Things to do in Liverpool, Merseyside
Named as the European Capital of Culture 2008, Liverpool has a UNESCO listed waterfront and a long and distinguished maritime history.
Although much of the city was destroyed by bombing during World War II, Liverpool still has some architectural gems including the Liver Building, one of the "Three Graces" overlooking the Pier Head on the River Mersey.
It has three universities and two stunning cathedrals.
Liverpool boasts the largest national museum collection outside London.
The redeveloped Albert Dock now houses an unrivalled collection of attractions, shops, bars and restaurants.
Most visitors know Liverpool as the home of the Beatles with tours of the homes of John Lennon and Paul McCartney, the Beatles Story Experience and the Cavern Club among the most visited attractions.Aintree Racecourse hosts the Grand National each year in April and both Liverpool and Everton Football Clubs have loyal fans all over the world.
Add in a stunning collection of museums, theatres, parks and shopping and you have a 21st century city which is well worth getting to know.
Areas to Explore
With the Three Graces, Tate Liverpool and the regenerated Albert Dock, the Waterfront is the main area in Liverpool for tourists.
Hope Street Quarter
This Georgian district is home to Liverpool's two cathedrals and many theatres.
St George's Quarter
St George's is Liverpool's cultural district set around St George's Hall, the World Museum Liverpool and the Walker Art Gallery.
The old warehouses in this bohemian district were once used for ropemaking but now house cafés and boutiques.
Liverpool's Chinatown district is the oldest Chinese community in the west and has the largest Chinese arch outside China. It's a great place to shop and dine.
Liverpool ONE Shopping District
Located between the Waterfront and Cavern Quarter, Liverpool ONE has 160 shops and cafes and is Liverpool's top retail destination.
Things to Do
The architectural treasures on the Pier Head known as the Three Graces are a must see, although they cannot be toured.The Royal Liver Building is a 1911 high-rise with twin towers topped by two legendary Liver Birds which have become the symbol of the city.
The slightly newer Cunard Building was built between 1914-1917 as the headquarters of the Cunard Line shipping company and is said to have magnificent interiors.
The office of the Mersey Docks and Harbour Board completes the trio, built in 1907.
Five minutes stroll along the waterfront brings you to the red brick buildings of Albert Dock, built in 1841.
This world-class attraction is home to the award-winning Beatles Story Experience, the Maritime Museum, the Tate Liverpool, the International Slavery Museum and a host of shops and eateries within these Grade I listed buildings.
Those who appreciate modern and contemporary art will find the Tate Liverpool has a fabulous collection of paintings, sculptures and photographs within the Albert Dock complex.
Visit the replica Cavern Club and listen to Julian Lennon's account on the Living History audio guide as you explore this fabulous exhibition.
More Beatles nostalgia can be enjoyed on a guided Magical Mystery Tour around places connected with the Beatles.
Discover everything from Egyptology to British rocket science at the World Museum Liverpool. It has far too many exhibits to take in at one visit, so pop in daily for an hour as it has free admission.
It provides studios for up-and-coming artists along with music, literature and dance performances.
Not many people know that Liverpool has three Liver Birds. Two occupy the top of the Liver Building but the third is on top of the St Nicholas and our Lady Church, the city's parish church. It dates back to 1257 and is dedicated to the Patron Saint of Sailors.
Liverpool On a Budget
Merseyside Maritime Museum is an important part of Liverpool's history with tales of smuggling, ships, slavery and sea shanties. Free to visit, it lays out the colourful story of this historic port and its connections with the Titanic, the Battle of the Atlantic and the American Civil War.
Tour the Old Dock, explore the Pier Master's House and step aboard a pilot boat moored alongside the museum. The excellent exhibit "Seized” highlights smuggling and contraband stories.Anglican Cathedral was designed by Sir Giles Gilbert-Scott and dates back to 1904.
This Gothic Revival building has stained glass windows and a fabulous organ. Those visiting with children may enjoy searching for the mouse carved on Lord Derby's tomb.The iconic contemporary Roman Catholic Cathedral of Christ the King was designed by Sir Frederick Gibberd and was completed in 1967. It has a wonderful lantern tower of jewel-coloured glass.
Another free treat for architecture lovers is St Georges Hall on Lime Street. This enormous neo-classical building with its Greco-Roman features was built for the city by wealthy merchants.
Checkout the classical exterior murals which shocked Liverpudlians when it was built!
For more landmarks, choose from one of eight self-guided walking tours of Liverpool which can be downloaded to your phone or tablet from GPSmyCity.
Visiting with Kids
There's something for everyone at Croxteth Hall and Country Park. This working country estate was given to the city of Liverpool on the death of the last Earl of Sefton.
It includes the historic Croxteth Hall, Home Farm, the Victorian walled garden and a 500-acre country park and nature reserve for youngsters to play games and run off some energy.
See how many Canadian ships you can find on the commemorative plaques laid along Canada Boulevard in front of the Three Graces.
Take the "Ferry 'cross the Mersey" as the Gerry and the Pacemakers song suggests, on a River Explorer Cruise which departs hourly from the Pier Head.
History of Liverpool
Liverpool was little more than a fishing village during Saxon and Norman times with a population of just 500 as recently as the mid-16th century.
At the time it received its royal charter in 1207, Liverpool had just seven streets including Castle Street, Water Street and Juggler Street (now High Street).
An imposing castle was built to protect the port in the 1230s. It was later demolished and the Crown Courts now occupy the site.
Liverpool survived an 18-day siege during the English Civil War, received free port status in 1647 and built its first commercial wet dock in 1715.
It grew in importance with the slave trade and Antarctic sealing and by the early 19th century the port was handling an estimated 40% of the entire world's trade.
In 1830 the Liverpool and Manchester Railway opened as the world's first intercity rail link, further enhancing Liverpool's important position. The population grew rapidly in the 1840s with the arrival of many Irish migrants escaping the Great Famine.
The city continued to attract immigrants from all over Europe, necessitating the building of rows of terraced housing which can still be seen today.
Liverpool was badly hit by the Great Depression of the 1930s. More devastation was to come with dozens of air raids which flattened much of the city during World War 2.
Liverpool rose from the ashes with the hasty rebuilding of huge housing estates, the massive Seaforth Dock and a new Anglican cathedral.
The Sixties saw the emergence of the Beatles and the Merseybeat music scene which put Liverpool back on the map. The docks declined from the 1970s, leading to massive unemployment.
- Liverpool's Royal Charter in 1207 was written in Latin!
- Liverpool holds the official Guinness Book of Records title as the official Capital of Pop Music with more #1 hits from local artists than any other city.
- Liverpool has 2,500 listed buildings and the most Grade II listed buildings outside London.
- Liverpool's two football clubs, Liverpool and Everton, have between them won 27 League Championships, 4 European Cups, 3 UEFA Cups, 11 FA Cups, 6 League Cups and one Cup Winners Cup, beating even Manchester's record.
- The Anglican Cathedral in Liverpool is the largest church in Europe. It also has the heaviest bells in the world. Great George weighs 14 tons compared to Big Ben at 13.5 tons.
- Liverpool's Chinatown is the oldest in Europe.
- Liverpudlians are known as "scousers", named after a type of stew.
- The flagpole at the Kop end of the Liverpool Anfield Stadium was taken from the SS Great Eastern when she was scrapped in 1889.
Popular Events and Festivals
Liverpool always has something going on, whether it is football matches, festivals or hosting the Grand National at Aintree on the first Saturday in April.
Albert Dock hosts the Mersey River Festival in June followed by the Liverpool International Tennis Tournament.
Beatles fans will not want to miss International Beatle Week in August with tribute bands and performances taking place from the Philharmonic Hall to the Cavern Club.
The splendid three day Liverpool Show is free to all and includes horse jumping, falconry, dog displays, sports, farm animals, music and family-friendly entertainment at Wavertree Park.
Another unmissable August event is the Mathew Street Music Festival followed by the Liverpool Comedy Festival in late September, the Irish Festival in October and the LGBT Homotopia Festival in November.
There are frequent modern buses run by Stagecoach and Arriva North West which will take you all over Liverpool. Most buses accept cash on boarding. There is a bus station at the Liverpool One complex and another at Queen Square near Lime Street Station.
To explore the wider Merseyside area, bicycle hire includes a helmet, lock and map and there are plenty of cycle ways including along the Liverpool waterfront and Wirral Way.
Liverpool is one of the top shopping destinations in the UK, thanks to the Liverpool One Shopping Centre which offers over 160 shops and an Imax cinema right on the waterfront. It includes Harvey Nichols Beauty Bazaar. When it opened in 2008 it won many top international awards for the best shopping experience.
Designer fashion can be found in the exclusive MetQuarter while Cavern Walks has more down-to-earth fashion retailers.
Entertainment and Nightlife
Liverpool has always been renowned for its music scene, clubs and nightlife. Mathew Street still has the famous Cavern Club for a little Beatles nostalgia. The historic Blue Angel Jazz Club (nicknamed the Raz) attracts a mainly student clientele.
O2 Academy still attracts top names to its many pop concerts. More cultural programmes are offered at the Philharmonic Orchestra Hall or at the Empire Theatre which produces large-scale musicals. For comedy nights try the Royal Court Theatre.
The city centre has a choice of cinemas including the Odeon at Liverpool One and the Foundation for Art and Creative Technology (FACT), a leading media arts centre which features both independent and mainstream films.
Where to Eat
Liverpool has every type of restaurant from high-end bistros to authentic Indian and Thai restaurants. Try local seafood from nearby Southport and enjoy local produce from the Cheshire Plain.
Restaurant Frache is the region's first Michelin starred venue. For location, it's hard to beat What's Cooking in the historic Queen Elizabeth Hall with views of the Three Graces.
Where to Stay
The four star Crowne Plaza on Princes Dock has views of the Docklands and is within striking distance of the Cunard Building, Merseyside Maritime Museum, Beatles Story and Tate Liverpool.
Well located in Hatton Garden, the Richmond Hotel is in a grand old building and has excellent amenities including a spa, health club and restaurant.
The modern Hope Street Hotel has contemporary décor and excellent reviews. Although it is about a mile from the city centre, it is close to the Walker Art Gallery and St George's Hall.
Epic serviced apartments on Duke Street are a great choice for families (or larger groups) with comfortable furnishings and a Tesco supermarket nearby. Albert Dock with its many restaurants and attractions is a short walk away.
Liverpool is an exciting port city with a rollercoaster history, Beatles attractions, world class museums, great shopping and heritage architecture. You can definitely fill at least a week visiting this spirited northwestern city.
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Liverpool is served by several budget airlines which have frequent domestic flights to Liverpool's John Lennon Airport. Visitors can use the Airlink Express bus service to reach the city centre in around 30 minutes.
The M62 connects Liverpool with the M6, making the city very accessible by car or national bus service.
Liverpool has an enviable rail service with direct trains from Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds and London (2hrs 30) as well as other major UK cities. Long distance rail services use Lime Street Station while Liverpool Central is mainly served by local train services.
Ferries operate from Belfast and Douglas, Isle of Man delivering foot passengers and cars right into the heart of the city.
Driving into the city can be difficult if you are unfamiliar with the layout. To avoid traffic congestion, Park and Ride Merseyside runs various park and ride schemes for visitors with free parking and fast frequent transport from railway stations on the Wirral Line, Northern Line and the City Line
There are many council run car parks in Liverpool city centre charging around £1.60 hour or a reasonable daily rate of £10. Most have pay and display options or you can pay by mobile phone by calling the number quoted in the car park. You can even extend your parking time using this convenient facility.
Most car parks are small (30-80 spaces) with the exception of Mount Pleasant multistory which has 1339 spaces. Beetham Plaza on Brunswick Street (113 spaces) is closest to the waterfront.