Things To Do In Liverpool
When it comes to cultural activities few English cities outside London can hold a candle to Liverpool. This is the birthplace of The Beatles; the home of two world-famous football clubs; site of the planet's most watched horse race. Boutique shops, bustling bars, and historical museums - all of these buildings line Liverpool's breathtaking waterfront, which was once the world's most bustling maritime hub.
However you arrive, be it via the cruise terminals, by car or train, there's nothing better than arriving with a local's perspective on the best landmarks and attractions. Here we'll provide a run down on all the top things there is see and do, helping you put together you ideal Liverpool city break.
Events & Activities 2018:
The activities listed below were informed by our helpful partners at City Explorer Liverpool, who know their home town like the back of their hand. At the bottom of the page we've listed a selection of the best times to visit Liverpool in 2018. You'll also find venue specific events listed throughout.
1) Albert Dock:
This marvellously engineered shorefront along the River Mersey yields an amazing variety of sights, sounds and physical testaments to Liverpool's maritime heritage. With origins dating back to 1837 the current cruise terminal area has been a vital driver of Liverpool's cultural and economic development for over 150 years.
Albert Dock Ships And Pumphouse.
In that time it has witnessed countless shipments of exotic cargoes, boats of migrants from all across the world, and the maritime activities of two world wars. These past legacies are the focus of two renowned attractions: Liverpool Maritime Museum and The International Slavery Museum.
Watch Out For:
- Heritage On The Dock (Albert Dock | Apr 5-8).
- Steam on the Dock (Albert Dock | May 12-13).
- Pirates On The Dock (Albert Dock | Sept 15-16).
- Folk On The Dock (Albert Dock | Aug 25-27).
2) Liverpool Maritime Museum:
Unravel tales of Liverpool's seafaring heritage, from an interesting connection to RMS Titanic to the city's central role in the American Civil War. You'll hear about the Battle of the Atlantic during World War II and even get to take a tour of an old pilot cutter ship moored in the dock.
As well as exhibits from bygone eras you can also find out about the modern issues facing Liverpool's international ports, such as drugs smuggling, human trafficking and tax evasion.
Merseyside Maritime Museum Entrance.
3) International Slavery Museum:
Here is where you'll flick back to a darker chapter in Liverpool's history - its position as a major slaving port in the 18th and early 19th centuries. At the peak of its involvement over 120 ships a year were setting sail for Africa, bringing the city and individual beneficiaries great wealth. Volumes were so high that in the years immediately prior to the 1807 abolition of slavery an estimated three-quarters of all European slaving ships left from Liverpool!
International Slavery Museum.
It seems fitting, therefore, that such a museum be situated on the shores of a place with vital connections to the historic trade. During your visit you'll get to explore personal stories of bravery and rebellion, find out what life was like in old West Africa plus the problems it faced, and reflect on the modern legacy of slavery throughout the world.
4) Mersey Ferry River Explorer Cruise:
The Mersey is Liverpool's lifeblood, the beating heart of this historic city. It snakes through its centre and winds past some of the city's tallest buildings which populate the waterfront, including the Liver Building.
This cruise lasts about 50 minutes but takes in all the sights. It's a great opportunity to take photos of Liverpool's impressive skyline from the water and to admire the historic buildings from afar. Certain tickets also grant access to the popular U-Boat Story in Birkenhead.
Mersey Ferry Dazzle Boat.
5 & 6) U-boat Story and Titanic Memorial:
Delve even deeper into Liverpool's oceanic heyday by checking out the U-boat Story and Titanic Memorial. Located at St. Nicholas Place, Pier Head, the fully titled 'Memorial to the Engine Room Heroes of the Titanic', is a substantial and poignant testament to the 244 engineers that lost their lives in the 1912 disaster.
Titanic Memorial Liverpool.
Across the River Mersey at Birkenhead is where you will find the U-Boat Story. This popular and exciting museum takes visitors on a journey into the dangerous life of a WWII German submarine crew. The exhibition is centred around the salvaged remains of U-534, a vessel that was sunk by British aircraft after refusing to surrender at the end of the war. Glass viewing partitions give visitors direct insights into the submarine's interior, and extensive exhibitions showcase a huge variety of recovered artefacts.
U-Boat Story At Birkenhead.
7) Tate Liverpool:
Despite the maritime focus so far, Liverpool's eclectic waterfront isn't all centred around the high seas. The reason we've honed in on the Albert Docks thus far is that it hosts the city's greatest diversity of top attractions along with numerous bars and restaurants. Right across from the Maritime Museum is the Tate Liverpool, England's most renowned contemporary art galley outside of London. Permanent exhibitions display works by famous names including Pablo Picasso and Marc Chagall.
8) Beatles Story:
A bit further down is the Beatles Story, a popular attraction chronicling the life, culture and music of the Fab Four. Exhibitions span from the group's early years playing at venues such as the Cavern Club, to the American invasion and international stardom.
Inside The Beatles Story.
Inside you'll find a meticulous recreation of the Cavern Club as it existed in the 1960s (the original was demolished and relocated in 1973). There's also a life-sized yellow submarine full of artefacts, including Harrison's first guitar, Lennon's spectacles and a White Album signed by McCartney. The Beatles Story even contains a 'Going Solo' exhibition, which explores the solo careers of John, Paul, George and Ringo after they disbanded.
It's not just an essential visit for fans of the Beatles, but a great place for all music lovers who want to recapture the magic of the swingin' sixties.
Watch Out For:
- John Lennon: The New York Years (Beatles Story | All Year 2018).
- International Beatleweek (Various | Aug 22-28).
9) Museum of Liverpool:
Further up the docks from the Tate Galley you'll find the Museum of Liverpool. This institution, as its name suggests, is dedicated to telling the story of the entire city and its people. The building only opened in 2011 and is a stunning piece of ultra-modern architecture. See how Liverpool's complexion both cultural and physical as evolved over more than the century.
Museum of Liverpool Main Entrance.
10) Echo Wheel of Liverpool:
A final recommendation before looking deeper into the city would be a ride on the Echo Wheel of Liverpool. This 196ft ferris wheel takes passengers up in a glass capsule for panoramic viewings of the interior cityscape and riverside.
Echo Wheel Of Liverpool.
11 & 12) Liverpool One and India Buildings:
For the largest variety of shopping in a modern setting head to the Liverpool One complex. This huge open-air mall contains everything you could possibly need while staying in Liverpool and more, with its designer outlets, restaurants, pubs and cinema. By contrast, if it's a quirkier retail experience you're looking for then the beautiful arcades of the marble-floored India Buildings on Water Street are best suited.
Left: Liverpool One Shopping Centre - Right: India Building Arcade.
13 & 14) Walker Art Gallery and World Museum:
To get an even closer connection to the culture of the city you can check out the Walker Art Gallery and World Museum. The Walker Gallery houses one of the largest English collections of European art from the medieval till the late 19th century. Included in the exhibits are original works by Rembrandt, Nicolas Poussin and Edgar Degas.
Left: World Museum - Right: Inside Walker Art Gallery.
At the World Museum you'll encounter fascinating exhibits spanning the fields of archaeology, horology, ethnology and the natural and physical sciences. The museum hosts fun activities for all age groups and is home to a number of highlights including its own planetarium, a rare Aztec Codex, and the Egyptian antiquities of Joseph Mayer. Both the Walker Gallery and the World Museum are situated on William Brown Street.
Watch Out For:
- Terracotta Warrior Exhibition (World Museum | Feb 9 - Oct 28).
15 & 16) Liverpool Cathedral and Metropolitan Cathedral:
Liverpool is well known for is cathedrals, boasting two equally awe-inspiring examples each with their own stand-out features.
The older Liverpool Cathedral on St James Mount is the largest of its kind in the UK and the fifth largest in the world. While the Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral, which is Roman Catholic as opposed to the formers Anglican, presents a startling modernist design contrast with its conical nave and radial flying buttresses.
Left: Liverpool Cathedral - Right: Metropolitan Cathedral.
If you visit one be sure to take a stroll down Hope Street to admire the other. We recommend starting at the Metropolitan and working down, because once you've seen Liverpool Cathedral you're only a short distance away from the next highlight.
17) Liverpool Chinatown:
Liverpool Chinatown is the oldest Chinese cultural centre in Europe, with roots going back as far as 1834. The elaborate arch that marks the gateway to the district is one of the largest of its kind outside China, surpassed only by the Washington D.C. Chinatown gate. Enjoy an authentic East Asian dining experience in the restaurants or simply wonder around the decorated façades.
Liverpool Chinatown Arch.
18) Liverpool Football Clubs:
Remember that Liverpool is the home of two English premier league football teams. Liverpool F.C. and Everton both call the city home and have stadiums at Anfield and Goodison Park respectively. For fans of the Beautiful Game these two venues are well worth looking into. Anfield is actually one which can be reached via a dedicated bus service.
Above: Goodison Park - Home of Everton.
The LFC City Explorer tour makes daily trips every hour during the summer months between Hartley Quay (also Canada Boulevard) and Anfield Stadium. Though it doesn't grant access to the LFC Story Museum you will be receiving easy transport plus live onboard commentary by a professional guide. Note that during the winter months the bus only runs on weekends.
Above: Anfield Stadium and LFC Explorer Bus.
19) The LFC Story Museum:
Liverpool F.C. is probably Merseyside's second biggest export. What the Beatles did for pop, this football club did for the beautiful game. See where it all kicks off with a tour of Anfield Stadium.
This exhibit is a must-see for football lovers, who can walk through the tunnels and alongside the lavishly landscaped pitch. Then there's the LFC Story Museum next door, which captures the history of The Reds in incredible detail, from the club's biggest signings and success stories to major memorabilia from the world's biggest soccer tournaments.
LFC Story Museum.
20 & 21) Cavern Club & Casbah Coffee Club:
We'll finish this list off by providing a few tasters for anyone thinking of doing their own Beatles Trail. By the far the most famous spot associated with the band is the Cavern Club on Mathew Street. Take a look inside and see the classic memorabilia and maybe even catch a regular tribute band performance.
Left: Cavern Club - Right: Casbah Coffee Club.
Venture slightly further out into West Derby and you'll reach the Casbah Coffee Club. This early venue was were John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and former member Ken Brown played a number gigs as 'The Quarrymen'. The Club, which still serves a great coffee, is often rated as Liverpool's top tourist attraction.
22) See the former homes of The Beatles:
A short distance south of the city centre is 251 Menlove Avenue, the childhood home of John Lennon (now administered by the National Trust) and a great photo opportunity for any fan. Strawberry Field, famously referenced in the single “Strawberry Fields Forever”, lies just up the road from Mendip. For Paul McCartney's old house visit 20 Forthlin Road; for Harrison's, 12 Arnold Grove; and for Ringo's, 10 Admiral Grove.
If you'd really like to set off down the Beatles Trail have a look at our article exploring 25 Beatles-related sites throughout Liverpool.
Good Times To Be In Town | 2018:
- Feast Of Fire (St John's Gardens | Mar 23 - Apr 2).
- Liverpool Spring Festival (Sefton Park | Apr 28-29).
- Liverpool Sound City (Various Venues | May 5-6).
- LightNight (Various Venues | May 18).
- Bordeaux Wine Festival (Pier Head | May 25-28).
- Three Festivals Tall Ship Regatta (Waterfront & Wirral | May 25-28).
- Brazilica Festival (Citywide | Jul 14).
- Liverpool International Music Festival (Various Venues | Jul 21-22).
- Liverpool Pride (City Centre | Jul 28-29).
- Liverpool Food & Drink Festival (Sefton Park | Sept 15-16).
- Liverpool Irish Festival (Various Venues | Oct 18-28).