A grand city on a grand river, Liverpool was once a thriving home to industry and trade before post-war decline set in. Now with a rejuvenated waterfront and a soundtrack provided by the greatest band of all time, the city’s friendly character gives an added warmth to its wealth of unique attractions.

From the splendour of Pier Head and Sefton Park to the passion of its two famous football teams and the beat of the world-famous Cavern Club, Liverpool is a pulsating, happy city that doesn’t take itself too seriously.

Here are a few reasons why Liverpool is one of the best places to visit in England. 

Cross the Mersey in the best way possible

You’ve probably heard the song (and yes, it does briefly get played onboard), but if you want to see Liverpool’s famous skyline in all its glory then there’s no better introduction than taking the ferry ‘cross the Mersey. Choose the River Explorer cruise and, along with the great views, you’ll also hear an expert commentary throughout the 50-minute journey pointing out less-heralded sights such as the multiclock-faced Victoria Tower and the imposing Wallasey Town Hall.

Enjoy a 360-degree view from the city's most famous building

Topped by its two mythical Liver Birds and boasting clock faces larger than Big Ben, the majestic Royal Liver Building on Pier Head is perhaps Liverpool’s most iconic sight. 

Built in 1911, the Edwardian building soars to a height of 322 ft and it’s now possible to enjoy beautiful panoramic views of the city from its wind-whipped summit by taking the RLB360 tour. Just remember to hold onto any hats, as the strong gusts blasting in from the Mersey take no prisoners. 

Learn about Liverpool's past 

Despite its centuries-long, and continuing, impact on humanity there are not many museums that tell the story of the trans-Atlantic slave trade. Liverpool’s International Slavery Museum, however, depicts the horrors of the slave trade and acknowledges Liverpool’s own significant role as a port city during that time. 

Spread across three large rooms inside the Merseyside Maritime Museum, there is also a dedicated exhibition exploring the stories of the harrowing trans-Atlantic crossings. You won’t fully appreciate the history of Liverpool (or Britain) without a visit.

The interior of Liverpool Anglican cathedral
Be awed by the size and beauty of Liverpool's Anglican cathedral, Britain's largest religious building © Getty Images

Visit two very different cathedrals

Words like yawning and cavernous don’t really do justice to the scale of Liverpool Cathedral, Britain’s largest religious building. Constructed between 1904 and 1978 in a gothic revival style, it needs to be visited to appreciate its grandeur. Also, don’t miss the beautiful Lady Chapel in the southeastern corner of the main building

Just a short 10-minute walk north lies Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral, built for the city’s large Catholic community in the 1960s and one of Liverpool’s most distinct buildings. The outside may be eye-catching due to its conical shape but it's well worth going inside too. The colorful interior is striking, while downstairs the mysterious Lutyens Crypt tells the fascinating story of how this almost became the world’s second-largest cathedral.  

See an iconic stadium up close

Stadium tours can often be a routine affair, but Anfield houses a whole host of fascinating stories, iconic scenes and original artefacts that take it beyond most tours of its kind. 

Home to Liverpool Football Club since 1892, its passionate tour guides (especially season ticket-holding local Terry) will get you up close to the famous Kop End and into the team dressing rooms. You’ll also hear why there’s a mast of the SS Great Eastern in one corner of the stadium and how the split with fierce rival Everton occurred, dividing the city in two.

Discover Liverpool’s finest local creatives

Located inside an elegant redbrick Victorian building on the fringes of the sprawling 17-hectare Liverpool ONE shopping complex, MerseyMade is the charming antithesis to those familiar global brand names. 

This friendly space is packed full of work by local artists and creatives, often proudly using distinct Liverpool iconography. They even have resident artists upstairs displaying their works; many are happy to chat and show you their studio. The Gordon Smith Cafe downstairs is a lovely spot for a coffee and a cake too. 

Statue of The Beatles at Pier Head in Liverpool at night.
Lean into the love of The Beatles in Liverpool, this city is proud of its famous sons © chrisdorney / Shutterstock

See the best of the Beatles

Whatever your musical tastes, you can’t come to Liverpool and ignore The Beatles. Embrace the city’s most famous sons and see the sights and locations that formed and inspired the Fab Four.

While the Beatles Story is a good start for any fan, a night at the legendary Cavern Club or going to visit Penny Lane on the Magical Mystery Tour is where the fun really begins. Even better, take a tour of the Casbah Coffee Club basement to see where the Beatles played their very first gig in 1959

Escape the hum of the city in Sefton Park 

Sandwiched by the neighbourhoods of Toxteth and Aigburth, Sefton Park is a vast 235-acre green space (one of many in Liverpool) that’s a world away from the bustle of the city centre. 

Flat as a cricket pitch in parts, while rising and falling around charming lakes and wooded areas in others, it’s perfect for a morning or late afternoon stroll. And don’t forget to check out the impressive Grade-II listed Palm House and the bronze and marble statues of explorers of the natural world such as Charles Darwin and Carl Linnaeus.

Eat out in Lark Lane

If you’re taking a walk around the leafy climes of Sefton Park, there’s no better way to enjoy some post-walk refreshment than to finish amid the bright pubs, cafes and restaurants of Lark Lane. 

In fact, you don’t really need any excuse to head out to this vibrant Aigburth street. Whether it’s eating Turkish BBQ at Elif or simply relaxing with a pint at traditional corner pub The Albert, Lark Lane is one of Liverpool’s liveliest neighbourhood quarters. 

 The Grapes pub on Mathew Street, Liverpool. This was a favourite of The Beatles and a number of other bands before performing over the road at the Cavern Club
The Grapes is one of many characterful historic pubs in Liverpool © rightclickstudios / Shutterstock

Tour the Georgian Quarter’s historic pubs

Speaking of quarters, the city’s Georgian Quarter is a well-preserved window into the past that’s now one of Liverpool’s most pleasant areas. With its handsome townhouses evoking the wealth of its status as a booming port city, these charming streets are a treat to stroll.

Drop into a few of its historic pubs, such as the ornate Peter Kavanagh’s or The Grapes on Roscoe Street. Located just off Hope Street, Ye Cracke was a favourite of John Lennon during his art school days. 

Get crafty in the Baltic Triangle

While being the proud owner of some of the UK’s most ornate Victorian pubs, Liverpool hasn’t been afraid to move with the times, boasting a number of superb craft ale taprooms today.

Deep in the heart of the Baltic Triangle’s industrial chic, the likes of Love Lane Brewery and Black Lodge Brewing are home to cool airy spaces and fine craft beer. Though the pick of the bunch has to be the weird and wonderful Hobo Kiosk on Jamaica Street. With its bizarre decor and gregarious owners, this downstairs hideout guarantees good times. 

Bring out your radical side at News from Nowhere

With bookshelf genres such as ‘anti-capitalism’, ‘radical futures’ and ‘questioning gender’, you know that News from Nowhere isn’t your average Waterstones. Offering the finest in alternative literature since 1974, this not-for-profit community bookshop fits perfectly within Bold Street’s independent stores and businesses. 

As well as books, they also sell equally radical t-shirts, postcards and mugs if you want to display your convictions as well as read about them.

Statues called 'Another Place' by Anthony Gormley, now a permanent feature at Crosby Beach.
The eerie statues of  "Another Place" by Antony Gormley are now a permanent feature at Crosby Beach © Peter is Shaw 1991 / Shutterstock

Feel the wind at Crosby Beach

If you want to escape the city for the day, perhaps head up to the soft sands of Crosby Beach for one of the UK’s most interesting landscapes. Looking out toward the Irish Sea, it’s particularly stunning at sunset though the beach is most famous for another reason. 

Pockmarked by Antony Gormley’s 100 cast iron figures as part of his Another Place sculptures, Gormley’s work makes the view at Crosby Beach at once arresting and beautiful. 

Explore The Bluecoat

Not only is Liverpool’s oldest building one of its prettiest, but The Bluecoat is also a quirky contemporary arts centre that’s home to several independent shops, a busy cafe and a peaceful back garden. 

Located on School Lane in Liverpool’s busy shopping heart and dating back to 1716, it’s a fine place to escape the bustle and uncover unusual finds in the likes of Kernaghan Books. A rustic bookstore in the pleasant courtyard, its enticing old shelves are packed with out of print and secondhand books.

Dusk sky and The Three Graces which compromises the Liver Building, the Cunard and Port Authority
You can't miss the iconic "Three Graces" comprising the Liver Building, the Cunard and Port Authority © GordonBellPhotography / Getty Images

Look up at some incredible architecture

Second only to London for having the most listed buildings in the UK, one of the more striking things about a walk through Liverpool is the grandeur of its architecture. With the city’s well-documented economic struggles during the 1970s and 1980s, it’s easy to forget how powerful Liverpool once was. 

While the “Three Graces” on Pier Head (Royal Liver Building, Cunard Building and the Port of Liverpool Building) garner much of the attention, check out some of the neoclassical architecture around Lime Street Station (itself impressive) such as the World Museum and St George’s Hall

You might also like:
How to get around in England
An architectural tour of Liverpool’s fascinating history
The Beatles in Liverpool: A Fab Four fan’s guide

This article was first published October 2021 and updated December 2021

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