Checklist: Liverpool, England

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Checklist: Liverpool, England

Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty

There’s a famous quote about Liverpool from music writer and native son Paul Du Noyer that rings true today more than ever.

“Liverpool is a busker, deep down…When all else fails—and sometimes it does—this town will sing for its supper.”

From glory days as a shipping powerhouse during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, when millions of immigrants arrived in search of work, to serving as a strategic hub during WWII, followed by post-industrial decline, Liverpool has soared high and fallen low.

Through it all, Liverpudlians have managed to sing their own song and create a unique voice that captures the diversity of cultures and ideas that have mixed, struggled and mingled here for centuries.

This feisty spirit and creative energy have ushered in a renaissance. And, today, Liverpool is staging a grand show for all to see. With a nod to the past and wink to the future, the busker is enjoying a much-deserved moment in the spotlight.

And the best part is, discount airlines fly into John Lennon Airport from London and dozens of cities throughout Europe, making a visit to Liverpool as easy as humming your favorite Beatles’ tune (more on the city’s most famous sons below.)

1. Albert Dock

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Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty

Nowhere is Liverpool’s industrious past and promising future more in unison than Albert Dock. An empire’s luxury goods—silk, tea, tobacco and sugar—once filled these mid-19th century warehouses. Today, art, music and food are commodities of this UNESCO World Heritage site.

Housing the U.K.’s largest concentration of national museums outside London, most with free admission, Albert Dock is the place to begin Liverpool immersion.

Seek understanding in the International Slavery Museum where powerful exhibits examine the city’s slave trading history as well as modern day servitude around the globe. Explore Liverpool’s lead role in the Titanic story at Merseyside Maritime Museum, then find inspiration in Cindy Sherman’s self-portraits at the Tate Liverpool.

Replenish with a toastie (sandwich) and tea from a dockside food truck as you watch contemporary sailors in action.

2. The Beatles’ Experience

Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty

Liverpool and The Beatles are forever intertwined and the city embraces the immense legacy with well-designed tours and museums.

The Beatles’ Story is a love letter to the Fab Four. Music and memorabilia lead visitors from their humble beginnings to the heights of Beatlemania.

Step aboard the Magical Mystery Tour for a music-fueled bus ride through the places that shaped the band, including childhood homes. Your ticket includes entry to the world’s most famous bar, the brick-vaulted Cavern Club. Experiencing a tribute show in the cellar where the band performed over 300 times is a must for every fan.

3. The Philharmonic Dining Rooms

Such a fancy name is fitting for one of England’s most ornate public houses. Known more simply as “The Phil,” this pub is ideal for enjoying a bitter or Pimms before a performance from the Liverpool Philharmonic across the street.

Seating areas lavished in mahogany and mosaics transport visitors to the salon of grand ocean liner, and rightly so. The same ship builders who crafted the famed RMS Lusitania designed the space.

4. Pier Head

Photo by Richard Stonehouse/Getty

From this area north of Albert Dock, ferries sail the Mersey River as they have for centuries, under watch of the “Three Graces.” The trio of Edwardian buildings includes the Cunard, once home to the world’s largest passenger steamship line. In true Liverpool fashion, transformation is underway with the British Music Experience opening in February.

“Are yeh comin round t’ours disavvy?” Learn the meaning of this phrase and others in local Scouse dialect at Museum of Liverpool. The striking modern museum provides a window into the region’s soul with exhibits ranging from a tenement house replica known as a “court” to films about local passions including football and music. Head to the third floor for a view of the two copper liver birds atop the Royal Liver building, a symbol of the city.

5. Byrnes Fish and Chips

You could visit Liverpool without diving into a “chippy,” but we wouldn’t recommend it. Most locals can speak at length about the delicate art, from type of fish and potato to seasoning. It’s serious business, and no place gets down to business more professionally than Byrnes.

Since 1932, the Liverpool institution has been serving up fish fingers and cakes, alongside puds and pies.

6. Penny Lane

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Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty

It’s impossible to walk along the famous street, without singing, “Penny Lane is in my ears and in my eyes.” Local legend says Beatles’ manager Brian Epstein challenged both Lennon and McCartney to pen a song about their home. Paul’s tune told of the people he saw while walking with his mum down Penny Lane. 

Bypass tourists taking selfies by road signs and make tracks for The Dovey. Once known as Dovedale Towers, the local joint recently reopened with a shorter moniker and larger beer garden. The chatty bartenders are an entertaining source of music news, past and present, as everyone seems to perform in a local band.

Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty

7. Sefton Park

The city’s largest green space, 235-acre Sefton Park (pictured above) features miles of running and walking trails, plus ample areas for a lakeside siesta.

The meticulously restored Victorian glass centerpiece, Palm House showcases an impressive botanical collection and hosts concerts and exhibits. No. 75, 80, and 80A buses from central Liverpool One make the journey.

8. Lark Lane

Locals pack the independent shops and restaurants of Lark Lane, near Sefton Park. Indulge in a full English breakfast at The Moon and Pea, then walk it off with a stroll through markets along “The Lane,” as locals call this bustling stretch. Cap the afternoon with tea and cake at aptly named Tea House.

9. Stadium Tours

Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty

Football is a religion in Liverpool, with two teams competing for devotion: Liverpool FC and Everton FC.

Everton tours go the into locker rooms and onto the home field at Goodison Park (pictured above) and Anfield Stadium offers a range of Liverpool FC-centric tours including lunch and training sessions with coaches.

10. Baltic Triangle

In a neighborhood packed with colorful characters and establishments, none is more legendary than Baltic Fleet Pub. The bow-shaped microbrewery claims casks are stored in subterranean tunnels built by smugglers to reach the dock in secrecy. Raise a glass to crafty spirits with an Imperial Damson Stout.

For live performances from hip-hop to poetry, check out the ultra-cool 24 Kitchen Street art space.

And, for bingo—yes, you read that correctly—try “Bongo’s Bingo” at Camp and Furnace. Liverpool Echo describes the weekly event as “the bastard child of traditional bingo and a techno-rave,” and it’s one of the hottest tickets at the groovy venue.

11. Mowgli Street Food

On Bold Street in the lively Ropewalks neighborhood, Mowgli embodies Liverpool’s global spirit.

Food writer Nisha Katona opened this shrine to Indian street food in 2014 and it’s been packed since. Start with a spicy bread puff known as a Yogurt Chat Bomb, then dig into a tasty fish curry.

Look for a new location opening soon on Water Street.

12. Liverpool’s Cathedrals

Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty

The city boasts two of the world’s most unique cathedrals, fittingly connected by a street called “Hope.” See one of the world’s largest stained-glass window and also why the nickname “Paddy’s Wigwam” endures for the modernist tepee design of Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral.

Speaking of design … ever wonder who created Britain’s famous red telephone booth? The same architect, Sir Gilbert Scott, who designed the world’s largest Anglican cathedral, Liverpool Cathedral (pictured above). A short film showcases the history while the tower offers great views of modern Liverpool.

Jess Simpson is a writer chasing a dream of slow travel in a fast world. She hopes you will follow the journey on Facebook and Instagram.