Europe,  UK

10 Things to Do in Liverpool… That Aren’t Beatles-Related

There’s an abundance of things to do in Liverpool – way too much to pack into just one weekend break. We show you our 10 top Liverpool attractions, without a Beatle in sight…

First, let’s get this clear – I love The Beatles. I’m an obsessive, in fact. But if you’re going to Liverpool on the trail of The Fab Four you won’t need my help. This blog is about the other things on offer; and what a lot there is to see and do…

Liverpool, the second city of empire, has a maritime history beyond compare. It grew rich on international trade and the industrial revolution and made poor by the Second World War. Nazi bombers decimated the metropolis, reducing much of its heart to a blackened husk, robbing the city of its overhead railway and some of the finest marine architecture ever built. But importantly, it wasn’t robbed of its inherent character. Make no mistake – Liverpool has a unique heartbeat. 

So why visit? Well, there’s a lot going on. So much, in fact, that you’ll not be able to pack it all in over a long weekend. It’s a matter of picking and choosing – a task made all that bit harder because the options are just so good.

10 things to do in Liverpool

So let’s start off in the Royal Albert Dock, a thriving jumble of history, art and places to eat and drink. There’s a day’s worth of activity within its bounds including Liverpool Tate (my visit coincided with an excellent Lucien Freud exhibition) and the Maritime Museum, which also includes The International Slavery Museum. It was all free, except for the Freud, and it’s all very good. In fact, the Maritime Museum really is something very special indeed and only a soulless bigot could remain unmoved by the history of the slave trade. 

It’s also worth booking the Old Dock Tour, which leaves from outside the Maritime Museum. It was a real highlight of my time in the city – the tour guides were amazing and the story they told was simply awe-inspiring. What remains of the world’s first commercial wet dock might not be much to look at but the history around its construction and its importance to Liverpool – no dock, no city – will keep you entertained for an hour. Don’t skip this – it’s really that good.

Your last stop at the docks is a bus tour of the city. I took the red (of course) Liverpool City Sights bus as it looked the best of the three options and I wasn’t disappointed. The 90 minute journey takes you across town, past the cathedrals, out to Sefton Park, with stops at Penny Lane and Strawberry Fields (I fibbed when I said there were no Beatles on this trip), and our guide was simply brilliant. Top tip – sit upstairs at the front where it’s covered, it’ll save you getting swiped by a tree branch – Liverpool has lots of leafy suburbs.

Discover more great ideas for UK weekend breaks!

Explore a secret underground base!

Things to do in Liverpool

The Western Approaches Museum was another unexpected highlight. Set in a secret underground headquarters, this brilliant time capsule brings to life the role played by the city during World War II. The convoys that crisscrossed the Atlantic, keeping Britain supplied, were beset by U-Boats and it was here that they were tracked in an attempt to keep the merchant seaman safe. I found it really moving; make no mistake, this secret military base helped ensure Britain’s safety between 1939 and 1945. 

The World Museum, which was hosting a special exhibition on AI when I called in, is another marvel. It’s a mix of science and natural history with a large assortment of anthropological and archaeological items, too. It’s everything I love packed carefully into one building, complete with a mini aquarium. Mummies, dinosaurs, fish, African art, space travel and a great selection of oriental objects.

It’s a box of delights worthy of everyone’s time. It’s also next door to the Walker Art Gallery where I saw a fabulous, world class Walter Sickert exhibition. According to the gallery’s blurb it contains beautiful paintings, sculpture and decorative art from the 13th century to the present day. I can’t argue with that – it’s another impressive treasure trove that shouldn’t be missed.

Don’t miss the Liverpool Museum

Things to do in Liverpool

Last but by no means least, there’s The Liverpool Museum, a fascinating journey through the great city’s past. It gives a real insight into why the city is how it is and you leave with a proper taste of the character of its citizens. During my visit there was an exhibition of photos of the Liverpool blitz that was a real eye-opener. 

Retail therapy

After absorbing all this culture and history you’ll probably fancy a little retail therapy. Behind the docks is a monumental, shiny shopping centre – a massive collection of high street and high class retail outlets, if that’s your thing. It’s not mine so I headed over to Red Brick Vintage, an indoor market that reminded me of London’s long lost Kensington Market.

Old tat, kitsch whatnots, vintage clothes, old vinyl and that unmistakable smell of ‘stuff’ combine to create a treat for the senses. There are also bars outside, which looked pretty good. Sadly, I didn’t have time to stay and see for myself. Next time…

Things to do in Liverpool – there’s so much more!

And there will be a next time as I failed to see everything I wanted. I didn’t get to the British Music Experience, The Beatles Story, Liverpool Beatles Museum, The Cavern Club or The Williamson Tunnels, which look absolutely amazing – an underground world created by in the early 19th Century by an eccentric by the name of Joseph Williamson. 

Liverpool is a truly great city that deserves your time and attention. It’s a treat for all the senses as it boasts some great bars and restaurants, too. Better still, it won’t break the bank, either. Put simply, it’s fab!

Things to do in Liverpool

This is a guest post by Anthony Clark, journalist, copywriter and longtime friend of the Ladies What Travel team. He loves beer, cheese and travel and is a genius when it comes to making the most of his annual leave.

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