Liverpool’s roots lie in the cotton trade and it emerged to be the lead exporter of textiles, but these dingy days are gone. Today you will find heaps of gorgeous restaurants and bars, art and music everywhere. As well as this, Liverpool is close to the coastline and some stunning beaches, that may well surprise you. If you’re planning a trip to the UK, here’s my guide to visiting Liverpool, with plenty of things to fill a weekend.
When people think about Liverpool, I think it would be fair to say that past the Beatles, the nickname of ‘Scousers’, not many people know much about it and it’s often overlooked in favour for the bright lights of London. But Liverpool really is a fantastic, vibrant city with tonnes of things to do. What’s better is that many of these are free! Over the last few years, I have visited Liverpool quite a few times to visit my friend Jess and I love it. I’m a huge fan of the North of England and I’m constantly recommending Liverpool to people planning a trip to the UK.
How to get to Liverpool
From the airport
The Liverpool John Lennon airport has fantastic bus lines that connect the airport to the city center. Catch the 500 Airport Flyer Bus service that operates between John Lennon Airport and Liverpool One which is a big shopping mall in the heart of the city, or bus 86A operates 24 hours a day for an easy and budget-friendly transfer. Take a look at the details and timetables here.
Alternatively, if you’re looking for cheap flights to Liverpool, it would be a good idea to look at flying into Manchester instead of Liverpool. Manchester is just 35 miles away from Liverpool and there are trains and coaches that run between the 2 cities. Transfer times take about an hour and you can book tickets for either the train or coach in advance here.
The main train station in Liverpool is Liverpool Lime Street and trains run regularly to it from all over the UK. It takes about 2 hours to reach Liverpool from London Euston station on the really comfy Virgin trains. If you can, be sure to book a few weeks in advance using thetrainline.com website for cheap fares.
This is possibly the longest way to get to Liverpool but if you have the time to spare travelling, it could quite possibly be the cheapest way to get there. The UK has a brilliant coach network that travels all over the country and you can grab some serious bargains. Megabus is amazing and their fares start from a tiny £1 (can you believe it?!) and National Express have some good deals if you can book in advance.
Things to do and see in Liverpool
1. The Albert Docks
This is my favourite area of Liverpool and it’s certainly beautiful place to head to. It’s a group of old dock houses and warehouses that have been transformed into a modern and lively area with a number of restaurants and bars. For me, the Albert Docks really sum up what Liverpool is like and how the city has kept much of its history but also really grown over the years to be a vibrant city.
2. Love Lock Bridge
Yes, you’ve heard of this in Paris, but Liverpool has it’s own one too. Check out these cute tokens of love right near the docks as you explore the area, and perhaps even add your own. This is located right by the docks so you’ll easily find it as you walk around.
3. The Beatles Statue
These guys famously came from Liverpool, so it’s understandable and unsurprising that the city has paid tribute to them. Find the statue near the waterfront, opposite the Mersey ferry terminal. It was unveiled in 2015 by John Lennon’s sister to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Beatles last concert in their hometown.
4. Free Museums
There are several free museums to explore and learn more about the city dotted around. The Museum of Liverpool, The International Slavery Museum, and the Merseyside Maritime Museum are all close together, nearby the Albert Docks and serve a great insight into the social history of Liverpool and it’s industrial past.
Possibly one of the most unique and funny looking things I’ve seen but the Lambananas have become part of the city. Each has been decorated differently and you will find them dotted all around. The first one appeared in Liverpool in 1998 and was designed by artist Taro Chiezo who wanted to play on the idea of genetic modification, hence the half banana and half lamb creature. Today there are loads all over the city and have all be hand painted by various people. I think they’re awesome and going from one to the next is a great way to explore Liverpool.
6. Ghetto Golf
Like crazy golf? Like cocktails and great music? Then Ghetto Golf is perfect for you! It’s been created in an old Brewery and is full of weird and wonderful stuff to create an 18 hole course. It costs £10 per person and you might need to book if there’s a large group of you going. Check out the T&Cs on their website and book here.
7. Bold Street
Liverpool is great at supporting its independent businesses, and many of them can be found along Bold Street in the heart of the city. Spend some time wandering through the cute boutique shops, bars, cafes and restaurants here and soak in the bohemian vibe.
8. Liverpool 1
If the high street shops are more your thing then head over to Liverpool 1 where you will find all the big names, as well as many of the famous chain restaurants and a cinema.
9. China Town
Liverpool is a very multicultural city and there is a large population of Chinese people living here. You can find everything you would expect from China Town, including great food, supermarkets, and the beautiful ornate gate marks the twinning of Liverpool with Shanghai.
10. Birkenhead Park
A fun fact that Jess told me about during my visit was that Central Park in New York was actually modelled from the entrance gate of Birkenhead Park. Who would have thought!? This park is a little bit outside of the city but it’s beautiful and is a grade 1 listed landscape site – a perfect spot for a walk and a picnic.
11. The Liverpool Cathedral
This cathedral is one of the finest examples of Gothic architecture in the UK. It really is awe-inspiring and on a clear day make sure you head up the tower to get some fantastic views of the city, especially at night.
Where to eat and drink in Liverpool
This was one of the best curries I have ever had. It specialises in street food style small tiffin dishes so you can try out a number of different foods from the menu. Mowgli is all about genuine food that people actually eat in India, so all the food is super fresh and packed with flavour. The decor is also really pretty and there is a great vibe inside.
13. The Alchemist
This cocktail bar is far more than chucking some ingredients together in a shaker – it’s a science, an art and a performance all rolled into one. There are so many cocktails to choose from and so much to watch as it’s being made! The one I had below is called a Lightbulb Moment and it was bloody delicious!
14. Cosy Club
The plush decor of this restaurant makes it super cosy and quirky. Think gold-framed pictures, patterned wallpapers and armchairs and you’re on the right track. For all you nosy people (like myself) with its location on the second floor with ceiling to floor windows, it’s a great spot to grab some food and people watch.
15. Cafeteria Gastronomia
This little cafe is found on Bold Street so you know it’s going to be quirky and unique. There are many spots to stop for a cake and coffee around there but Cafeteria Gastronmia has a great selection of cakes to choose from for a very reasonable price.
I didn’t actually go to this restaurant but Jess pointed it out to be one of her favs and I trust her judgement so I had to put it on here. Also located on Bold Street, it specialises in Lebanese Street food and aims to people discover Arabic food culture and flavours, all at a great price. Sounds good to me!
Explore Liverpool’s coastline
17. Crosby Beach
Where – 20 minutes by train from Moorfields station in the city to Blundellsands and Crosby train station
This beach is simply stunning. There are some great coastal walks along here and the sand is spotless. As soon as you have the beach in view you can’t miss the statues of people scattered everywhere. This art instalment is called ‘Another Place’ by Anthony Gormley, and it consists of 100 naked cast iron men, that apparently were modelled on the artist himself (Ooo errr). In 2007 a decision was made by the local council to make them permanent. I think they look amazing on the wide beach here, so you have to pay them a visit.