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The 17 best things to do in Liverpool

From a spot of shopping on Bold Street to top-level art at Tate Liverpool, we've got everything you need to know when in Liverpool

Written by
Danielle Goldstein
&
Rachel Kevern
Contributor
Rosemary Waugh
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Once the home of the Fab Four and, in more recent years, the home of Jurgen Klopp and Mohamed Salah, Liverpool is nothing but a city of excellence. Our favourite activities around town include getting our culture fix at a leading art gallery or museum, going vintage shopping with some pals, splurging on afternoon tea and starting the night off right at one of the city’s best bars.

Fun fact: Liverpool has the second-highest number of museums, galleries and listed buildings in the UK (only London can boast more). We’re big fans of Tate Liverpool and the Lady Lever Art Gallery over at Port Sunlight, along with the famous Everyman and Playhouse theatres. If you’re a visitor to this famously friendly port city, the only real question is how you’re going to max out your time in town. Let our guide umm… guide you and soon you’ll be meandering through Merseyside like a local.

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Best things to do in Liverpool

What is it? An immersive walk-through journey into Liverpool’s most famous quarter – unmissable for fans and non-fans alike.

Why go? This award-winning homage to the Fab Four isn’t just for fans. Not only will you find out 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 areas. There’s also the largest selection of official Beatles merchandise in the world, should you fancy splashing out on a memento.

What is it? The northern home of Britain’s famous Tate galleries.

Why go? Formerly a warehouse, Tate Liverpool is now one of the most impressive art galleries in the UK. Take a trip to Albert Dock to see how James Stirling converted the historic building into a modern behemoth that makes an architectural virtue out of the building’s original features. Recent exhibitions include a celebrated Keith Haring show and the superb survey 'Lucian Freud: Real Lives', which runs until January 2022. While you’re there, make sure to also see the Louise Bourgeois exhibition, also running until January 2022.

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What is it? Liverpool Football Club’s home stadium.

Why go? Anfield has been home to the Reds since 1892, but that’s not to say other sports personalities haven’t graced its hallowed turf. Boxing, tennis and rugby have all been played here since the ground first opened in 1884. A stadium tour will reveal everything there is to know about the club’s history – plus you’ll get to peek inside the changing rooms, walk up the tunnel (slapping the famous sign, of course) and stand on the pitch itself.

Mersey Ferry

What is it? A hop-on-hop-off ride along the Mersey.

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 good views 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 mooch around a genuine German submarine. In 2018 one of the riverboats was ‘dazzle painted’ by pop artist Sir Peter Blake to commemorate the centenary of the First World War Armistice.

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What is it? A little spot of green heaven in the south of Liverpool.

Why go? When city live gets a bit full on, head to Sefton Park and enjoy 250 acres of beautiful green space. Granted Grade 1-listed status (and deserving it), this urban oasis has hidden caves, waterfalls and a Victorian Palm House. Get house plant inspiration in the Botanical Gardens and breathe a little easier on the bus home.

Radio City Tower

What is it? A bit like Seattle’s Space Needle, this pointy landmark has towered above the city since 1969.

Why go? There are few places with better views of Liverpool than the observation deck of Radio City Tower. Officially known but never referred to as St John’s Beacon, this structure is 138 metres tall and its 360-degree panoramas are incredible. In case you hadn’t figured it out already, Radio City also broadcasts from here.

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What is it? A Gothic behemoth at the heart of the city.

Why go? Liverpool Cathedral is the largest religious building in Britain and the fifth-largest cathedral in the world. Constructed between 1904 and 1978, it’s now open to the public every day of the year. Here you can admire the world’s highest and widest Gothic arches, the UK’s largest organ, and an array of stunning stained-glass windows. The cathedral also plays host to art exhibitions and charity dinners throughout the year, so it’s worth checking the website before your visit.

Shopping on Bold Street
Photograph: Wikimedia Commons / Sam Walton

8. Shopping on Bold Street

What is it? Bold Street is Liverpool’s thriving independent shopping quarter.

Why go? Few places embody the creative spirit of Liverpool like Bold Street. This haven of independent businesses has long been held by locals and tourists alike as one of the city’s coolest areas. At once bougie and innovative, Bold Street is the place to head for one-off vintage pieces, second-hand books, vinyl or quirky homeware by local designers. Don’t forget to stop off at one of the many tempting cafés, bars and restaurants to refuel while you browse.

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Merseyside Maritime Museum

What is it? A museum dedicated to Liverpool’s rich maritime history, appropriately based 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. First, there’s a load of model ships and full-sized vessels to examine, as well as eye-catching maritime paintings and posters, films and even a genuine lifejacket worn by a Titanic survivor. You’ll also find the rather harrowing International Slavery Museum on the third floor and the National Border Force Museum in the basement.

What is it? Well, you can probably guess. This museum is dedicated to Liverpool itself and is perched on the banks of the glistening 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 the vital role the port has played throughout its history. Once inside, you’ll be bombarded with a host of Liverpool-centric things, including archaeological finds, the mythical liver birds, sporting paraphernalia and some (very) iconic tunes.

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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 its 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 investment from Liverpool FC player Tommy Smith, the Cavern Club reopened in 1984 and is once again a vibrant live music venue. Visit now and you’ll either encounter one of the club’s resident acts – including a killer Beatles tribute – or an up-and-coming singer-songwriter.

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 British design: through a series of exhibitions, talks and city tours you can learn about world-beating art, architecture and craftsmanship. The building itself is an angular delight, jutting up from Canning Dock and contrasting beautifully with the ornate, early 20th-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. Impressive stuff.

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What is it? Start-ups, street food and stunning arts venues – you’ll find it all in this trendy area.

Why go? Occupying an industrial area that was heavily bombed during the Second World War, the Baltic Triangle’s historic warehouses now overflow with music venues, arts spaces and independent boutiques. Don’t miss the Baltic Market, a street food haven inside the striking Cains Brewery building. Expect things like halloumi fries, prosecco ice lollies and artisan pizzas.

Beatles and sightseeing walking tour

What is it? A chance to get the skinny on the city 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 dipping 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, NEMS, the Eleanor Rigby and Cilla Black statues, and the Cavern Club – where it all began.

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What is it? An office block, but not any old office block.

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 sights that earned Liverpool its Unesco World Heritage status. It was designed by Walter Aubrey Thomas for an insurance company and was one of the first constructions in the world to be built using reinforced concrete. Its most notable features are its two clock towers, atop which perch two mythical, cormorant-like liver birds. It’s the city’s most famous landmark.

British Music Experience

What is it? An exhibition that tells the story of British pop music.

Why go? In this sprawling, vibrant and interactive exhibition, visitors can find out just about everything there is to know about pop music in the UK. Highlights? Genuine outfits worn by stars such as David Bowie, as well as instruments that once belonged to Noel Gallagher and the Sex Pistols. You can also have a go at rock stardom yourself by picking up one of various guitars, drum kits and keyboards, or belting out a tune or two in a vocal booth.

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What is it? A 11,000-capacity arts and sports venue that opened in 2008.

Why go? Those seeking an action-packed outing should check out the M&S Bank 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, and so too have Beyoncé and Iron Maiden. They’ve also held the Mobo Awards, Davis Cup and the GB Judo World Cup here, as well as telly favourites ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ and ‘The X Factor’. Plenty of strings to its bow, then.

Looking for somewhere amazing to eat?

  • Restaurants

Whether you’re after a high-end dining experience with views of the Merseyside skyline, or want to transport yourself to the bustling souks of Marrakech with some tantalising sharing plates, Liverpool’s diverse and fast-expanding dining scene can deliver.

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