25 things to do in Liverpool

You might know Liverpool as the home of The Beatles, but there is so much more to uncover in this charming city. Liverpool has got one of the largest collections of Grade I listed buildings in the UK and Britain’s largest cathedral. There's so much to do here, like watching a Liverpool FC game at Anfield, one of the most iconic football stadiums in the world, or delving into the past of Britain's most iconic band. Or alternatively, just having a really good night out. Here are our top things to keep you entertained on your visit.

Museums and arts

Beatles, music and entertainment

Culture and sights

Sports and activities

Eating and drinking

Shopping

Museums and arts

1. Visit the Museum of Liverpool

The Museum of Liverpool opened its waterfront doors in 2011 and is the largest newly-built national museum in the UK for over a hundred years. You'll find 10,000 years worth of history here, with particularly strong archaeology and transport sections.

2. Marvel at the mummies in the World Museum

The World Museum has thousands of exhibits sourced from across the planet, including Egyptian artifacts, meteorites from Mars and an Allosaurus skeleton. They also have live creatures, including an aquarium and bug house to explore. If you want to leave planet earth, then reach for the stars at Spaceport, they have rides, a theatre and an observatory. 

3. Go into a World War II bunker

At the Liverpool War Museum, you can walk through the wartime bunker that played an important part in one of WWII's major sea conflicts - the Battle of the Atlantic. Bomb and gas proof, and made up of 100 rooms under a seven foot roof, the bunker is just as it was when they closed the doors at the end of the war.    

4. Explore Merseyside's maritime history

The Merseyside Maritime Museum on the Albert Dock takes you through the city's links with the Titanic and its 300-year-old waterfront trade history. However, one of the tragic developments of this roaring maritime trade was Britain's role in the rise of slavery. The International Slavery Museum is housed in the same building and not only looks to the past, but to contemporary slavery and human rights. 

5. Head to Crosby Beach and see Another Place, an art installation

Merseyside’s most affecting art installation is not to be found in Liverpool’s famous art galleries, but rather on a stretch of sandy beach 9km north of the city centre. Crosby Beach was an innocuous, if picturesque, spot until the arrival in 2005 of Antony Gormley’s haunting Another Place sculptures, spread along more than two miles of the shore. An eerie set of a hundred life-size cast-iron statues, each cast from Gormley’s own body, are buried at different levels in the sand, all gazing blankly out to sea and slowly becoming submerged as high tide rolls in. After similar exhibitions in Germany and Norway, the installation proved controversial upon its appearance on Merseyside, and it was initially ruled that the sculptures would be removed before the council decreed that they could stay in 2007. To add to the sculptures’ bleak beauty, nature is beginning to reclaim some of them as they grow thick with barnacles and algae. To reach Another Place, it’s a 20-minute train journey from Liverpool Central to Blundellsands and Crosby station, from where a 10 minute walk takes you down to the beach and the statues.  

Beatles, music and entertainment

6. Discover the Beatles Story

The lives and legacy of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr, collectively know as The Beatles, still looms large over Liverpool. The Beatles Story is where you'll find replicas of the places they played their gigs at (such as the Cavern Club) and more memorabilia. There's not much to actually see at Penny Lane or Strawberry Fields, but if you're fan, you can still get a snap of the street sign.  

7. Wander down the world-famous Penny Lane

Surely the most famous single road in Liverpool, Penny Lane was immortalised by The Beatles song of the same name in 1967. Written primarily by Paul McCartney, the song actually conflates several scenes, not all from Penny Lane itself, which McCartney remembered from his childhood bus journeys to Lennon’s house and into Liverpool - he would change buses at Penny Lane interchange, where “the pretty nurse is selling poppies from a tray”. The famous barbershop from the first verse is still there (it’s called Tony Slavin), although the “fireman with an hourglass” appears to have relocated in the half-century since the song was written. At the quieter southern end of the road, you’ll find the most elaborately doodled-on Penny Lane road signs (Paul himself is said to have scribbled his name on one of them).

8. Take a selfie with a sculpture

Liverpool has the most public sculptures of any city in the UK, after London. Local sculptor Tom Murphy is responsible for most of them. He's created works for both football clubs entrances, Dixie Dean at Goodison Park and Bill Shankley at Anfield, as well as John Lennon, which can be seen at the airport, and Billy Fury. 

9. Get tickets for a gig or concert

The Echo Arena Liverpool was purpose built and opened in 2008. They've hosted major music acts such as Beyoncé, as well as events like The MOBO Awards and Davis Cup tennis. St George's Hall provides everything from lunchtime tea dances to Sing-a-Long Rocky Horror Picture Shows in its neoclassical hall. For classical music, the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic is the place to be. You might even catch the world-renowned Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra there. The Arts Club was built in the 1800s. This Seel Street venue continues to attract some of the biggest names in indie and dance music.

10. Catch a play at the theatre

The Everyman Theatre has been developing new plays and putting on shows since it opened in the swinging sixties. The largest venue in the city for seeing touring West End shows, plays and opera is the Liverpool Empire Theatre. And while the Bluecoat specialises in contemporary arts, the building itself is 300 years old. To watch a play with a local cast and theme, visit The Royal Court. A large percentage of the proceeds from the plays goes back into the community. 

11. Be entertained at a comedy club

Liverpool has a rich comedy history, from the music hall mirth of Arthur Askey to modern day comedian John Bishop. There are plenty of comedy clubs around, including the Comedy Central Comedy Club at the Albert Dock, which is open Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. Laughterhouse has two venues, one at The Slaughter House and the other on Mathew Street showing comedy most weekends. 

Culture and sights

12. Stroll down river to the Liver Building

This is one of the most famous ports in the world. Take a stroll along the river and see the Pier Head and Albert Dock, both beautiful buildings with modern dock technology. You'll also find famous landmarks such as the Liver Building, home to world-class museums, art galleries, pubs and restaurants.  

13. Enter the Anglican Liverpool Cathedral

The Anglican Liverpool Cathedral looks much more ancient than the Metropolitan Cathedral, but was actually completed eleven years later, in 1978, after 74 years in construction. The last of the great British neo-Gothic structures, Sir Giles Gilbert Scott’s masterwork is vastly impressive in scale and claims a smattering of superlatives: Britain’s largest and the world’s fifth-largest cathedral, the world’s tallest Gothic arches and the highest and heaviest bells. Contemporary visual art adds to the unique feel of the cathedral, including a pink neon sign by Tracey Emin: “I Felt You And I Knew You Loved Me”. The bell tower is the world’s largest overall, and one of the tallest, looming at an impressive 331ft. It’s one of the most impressive free things to do in Liverpool for sure.  

14. Tick off historical Liverpool landmarks

The famous Three Graces, aka the Royal Liver Building, Port of Liverpool Building and Cunard Building, give Liverpool its distinctive skyline. One of the finest examples of neoclassical architecture in the world can also be found in the city. St George’s Hall is a Grade I listed building and was built at the beginning of the 19th century to hold music festivals. 

15. Visit the incredible Central Library in Liverpool

Next to the Walker Gallery, the city’s spectacular Central Library had a three-year, £50 million facelift back in 2013. Approached via a “Literary Pavement” celebrating the city’s considerable contribution to the written word, it centres on a stunning atrium crowned by an elliptical dome made of around 150 pieces of glass. Don’t miss the beautiful circular Picton Reading Room, which is among the most beautiful of its kind anywhere - the walls are lined with rich, dark wood shelving packed from floor to ceiling with books, and the room is circled around a monumental wooden pillar topped with a vast flower-shaped lamp, symbolising the illumination of knowledge (this was also the first British library to have fully electrified lighting). All the while, marble busts of Hugh Frederick Hornby and James Picton, for whom the library buildings are named, watch on sternly. In the Oak Room, you can’t miss the huge glass-cased copy of John James Audubon’s Birds of America, a seminal work of 19th-century naturalism illustrated by beautiful life-size prints. Six of the species included, among them the passenger pigeon and Labrador duck, are now sadly extinct. 

16. Visit the oldest Chinese community in Europe

Liverpool, a city twinned with Shanghai, has one of the oldest established Chinese communities in the world and Chinatown is the best place to get a feeel for this. Head here to get your fill in the authentic restaurants. The striking entrance was made in China and shipped over. It's 15m high and decorated with 200 dragons. 

17. See the cathedrals on Hope Street

Both of Liverpool's cathedrals can be found on Hope Street. The Gothic Liverpool Cathedral has sweeping arches, the largest organ in the UK, and the only 360˚ view of the city from the highest cathedral rooftop in Britain. So take the tower tour - you might even see Blackpool Tower on a clear day. Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral is also the largest Catholic cathedral in the county. It's unusual lantern tower and in-the-round design makes a striking contrast to its Anglican sister. To learn more about the beautiful buildings in Liverpool take an architectural tour with the experts at RIBA.

Sports and activities

18. Decide if you're a red or a blue

Visit at the weekend during football season and you'll see hordes of fans in either the red of Liverpool FC or the blue of Everton FC making their way to the grounds. One of the fiercest rivalries in sport, the Merseyside derbies are two of the most hotly anticipated games in the Premier League. You can take a tour of both stadiums - Goodison Park and Anfield. At Anfield, you can also visit their museum, The Liverpool FC Story at the same time. 

19. Enjoy the great outdoors in Sefton Park

A collaboration by local architect Lewis Hornblower and French landscape architect Édouard André, Sefton Park is 235 acres of gorgeous lakes, tree-shaded paths and daffodil fields – a gorgeous place to pass an hour or two of an afternoon. It’s one of the best free things to do in Liverpool. Looming over the northwest corner of the park is the Sefton Park Obelisk, built in red granite in honour of the 19th-century cotton broker, philanthropist and MP Samuel Smith. Close to the middle of the park is the Shaftesbury Memorial Fountain, also known as Eros – a replica of the fountain of the same name in London’s Trafalgar Square. Continuing southeast in this direction, you will reach the Palm House and then, on the eastern edge of the park, the Fairy Glen, an enchanting corner of woodland grottoes, streams and gentle waterfalls.  

20. Spot Snowdonia from the Radio City Tower

St Johns Beacon was originally built as chimney before becoming a studio for Radio City, Radio City 2 and Radio City 3 and now you can visit the panoramic platform. Converted from a 1970s restaurant and opened in 2011, the 450 foot high tower is a great way to see across the city and beyond to North Wales (on a clear day you might be able to see Mount Snowdon). 

21. Jump on a boat down the Mersey

One of the most famous songs written about a river, taking the Ferry Cross the Mersey remains one of the most popular things to do in Liverpool. Most of the cruises go hourly and you can stop off at some of the attractions along the way, or combine your ticket with entrances into museums like The Beatles Story. 

22. Take a trip to the seaside

The seaside town of Southport is only a short drive away. It's where you'll find one of the oldest piers in the country and 22 miles of sandy beaches. Crosby is even closer by train and car, and there you'll find the haunting work of Anthony Gormley, mentioned above. 

Eating and drinking

23. Try the local cuisine...

Liverpool's restaurant scene has had a bit of a revival in recent years. But there are still places you can try scouse (Liverpudlian stew), bubble and squeak and Wet Nelly for pudding. For fine dining, Liverpool has one Michelin-starred restaurant in the small village of Oxton - Restaurant Fraiche. If you wander down Hope Street and Bold Street in the city centre, you'll find plenty of restaurants to choose from. Alma de Cuba is popular, the building was converted from the St. Peters Catholic Church so it's got high ceilings, ornate fixtures and exposed brickwork. For lunch or dinner with a view, head to Panoramic 34 - it's one of the highest restaurants in Britain.

24. ...or just have a drink

The pubs and clubs make Liverpool one of the biggest party destinations in the UK. The Pilgrim cellar bar on the cobbled Pilgrim Street remains a popular spot, especially with students. Ye Hole in Ye Wall and The Lion are two historic boozers to have a drink in. For great cocktails and a nice atmosphere, head to The Alchemist or Berry and Rye. There's also quirky bars like The Merchant and Junkyard Golf Club for the late night crowd. 

Shopping

25. Browse boutiques and independent shops

Liverpool One, the open air shopping district, has high street and designer stores. The Met Quarter has luxury brands, as does Cavern Walks in Mathew Street for high-end boutiques and designers. You can also browse the independent stores along Bold Street.  

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