This is a paid article written in partnership with Visit Liverpool, with products or services supplied by them. Full editorial integrity is maintained at all times. The views and opinions expressed are entirely the authors own based on personal experiences when travelling and are honest and factual without any bias.
Whether you are a traveller looking for a unique UK city break or you are from closer to home and are looking for a staycation destination, there is no place on Earth quite like Liverpool! Here is a quick guide on everything to see and do on a 48 hour city break in Liverpool because there is so much I guarantee you will instantly fall in love with this great city!
Liverpool is one of the most unique cities on the planet with so many world famous attractions, unique local features and hidden, secret corners that even locals don’t know everything there is to see and do here!
This is why I wanted to give you just a brief look at my home city, show you why I love it so much, tell you exactly why you should visit and show you why you will fall in love with it too.
Whether you are looking for a staycation, a city break, or even if you are a local who needs reminding why they should take the time to see Liverpool with a tourists eyes, here is a brief overview of how to spend just 48 hours in Liverpool.
A City Like No Other.
Blessed with more UNESCO World Heritage sites than almost anywhere in the UK, the largest collection of Grade 1 listed buildings on one site, a whole host of genuinely world class attractions, a rebellious, independent spirit and a unique cultural heritage, Liverpool is one of the best cities in the world bar none, and any visitor can’t help but fall in love with it!
Liverpool is a city that welcomes you with open arms and invites you to make yourself at home. It is an affable, gregarious and yet rebellious city that is famous for its friendliness, and one small visit is all it takes for you to be welcomed in as one of our own. So if you are coming in from further afield or you are a local wanting to rediscover your city, let me show you a little bit of my city.
Getting To And From Liverpool.
Liverpool John Lennon Airport is the city’s regional airport and is just a single short train stop away from Lime Street Station in the city centre itself. A regular shuttle bus will take you from the terminal to Liverpool South Parkway train station and vice versa.
Liverpool Lime Street is the primary intercity train station with main lines that will reach almost everywhere in England, Scotland and Wales. Nearby Liverpool Central and Moorfields train stations are just a five minute walk away and have more local and regional lines.
There are also two main bus and coach stations in the city centre, Liverpool One bus station and Queens Square. Both have a variety of local routes and bus services as well as long distance coaches.
All train stations and bus stations are right in the city centre, are all within walking distance of each other and within easy walkable distance to most main sites.
Exploring The City.
Liverpool city centre is easily explored on foot. It is largely pedestrianised and most major attractions are between 5 minutes and half an hours slow, easy walk away from each other. Going slightly further out from the city centre itself is easily done by bus, taxi or Uber.
The best thing about walking the city centre is as you head down Church Street, the main shopping thoroughfare through the city, you will be treated to a true taste of the city’s friendly, multicultural and exuberant character, not to mention a glimpse of the creative and musical heart that pumps through Liverpool’s soul.
It can be a bit surreal at times when so many buskers and artists turn up you are listening to a professional reggae band, a classical musician, a bloke playing Beatles era rock and a nervous teenager singing karaoke to practice for the X Factor all at the same time, catching bits of each on the wind as you walk down the long thoroughfare, but one thing it is not is boring!
Everything from random buskers for that free impromptu live music session to the now obligatory ‘dance crew’ drawing a crowd, you will always be entertained in Liverpool, (and keep an eye out for Peter, you can’t miss him! He is a city centre icon and if you miss his bright suits you won’t miss his singing!) These people shape the atmosphere of Church street and is one of the many reasons I love my Liverpool!
Liverpool has perhaps the largest collection of iconic buildings, grade 1 listed buildings, UNESCO world heritage sites and sites of historic or cultural interest anywhere in the UK outside of London, and I reckon we could give the capital a damn good run for its money too! There is just so much iconic heritage built into the architecture here you could spend an entire weekend alone trying to see it all, and you would still run out of time!
Liverpool’s iconic waterfront is famous the world over and was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2004. Stretching from the famous Albert Dock right up to Stanley Dock, the waterfront has collections of UNESCO heritage buildings and sites of historic interest in their own right. The Albert Dock, one of Liverpool’s most iconic attractions. has the UKs largest collection of Grade 1 listed buildings in one site, the pier head is home to the three graces, the Royal Liver Building, The Cunard Building and the Port of Liverpool Building, the three buildings that define Liverpool’s iconic skyline, and are still today a prestigious symbol of Liverpool’s status on the world stage.
The Royal Liver Building itself is Liverpool’s crowning glory, it’s Eiffel Tower, its Statue of Liberty, and no visit to the city is complete without seeing it. I admit I am biased here, the Royal Liver Building has a special place in my heart as the place I was married, but even before that the building was something truly special. The Liver Building is also home to two Liver Birds, the mythical symbol of Liverpool. I won’t spoil it for you here but when you visit take some time to find out the story of why they are facing away from each other!
And if those weren’t enough iconic landmarks for you, Liverpool also has two, yes two, cathedrals! The Anglican Cathedral, yet another one of Liverpool’s seemingly countless grade 1 listed buildings, is the largest Cathedral in Great Britain and the fifth largest in the world! The smaller but no less impressive Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral is just half a mile away and was built in 1967 to a much more modern design and is Grade II listed in its own right.
Liverpool has a rich, powerful history dating back to the Dark Ages, and played a vital role in Britain evolving into an Empire and then a significant world power. Britain’s history would look very different if it weren’t for Liverpool, and there is nowhere to get a better sense of that than in it’s famous museums, and perhaps nowhere better to get to know the city itself than the titular Museum of Liverpool.
One of the newest museums in the city, the Museum of Liverpool is housed in a large, modern building on the Pier Head, forming a unique addition to the cities distinctive skyline, and tells the story of Liverpool and it’s significance on the world stage.
But the history doesn’t stop there. The Merseyside Maritime Museum on the Albert Dock tells the story of Liverpool’s maritime history and seafaring past, and has fascinating collections on the untold story of the Titanic and its sister ship the Lusitania, galleries on Liverpool’s role in the Battle of the Atlantic and a lot more.
That is a lot of history to pack into one museum, and that is before you can even mention the fact that you get two museums in one here as the International Slavery Museum is located in the same building and has three main galleries with powerful exhibitions on the slave trade that Liverpool was once part of, forcing difficult conversations about the past and its role in ending that very trade, as well as slavery in the modern day.
But my personal favourite museum has to be Liverpool’s very own World Museum. Located in a grand, Grade II listed building in the middle of the iconic William Brown conservation area, the museum is one of the best attractions in Liverpool, and I am not just saying that because I’m biased! This is the place I used to bunk off school to go and visit to learn all about ancient Egypt and Celtic and Japanese weaponry! The museum can be blamed not only for my poor school attendance but also my passion for Egyptology and world cultures!
The huge Pterosaur that hangs over your head as you enter the building is just the start of the amazing journey the building takes you through, from its impressive Ancient Egyptian collection and Mummy Room and a free aquarium to an impressive display of finely crafted Katana and Tsuba, and even the UK’s only free planetarium! From basement to roof the museum is five floors of world class, award winning exhibits, and the museum that captured my attention as a child has never stopped bringing me back as an adult.
But apart from the impressive array of world class free museums Liverpool is home to, it also boasts an impressive array of specialist museums that are worthy of a day out in their own right.
The Western Approaches WWII museum is an amazing secret bunker that runs under the streets of Liverpool. Once home to the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force Joint Command, the Western Approaches HQ was vital in the victory of the Battle of the Atlantic and assured Liverpool’s vital tactical importance in WWII, and now it is an open museum and homage to those who once served here.
Music fans can head to the British Music Experience, Film fans can head to the Foundation for Art and Creative Technology and even the Garstang Museum of Archaeology is there for serious lovers of history and archaeology.
Liverpool has a rich historical tapestry and has played a vital if often overlooked role in British, and world, history, and the quality of its many museums is just a small testament to that. You can easily spend weeks just visiting each one, but the variety of choice means that there is something here for everyone and you can pick and choose your favourite to spend a morning or afternoon in.
Art and Culture.
But if history wasn’t enough for you, then this former capital of culture is ready to dazzle you with some of the country’s most spectacular art galleries and cultural centres as well.
The Tate Modern, located on the famous Albert Dock is perhaps the most obvious place to start. One of the most iconic art galleries in the world, the Tate Modern is a destination day out in and of itself, but apart from that Liverpool boasts a seriously impressive array of art galleries, more in fact than anywhere in the country outside of London.
My own personal favourite is the Walker Art Gallery. Modern art is all well and good but here you will find some true masterpieces. Home to collections by Rembrandt, Monet, Turner, Poussin and a wide variety of pre Raphaelite, Victorian and Tudor art, the gallery is not just one of the finest in the UK, but the world, and easily holds its own against the Louvre and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
And as well as the many modern cinemas there are over a dozen theatres and music halls you can choose from to take in a musical performance or West End Show.
The Liverpool Arena, currently sponsored by the M&S Bank but will always be colloquially known as the Echo Arena, has a range of regular shows, and the wonderfully art deco style Philharmonic Hall is home to the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra. But if you do fancy a real west end stage show or even a cheeky panto at Christmas, then the Liverpool Empire Theatre is the place to be.
Now a trip to Liverpool can’t go ahead without even mentioning the football. I’m probably the only Scouser in the world who doesn’t like the game (remember I prefer Judo if anyone wants to try it on!) but the city’s two world famous teams are quintessentially tied to the city. (it actually has three but everyone forgets Tranmere Rovers because they are based in Birkenhead so they don’t count!) Liverpool and Everton Football Clubs both have grounds at Anfield and Goodison Park respectively and no matter what team you support both have amazing guided and self guided tours through the grounds and specialist team museums that are worthy of any museum list in their own right.
Liverpool has something for everyone, and once you have seen all you came to see you have a plethora of shopping options to choose from.
Liverpool One is the city’s large, open air shopping district with over 170 designer and high street brand stores, restaurants and shopping options. It is also a destination in and of itself with one of Liverpool’s most unusual historical attractions right underneath it and a plethora of restaurants, independent eateries and a cinema too.
The nearby Met Quarter is a purpose built, high end designer mall with more exclusive outlets.
Bold street is where to go if you are looking for an independent shopping experience, with plenty of smaller independent shops selling everything from world foods to clothes and vinyl, you will also find a ton of independent restaurants here and is also the former home of the now sadly defunct STA travel, the place where I bought my very first gap year flights from!
In between all of these is the famous, pedestrianised city centre itself with a plethora of high street brands and St Johns market, which is home to a number of independent traders and of course one of the most distinctive landmarks in Liverpool, the Radio City Tower.
Put quite simply, Liverpool is an absolute paradise for shoppers, and there is quite literally something for everyone here!
You are going to have a jam packed 48 hours in Liverpool trying to fit all of this in, but you are going to have to stop and eat sometime because you are definitely going to work up an appetite!
The good news is you are spoiled for choice in Liverpool! Like every major city Liverpool of course has all the major restaurant brands at your fingertips, but it also has a prime selection of independent restaurants, cafe’s and eateries too! The Albert Dock is one of Liverpool’s hidden secrets when it comes to outstanding independent foodie spots and Bold street is just a haven for foodies (and don’t forget the many restaurants in Chinatown at the end of Bold Street either!)
But if you are anything like me and love simple, easy and cheap food as much as the high end foodie spectaculars, then you will want to head to Maggie May’s cafe first of all, either for a cup of tea and some good old bacon on toast for breakfast, or a delicious pan of scouse for dinner, our national dish! And after that you can pop over to one of the hot dog or donut vans that are dotted about for a bit of scouse street food! you just can’t beat one of the hot dogs from these vans!
Liverpool is famous for a lot of things, and its nightlife is no exception! The city is famous not only for its party atmosphere on a weekend but also for how safe and friendly it is.
If you are looking for a more traditional pub to start off with, then you need to head down to Hardman Street, although to be fair traditional pubs are literally dotted around the entire city! You can’t trip over a cat without falling into one! But if you can find it (hint, it’s down a little side street off Hope Street), you can have a pint and read the little plaque that declares the pub as one of John Lennon’s favourite drinking spots! And there are plenty of real ale specialist pubs too where you can go for a real drink.
For a real night out though you want to head to Concert Square for the bigger bars and clubs, there is a thriving LGBTQ scene on Stanley Street and of course no night out in Liverpool would be complete without a trip to the famous Mathew Street! You can crawl your way through bar after bar, mingle with the crowds outside and then end up at the world famous Cavern Club for some live music and of course more drinking!
Of course no trip to Liverpool can be complete without at least mentioning the Beatles, and with millions of fans of the fab four making pilgrimages to the city from all over the world every year Liverpool does not leave them disappointed.
With attractions like the Beatles story on the Albert Dock which tells the story of the meteoric rise and eventual fall of the band, and the Beatles Museum on Mathew street the obvious choices for any fan, there are also references and homages to the band scattered throughout the city, with Beatles Cafe’s on the Pier Head and in Mathew Street, which also holds a statue of John Lennon and a number of Beatles themed bars and pubs. Perhaps the most famous of which is the actual Cavern Club itself, or at least the rebuilt one! You need to spend at least one night in here with a few drinks and some live music, it really is unmissable!
True fans should also seek out the famous and enigmatic statue on the Pier Head too, see if you can spot the hidden clues and references on the individual statues!
And of course if you want to head a little further out from the city centre the childhood homes of Lennon and McCartney, 20 Forthlin Road and Mendips, and of course the famous Strawberry Fields Gates and Penny Lane are iconic attractions, and for those who don’t want to do all of this on their own the famous Magical Mystery Tour and a whole host of other walking, biking, taxi and private Beatles tours are available.
A 48 Hour City Break? Or More?
You’d think this seems like a hell of a lot for a single weekend, even a long weekend, and you would be right. Liverpool has so much to see and do you could literally spend weeks here and fill up every single day with major tourist sites and attractions without running out of things to do, and that is even before we get into the lesser known and local attractions! This is why I love Liverpool! The endless things to see and do, the boundless energy and creativity, the world famous friendliness (until you upset us then that is a different matter) makes this city something truly special!
Liverpool is one of the best city break or staycation destinations in the world, and I am not just saying that because I am from here! I’m saying that to not only tell the world they should take the time to visit, but also to remind locals looking for a staycation that they have something very special right on their doorstep and they should take the time to appreciate it as I do.
Walking around your home with a tourists eyes really opens your mind to what is around you, and whether you have been to Liverpool before or you are from near here, I want to make you look at Liverpool with new eyes and appreciate the places you see every single day without eve noticing them. I want to remind you exactly why Liverpool is loved all over the world and make you fall in love with your Liverpool all over again!
Did you enjoy this article? Have you ever taken a staycation? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below or on my Facebook or Twitter pages and please feel free to share it with any or all of the social media buttons. If you want to get more great backpacking tips, advice and inspiration, please subscribe to updates via email in the box to your right.