When most people think of Liverpool, they think two things: football and The Beatles. As much as the city is rightly proud of its sporting and musical heritage, it has a lot more to offer. All locals know the story of The Beatles and have been to at least one match at Goodison or Anfield. Read on for a local’s take on how to experience Liverpool.
What to see
If you’re starting your day early, head down to the Albert Docks. The early morning sun over the River Mersey sparkles over the surprisingly clear water, and it’s a relatively peaceful time to have a nice wander around. If you’re lucky enough to visit the city over summer, there’s very likely going to be a festival of some sort going on around here. When you’re booking a Liverpool tour guide, get them to check what is happening down on the docks during your visit so you can get involved with the local culture.
Whilst down at the riverside, walk till the edge. The Three Graces – The Royal Liver Building, The Cunard Building, and the Port of Liverpool Building – stand resplendent and show off the history of the famous port city. A quick pic with our four favourite boys, John, Paul, Ringo, and George, is also in order as you walk down the beautifully remodelled promenade.
Long before we changed the landscape of rock and roll, Liverpool was integral to the prosperity of Britain and the empire. Have your tour guide take you around the Maritime Museum and International Slavery Museum so you can get a feel for what made Liverpool one of the most important cities in the world.
After you’ve learned all about it, head to the area with the Titanic Hotel and old tobacco warehouse – the largest brick-built building in Europe. If this area looks familiar, then you’re probably a fan of Peaky Blinders. The crumbling warehouses and canal docks have been used as sets for the popular TV show. However, expect to hear several other stories from your guide about the intriguing history of Liverpool’s seafaring days.
Next, travel to the other end of the city centre and visit the Anglican and Catholic cathedrals, fittingly separated by Hope Street.
The Anglican Cathedral is a stunning neo-gothic structure with art exhibitions or cultural activities going on regularly. You can go up the massive tower for a fee, or content yourself with strolling around and picking up some local knowledge from your Liverpool tour guide.
As you walk from the Anglican to the Catholic cathedrals, you’re very much in the Georgian Quarter of the city. The beautifully preserved streets are regularly used as sets for turn-of-the-century British TV shows so they might seem vaguely familiar. Take a moment to contemplate the award-winning architecture of the Everyman Theatre on Hope Street, a building that locals are proud of.
Paddy’s Wig Wam is the affectionate name the locals have given to the Catholic Cathedral. It was super modern when it was built in the 1960s. When the sun shines, the stained-glass spire gloriously illuminates the nave, and it’s a haven of peace and contemplation no matter your religion.
Food and drink
The Philharmonic pub is filled with a local legend. Rumour has it that Adolf Hitler once had a drink in there (ask your guide how much they believe the story!), and it’s said to be the place John Lennon took his first wife on their first date. The woodwork and glass lighting are classic and make for some fantastic photos, but you really want to visit the men’s toilet. As much as Scousers are famed for their humour, this is no joke. The whole pub is Grade II listed, but the rare Italian marble urinals are Grade I listed and have special government protection! Check with the bar staff before you go to it, they’ll give you the all-clear.
Liverpool has some amazing restaurants popping up all over the city. For a sure-fire good feed, pick a spot around Bold Street. Mowgli has vegan Indian street food, absolutely amazing dishes and a great atmosphere to boot. If you’re into more meaty options, Lucha Libre is a Mexican restaurant on Wood Street. The décor is achingly hip, and the street food platters are of great value. They will leave you stuffed and content.
The Baltic Quarter
Liverpudlians know that the Baltic Quarter is where to hang out. It has everything you could want. Spend a day and have a Liverpool tour guide with you can help you navigate the area filled with old warehouses and back alleys of delight.
Check out the original Ghetto Golf in Cain’s Brewery. A feast of street art, a little bit of creative genius, and an exciting twist on mini-golf accompanied by mind-boggling cocktails will give you a great afternoon of fun. Around the same area, there is the Baltic Market. Here you’ll find an ever-changing array of street food stalls that showcase the best of the best of independent Liverpudlian cuisine.
The market in Cain’s Brewery Village is a veritable treasure trove. Take your pick from vintage furniture, amazing outfits, and expert antique traders that can tell you all about 19th and 20th glassware or maritime trinkets. This is where the locals come to browse, people watch and score some unique wares.
Dotted around Liverpool is some great public artwork too. Become a Liver bird yourself at the iconic Paul Curtis wings on Jamaica Street. Get out of the city and take the train to Crosby to see the iron men of Anthony Gormley’s Another Place. Get yourself a Mr Whippy ice cream from the van, take a selfie with the dreaming statues, and clamber over the sand dunes to get better views across to the Wirral and out to the Irish Sea.
"Jo has been through many incarnations since first arriving in Asia ten years ago. From backpacker to English teacher, then tour guide and travel writer, she loves the adventure and diversity of Asia."
Image details and licenses: Anglican Cathedral: https://flic.kr/p/EYTNJ (Chris Bertram, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0), Georgian Quarter: https://flic.kr/p/4aNf28 (Chris Bertram, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0), Cain's Brewery: https://flic.kr/p/e5EHpr (Ruth_W, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)