Travel

The definitive guide to Liverpool – What to do in Europe’s finest capital of culture

Liverpool – the best city in the world.

No bias here whatsoever, that’s just a fact.

Liverpool is a city of fantastic history with signs of its rich heritage scattered throughout the city. But that’s what Liverpool does best – it merges these wonderful old, historical buildings with new and exciting buildings, creative spaces and greenery in a completely seamless and wonderful way.

I could wax lyrical about this fantastic city forever but for your sake I’m going to give you a brief history and then a short list of what exactly our city can offer you.

A brief history

Liverpool was and still is famous as a port city – a hub where traders came to trade their goods from all corners of the world. Most famously fruit and (unfortunately) slaves.

The city used this income as a means of becoming one of the largest traders and industrial cities in the world. However, time passed, industry was required less and eventually unemployment levels rose spectacularly.

Fast forward to 2008 and Liverpool won their bid for European capital of culture, meaning huge investment in the city from the European powers that be. From then until the present day, Liverpool hasn’t looked back.

Liverpool has risen again to become a tourist hotspot, rivalling the other big cities of the UK such as London, Birmingham and Manchester when it comes to where those coming to our shores choose to spend their time and money. This upturn in fortunes can be powerfully summed up by this side by side comparison of Liverpool’s famous Albert Dock before and after the 2008 investment…

So, with that little bit of history done and dusted it’s time to show you exactly why I love my city and why you simply need to come and pay it a visit.

The Food

Into fine dining? Come to Liverpool.

Massive meat loving carnivore? Come to Liverpool.

Animal loving vegan? Come to Liverpool.

Call a lolly-ice an ice-lolly? Come to Wigan.

Liverpool has one of the most vast and varied selections of eateries in the world. There’s big chains and independents all vying for your custom by bringing unique and fantastic culinary delights to the table (pun fully intended).

Even though there are literally hundreds of places to eat here I’ll give you a few that are guaranteed to sort you out more than most;

Mowgli – Indian tapas? A weird concept but one I fully advocate, some of the tastiest grub in Liverpool for criminally low prices. You’ll pay your tip on the toilet the next day though, don’t worry about that.

Mowgli
Credit: Peter Goodbody

The Italian Club – I don’t know if you guessed it but these serve Italian food. Looks tiny from outside but this restaurant goes back forever and has a huge high rise ceiling that makes you feel like you’re dining in the Vatican.

Fazenda – I go here religiously every year for my birthday (except for last year’s vegan phase) and with good reason. The food here is on another level to the usual chains of South American meat restaurants – brought round on loop until your stomach has capitulated, nothing compares in my opinion.

faz.jpg

The Egg – If you’ve made the choice to ditch the meat then first of all – good for you. Second of all – you have options. The Egg cafe just off Bold Street serves up vegan and vegetarian food all day every day and is a regular meeting place of the Liverpool Vegan society in case you’re looking to meet like-minded people.

The Clubhouse – This is one of the newer additions to Liverpool’s food scene but has made a huge impact. Located in the Liverpool ONE shopping centre, it serves all sorts of food, from hanging kebabs to hummus boards. They also have an outside seating area which gets absolutely choc-full during the summer which creates an atmosphere like no other restaurant in the city I can think of.

Clubhouse

The Drink

You’re spoilt for choice when it comes to where you want to sink some beverages in Liverpool. Not only alcohol though…the rise of the coffee connoisseur has seen an influx in coffee and tea shops popping up around the city so if your poison is ethanol or caffeine you’re in for a treat.

Unfortunately I can’t mention them all but here’s a few of my favourites;

Someplace – This bar is hidden away from plain site, with only a green light hanging outside the door to indicate that there is something lurking behind. Go up the stairs and you’ll be greeted by a darkened room lit mostly by green light.

This green light is trying to tell you something – these fellas specialise in absinthe.

I know.

someplace

But the cocktails the bar staff make with the absinthe here are unbelievable. Just don’t go for the hardest options on your first go – like I did on my first date with my now-girlfriend. It doesn’t make you look big or clever. I’m surprised I even got a second date after the faces I pulled trying to drink straight absinthe and whiskey.

Jenny’s bar – One of Liverpool’s best hidden and most intimate venues. Jenny’s used to be a seafood restaraunt but now houses a dimly lit 70’s themed bar where you get table service and a cosy booth to try and woo your travel partner. Or just have a nice drink if you’ve come with your mum.

Boston pool loft – Now I’m not going to pretend Boston Pool loft is a high class la-dee-da establishment. It’s not. But it’s fun and that’s all that counts. You can play FIFA for free on their big screen, there’s pool tables, snooker tables, table tennis tables, shuffleboard tables and even table tables where you can put your drink!!!

They also have arcade games and pinball machines along with a free virtual reality night every Monday. If you want to learn more about that then head over here & here.

Bozzy

Where can I go with my hangover?

Well, apart from the plethora of wonderful Wetherspoons in Liverpool, you can grab yourself a strong coffee and a hearty bit of grub at these fine establishments…

Ziferblat – I hate using the term but this fella is a hidden gem and a half. I’m not going to tell you where abouts to find it so you have to go through the heartache I did trying to find it as well.

BUT, once you do it’ll all be worth it. This is a cafe where everything is FREE. Everything except for your time. You can go here and scoff as much of anything you want and all you’re paying for is how long it takes you to digest said scoff. Beware though, it’s easy to spend 6 hours in here without even realising. Trust me, I’ve done it more than once…

Rococo – I love this place. Far better than your standard Starbucks or Costa, Rococo is located above Church Street and resides inside a renovated victorian building. Long corridors, high ceilings and barmy decor is what I’m all about and Rococo has it in abundance. Go here if even just to gawp at the design of the place.

Roccy.jpg

The Buildings

You just don’t get this sort of architecture outside of the UK but Liverpool especially is full of amazing feats of design. The amount of grade II listed buildings we have is testament to this.

Three graces – The most iconic buildings in Liverpool. The three graces is made up of the Royal Liver building, the Cunard building and the Port of Liverpool building. They’re full of offices now but they’re still a sight to behold, they’re also situated on the waterfront so you can go and explore the docks whilst you’re taking your pictures stood outside.

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Handsome bugger…

Central library – Where I currently am writing this – the Central Library has had a huge makeover and is now one of the most impressive buildings in the city – both inside and out. Since the renovations it has been consistently voted amongst the best libraries in the world – and it’s free to go in.

Museums – The World museum, The Liverpool Museum, The Walker Art Gallery, The Tate Modern and The Maritime Museum.

What do all of these have in common?

They’re all great, they’re all in Liverpool and they’re all free to go in. I’ve never known a city to have so many amazing museums, galleries and activities you can do for free. Having just come back from Stockholm, where a trip to a museum costs £25, it highlights just how good we’ve got it here.

Cathedrals – How many cities do you know with two cathedrals on one street? How many? Oh, none? Well Liverpool does. Little old Liverpool is packing two cathedrals on one street and we’re not afraid to shout about it.

These are two absolutely beautiful structures and they’re not just pretty to look at. They often hold events such as vintage clothing fares and even whiskey tasting events in the crypt! If you’re heavily into the man upstairs there’s regular services you can attend as well. Basically, you’re spoiled for choice with us.

Cathy

Universities – Liverpool is home to 3 universities – four if you count Edge Hill University which is situated on the outskirts. John Moores University has just won University of the year and Edge Hill won this gong in 2014 – not bad eh. So if you’re looking to expand your mind and drink loads of booze, come and pick one our unis.

The Events

Primarily, we are a city of fun and this is evident in all of the fantastic events we hold throughout the year.

Bongos bingo – Started by Johnny Bongo only a few years ago, Bongo’s bingo is nothing like you’ve ever seen, merging bingo (believe it or not) with music, prizes and alcohol. It’s obviously a winning formula as they’ve expanded not only to other cities in the UK, but overseas to places like Amsterdam and Sydney!

Shiverpool – One of my favourites this one. The guys at Shiverpool are all acticing students who are not only extremely fun to be around but give you a great history of the city, giving you chills as they recount Liverpool’s dark and scary past. Jumps aplenty ensue and you get some great photo opps at the end, just saying.

shiverpool

Food & Drink Festival – Do you like food? Do you like drink? If you answered yes to either of those I’m sure you’d enjoy a festival dedicated to food AND drink – who would have thought it?

Located in Sefton Park, this festival is full of all sorts of wonderful cuisine and acts as a melting pot for so many different people and cultures all coming together – a great experience for anyone visiting the city.

LIMF – The Liverpool International Music Festival is Europe’s largest free music festival (we give a lot away for free don’t we) and manages to draw in over 350 performers every year including the likes of Gorgon City, Sigma and Basement Jaxx. Can’t really ask for much more can you?

limf

The football

Oh the football…it runs through every scousers blood, football is what brings us together and tears us apart. Literally every single taxi journey ever in Liverpool goes like this:

“Alright mate.”

“Hiya mate, you on all night tonight?”

“Yeah, are you a red or a blue?”

The journey hinges on which answer you give to that question. So, are you going to be Everton or Liverpool for the duration of the trip? My suggestion is the latter but if you enjoy trophy-less heartache then I’d go with the blues.

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Anfield, the better of the two

Something unique to Liverpool is the fact that both teams’ stadiums are literally on either side of a single park. This may not be the case for long, as Everton have plans to move their stadium up towards the city centre – so get down while you can.

The shopping

There is no shortage of places to burn through your cash when it comes to shopping in Liverpool. There’s a mix of independents, cheap and cheerful, designer wear, flagship stores and just about everything in between.

Liverpool ONE – I used to work for these but there’s no bias – this place is responsible for the massive influx of visitors coming to Liverpool and has transformed the city centre massively. They brought flagship stores, events, green space and late night shopping to Liverpool where there was once marshland between the rest of the city and the docks.

It was designed to blend seamlessly into the city landscape and is all outdoors. There’s not many shopping centre’s that can say that. BUT, they do charge you 30p to go the toilet – so if you don’t like having to spend 30 pennies before you spend one then maybe go to some free ones before you head in…

Church Street – Probably Liverpool’s busiest street. This was the city centre’s main shopping area before the introduction of Liverpool ONE in 2008. Church street still houses all the shops you could think of ranging from high-end jewellers like Goldsmiths to everyone’s favourite, Primark.

Keep an eye out for the myriad of buskers and street performers on Church street as well – another bit of free entertainment for you lucky swines.

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Autism awareness display just off Church Street

Bold street – This is geared towards the more independent shops and has a huge selection of vintage clothing stores, unique sneaker shops and organic marketplaces. One of Bold street’s endearing qualities is that it is seemingly a meeting place for Liverpool’s more extravagant characters. You won’t believe your eyes with all the different and unique people you’ll see flying through on rollerblades or equally strange modes of transport.

The Beatles

Yes they get their own category now shut up. Without doubt the biggest and best band ever, the Beatles are absolutely everywhere in Liverpool. They’ve got their own hotel, statues, museum, stores, pubs – you name it they’ve got it here in Liverpool.

You can go and stand next to John Lennon on Matthew Street, The Four of ’em on Canada Boulevard and even Eleanor Rigby on Sir Thomas Street. There’s also four statues on their famous hotel – The hard days night.

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John Lennon in all his statue-y glory

The most famous place involving The Beatles of course is the Cavern club – where they played hundreds of gigs before hitting the big time. Go to Matthew Street and head in to listen to live music all day and night and take a look at their Beatles memorabilia.

There is also the relatively new Beatles Story where you can go and learn everything you could possibly want to about the Fab Four. They also have their own gift shop in case you’re looking to bring back some merch to show the grandkids.

The People

If there’s one thing you’ll probably notice more than most when you come to Liverpool, it’s the people. The people are what makes this city the greatest in the world. It’s not uncommon to get chatting to a complete stranger out of nowhere. But it’s these little things that can make your day more than buying an expensive trinket from a gift shop.

Not only are we friendly, we’re bloody funny. The famous Scouse humour is most definitely alive and well throughout the city. If you find it hard cracking jokes with us or can’t get through our language barrier then head down to a comedy club and get someone – who’s actually paid to be funny, to show you exactly how funny we can be.

Hotest water

If you really want to get the most out of your trip to Liverpool then get talking – interact with as many people as you can and you’ll come away with much more than pictures for your Facebook.

So there you have it, a comprehensive breakdown of what Liverpool can offer you. I’ve had to miss lots off because it’d take you an hour to read through if I’d waffled on any more. If you think there’s something that needs to be in the guide then comment below.

If you want more current news about the ins and outs of this fantastic city go here, here & here.

Sam

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