Whether you take the 'ferry 'cross the Mersey', or a stroll down Penny Lane, most visitors will find it difficult to explore Liverpool without a song on their lips. From the Twin Cathedrals with their striking views over the city to the historical, Grade 1-listed Albert Dock and its Beatles museum, there's certainly plenty to see and do in Liverpool.
An important maritime centre and industrial port, Liverpool was one of the great cities of the United Kingdom in the Industrial Revolution, and much of its wealth came from its dominance in the shipping of textiles, cotton, sugar and slaves. The city was severely bombed in World War II and has struggled to get back on its feet, experiencing alternating waves of prosperity and depression. The 1960s saw the explosion of the Beatles and pop music, while the 1990s saw an attempt to regenerate the rather dull urban centre.
Liverpool's waterfront is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the city has achieved World Heritage Status, joining Edinburgh and Bath as the only UK cities to carry the honour. Since the announcement of Liverpool as the European Capital of Culture for 2008, millions of pounds have been poured into further development of the city, including the Â£920 million Paradise Street development in the city centre.
Liverpool is a city of diversity and despite its struggles, it boasts the greatest amount of Georgian buildings in the UK, Europe's oldest Chinatown, a number of striking Victorian structures and plenty of world-class attractions. The historical Albert Dock was restored in the 1980s and is now one of the city's most popular attractions, housing chic restaurants, bars, shops and museums, including the Merseyside Maritime Museum and the Tate Liverpool. The city boasts two world-class football clubs, Liverpool and Everton, and fans can explore the grounds of their favourite teams through guided tours. There is also plenty of Beatlemania to satisfy fans, including the International Beatles Week every August, and several Beatles-related museums and points of interest.
The city plays host to plenty of other events, festival and concerts, as well as the world's biggest steeplechase in the form of the Grand National, held at Ainstree. There are also several fascinating museums, beautiful parks and gardens, bustling markets and galleries to explore. Whether a Beatles fan or not, Liverpool has much to offer the visitor, and it is no wonder that it has become one of the top UK daytrip destinations in recent years.
Liverpool is well-pedestrianised, and visitors can enjoy many of the city's sights and sounds on foot, but taxis, buses and trains are readily available. An underground system also operates between the city's four main train stations. The Live Smart ticket, which can be bought online, offers free travel on two major bus lines as well as discounted entries into various attractions. The city is relatively easy to negotiate by car, and there are several car rental agencies available. A great way to explore the city and its surrounds at a leisurely pace is on the Mersey Ferry. A regular service links Liverpool's Pier Head to neighbouring Birkenhead on the Wirral.
The Tate Liverpool is home to the biggest collection of modern art in the UK outside of London, and a browse through its galleries is always an afternoon well spent. Situated in Liverpool's historic Albert Dock in a converted warehouse, the gallery has an impressive collection of 20th and 21st century works of modern art, selected from the Tate Collection, and which are exhibited through regularly-changing, themed displays. There are also several temporary exhibitions of contemporary art and the gallery hosts various events and educational programmes throughout the year. Some of the artists on display include JMW Turner, Kenneth Noland, Henri Matisse, Paul Gauguin and Antony Gormley. Budget at least a few hours' worth of browsing to do the collection justice.
Beatles Story Experience
For Beatles fans, The Beatles Story Experience is an absolute must. Set in the trendy and historic Albert Dock building, The Beatles Story allows visitors to trace the development of the Fab Four, from their early days playing in Hamburg to the mass hysteria of Beatlemania, the eventual break-up of the band and their ensuing solo careers. Eighteen different features, as well as the Living History audio tour with the voices of Sir Paul McCartney, Beatles producer Sir George Martin and band manager Brian Epstein, continue to delight fans and win over new ones. See George Harrison's first guitar, view the world through a collection of John Lennon's signature round lens glasses, explore the Yellow Submarine and enjoy a recreation of the stage at the Cavern Club on Mathew Street, where The Beatles played over 290 times. As well as the Beatle Story Experience, Liverpool also boasts several other Beatles-related tours and sights that are well worth exploring, including a Magical Mystery Bus Tour of famous Beatles sights such as Penny Lane and Strawberry Fields, Paul McCartney's former home at 20 Forthlin Road, the famous Cavern Club and the Mathew Street Gallery that houses the art work of John Lennon.
Merseyside Maritime Museum
The fascinating Merseyside Maritime Museum traces the history and development of the city of Liverpool as a major port. The Museum houses a range of collections, from an exhibition on the tragic and brutal transatlantic slave trade (in which Liverpool played a major role), to artworks reflecting Liverpool's maritime past, artefacts from the Titanicand the Lusitania, maritime archives and more. Visitors also gain access to the quaysides opposite the museum, and to two historic vessels. A worthwhile sight, budget about two hours to experience it properly.
On the edge of an industrial estate and just minutes away from the Liverpool Airport, the half-timbered black and white Speke Hall is a piece of history tucked in amongst modern-day Liverpool. Once on the brink of ruin, this purportedly haunted 450-year-old Tudor house is now a popular Liverpool attraction, and is also the departure point for tours to the neighbouring former home of Sir Paul McCartney. Speke Hall boasts beautifully restored rooms, lovely gardens, and spectacular views of the Mersey basin and the North Wales Hills across the high bank of The Bund. Speke Hall is also a popular venue for events such as weddings and it plays host to various concerts, particularly over the summer. Guided tours by costumed guides are available, and tours of the roof space are also available on selected days. The Home Farm is about five minutes from the house and has a visitor's centre, a shop and a good restaurant.
Although Liverpool Football Club has been in a bit of a decline since their incredible feats in the 1970s and 80s, when inspired by greats such as Kenny Dalglish and Ian Rush they became England's most successful football team, their supporters remain some of the most passionate and loyal in the game. Their home ground, Anfield, is regularly referred to as a 'cathedral of football', and it is hard not to be stirred by the proud and historic stadium. Visitors to Liverpool, once they've had their fill of Beatles-related sights, would be sorely remiss to skip a trip to Anfield, where hourly stadium tours are run on the hour every day of the week. Visitors can touch the famous 'This is Anfield' sign, view the famous terrace known as the Kop, hear recordings of the crowd singing the club's anthem 'You'll Never Walk Alone', and explore the fascinating Liverpool Museum, where photos and memorabilia give a sense of the club's enormously successful history. Be sure to book ahead, and note that tours are not run on days when a home fixture is taking place.
Alma de Cuba
Cuisine style: Latin American
One of Liverpool's most popular restaurants, Alma de Cuba boasts an eclectic and interesting menu, with Cuban, Hispanic and Caribbean influences. Tapas are served from 12pm everyday, but there are also three set meals to choose from, an a la carte menu, and the wildly popular Gospel Brunch, served from 12pm to 6pm every Sunday. The restaurant is also well known for its wide range of delectable desserts.
Address: Seel Street, Liverpool
Cuisine style: European
A popular Liverpool restaurant, offering a good balance between quality and price, the Pan-American Club offers a solid menu in a very stylish Dockside setting. Fare is mainly British and European in origin, offering featuring an interesting twist, such as monkfish tail served with lemon and tarragon risotto and garlic-roasted crevettes.
Address: Britannia Pavilion, Albert Dock, Liverpool
Liverpool John Lennon Airport
Location: The airport is situated seven miles (11km) southeast of Liverpool.
Contacts: Tel: +44 (0)870 129 8484.
Time Zone: GMT (GMT +1 between the last Sunday in March and the Saturday before the last Sunday in October).
Departure tax: None.
Facilities: There are shops, bars and restaurants at the airport. Other facilities include bureaux de change, children's play areas, WiFi and Internet kiosks, business facilities (including fax and internet) and tourist information. Disabled facilities are good; those with special needs should contact their airline in advance.
Parking: Short-term parking at Liverpool John Lennon Airport is charged at Â£5 for the first hour, Â£7 for two hours, Â£13 for four hours, Â£25 for 12 hours and Â£30 per day. Long-term parking starts at Â£30 per day, and charges Â£45 for two days, Â£55 for three days, and Â£5 per day thereafter.
Transfer to the city: Airlink buses operate to the city centre and to local rail and bus stations for further travel. Tickets are Â£2 and buses leave from the front of the Airport Terminal Building. Liverpool South Parkway is the nearest rail station to the Airport serving the local/regional rail network. Liverpool Lime Street services local, regional and mainland services. Both have bus links with the Airport. Taxis are also available.
Car rental: Car rental companies include National, Europcar, Hertz, Avis and Enterprise.
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