How to Spend a Weekend in Liverpool
With its beautiful architecture, world-class attractions and musical heritage, Liverpool is a great destination for a weekend away. Whether you’re a fan of the Fab Four, history buff or someone who is simply after a fantastic night out, this city has something for everyone. This guide will help you plan an unforgettable weekend in Liverpool.
Like many UK cities, Liverpool has seen dramatic changes in fortunes over the centuries. The first significant mention of Liverpool was in 1207, when King John granted a charter announcing the establishment of a new town. It remained relatively small until the 18th century when trading success with the West Indies and the Americas generated significant growth and expansion. The city was a major player in the transatlantic slave trade, so its past prosperity has a sombre side.
After World War II, as the country was experiencing a decline, Liverpool’s wealth and significance diminished also. The city saw its industries shrink and unemployment rise. In the second half of the 20th century, despite economic strife, Liverpool became famous for its vibrant music scene with the Beatles being its most famous export.
Today Liverpool continues to reinvent itself and is finally experiencing an economic revival. Investment is flowing into the city allowing it to revitalize abandoned areas and forge a new identity. It has become a popular tourist destination with numerous fun activities and attractions.
Read on to find out how to make the most of your weekend in Liverpool and experience the best that the city has to offer.
- Getting To and Around Liverpool
- Things To Do on a Weekend in Liverpool
- Where To Stay on Your Weekend in Liverpool
- Final Thoughts
- Related Reads
Getting To and Around Liverpool
Depending on where your journey starts, you can travel to Liverpool by coach, train or air. Liverpool John Lennon Airport is connected to many European cities, but if you’re coming from further afield than you might need to head to Manchester first. Both airports have train and bus networks to the city centre.
If you’re travelling from within the UK, taking the train is a great option since you will most likely arrive at the Lime Street station which is located right in the city centre. When we visited Liverpool for a weekend, we took the train from Manchester. The journey took us about an hour one way.
Liverpool’s city centre is compact and most attractions are located close to each other, so you can easily get around on foot. During our trip we never took public transport. However, if walking doesn’t appeal, there are buses that will help you to get around.
If you would like to visit the suburbs or the surrounding countryside, there is a network of trains and buses that will help you get there. The Merseytravel website offers comprehensive information about timetables, fares and available routes.
Things To Do on a Weekend in Liverpool
Visit Liverpool’s Museums & Art Galleries
Liverpool was named a European Capital of Culture for 2008 and with good reason. The city has a great selection of cultural offerings for every taste, including some excellent museums and art galleries.
You can learn about the fascinating history of the city at the Museum of Liverpool. It is housed in a contemporary stone clad building on the city’s waterfront. Entry is free. If you’re into natural sciences and history, add the impressive World Museum to your weekend in Liverpool itinerary. From astronomy and geology to antiquities and zoology, there are numerous exhibits to explore. Entry is free, except for special temporary exhibitions.
To learn about the seafaring history of Liverpool through the ages, head to the Maritime Museum. Through archives and objects such as ship models, paintings and actual boats, you can discover the historic significance of the city’s port. Admission is free. Located within the Maritime Museum building is the International Slavery Museum. It brings to light the history and legacy of a darker aspect of Livepool’s past, the transatlantic slave trade. The museum definitely provides a thought provoking experience. Entry is free.
Art lovers will enjoy the excellent collection of paintings, sculptures and decorative arts at Walker Art Gallery. From Renaissance and Victorian masterpieces to works by iconic modern and contemporary artists, the gallery showcases centuries of creative thought. Entry is free except for temporary exhibitions.
For cutting-edge contemporary and iconic modern art, head to Tate Liverpool. It is home to more than 80 works from the Tate Collection as well as temporary exhibitions featuring British and international artists. Entry to the Tate Collection is free. Temporary exhibitions may require a fee.
Connect With The Beatles
No visit to Liverpool will be complete without exploring the city’s connection to the Beatles. There are many ways to get your Fab Four fix there.
The Cavern Quarter is a destination that the Beatles fans can’t miss. This area is highly commercialized, but is still fun to visit, even if you’re not a Beatles mega-fan. The quarter is home to Mathew Street where the legendary Cavern Club is located. The band played nearly 300 gigs there. The original Cavern Club was actually closed in 1973 and later demolished. Thankfully, in the 1980s it was reconstructed on the same street using the bricks from the original site. Today, music lovers can drop by for a gig or a meal.
The Cavern Quarter features other Beatles themed pubs and restaurants, including the Cavern Pub, The Grapes and Sgt Peppers. You can also stay at the high end Hard Day’s Night Hotel, the world’s only Beatles themed hotel. The Cavern Quarter is also home to the Liverpool Beatles Museum where you can learn more about the Fab Four’s history through a collection of over 1000 items connected to the band. Adult tickets cost £15 (18 USD) per person and can be purchased here.
There is a second museum dedicated to the band called The Beatles Story. It tells the story of the band through recreations of the key locations associated with them as well as historic objects like George Harrison’s first guitar or John Lennon’s famous orange glasses. An audio guide is included as part of the experience. Adult tickets are £18 (22 USD) per person. You can buy them directly on the Beatles Story website or on GetYourGuide. If you opt for the latter, you’ll have a free cancellation option (up to 24 hours).
Explore The Royal Albert Dock
The Royal Albert Dock is a popular spot for locals and visitors alike located right on Liverpool’s waterfront. The dock began its life in the 19th century. It was originally a warehouse complex that accommodated the flow of international goods into the city. Just a century later the area’s fortunes changed. It was badly damaged during World War II and later became unsuitable for modern styles of freight transport and warehousing. Eventually, the Dock was fully abandoned.
It received a new lease of life in the 80s when an ambitious redevelopment project started to bring the area back to life. Today, the Dock is bustling with numerous bars, restaurants and shops. It is also home to the likes of Tate Modern, the Maritime Museum and The Beatles Story.
I highly recommend visiting the area on your weekend in Liverpool. On my last visit, I enjoyed both Tate Liverpool and the Beatles Story and you can definitely visit both in one day. In terms of dining, I suggest checking out Maray, a Liverpool staple that boasts an excellent menu of Middle-eastern inspired small plates. Another place that’s still on my list is Lerpwl, a creative fine dining establishment perfect for a special night out.
Check Out The Baltic Triangle
Another area that is worth a visit during your weekend in Liverpool is the Baltic Triangle. Just a short walk away from the Albert Dock, it is Liverpool’s creative heart. Originally, the Baltic Triangle was an industrial area where companies that traded with the Baltic countries were based (hence the name). In the 20th century it became derelict due to WWII bombing followed by Liverpool’s overall decline.
In the early 2,000s things began to change. Artists, musicians and other creatives started to move into the area. Gradually, abandoned industrial sites such as warehouses and former breweries were redeveloped into music and arts venues, offices, independent shops and eateries.
The Baltic Triangle is perfect for vintage shopping, street art spotting and dining. I especially recommend visiting the Baltic Market where you can taste international street food in a cool, arty setting. They even host live music sessions to make the experience even more fun.
While exploring Liverpool’s city centre, make sure to check out Chinatown, the oldest in Europe. A traditional Chinese ceremonial archway, also called paifang, marks the entry to the area. It is the tallest Chinese-style arch outside of mainland China.
Thanks to the many Chinese and pan-Asian restaurants on offer, Chinatown is a great stop-over for foodies. The area is also home to Chinese supermarkets and community organisations. Every February, Chinatown comes to life with vibrant Chinese New Year celebrations. Check them out if you are in Liverpool then.
See The Georgian Quarter
Experience the traditional elegance of Liverpool by visiting the Georgian Quarter. This part of the city features beautiful townhouses originally built for wealthy residents, cultural venues, traditional pubs and excellent eateries, from casual cafes to fine dining establishments like the Art School. You can find many of these on Hope Street, which has been named the best streets in the UK.
Hope Street also connects two famous cathedrals. At one end you will find the imposing Liverpool Cathedral. It is the biggest cathedral in Britain and the 5th largest in Europe. Built mainly from local sandstone, the cathedral is sure to delight architecture lovers with its beautiful stained-glass windows, tall arches and elegant chapels. You can even go up to the top of the tower to enjoy spectacular views over the city. Entry is free.
At the other end of Hope Street lies the Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral. Locally known as ‘Paddy’s Wigwam’, this catholic cathedral is, in contrast, a modernist architectural masterpiece. It boasts a unique layout designed to ensure that every worshiper could see the altar during religious services. The cathedral’s vaulted ceilings, colored glass and works of art contribute to its transcendental feel.
Best Tours for Your Weekend in Liverpool
If you’d like to learn more about the city and its history, there are plenty of great sightseeing tours you can join.
Liverpool has a network of Hop-on Hop-off buses that will take you to the key attractions around the city centre. These are great to get your bearings in a new location and reduce the amount of walking if you’re short on time. This bus tour on GetYourGuide also provides live commentary about the history of the city and its major landmarks.
If you’d like to experience Liverpool while enjoying a leisurely river cruise, look no further than the Mersey Ferry sightseeing cruise. It’s a great way to see the city’s iconic waterfront and learn about its major sights and connections to the Beatles.
Speaking of the Beatles, there is a tour that is sure to get the Fab Four’s fans excited. The Magical Mystery Bus Tour operated by the current owners of the Cavern Club, will take you on a 2-hour journey to see the key places associated with the band, including their childhood homes and spots that inspired many of their iconic songs.
Where To Stay on Your Weekend in Liverpool
If you’re staying in the city centre of Liverpool, you will be able to get to the main attractions quite easily. There are lots of options for every budget, from youth hostels to high end hotels. I recommend staying in the Albert Dock area, since it has a great atmosphere and you’ll be a stone’s throw away from many great museums and eateries. For instance, this Holiday Inn Express is located right within one of the historic docks.
On our weekend away in Liverpool, we stayed at the Ibis Liverpool Centre Albert Dock. It’s a budget hotel with a great location within an easy walk away to all the main attractions. The amenities are basic and the room was a little tired but it wasn’t a problem for us, since we spent most of our time exploring the city. Breakfast was decent and we enjoyed the fact that it was available until 12pm, allowing for a leisurely morning.
I normally use Booking.com to book my hotel stays. I think it’s the best accommodation booking platform currently available on the market. It offers flexibility, the best rates and a great range of accommodation options.
Spending a weekend in Liverpool is always a good idea. There’s lots to see and do and it’s easy to get around since the city is walkable. So, if you haven’t been, now is the time to book your trip.
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