Best things to do in Liverpool
What is it? An immersive walk-through journey into Liverpool’s most famous quarter – unmissable for fans.
Why go? This award-winning homage to the Fab Four isn’t just for fans. Not only will you find out probably more than you’ll ever need to know about the band, you’ll get a taste of the swinging ’60s too, with recreations of The Casbah, Mathew Street and The Cavern, plus exclusive memorabilia and interactive zones. There’s also the largest selection of official Beatles merchandise in the world, should you fancy splashing out on a memento.
What is it? A bit like Seattle's Space Needle, this pointy landmark towers above the city and has done since it was erected in 1969.
Why go? There are few places you'd get a better view of Liverpool than from the observation deck of Radio City Tower. Officially known but never referred to as St John's Beacon, the iconic structure stands at over 400 feet (120 metres) tall and offers views the entire way round. And in case you hadn't figured it out already, Radio City broadcasts from here.
What is it? RIBA’s national architecture centre, based in a gleaming complex on Liverpool’s waterfront.
Why go? This is the spiritual home for outstanding design: through a series of exhibitions, talks and city tours you can learn about world-leading architecture, craftsmanship and art. The building itself is an angular delight, jutting up from Canning Dock and contrasting beautifully with the ornate, early twentieth-century architecture of the nearby ‘Three Graces’ – the Liver, Cunard and Port of Liverpool buildings. If you're still not convinced, RIBA also recently won the 'Best Newcomer to the Visitor Economy' at the Liverpool City Region Tourism Awards (2018). Impressive stuff.
What is it? A ferry tour across the vast estuary of Liverpool’s river.
Why go? If Gerry And The Pacemakers thought it was worth singing about, it’s probably worth a ride. At the very least you’ll get an interesting view of the city. Choose from a standard hop-on-hop-off cruise or a combination ticket that includes entrance to other Liverpool attractions, including the family-friendly interactive Spaceport attraction and the U-Boat Story, where you get to have a mooch around a genuine World War II German submarine. Plus, one of the riverboats has been ‘dazzle painted’ by pop artist Sir Peter Blake to commemorate the centenary of World War I.
What is it? Liverpool Football Club’s home stadium.
Why go? Anfield Stadium has been home to the Reds since 1892 – but that’s not to say that other sports personalities haven’t graced its hallowed turf. Boxing, tennis and rugby matches have all played here since the ground first opened in 1884. A tour of the stadium will reveal everything there is to know about the club’s history – plus you’ll get a glimpse inside the changing rooms, walk up the tunnel (slapping the famous sign, of course) and get to stand on the pitch itself.
What is it? Liverpool’s leafy green haven in the south of the city.
Why go? With almost 250 acres, this Grade I-listed site provides an abundance of wonderful green spaces to revel in. Kids will love the huge playground and multi-play area, while those with a hankering for horticulture can explore the Victorian Palm House, which is home to Liverpool's botanical collection. There are also caves and waterfalls to discover if you're feeling adventurous.
What is it? An exhibition that takes you through a journey of British musical history.
Why go? In this sprawling, vibrant and interactive exhibition, visitors can find out just about everything there is to know about our nation’s music. Highlights? Genuine outfits worn by stars such as David Bowie and Dusty Springfield, as well as instruments that once belonged to Noel Gallagher and the Sex Pistols. Plus you can have a go at rock stardom yourself by turning your hand to one of the guitars, drum kits or keyboards to hand, or belt out a tune or two in a vocal booth.
What is it? A chance to get the skinny on the city with a talking from a local guide.
Why go? Your guide will have a wealth of local knowledge – including plenty of titbits on The Beatles. After all, a tour of Liverpool wouldn’t be complete without a dip into the story of the Fab Four, right? En route, explore the waterfront, learn about the historic docks and find out how the place has changed since John, Paul, George and Ringo made it big. Then you can take in a Beatles film and see loads of locations only accessible by foot, including the site of Brian Epstein’s record shop, NEM’s, the Eleanor Rigby and Cilla Black statues, and the famous Cavern Club – where it all began. Ah, the memories.
What is it? An office block, but not any old office block: one that’s an integral part of Liverpool’s story.
Why go? Built between 1908 and 1911, the Grade I-listed Royal Liver Building (that’s ‘liver’ to rhyme with ‘diver’) – is one of the locations that gained Liverpool its Unesco World Heritage status. It was designed by Walter Aubrey Thomas for an insurance company and was one of the first buildings in the world to use reinforced concrete in its construction. Its most notable points are its two clock towers, atop which perch two mythical, cormorant-like liver birds. It’s the city’s most famous landmark.
What is it? The Merseyside outpost of the Tate galleries.
Why go? A key aspect of Liverpool's cultural scene, this venue is the creation of Alan Bowness, who was the Tate's director in the 1980s. After deciding that he wanted to open a so-called ‘Tate of the North’, construction began at a defunct warehouse in Albert Dock. Award-winning (and very impressive) architect James Stirling was brought into the project in 1985, leading to the eventual design of Tate Liverpool: a building with a simple elegance of a modern art gallery that also maintains the unique warehouse features. Since opening in 1988 it has been one of Liverpool's most important creative hubs and is now a major player when it comes to exhibiting important European works of art.
What is it? A museum dedicated to Liverpool’s rich maritime history, based (appropriately) at Albert Dock.
Why go? No visit to Liverpool would be complete without a trip to this ode to the city’s sea-trading legacy – especially since it provides fun for all the family. Firstly, there's a load of ship models to see and full-sized vessels to explore, as well as colourful maritime paintings and posters, films and even a genuine lifejacket from a survivor of the Titanic. You’ll also find the (harrowing) International Slavery Museum on the third floor and the National Border Force Museum in the basement. It is possible to see all of this in one day but make sure not to go overboard (sorry).
What is it? The legendary nightclub that has played host to all manner of illustrious figures from Liverpudlian musical history.
Why go? This underground cellar started life in 1957 as a jazz and skiffle joint, before playing an instrumental role in the birth of The Beatles. Lennon and McCartney played here in The Quarrymen before forming the Fab Four and setting up for almost 300 gigs on the Cavern’s stage. Other major acts followed them, including The Hollies, Rolling Stones and The Kinks, before the venue was bulldozed in the early ’80s. Thanks to an interest by Liverpool FC player Tommy Smith, the Cavern Club reopened in 1984 to continue as a vibrant live venue. Visit now and you'll either encounter one of the club's resident bands (including a killer Beatles tribute) or someone new to the Cavern roster. Either way, this haunt is sure to fuel your live music kicks.
What is it? Well, you can probably guess. This museum is dedicated to Liverpool itself, perched on the banks of the glistening river Mersey.
Why go? From Liverpool’s unique geography to its rich history and vibrant culture, the Museum of Liverpool will tell you everything you need to know about this fabulous city. Just a short gallop away from RIBA North, the museum documents the importance of Liverpool in relation to the rest of the UK and how the port plays a vital role. Once inside, you'll be bombarded with a host of Liverpool-centric things, including regional archaeology, the mythical liver birds, sport and music (something for everyone). Since some of the exhibitions are temporary, check what's on before you arrange your trip.
What is it? The city’s 11,000-seater venue, which opened in 2008.
Why go? Those seeking an action-packed outing should check out the Echo Arena, which regularly plays host to massive gigs, live sporting events, comedy shows and family-friendly performances. Sir Paul McCartney has graced the arena’s stage, alongside the likes of Beyoncé and Iron Maiden. Plus they’ve held the Mobo Awards here, the GB Judo World Cup and Davis Cup Tennis, as well as telly favourites ‘Strictly…’ and ‘X Factor’. Plenty of strings to its bow, then.
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