Most famous as the home of the Beatles and Britain’s most successful football club to date, Liverpool also boasts Europe’s oldest Chinatown and the biggest national museum collection outside of London. Fast emerging as a serious rival for Manchester in the northern city break stakes, this former European Capital of Culture has heaps to offer weekend visitors – and plenty to see and do without spending a fortune.
Both the city centre and the nearby Albert Dock area are compact enough to explore on foot, but you need at least two days to see it all properly – with plenty left over for a return visit.
From the new Liverpool ONE shopping centre to the immense historic Anglican Cathedral, Liverpool is home to a variety of striking architecture, both old and new. The UNESCO World Heritage-listed Liverpool Maritime Mercantile City is made up of six historic locations including the Pier Head and Albert Dock, incorporating many of the city’s most famous buildings. The most iconic landmark of all is the Grade I-listed Royal Liver Building, a riverside ‘skyscraper’ dating back to 1911, topped by two striking Liver Birds – and still dominating the skyline.
St. George’s Hall is one of Western Europe’s finest examples of a neo-classical building, showing off the wealth of local merchants. But the oldest building is the Bluecoat, built in 1717, with a beautiful front courtyard and internal garden. Today it’s used as a creative hub for contemporary arts, and you can visit free exhibitions or grab a reasonably-priced lunch there, made with locally-produced ingredients. Dotted about the city you’ll find countless other beautiful buildings, including the Town Hall, Bank of England Building, and Oriel Chambers – the world’s first metal-framed, glass curtain walled building.
Liverpool is also well-known for its thriving live music scene and strong Irish links, and you’ll find free live music in many venues, from traditional Irish folk to contemporary local bands. The Cavern Club, where Epstein discovered The Beatles, is still a live music venue with free admission on many nights – and if you can visit Liverpool during August Bank Holiday, you can enjoy live music at the massive Mathew Street Festival.
Liverpool’s maritime history
The Albert Dock area by the River Mersey is the place to discover more about the city’s historic role as an important maritime centre. By the early 19th century, some 40% of the world’s trade was passing through Liverpool’s docks, contributing to its wealth and status. The docks feature the most extensive collection of Grade I-listed buildings in the UK, including old redeveloped warehouses that today house chic restaurants, boutique shops, museums and galleries, offices and apartments.
The free Merseyside Maritime Museum tells the port’s story, and within this is the International Slavery Museum, which looks at Liverpool’s role in the slave trade and its impact across the world.
For fans of Modern Art, the Albert Dock is also home to Tate Liverpool, which is generally free, and if you’re a fan of the Fab Four, the Beatles Story at Albert Dock is a must – although there’s a hefty entry fee for the pleasure (£12.25 at the time of writing).
Before you leave…
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This post on having a cheap weekend break in Liverpool was brought to you by InsureandGo.