, with Liverpool and Everton just a short distance away from each other, separated only by Stanley Park.
Liverpool FC are one the country’s most successful football clubs, having won more than 30 major trophies. Everton, meanwhile, are their neighbours. Matches between the two teams are fiercely contested affairs and have, by an odd quirk of fate, taken place on the same weekend as the Grand National on more than one occasion.
If you’re on Merseyside for any length of time then you’d be mad not to look into going to watch a football match whilst you’re there. The red and blue halves of Merseyside don’t have home games on the same weekend, so the likelihood is you’ll only be able to go and see one of them unless it’s derby day, in which case getting a ticket will be hard work.
If you fancy a trip to the other side of the water then you’ll be able to go and see Tranmere Rovers, the Wirral-based team that plays its games at Prenton Park. Even if you can’t watch a match because of ticket availability, it’s still worth travelling to the stadiums and going on a tour of them. You can have your photo taken with the statue of Dixie Dean outside Goodison Park or stand on the world famous Kop at Anfield, so it’s not all about watching a match.
Find Out About The Beatles
You’ll have to have spent your life living underneath a rock to have somehow avoided hearing a song or two by The Beatles over the years. Widely considered to be one of the best and most influential bands ever to make music, the Fab Four are all from Liverpool and their presence can be keenly felt all around the city.
Whether you want to go on the Magical Mystery Tour that takes you to places from the band members’ past or you’d like to go and watch some live music being played at The Cavern, Liverpool isn’t short of options for the Beatlemaniac within you. There’s also a Beatles-themed museum in the Albert Dock, that boasts countless pieces of memorabilia as well as a mock-up Cavern Club that gives you a real sense of what it must have been like to be there back in the 1960s.
A quick walk down to the waterfront will present you with the statue of The Beatles in front of the Cunard Building, which is the perfect spot for a tourist photo. You can even stay in a Beatles-themed hotel, the Hard Day’s Night Hotel, which is located in the city centre and has plenty of items from the band’s heyday on display for your perusal. In all honesty, you’ll struggle to spend any time in Liverpool and not see stuff about John, Paul, George and Ringo whilst you’re there, so you might as well just embrace it!
The stereotype of Scousers might be based on the imagine of them from the 1980s, with ketwigs aplenty and Boys From The Black Stuff clichés on display, but in actual fact Liverpool is a city that has an incredible thirst for culture.
Towards the waterfront alone you’ll be able to enter the Museum of Liverpool, which is a remarkably impressive building, as well as the Tate modern art museum on the Albert Dock. It’s free to enter and boasts some wonderful exhibitions, so if you’re a fan of art then it’s a must.
It might seem odd to be told to go to the library when you’re in a city centre location, but the Central Library of Liverpool is no ordinary place to go. It’s a gorgeous place to spend a bit of time, including on the rooftop from where you can see stunning views of the city. It may sound a bit mad, but do an internet search about the library and you’ll soon see why it made this list.
Look For Divine Intervention
If you’re planning on heading to Aintree Racecourse then you might just want to ask for some divine intervention before you pick your horses. Even if you’re not a believer or of a different religious persuasion, Liverpool’s two cathedrals are absolutely worth your time for a quick visit.
There’s an old folk song called In My Liverpool Home in which you’ll hear people sing, “We speak with an accent exceedingly rare, meet under a statue exceedingly bare and if you want a cathedral then we’ve got one to spare, in my Liverpool home”. One of the cathedrals is the Anglican and the other is the Metropolitan, catering to the two different Christian faiths that dominate the city.
The Anglican cathedral is the largest cathedral in the UK and the 5th largest in the world, looking every inch the stereotype of an old-world church. It was designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott, who is the same man that designed the famous red telephone box. Indeed, there’s a box in the foyer of the cathedral, should you wish to try to make a direct call. Terre’s also an amazing view of the city itself from the top of the cathedral.
The Metropolitan cathedral, meanwhile, boasts the nickname ‘Paddy’s wigwam’ because of its unusual shape. Just a short walk along the appropriately named Hope Street, it is striking thanks to its countless stain glass windows, which adorn every wall. There’s a crypt underneath the cathedral where you can spend some quiet time, unless you happen to be there during one of the building’s famous craft beer events!
There was a time when Liverpool was the most important city in England outside of the capital, thanks entirely to its position as the main port city that could deal with the imports and exports to and from the rest of the British empire. When that was the case, the docks of the River Mersey were thriving with businesses and ships would regularly come in and out of the Old Dock, which was the world’s first wet dock for commercial purposes.
Nowadays the city’s waterfront is more used to tourists wandering along it and looking for an opportunity to take an Instagram-worthy photograph. The Albert Dock is filled with shops, restaurants and tourist attractions as well as museums of various sorts, so that’s a spot you might want to head to. If you want to find out about its history, however, then you should head to the Maritime Museum, from which you can go on a tour of that famous Old Dock that helped Liverpool rule the world once upon a time.
Get The Ferry ‘Cross The Mersey
The Beatles might well be the most famous band ever to come from Liverpool but they definitely weren’t the only one. Another well-known band that had a number of big hits was Gerry & The Pacemakers, who performed the most famous version of Liverpool Football Club’s anthem from Carousel, You’ll Never Walk Alone.
Another of their songs was Ferry ‘Cross The Mersey, in which you’ll hear Gerry Marsden proclaim, “People around every corner they seem to smile and say ‘we don’t care what your name is boy, we’ll never turn you away’”. It sums up the attitude of the people of Liverpool, who are always warm and welcoming.
The ferry starts in Liverpool and heads over to the Wirral, which is a peninsula on the other side of the water that boasts numerous lovely places worth a visit. Perhaps you might take a trip to New Brighton and walk along the beach, for example, or maybe pop to Parkgate and have one of their famous ice creams. There’s also Port Sunlight not far away, which is a lovely part of the area.
Take Advantage Of The Views
There has long been a rivalry between Liverpool and Manchester, dating back to the days of the Manchester to Liverpool Ship Canal being built to allow Manchester’s merchants to sell their goods without having to pay a tax to those in Liverpool. In truth, the two cities have far more that unites them than divides them, being the most important cities in the north of England and boasting top-class football teams.
One thing that Liverpool has over its rival city, however, is some truly breathtaking views. There are numerous places in the city that you can head to in order to see those views, with the aforementioned tower of the Anglican cathedral being a really good example. If you truly want to get a sense of the city’s skyline then one of the best places you can go is to the top of the Radio City Tower, which not only boasts top-notch views but also a working radio station.
If you’d like to combine your sightseeing with a bite to eat then you might want to book a table at the Panoramic 34, a restaurant that offers excellent afternoon teas with phenomenal views of the Liver Building, the River Mersey and the city’s waterfront. They get booked up well in advance, though, so do your best to get on that as soon as possible.
Visit China Town
Speaking of getting a bite to eat, Liverpool’s China Town is the oldest in Europe and offers a number of well-reviewed restaurants. The Yuet Ben is one of the ones that locals will tell you is the best, but find the right guide and you’ll be told that about pretty much all of them.
Even if you’re not a big fan of Chinese food, it’s well worth popping up to China Town. Aside from anything else, the Chinese Arch that stands at the foot of the main street is the tallest on offer outside of mainland China and is a wonderful thing to look at. It’s also just a short walk from there down to the Liverpool One shopping area.
The Liverpool One is a relatively recent development for the city, but it boasts all of the main shops you’ll want to spend some time in. Whether you’re hoping to get the latest tech from the Apple Store or you feel like perusing the furniture in John Lewis, the Liverpool One will almost certainly have what you’re looking for.
Away from the mainstream shops, Liverpool is a city that fashionistas love spending time in. The independent boutique Cricket was all the rage for the footballer’s wives during the noughties, offering unique outfits for the more fashion-conscious amongst you. The Met Quarter offers plenty of those sorts of shops, so if you’re the sort of person that knows your Gucci from your Balenciaga then that’s the place for you. If not, there’s always Primark.
Look For The Georgian Buildings
There’s a reason why Liverpool is one of the most filmed in cities outside of London, with the beautiful buildings on offer being a chief part of it. The Georgian Quarter will make you feel like you’ve stepped back in time, looking at the amazing Georgian terracing that appear as if they’re part of the set of a Sherlock Holmes film. As it happens, that’s because they were when Robert Downey Jr. appeared as the famous detective.
Not only is Liverpool one of the most filmed in cities outside of London but it’s also the one outside of the capital that has the most Grade-II listed buildings. From the ‘Three Graces’ of the Liverpool Building, Cunard Building and Port of Liverpool Authority on the waterfront to the St. George’s Hall, there are more than 2,500 Listed buildings in the city and 250 public monuments. If the weather’s good, why not see how many you can spot?
As you might expect for a city filled with Scousers who love to party, Liverpool’s night life is amazing. The independent scene has taken off in recent years, with bars such as Motel, Revolución de Cuba and the speakeasy-themed Berry and Rye offering something unique that sets the drinking experience in the city apart from anywhere else in the country.
One such place worthy of a visit is the Baltic Triangle, which takes the idea of independent eating and drinking establishments to a new level. The Baltic Social is one of the best bars in the area, with their Punk Afternoon Tea combining old-fashioned sensibilities with modern flourishes. The Baltic Market is also worth a visit, offering a collection of independent places all under one roof. It’s also dog friendly, so if you like your four-pawed pals then you’ll likely see more than a few around here.