Wondering what’s so good about Liverpool? As a former resident of this characterful city, I can say wholeheartedly that it’s one of the warmest, most exhilarating locations in northern England.

It’s a place where party animals, history lovers and shopaholics all live in harmony, where uniqueness is always celebrated and where civic pride isn’t mere rhetoric. 

Liverpool's compact, attraction-filled center makes it an easy place to explore. The city is an ever-popular destination, so a little bit of pre-planning will go a long way. Here are a few things to know before going to Liverpool. 

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Two days gives you a taste of Liverpool, and four gives you the full works

Liverpool’s easy access from cities around England via train makes it an excellent weekend destination. A couple of days is ideal if you want to fit in a museum, soak up the grandeur of the Georgian Quarter and sample the city’s buzzing nightlife. 

If you really want to do the city justice, staying for four or five days is a better bet. This amount of time lets you explore more of Liverpool's top neighborhoods and even throw in a day trip or two. Why not hop across the Mersey River on the ferry to New Brighton where you’ll find one of Liverpool’s best beaches

Farther afield, the National Trust's Speke Hall near John Lennon Airport is a Tudor masterpiece, while historic Chester – with its Roman-era walls – is only 40 minutes away by train.

Avoid visiting on game days

Liverpool has two professional soccer teams (Liverpool FC and Everton), meaning the city hosts twice as many home games. On match days, footie fans descend on the city in droves and make everything from public transport to pubs a whole lot busier. 

Game days can also push the price of accommodations up, so it’s always worth booking in advance. Unless you’re joining the hordes heading to Anfield or Everton stadiums, you may want to plan your trip for another time altogether. 

Interior of the Museum of Liverpool looking out over the Three Graces in Liverpool, England
Grab tickets to the city's museums, including the Museum of Liverpool, before you visit © Ian G Dagnall / Alamy

Book your museum slots in advance

Visiting museums – whether that’s the futuristic Museum of Liverpool or the treasure-packed World Museum – is easily one of the best free things to do in Liverpool. While most are free to visit, you might come across temporary or touring exhibits that require paid tickets. For these, it’s a good idea to pre-book, especially on weekends or during the school holidays. 

Want to learn more about Liverpool’s famous Fab Four? The award-winning Beatles Story attraction at the Royal Albert Dock is essential viewing, and booking tickets in advance is always worthwhile. 

The same goes for certain seasonal events. For example, Liverpool Cathedral often hosts fascinating art installations in its impressive interiors. They’re usually free (donations welcome), but you may still want to reserve a time slot online beforehand.  

Prepare to party – or keep your distance on weekends

Liverpool is a hotspot for bachelor and bachelorette parties, with groups of guys and tiara-wearing ladies traveling from far and wide to sample its eclectic nightlife scene. 

While weekends take center stage thanks to seemingly endless club events and music gigs, you’ll still find a lively atmosphere during the week. This is partly down to the city’s large student population and partly the locals’ fondness for a good time, whatever the day or occasion. 

Hoping for a quieter Friday or Saturday evening? Steer clear of neighborhoods like Ropewalks (home to the riotous Concert Square) and the stretch of Irish pubs, karaoke venues and music venues – including the world-famous Cavern Club – along Mathew Street. 

Lark Lane near Sefton Park and the Royal Albert Docks both offer a more chilled evening out. You could also combine tasty food with well-made cocktails at indoor markets like the Baltic Market or Duke Street Market.

Don’t be surprised if a stranger strikes up a conversation

Unlike some larger UK cities (I’m looking at you, London), Liverpool’s locals are always welcoming to tourists and typically happy to converse, whether you’re waiting for a bus or grabbing a drink at a bar. 

Struggling to understand the iconic, albeit thick, Scouse accent? It happens to the best of us (and it’s nothing to be ashamed of). Just politely ask the person you’re chatting with to repeat themselves. They’re unlikely to be offended.

Never mock the Scouse accent

Scousers are a friendly bunch. Nevertheless, a few things are considered bad etiquette in Liverpool. 

A mash-up of Irish, Welsh and Lancashire inflections has helped create the masterpiece that is the Scouse accent. While you’ll enjoy hearing snippets of it as you wander around the city, never try to copy it. Why? You’ll likely fail, plus it’s simply bad manners. 

Scousers love getting dressed up

Jeans and a nice top won’t normally cut it when it comes to a night out in Liverpool. Locals make a mammoth effort to dress up, no matter the occasion, so don’t be surprised if you spot a few ladies going about their business in the daytime with curlers in their hair. 

That’s not to say you can’t go for a more casual dress code. Many venues, including those in the Baltic Triangle, have a laid-back vibe where anything from distressed denim to sparkling sequins goes. 

Blurred people walking on Mathew Street in Liverpool at night
Go out with a group to enjoy Liverpool's nightlife © littleny / Getty Images

Stay in a group and drink responsibly

It’s easy to get caught up in Liverpool’s lively party culture. While you’re at liberty to drink what and however much you like, be aware of your limits. Heading to the city for a big night out? Go with a friend or in a group, and keep an eye on your drinks at all times because spiking isn’t uncommon. 

Stick to the city center or waterfront after dark

In general, Liverpool is safe. Nevertheless, like any big city, it’s best to be aware of your surroundings at night or when you're alone. Stick to busier areas, such as the city center and Albert Dock, where help is always at hand. Take a taxi – don’t walk – if you’re venturing farther afield in the dark. 

Is Liverpool safe for the LGBTIQ+ community?

Liverpudlians’ natural warmth and friendliness extends to the LGBTIQ+ community. The city has its own Pride Quarter (in and around Stanley Street) where you’ll find myriad colorful and inclusive bars and clubs.

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