Located on the banks of the Mersey River with views over the Irish sea this city doesn't appear on many peoples to do lists unless they are die-hard Beatles fans or visting for a football match but our trip has given us plenty to rave about and we highly recommend a weekend visit or day trip. It's even a UNESCO world heritage site like the Great Wall of China!
There are many books dedicated to the 'must see' things to see and do in Liverpool and tripadvisor has it's own top rated ideas but looking at the top recommendations failed to inspire us - cathedrals, maritime buildings and a football stadium are rarely on our must-see list. It wasn't until we got to Liverpool that we started putting together our must see list from some local books and tour guides that the city came alive. That and our wonderful Airbnb hosts advice.
Firstly we stayed at New Brighton, a seaside resort that forms part of Wallasey and sitting on the direct opposite bank to the city on the Mersey. As we were taking Bisbee we didn't want to be too central and the offer of a dog friendly beach while having easy access to the centre made it a winning combination.
To get to the centre from New Brighton you can travel by train (6 - 10 minutes depending on what station you get on at and £2.70 single), car via the Queensway or Kingsway tunnel (£1.70 each way) or by Mersey Ferry (£5.50 one way or £10 return). We used all forms of transport. Each had it's own merit.
Our to do list was as follows:
Mersey Ferry - worth doing for the views and the audio tour. If you can, get the Dazzle Ferry because it looks like this:
You can get it from Liverpool and do the full 50 minute tour or get off or on at any of it's stops.
Check out the Beatles statue there to welcome you to Liverpool by the Ferry Landing.
The Albert Docks: Liverpool's existence started as a maritime hub and major commercial port and these docks were at the very heart. This area is now a rejuvenated shopping and dining area with the odd attraction thrown in. Like the 1940's Piermasters house that allows you to see how it would have looked during the war. Keep your eyes peeled for the jelly bean homage to The Beatles too.
From the docks you can stroll the 20 mins towards Nelson street and the smallest China Town with the oldest European Chinese community with the largest arch of its kind outside of China.
A short walk up Upper Duke street brings you to the Oratory, a sculpture gallery, and more impressively The Liverpool Cathedral. The largest Anglican Church in the world with the highest Gothic arches and biggest bells. While cathedrals are not really our thing this cathedral brought back feelings of Sagrada Familia in Barcelona. The scale, the beauty, the attention to detail - it was breathtaking. To think this was designed by a 22 year old is impressive - the same guy also designed the red telephone box and you can see an original in the the cathedral. It doesn't take you long to stroll around the church and it is well worth doing - especially the Lady Chapel.
|(first pic courtesy of Liverpool Tourism)|
From this high point in the city - you can get higher by heading up the tower for a fee or you can stand and enjoy the view back to the city and across the Mersey. On a clear day make sure you do.
After a quick lunch stop at the Old Blind School where everything we had was delicious, we headed past St Luke's bombed out church. It is currently closed for renovations but is still worth seeing. As the light shines through the empty building it is eerie and beautiful. Renovations are to strengthen the structure, the church itself will be left empty to show the impact of war.
From St Lukes to a new age style Metropolitan Cathedral. Like something out of a space movie this Cathedral looks impressive for its design but inside we were less than impressed. It was a mix between a theatre venue and museum/gallery. The size was impressive, the atmosphere void. Other than the friezes depicting the death of Christ and the odd sculpture this could have been venue for anything. Worth seeing to say you've done it but if you are there for a day don't bother.
As we were to the East of the centre we headed back towards the centre via Bold Street. Keep your eyes peeled for some interesting art work and the city's oldest bookshop - News from Nowhere. There are also plenty of cafes and restaurants to pick up a snack on this road. In this area you can also find Almost Famous if you want to indulge in ridiculously good burgers.
Once you hit the centre of Liverpool you'll know. While the outskirts are relatively quiet the centre is buzzing. Wherever you look you'll see buildings with history. The beautiful town hall, the Hard Days night hotel, Stanley Street gay area. There are also sculptures that seem to appear at random. Make a stop in Stanley Street to see the Eleanor Rigby statue behind The Beatles store.
Sculptures of Lambanana's are also dotted across the city. The SuperLambanana is on Tithebarn street but you can see other versions by the docks and in any gift shop. A combination of a lamb and a banana they are a nod to common cargo that appeared in the docks way back when.
Mathew Street should be on everyone's must do. By day it's full of people taking pictures outside The Cavern Club and admiring all The Beatles references. At night it is a central point for bars - think Irish bars, cheap drinks, loud music and lots of people.
Our city tour ended by the waterfront with the Three Graces. Pier Head is home to the famous Liver Building with Liverpool's famous Liver Birds (they have never met so they will be the only Liver birds, oh and the Liver bird is a mythical creature. The story being that King John had an eagle on his crest but someone lost the visual way back when so the crest was redrawn with what looked more like a cormorant, over time the bird has taken a merged form). Rumour has it the one looking out over the port is the female checking sailors arrived home safely, the other looking over the city is male and is checking the pubs are open! There is also a myth that is one was to fall then so would the city of Liverpool.
|Two of the three Graces (Port of Liverpool building on the left and Liver building on the right)|
We headed home before it got too late, plus the 12 miles of walking was taking it's toll.
Things to note though:
- Liverpool is super walk-able
- If you don't fancy the walk there are hop on tour buses
- There is a lot to see and do and most of it is free
- Plan your route as there is a circular route that allows you to see the highlights without doubling back on yourself.
- Look up - seriously the architecture, some of the roofs, the paintings - there are plenty of reasons
- The new museum is worth checking out, we only skipped it as we had the dog
- Don't rush, stop in a pub and enjoy a drink - Liverpudlians are super friendly
- There is something for everyone - even if you have never heard of The Beatles
- There are quite a few green spaces / gardens so in summer enjoy the chance to rest your legs
Next post coming soon - the other sides of Liverpool!