Liverpool is one of the UKs greatest city break destinations with a unique cultural and historical heritage and something to see and do for everyone. With so many iconic attractions you will never fit everything into one trip, so here are just 50 of the best things to see and do in Liverpool to help you choose.
Liverpool, England’s second city only because we don’t want the politicians from Westminster camped out here, truly is one of the UKs best destinations. With a smorgasbord of unique attractions and things to see and do there is quite literally something for everyone here, which is quite apt as Scousers are famous for their warm welcome and hospitality. Often seen by the locals as culturally separate from the rest of the country, Liverpool has so much more to offer than the football grounds and the cultural music scene and the Beatles that it is so famous for. Here are just 50 of the best things to see and do in this great city.
The Liver Building.
The Liver Building is Liverpool’s iconic cultural landmark, it’s Eiffel Tower, it’s Empire State Building, and is a spectacular piece of architecture that any visitor to Liverpool has to explore. As part of Liverpool’s Three Graces on the famous Pier Head (the other two are the equally as majestic Cunard Building and the Port of Liverpool Building), it stands as the emblem of the city and is adorned by the two Liver Birds, the city’s signature landmark. One looking out to sea to protect the sailors of the city, and one looking inward to protect the city. Legend says if they are ever turned to look at each other they will mate and fly away, and Liverpool will sink into the ocean.
The World Museum.
Housed in the iconic William Brown conservation area, a truly impressive collection of protected Grade II Neo Classical Buildings, the World Museum is truly one of the UKs most spectacular museums. Second only to the Natural History Museum in London in size, scale and importance, the World museum houses some impressive collections, from the Pterosaur that greets you in the atrium, through the impressive Egyptology exhibit and more. The museum even holds an aquarium and one of the UKs best planetariums! And with the exception of the Planetarium shows, it is all free!
A trip to Liverpool wouldn’t be complete without mentioning football, in a city that takes it so seriously they don’t just have one major league team, they have two! Anfield is the state of the art stadium of the city’s eponymous Liverpool Football Club, and any football fan will get a huge kick out of viewing the stadium itself, but there is also the self guided multimedia walking tour to provide more interest with visits taking in the home team and away team dressing rooms, the press room, walking down the players tunnel and a whole museum to keep fans entertained.
Goodison Park is the home of Everton Football Club, Liverpool’s other (and first) team, and has a purpose built stadium that gives fans and tourists alike the chance to tour the grounds and behind the scenes of their favourite team.
Liverpool Philharmonic Hall.
The Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra is one of the worlds oldest concert societies, and their shows, based in the grade II listed Philharmonic Hall attracts visitors from all over the world. An evening of high culture awaits for any fan of classical concerts or choir singing, but the Hall also offers a wide range of musical events and one off spectaculars as well.
The Museum of Liverpool is a spectacular modern landmark on Liverpool’s historic waterfront. It is the world’s first museum dedicated to the history of a regional city and is devoted to telling the story of the greatest city on Earth.
The Maritime Museum.
No trip to Liverpool would be complete without a trip to the Maritime Museum, a building dedicated to Liverpool’s world famous maritime history, from its role in WW2 and the connections with the famous Titanic and its sister ship the Lusitania to the dock’s role as a gateway to the new world and beyond.
The Empire Theatre.
The Liverpool Empire Theatre is the city’s answer to the West End, with big name touring productions and stage spectaculars all taking place on the huge stage, the largest two tier auditorium in Britain! Originally dating back to 1866 when it was known as the Prince Of Wales Theatre and Opera House, the stunning building situated almost opposite St George’s Hall is worth a passing glance even if you aren’t seeing a show.
The Liverpool Playhouse.
Want to see a West End Show outside of London or fancy a local stage spectacular or even a festive panto? The the Liverpool Playhouse is the place to be. Twinned with the separate but equally as historical Everyman Theatre on Hope Street, the playhouse continues a centuries old tradition of theatre in Liverpool and is an amazing way to spend an evening.
The International Slavery Museum.
This thought provoking museum is the only one of its kind in the UK and takes an honest look at Liverpool’s role in participating in and ending the slave trade as well as all aspects of historical and contemporary slavery. It has a section specifically on African culture before the slave trade and a harrowing audio visual display of conditions aboard a slave ship.
The Western Approaches Museum is one of Liverpool’s best kept secrets! A hidden secret underground WWII bunker that once played a vital role in the Battle of the Atlantic and is now a living museum that celebrates Liverpool’s role in wartime history.
The Princes Road Synagogue.
Liverpool has a huge Jewish community, and this is displayed in glorious beauty at the Princes Road Synagogue, a stunning grade 1 listed building often touted as the finest example of Saracenic and Moorish Revival architecture in Europe. There are regular guided tours that explain the architecture and art in much more detail, and highlight the gilded copy of the Ark of the Covenant.
If you fancy getting out of the hustle and bustle of the city centre for an afternoon, head to Calderstones Park. As well as being a beautiful space in and of itself with a huge lake, a mansion house (with a cafe) and the incorporated Harthill Botanical Gardens founded in 1802, the park is also the home to the famous Law Oak, where over a thousand years ago the Hundred Court used to dish out justice under its branches. If you think that is impressive though, wait till you see the Calderstone Megaliths, said to be older than Stonehenge itself!
The Albert Dock.
Few things are as quintessentially Liverpudlian or as synonymous with the city as the Albert Dock. This famous and historic landmark has been at the heart of Liverpool’s waterfront since the mid 19th century and is often a familiar location in film and TV. Apart from holding some of the city’s greatest attractions in the shape of the Tate Modern and the Merseyside Maritime Museum and a slew of independent shops and cutting edge bars and restaurants, this UNESCO world heritage site itself has the largest collection of grade 1 listed buildings in the whole of the UK. It has also played a key role in British history, especially during the industrial revolution and both World Wars. If you are lucky during your visit you may even catch one of the festivals that are held here frequently, the Tall Ships Race is one of the real highlights of the year. No visit to Liverpool is complete without spending at least a little time at the Albert Dock.
Liverpool Cathedral is the largest Cathedral in Britain – an impressive title in a country famous for its cathedrals and historic landmarks – and is truly a spectacular space. It is completely free to enter and is well worth an hour or two just to see the beautiful architecture, but it is the space inside that will really take your breath away! The cathedral doesn’t boast about its size for nothing! For great views of the city, head up to the roof too.
The Liverpool Catholic Metropolitan Cathedral.
Liverpool’s other Cathedral (yes the city is so good we deserve two!) The Catholic Metropolitan Cathedral is significantly more modern than the Anglican cathedral in both age and design, and anyone with an appreciation of architecture and design will instantly be in awe of this surprisingly fantastic space. Like the Anglican Cathedral, it is completely free to enter but there are small surcharges to visit some areas such as the Lutyens Crypt and Treasury.
The Radio City Tower.
Liverpool’s very own version of Seattle’s Space Needle, the Radio City Tower is officially known as St John’s Beacon (because it is built on top of St John’s Market) but is never called that. This iconic landmark can be seen all over the city and the observation lounge at the top offers fantastic 360 degree panoramic views of the city!
Get The Ferry Across The Mersey.
Few things are as quintessentially Scouse as the Ferry Across the Mersey, and many visitors are surprised to learn it is much more than just a famous song too! The actual Ferry is still a constant workhorse between the Liverpool and Wirral waterfronts, and there are a number of river cruises where you can see the iconic waterfront and the three graces from the perspective they were supposed to be seen from, and a ton of party cruise options too!
This picturesque beach just a few miles out of the city centre is home to the famous ‘another place’ piece of art, with life size, cast iron statues of the artist spread out for over 1000 yards across the shore, looking out to sea. It’s a strange, haunting sight and a must see for all art lovers.
The Walker Art Gallery.
Liverpool is home to some of the most impressive art collections in the country, and the fact that you can view all of them for absolutely nothing makes a trip here worthwhile just for that alone! The famous Walker art gallery is home to some impressive Renaissance collections as well as pieces by Degas, Rembrandt, Turner and others. If that wasn’t enough culture for you the building itself is right in the middle of the impressively picturesque William Brown street, the UNESCO heritage site and cultural heart of the city.
The Tate Modern.
But if that wasn’t enough free culture for you, how about the world famous Tate gallery? If modern art is more your thing, you could easily lose yourself for hours in this famous institution. With permanent collections from the likes of Picasso, Miro and Mondrian, the Tate also has an impressive collection of exhibitions and events so that no two visits are ever the same.
The British Music Experience.
The only museum dedicated entirely to the history and cultural impact of British music over the centuries, the British music experience obviously celebrates Liverpool’s own significant contributions but also looks at musical history throughout the UK, from costumes worn by Freddie Mercury and the Spice Girls to instruments played by the Sex Pistols and much more besides. Music lovers cannot miss a visit here.
The Beatles Statue.
Donated in 2015 by the Cavern Club, the Beatles statue is located almost right in front of the Royal Liver Building on the waterfront and commemorates the city’s most famous musical export. But what is it exactly that makes this statue so special? Well what most tourists don’t know is that the statue is filled with secret references to the band’s – and the individual members – lives. If you look closely you will find that in John Lennon’s hand there are two small acorns, cast from actual acorns from outside the Dakota building in New York, Lennon’s former home until he was murdered on the steps outside. The acorns represent the two acorns that John and Yoko Ono planted by Coventry Cathedral in 1968 to symbolise both their meeting and world peace. Paul McCartney is holding a camera, a reference to his late wife Linda who was a famous photographer. The number 8 is carved into the sole of Ringo Starr’s shoe, symbolising the Liverpool postcode L8, where he was raised, and finally George Harrison has Sanskrit engraved onto his belt, symbolising the bands many years in India and George’s fascination with the culture that eventually led him to Hinduism. The whole band are stood in order that they would appear on stage and are all very slightly out of step with each other, but what that means you will have to figure out for yourself!
The Sanctuary Stone, Castle Street.
Most people walk by this landmark without even realising it is there, even most locals who live and work here don’t even know about it, but if you are walking across Castle Street in the centre of town then look down and you will see the sanctuary stone laid into the ground in its original location. This was the original boundary marker for the Medieval fairs and markets that once took place here and is believed to date back to 1292. The fairs themselves were a huge occasion at the time and for their duration ordinary rules of law were suspended, and according to local legend if any cheeky medieval urchins nicked an apple or two and managed to leg it to the sanctuary stone before the local law got their hands on them they couldn’t be touched! That’s probably not true in reality, what it actually meant was that local Officers of the Crown would give out punishment there and then, but still, why let fact get in the way of a local legend? Especially when it celebrates getting away from the law in that uniquely Scouse way!
Mersey Tunnel Tours.
For those interested in local history and architecture, the famous Mersey Tunnel has tours available year round that gives you a behind the scenes glimpse at this feat of architectural engineering, with a walk beneath the city streets to see the original George’s Dock and a peak at the control room in operation.
Liverpool Central Library.
The Liverpool Central Library is a truly stunning building, one of the finest examples of neo classical architecture in the world and is part of the larger UNESCO World Heritage Site of William Brown Street. Any book lover has to spend an hour or two here, if not for the books and the atmosphere itself, then at least for the stunning architecture inside and some amazing views from the rooftop. At the entrance to the library is a 72 foot granite walkway, inscribed with the titles of dozens of literary classics, and hidden within these titles is a secret riddle, the answer to which has never been revealed by the library! Can you solve this little mystery?
Shopping in Queen’s Avenue.
Located off Castle Street, with an entrance subtly hidden between a hotel and an unassuming restaurant, is Liverpool’s Georgian, Grade II listed shopping street, Queens Avenue. Also known as Liverpool’s Diagon Alley and home to a number of shops including a fine wine merchant and an art gallery, the real reason to take a stroll down here is to admire the Georgian lampposts and shop fronts, once home to Liverpool’s financial and insurance businesses.
The Bombed Out Church.
Situated at the end of Bold Street, one of Liverpool’s independent retailer hubs, sits the Church of St Luke, a local place of worship since 1791 and now known affectionately as the Bombed Out Church since it was ravaged by German bombs in the Blitz. The hollow interior is now a stunning location to sit and have a picnic or just a bit of peace and quiet in the heart of the city, and it is a popular space for weddings, gigs and other regular events.
The Open Eye Gallery.
This independent art gallery is the only space dedicated to photography and related media in the north west, and is considered one of the UKs leading photography spaces. As well as the stunning architecture of the building itself, the permanent exhibition of historic Liverpool images are well worth a look, and it is right next door to the Liverpool museum on the regenerated waterfront!
As befits Liverpool’s welcoming and seafaring reputation, the city is home to the oldest Chinese community in Europe, and has an amazing Chinatown full of some of the best eating spots around. The majestic Chinese arch commemorates the twinning of Liverpool with Shanghai and is the largest Chinese arch ever built outside of mainland China! If you are lucky enough to visit in February, the Chinese New Year celebrations are something to behold.
The Bluecoat is a Liverpool institution. A grade 1 listed, 300 year old building right in the heart of the city centre, it is Liverpool’s creative heart with a full programme of installations, galleries and events, not to mention being a working space for active artists of all styles. The open garden is the perfect place to stop for a drink or a coffee and the independent shops and galleries where you can buy your very own art are all well worth a look.
Saint George’s Hall.
Saint George’s Hall is one of the many iconic buildings in Liverpool and has been at the heart of the city’s soul since 1854, offering Liverpudlians a beautiful space for formal events and celebration. The Hall is considered to be one of the finest examples of neoclassical architecture anywhere, with Europe’s largest tunnel vaulted ceiling inside and the exterior being the backdrop for many Hollywood films, including Fantastic Beasts and The Batman. St George’s Hall hosts a year round calendar of free and paid public events like the popular cinema screenings, many of which are worth going to just to experience the stunning location!
The Beatles Story.
The Beatles Story is much more than just a museum, it is an interactive experience that tells the story of how four local lads from Liverpool conquered the world to become one of the biggest bands in the history of the world.
You can walk through replicas of the Casbah, the venue where the Beatles first played, Mathew Street, Abbey Road Studios and The Cavern, to give you a sense of what it must have been like in Liverpool during the swinging Sixties!
The Cavern Club.
The Cavern Club is a Liverpudlian Institution, opening up in 1957 as a Jazz club and then becoming the birthplace of the MerseyBeat music genre and most famously as the spiritual home of artists like the Beatles, Gerry and the Pacemakers and Cilla Black. Live gigs are still played here most nights with local musicians.
Most tourists will end up here to listen to some awesome live music at some point, but many of them will miss a tiny little detail just outside. Just outside of the Cavern Club is a tiny attraction that most tourists will miss. Alongside the statue of John Lennon there is a wall that features bricks that have been carved with every Liverpool based Number 1 UK chart hits since 1952. And there are a lot!
The Beatles Museum.
Not to be confused with the Beatles Story, this museum holds one of the largest authentic Beatles collections in the world. Telling the story of the bands early days, you can see personal instruments, outfits and equipment actually used and worn by the band, as well as thousands of pieces of Memorabilia all housed within a Grade II listed building on the historic Mathew Street.
The Statue Of Our Cilla.
Think the Beatles were Liverpool’s only gift to the music world? Just across from the statue of John Lennon and the famous bricks is a statue of Cilla Black, the local girl who once worked in the cloak room of the Cavern Club it stands in front of and had a successful music career alongside the Beatles and a TV career after that. Look out for the secret images and song lyrics carved in her dress, it is these little details that raise so many Liverpool statues above and beyond mere attractions!
The Only Fools Bar.
Play it cool, Trig, play it cool! Take a trip back to the 80s with Liverpool’s only Only Fools And Horses themed Bar! I cannot stress enough just how amazing this bar is, full of reproductions of actual TV sets that you can take selfies in and a menu of cocktails with names like ‘Don’t Call Me Dave’ and ‘Uncle Albert’s Disco Nap’ you just have to order one of Del’s famous yuppie cocktails!
This bar is the ultimate fan service to one of the best British TV series ever, and started as an absolute labour of love from genuine fans! You can even recreate Del’s famous bar fall (com plete with a safety crash mat of course)!
Not only is it a fun place to come and have a cheeky Chateau Nerf De Pap, but it is also one of Liverpool’s newest live act venue as well, with live bands playing on the stage most weekends and even a few open mic nights where you can perform your very own rendition of ‘Cwying’, sans Raquel, of course! So get down here, check out iconic props and sets and have a drink down the Nag’s Head. Don’t be a plonker, you know you want to!
Liverpool One is Liverpool’s shopping and entertainment hub, located right in the city centre this is where you come if you want to max out your credit cards in the shops, enjoy a movie in the cinema or just fill yourself up at one of the many big brand restaurants and eateries. For those who want to look a little deeper though, Liverpool One has a fascinating heritage trail with a free self guided audio tour that takes you back in time across Liverpool’s fascinating history, and showing you the viewing port where you can actually see the worlds first commercial, enclosed wet dock, once built on the ‘pool’ that gave Liverpool its name and still there, fully intact. The dock was Liverpool’s original trade centre built in 1715 and due to its unique gate, the first in the world, it allowed trade ships to unload cargo in half the time because they weren’t dependent on the tides, and that led to every trade ship in the world wanting to trade here, changing the fortunes of Liverpool forever.
Bold Street is Liverpool’s unique shopping street, full of boutique shops and independent restaurants, it literally has something for everyone here. From old fashioned book shops to record stores selling retro vinyl, foodies will be in taste heaven as they take a culinary world journey from middle eastern cuisine to the heart of south American street food and beyond, and with the bombed out church and Chinatown at one end, and the heart of the city centre on the other, you’ll never be short of things to keep you occupied!
Maggie Mays Cafe.
Start your day off right with a cup of tea and a solid breakfast at this local legend based on Bold Street. Quirkily and traditionally decorated, Maggie May’s is both archetypically British and quintessentially Liverpudlian, with perfect home cooked food and traditional fare. This is also the single best places in the city to get a steaming hot bowl of scouse, our national dish!
Arcains is a great place to recapture your youth pumping coins into arcade games and beating the hell out of Rocksteady, BeBop and the Shredder on TMNT (or TMHT as it was known in the UK back then for all the major geeks out there!)
Basically Arcains is a huge gaming hall filled with retro arcade games that will take you back to your childhood faster than a souped up DeLorean! There are three floors all filled with different vintage machines, and the best part is you just pay on the door and then all the games are free to play.
The big unsung hero here though is the old Cain’s Brewery building it is set in, you just cannot replicate a building like this and it helps create an amazing retro atmosphere that is just a joy to be in and explore. And of course it wouldn’t be an arcade without the traditional American cuisine of hotdogs and nachos!
If you want something more filling there is also the Punch Tarney’s pub next door (which also serves as the entrance to Arcains). My favourite time to go, as someone who is far too old and tired to keep up with clubbing anymore, is a Friday or Saturday evening, when it is over 18s only, the 80s mega hits get cranked out and the cocktails flow until the early hours of the morning!
FACT is the UKs leading media arts centre and often hold an array of creative international exhibitions based around media, film, arts, digital culture and technology. The exhibitions are often free and is a very different but no less impressive alternative to the Tate Modern.
The Pooley Gates.
Liverpool’s maritime history is never far from the surface in this great city and there were fewer more imposing reminders of this than the once great Sailors Home. These grand gates were made by Henry Pooley with design features that reflect on the maritime profession and once stood at the entrance to the building. They were removed during the blitz and a campaign was fought to bring them home again. They now stand in Paradise Street adjacent to the former site of the Sailors Home where they once stood.
The UKs Last Video Shop.
Videodyssey, located at Toxteth TV just a short taxi drive away from the city centre, is a little hard to find at first but is well worth seeking out as the very definition of a hidden gem in Liverpool! Want to find some classic arcade games like Alien vs Predator and Donkey Kong? Well look no further, because this independent gem has what you are looking for in a truly unique space! And this is not only the UKs last video shop and a great arcade to spend an afternoon in, they have the city’s smallest private cinema!
You can literally hire your own private room with a big screen, a comfy sofa with enough room for a small group and a projector for less than a trip to the cinema! It takes movie night to a whole new, epic level! So instead of going to the mainstream cinema, spend an afternoon playing some awesome arcade games then book a private 80s movie screening with your mates and take your pick from a host of video classics!
Located just outside of the city, this expansive grade 1 listed historical park is both a Green Flag and Green Heritage awarded open space where you can get some peace and quiet away from the hustle and bustle of the city. There is a great boating lake where fishing is available with a licence, hidden caves and waterfalls, a botanical garden and even a Victorian Palm House!
The Baltic Market.
Liverpool’s now famous Baltic Market is located in the historical Cain’s Brewery Village, a repurposed and regenerated area that retains a lot of it’s vintage style and is already an iconic home to independent bars and restaurants. The Baltic Market is Liverpool’s first real street food market purely for local independent foodies and micro breweries making it the ideal mix of delicious food and quirky atmosphere, and since exploring Liverpool will work up one hell of an appetite this is a place you should become acquainted with very quickly! There really is no better place to satiate that hunger than here! Welcoming vegans and meat lovers, gluten free and eat anything available people alike, the Baltic Market caters to everyone with a range of home made food from around the world like wood fired pizzas and my favourite, Korean BBQ (although the authentic Malaysian Nasi Lemak comes a close second), as well as craft beer and gourmet coffee, there really is something for everyone!
Located Just outside the city is one of the UKs finest, and largely underrated stretches of coastline. Between Liverpool and Southport sits Formby beach, with large sand dune areas and pine forests designated as Areas of Special Scientific Interest for wildlife and are protected by the National Trust, there are plenty of hiking trails and breath taking views over the Irish sea. Formby beach is also the location of the very first lifeboat station in the UK and you can still see the foundations of the historic lifeboat station on the beach.
The Hot Water Comedy Club.
The Hot Water Comedy club is widely regarded as one of the best promoters in the UK and actually has two venues in Liverpool where you can get a taste of real Scouse humour with some of the best stand up comics around today. The venues aren’t huge though and tickets can sell out quite fast so it can be worth booking ahead.
The M&S Bank Arena.
Forever known as the Echo Arena by locals after its former sponsor, the arena is a central icon of the King’s Dock redevelopment, and is the only combined arena and convention centre in Europe. Hosting major international events like the MTV Music Awards and concerts from world famous performers like Elton John and Beyonce, the arena is Liverpool’s premier concert and show venue, and if you get a chance to catch a show during your visit it is well worth it.
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