There’s More to Liverpool Than The Beatles — A First Timer’s Guide

best things to do liverpool

You won’t find anywhere quite like Liverpool. Liverpudlians, as they call themselves, love their city, and as a tourist, it’s hard not to be infected by their patriotism. From birthing  The Beatles and other iconic musicians, to being the birthplace of global trade and exploration during the 18th and 19th centuries, Liverpool has always been at the forefront of culture, and if you ask a Liverpudlian, they will happily confirm that.

Although beyond its iconic past, the city pulses with modern energy as a vibrant up-and-coming destination. After recently hosting Eurovision, thousands descended upon the music city, discovering its trendy neighbourhoods, burgeoning food scene and lively arts landscape.

One would say it’s been revived, and we agree. So we decided to visit the historic waterfront city to uncover the spirit that makes it a desired destination for travellers seeking both tradition and trend.

best things to do liverpool

History and Architecture

Walk Along Royal Albert Dock

Royal Albert Dock, once a UNESCO World Heritage site, should be your first stop when you arrive in Liverpool to get your bearings. Once buzzed with ships unloading cargoes from around the world, the revitalised dock is now a vibrant cultural hub, preserving the past while keeping up with the present.

The cobbled walkways will lead you to the striking red-brick warehouses repurposed to house museums, galleries, shops, and restaurants. From the Tate Liverpool, showcasing modern and contemporary art, to the Merseyside Maritime Museum, delving into the city’s seafaring history, every corner reveals a new facet of Liverpool’s character.

Marvel at Neo-Gothic Architecture of Liverpool Cathedral

Liverpool Cathedral, also known as the Liverpool Cathedral Church of Christ, stands as a towering testament to human creativity, spirituality, and architectural grandeur. This awe-inspiring structure is one of the city’s most iconic landmarks and definitely worth a peek into.

Beyond its religious significance, Liverpool Cathedral also serves as a cultural hub, hosting events ranging from choral performances to art exhibitions. Its breathtaking panoramic views from the tower’s vantage point allow visitors to marvel at the city’s skyline and the River Mersey.

best things to do liverpool
Photo: Dave Thompson/Getty Images

Music and Tours

British Music Experience

Step into the beat of British musical history at the British Music Experience. This immersive journey takes you on a melodic odyssey through the vibrant tapestry of British rock and pop music. From the iconic melodies of The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, and Bowie to the chart-topping hits of The Spice Girls, Oasis, Adele, and even the contemporary wave of talents like X-Factor stars, the museum boasts an unparalleled collection of costumes, instruments, photographs, and captivating footage.

The Beatles Story

Everything you need to know about The Beatles is neatly packaged inside The Beatles Story Museum, located in the heart of Liverpool. Immerse yourself in the early years of the Fab Four as the museum recreates the humble beginnings that led to their meteoric ascent. Wander through meticulously recreated settings, from the famous Cavern Club, where they first rocked the stage, to the historic Abbey Road Studios, where their groundbreaking albums were recorded.

Music Tour of the City 

Want an insider’s perspective of the music city? Trust Charley. Charley stands out as the sole Green Badge tour guide in the UK, equipped with a Master’s Degree in The Beatles and Popular Music. As the founder of Livertours Liverpool, Charley’s expertise brings a unique dimension to your experience. Traverses the city’s musical heritage, encompassing renowned venues and historical sites. You will visit the iconic Camp and Furnace venue and M&S Bank Arena, which hosted Eurovision 2023, to connect with Liverpool’s musical significance. Charley will also take you to Bridwell Pub, once a rehearsal haven for Frankie Goes to Hollywood and frequented by none other than Charles Dickens.

The Cavern Club

Is there anywhere more iconic than The Cavern Club? Follow the red neon sign down a dark sketchy staircase to find Liverpool’s underground heartbeat. The club’s storied stage has hosted countless iconic performances — including The Beatles, who made it their second home — making it a pilgrimage site for music enthusiasts worldwide. The intimate atmosphere and low arched ceiling with the spirit of the 1960s is electric, intoxicating, and a must-visit in Liverpool. Duck across the quarter to Cavern Restaurant for a classic steakhouse feed before a gig.

Baltic Triangle

From its iconic street art to its bustling markets and buzzing nightlife, the Baltic Triangle is often overlooked by travellers, but if you’re into music, art, and edge, add it to your to-do list. Formerly an industrial area, it has transformed into a vibrant neighbourhood pulsating with artistic energy. This district, nestled between the waterfront and the city centre, thrives on its independent spirit, offering a mix of art galleries, studios, live music venues, including Camp and Furnace, and innovative eateries. One such eatery is Lu Ban, a sleek, modern venue highlighting the flavours of the Chinese region of Tianjin. Please do yourself a favour and order the hot and sour soup; it’s a signature.

best things to do liverpool
Photo: Barnacle

Food and Drink

Duke Street Market

Forget everything you know about food halls because Duke Street Market is a melting pot of cuisines, all under one industrial-chic roof. While still casual, the eateries are a step up from your taco truck and street food stand. Instead, expect vibrant players of Latin American favourites, Italian pizzerias, steak from Bone and Block, Liverpool’s favourite steak restaurant, and fish and chips, served with three kinds of condiments.

Upstairs is a casual fine dining restaurant, Barnacle, helmed by The Art School’s Paul Askey. Here, the menu heroes fresh, organic, and local ingredients, with drinks inspired by the port’s history. Each artfully presented dish is a mosaic of colour, taste and texture. Think Ward’s Peterhead hake with tomato, green strawberries, gooseberry and borlotti beans. Barnacle is a good place to start if you’re looking for something special or something unique.

Ma Boyles

If there is only one place you go for lunch, make it Ma Boyles. A stone’s throw from the Albert Dock, Ma Boyles is more than just a pub — it’s a living testament to Liverpool.

This iconic establishment has been a beloved haunt since the 19th century, offering a place to unwind, share stories, and enjoy hearty fare with its wood-panelled interiors and maritime-themed décor. The timeless charm harks back to a seafaring past, with a menu reflecting that, including serving up traditional British dishes and seafood delights, including fish and chips and a classic Scouse (British stew).

best things to do liverpool
Photo: Radisson Hotels

Where to Stay

Liverpool, like most cities, has its neighbourhoods. There’s the Baltic Triangle, Albert Docks, Ropewalks and the city centre. Choosing a hotel requires some research, depending on what you want to see. However, our top pick is Radisson RED Liverpool, a vibrant and contemporary haven that embodies the city’s dynamic spirit.

The sleek and stylish rooms offer a perfect blend of comfort and urban flair, providing a comfortable retreat to sink into after a long night in the quarter. You will find panoramic views of Liverpool’s skyline from the rooftop bar and terrace. Inside, take some time to look around the art-filled public spaces, where you can immerse yourself in all things Beatles and culture.

Related: Find the Beat of Manchester With This Music Lover’s Guide to the City

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