Once Britain and its Empire’s second most influential port, Liverpool endured economic decline after losing its prominent position and gained notoriety in the early ’80s for a summer of riots. Urban renewal projects have sculpted a new Liverpool – a Liverpool that has moved away from a maritime-based industry and towards creativity and a flourishing arts scene. Talk today invariably leads to football, The Beatles and first-rate nightlife. A weekend in Liverpool should give most a taste of these offerings with history, culture and sporting enthusiasts alike finding enough in the city to have their needs met and most probably exceeded.
Destinations and quite often, the people who live in them, can leave an imprint on the traveller and a long-lasting fondness. As a Liverpudlian living in London once said to me, visit Liverpool and “talk to people you’ll think have always been friends.”
When to Visit Liverpool
England, in the main, is not a holiday destination that relies on its weather, the North West in particular. There’s a fair chance of rain all year round, with the summer months probably your best bet at avoiding it. This coincides with higher average temperatures which are likely to be in and around the 20-degree mark. August sees the most significant intake of visitors.
The English football season runs for nine months from August through to May, and this may impact one’s decision to visit Liverpool at particular times. Expect a busier city centre and a clamour for hotel rooms if Liverpool FC and to a lesser extent, the city’s other Premier League team, Everton, are playing at home.
For those considering a stadium tour, it may be necessary to see which packages still run on match days. This could include midweek for cup and European games, so it’s probably a good idea to check the fixture list before making plans. Liverpool FC’s stadium, Anfield, becomes a music venue in the summer, so again, may affect those who plan to visit.
A thriving music scene makes Liverpool an ideal host for festivals. Sound City, in Liverpool’s Baltic Triangle, is a three-day independent, new music festival and conference which runs in May. This is followed by the Liverpool International Music Festival which brings together household names and new acts for a couple of days in July. To top it off, International Beatleweek runs in August — a week-long tribute and celebration to Liverpool’s most successful music export, The Beatles.
Getting To and Around Liverpool
Whether it’s by road, rail, air, or sea, one will find a way of getting to and from Liverpool that shouldn’t be too convoluted.
The north-south running M6 is less than an hour away, with tributary motorways acting as the main routes into the city when driving or arriving by coach.
Rail travellers from outside Merseyside and the North West will disembark at Liverpool Lime Street, which is conveniently centrally located. Click here to view bus & train timetables for your journey.
Liverpool has its own airport, named after John Lennon. Onward transport to the city should be fairly straightforward with either a direct bus, a train from Liverpool South Parkway (which can be accessed via a shuttle from the airport), or taxi. If coming from outside of Europe, then Manchester Airport, named after Manchester, could be a suitable arrival point owing to the fact that trains and coaches can get to Liverpool in around an hour, or 45 minutes if travelling by car.
With it being a port city, you’d expect to be able to arrive by sea, which is possible although limited with routes to and from Belfast, Dublin and the Isle of Man. Cruise ships do stop on the waterfront also. The famous ‘Ferry Cross The Mersey‘ connects Liverpool’s pier to the Wirral and is considered a tourist attraction just as much as a form of public transport. They also offer a 50-minute hop-on, hop-off cruise.
Once in Liverpool, exploring what the city has to offer can be achieved in a number of ways. Merseyrail runs the metro system and provides a variety of passes and tickets for individuals and families alike. The integrated ‘Plusbus’ system allows users to combine metro and bus travel on one ticket.
Reasonably priced taxis are abundant, and bike hire is an alternative and supported by the availability of city cycle route maps and parking at major venues. They can also be taken on public transport, should the legs get weary.
The good news for those who like to see a place on foot is that Liverpool is suitably sized for such an endeavour. Many attractions are within, what I would call at least, a reasonable walking time. The waterfront and docks, for example, are only about 20 minutes or so from Lime Street Station. With it being easy to walk the streets of Liverpool, one may say “You’ll Never Walk Alone.” But I’m not going to say that…
Weekend in Liverpool Itinerary
So a weekend in Liverpool is on the cards. Now, what does one or should one do? Well, naturally you’ll have your own interests and therefore ideas as to how you’d like to spend your 48 hours in Liverpool. This two-day itinerary, however, should cover some of the things the city — and, to an extent, Merseyside in general — is best known for, including things that will leave you having had a hit of history, a prime cut of culture, and maybe even a pan of scouse.
Liverpool Itinerary: Day One
The Royal Albert Dock
The docks on the River Mersey are what made the city it is today, so they are the ideal place to start one’s weekend in Liverpool. Opened in 1846, the Albert Dock allowed the rapid turnaround of ships and their cargo, making Liverpool one of the greatest maritime cities in the world. After World War II, the area underwent a steady decline, was silted and eventually abandoned.
Investment in the 1980s breathed new life into the dock — UNESCO World Heritage Status was achieved with cargo and merchant ships replaced with private moorings, museums, exhibitions, shops and restaurants.
One could probably spend the day here but could well end up with information overload or ‘exhibit sickness,’ the cure for which is a meal, drink and a walk. Speaking of food, if you decide not to eat in one of the museums or galleries, then numerous restaurants are dotted on and around the dock. Thai, Italian, Cuban, Catalan and British cuisine, amongst others, can all be sampled and there’s even a pirate-themed pub — the seafaring type as opposed to the software variety.
With so much to see or do, it’ll be a case of mixing and matching what suits. And anyway, most of it’s free, so you can always come back.
Merseyside Maritime Museum
For those wanting to discover more about the city’s nautical past during their weekend in Liverpool then the Merseyside Maritime Museum should be the first port of call. Discover in-depth how Liverpool’s fate as city ran parallel with that of the docks.
All manner of artefacts, objects and models, alongside actual sized ships tell the story of the port and its importance for trade and the subsequent impact on the lives of those connected to it, which at its height, would have been pretty much everyone. There’s an exhibition dedicated to the RMS Titanic, with items from the sunken cruise liner washed, cleaned and on display.
Some events and exhibits are tailored towards children, and the museum runs tours of the Old Dock (currently) 3 days a week.
Food-wise, there’s an in house, fine dining restaurant which overlooks the waterfront, and also a café should one need just a quick break. Entry to the museum is free.
The International Slavery Museum
Having acquainted oneself with the city’s maritime exploits, the next step is to delve further into one particular aspect of its history during your weekend in Liverpool. Within the Merseyside Maritime Museum stands the International Slavery Museum. The economic activity surrounding the transatlantic slave trade once aided Liverpool’s growth and prosperity, and so the museum is aptly located.
Several themes coalesce. One can learn about West African culture and traditions, how slavery as a trade functioned and the harrowing conditions people were forced to endure in the name of commerce. The narrative continues into how black culture has influenced western society since the trade’s abolition and then into the modern era, where slavery and discrimination are still prevalent.
This is a place that educates and is a place to contemplate- something perhaps rare during a weekend city break.
Time for some art. Time for some Tate. Akin to its namesake in London and St Ives in Cornwall, Tate Liverpool brings together collections of modern pieces. As one may expect from an art gallery, it combines permanent exhibitions from artists like Lowry, with those of a more temporary nature, some of which have previously featured the works of Warhol, Monet and Picasso.
Galleries rarely just offer the visitor a passive experience, and Tate Liverpool is no different. That’s still possible if that’s what you’re happy doing, but additionally, there are opportunities to take in a talk or get more hands-on and creative in a practical workshop.
Oh, and again it’s free, although there may be a fee for major exhibitions.
The Beatles Story
The Royal Albert Dock is also a good place for Beatles fans to indulge a little before heading off to see some of the landmarks they made famous through song. “What’s a regenerated dock have to do with one of the world’s best-known bands?” you may be saying. Well, it’s where one will find ‘The Beatles Story,’ the plot being the journey of the Fab Four on their road to stardom. It’s won awards so it should be good.
As one might expect, there’s a mountain of memorabilia to get through with original instruments and song lyrics on display. They’ve even put together a replica Cavern Club, although you could just go and see the real one which isn’t too far away.
Unfortunately, this one isn’t free but you can purchase skip-the-line tickets in advance to avoid any potential queues.
Sea air, sights and seagulls. A walk along the waterfront to or from (or to and from if you fancy it) the Albert Dock is a fine way to view some of Liverpool’s most famous buildings. Take it at your own pace- there are plenty of eateries and watering holes along the way.
The Cunard Building, the Port of Liverpool Building and the Royal Liver Building make up what are called the ‘Three Graces.’ The Royal Liver Building is the city’s most recognised landmark. Grade I-listed, its towers act as perches for the Liver Birds, the city’s emblem. ‘Bella’ and ‘Bertie’ are the subject of numerous local legends. It’s said if they ever flew away, Liverpool will be no more. Something tells me it’s unlikely, after all, inanimate objects can’t fly.
For the first time, the public can now access the building with a new ‘Royal Liver Building 360’ tour with views of Liverpool and/or the Mersey in every one of the 360 degrees available.
Opposite lies Pier Head which is where one will catch the ‘ferry cross the Mersey’. While waiting, take a photo next to The Beatles Statue. Or sit on a bench and admire the view, up to you.
The Baltic Triangle
Just behind the waterfront lies a former industrial area known as the Baltic Triangle, although it could as easily be called the ‘creative quarter.’ Taking its name from formerly strong industrial ties to Scandinavian and Baltic countries, warehouses and disused buildings have been refurbished and recycled with new inhabitants turning their hand to innovative start-up businesses, quirky cafés, bars and clubs.
The Baltic Street Market teems with outlets selling street food made by locals and has proven very popular since its inception in 2017.
If one wants to try a native dish though, then in Liverpool that’ll be ‘Scouse’ which typically contains a form of meat, potatoes, vegetables and herbs. It’s usually served with crusty bread and/or red cabbage, with some places offering a vegetarian/vegan version.
Liverpool Itinerary: Day Two
With one day in Liverpool over, here are some ideas to while away day two…
Liverpool FC Stadium Tour
As match tickets are often hard to come by, fans of football — and Liverpool FC especially — can still get inside and explore Anfield as part of a tour. Although one may not get to replicate the atmosphere only a live game can provide, the tour still has much to offer.
The club has different packages to choose from, ranging from the basic to a question and answer session with a former Liverpool player. There is a tour that does run on match days although you won’t get to see a game nor the players’ changing rooms. Visitors can pre-purchase tickets here.
Highlights for Liverpool fans are everywhere, although I expect touching the ‘This is Anfield’ sign and taking a few photos of all 6 European Cups will rank quite highly. Tickets also allow access to the club’s interactive museum.
As an alternative, Everton’s ground lies just across Stanley Park from Anfield, which is the closest they seem to get to the reds these days. Goodison Park is very much a ‘classic’ British football stadium, tours of which and a ‘legends’ experience can be purchased.
Sefton Park can accommodate those fancying a casual walk and a bit of greenery during their weekend in Liverpool, or a more deliberate visit if seeking some exotic plant life. Open almost all year round, it plays host to both the Liverpool International Music and Food and Drink Festivals.
With over 200 acres to enjoy, it’s not just a bit of grass, a few trees and a swing. There are statues, a boating lake and arguably the glass-panelled jewel in the crown, the Sefton Park Palm House. Built in 1896 and now fully restored, this beautiful building houses the Liverpool Botanical Collection featuring plants from 5 continents and over 20 different types of palm. Well, it is a palm house…
Of course, there has to be something Beatles related in Sefton Park. I mean, this is Liverpool after all. Here it’s the Victorian style bandstand, which supposedly provided the inspiration for the song Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.
The Williamson Tunnels
Perhaps less common on a Liverpool itinerary are the Williamson Tunnels. Named after Joseph Williamson, known for being an eccentric businessman and philanthropist, the tunnels are an underground network, some 10 to 50 feet deep, in the Edge Hill area of Liverpool. Built in the 19th century, nobody to this day quite knows why they were constructed or the actual size of the area they cover.
Access is via the Williamson Tunnels Heritage Centre, and one can explore them on a 40-minute guided tour. Tickets can be pre-booked online.
The Beatles Tour
Even a casual admirer of The Beatles may have some interest in seeing the areas they felt compelled to write and sing about. The most famous of these are Penny Lane and Strawberry Fields, which can be visited as part of this 5-hour tour but are equally reachable on foot.
There’s also of course the Cavern Club, which is still very much integral to Liverpool’s music scene almost 60 years after it played host to The Beatles’ debut gig. You also have the option of combining a city tour with some Beatles history if you’re short on time during your weekend in Liverpool.
Have More Time?
That’s two days in Liverpool sufficiently dealt with, but if staying for longer, then there’s still much to occupy one’s time. If the Albert Dock’s museum offerings have been exhausted, then there’s the Museum of Liverpool just off Pier Head which could be combined with the walk along the waterfront.
Or pop across to the Wirral on the ferry, for the U-boat story with its very own segmented U-boat, U-534, on display. Another free attraction, The World Museum, takes on the task of telling the story of the history of Earth, but it won’t take a few billion years to get through it all.
Georgian townhouses with a cathedral at each end (the Anglican Cathedral being Britain’s biggest) constitute the Georgian Quarter in the Canning area of Liverpool. Hope Street is the focal point and a previous winner of the Academy of Urbanism’s ‘Best Street’ award. Fine dining and bistros are to be enjoyed in luxurious surroundings.
Further afield (but not that much further as it’s still a stop on Liverpool regional rail network) is the city of Chester. Walk the walls and discover the history of this once Roman settlement.
Where to Stay in Liverpool
Liverpool is a popular destination to visit and therefore, there are lots of accommodation options to choose from. If you’re wondering where to stay for your 2 days in Liverpool, have a look at these suggestions:
Sleep Eat Love – This hostel is a great option for both budget and solo travellers alike. It is centrally located near all of Liverpool’s best attractions, there are both dorm and private rooms available, clean facilities, and common areas to make meeting other travellers easy. Click here to check their availability
The Dolby Hotel – A mid-range hotel overlooking the Mersey, this is a great option for a place to stay in Liverpool. Centrally located within easy walking distance of some of the city’s best attractions, there are a range of clean and comfortable rooms available and there is also a hearty breakfast included in the room rate. Click here to check their availability
Titanic Hotel Liverpool – This high-end hotel is a fantastic choice if your budget allows for it. Located close to all of Liverpool’s main attractions and sites, this hotel has numerous amenities including an on-site spa and fitness centre, and a restaurant. There are a range of rooms available. Click here to check their availability
Private Rental – A private rental is is a great option if you would rather stay in a private apartment – like this comfortable flat in the centre of the city. There are a range of properties available in Liverpool – click here to browse the best private rentals in Liverpool.
Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse other hotels in Liverpool.
Mapping out the perfect weekend in Liverpool itinerary does not have to be a difficult task, with something to offer everyone from Beatles fans to football fanatics to everyone in between.
Are you planning on spending a weekend in Liverpool? Have you been? Let us know in the comments!