5 Tips for Visiting Liverpool
Liverpool punches above its weight when it comes to what it offers to visitors. Whether you’re into history, the arts or architecture, there’s sure to be something here for you. Here are five tips to help you make the most of the city.
1. Become a patron of the arts
Wherever you travel in Liverpool, you’ll find a vibrant artistic scene. The Walker Art Gallery in the city centre holds one of Europe’s most impressive collections, while a highly-regarded offshoot of the Tate Gallery at the Albert Dock contains a wonderful range of modern artworks.
In Crosby, a vast installation by Anthony consists of 100 sculptures of his body, arranged along a sandy beach. In Port Sunlight, just across the Mersey on the Wirral, the Lady Lever Gallery holds a superb collection of Pre-Raphaelite works. Keep an eye out for pop-up and temporary exhibitions, too.
2. Get out of the city centre
There’s so much to do in the centre of Liverpool that it’s easy to concentrate entirely on that area. You’d be missing a good deal if you did: some of the city’s most interesting and attractive sights, like Croxteth Hall and Country Park, are a little further out of town.
If you’re planning on going beyond the reach of Liverpool’s public transport network, you’ll need your own wheels; happily, Avis car hire can be found in Liverpool. The core is congested, but elsewhere roads are generally fairly good. The Kingsway and Queensway road tunnels under the Mersey to Birkenhead make worthwhile detours in themselves.
3. Soak up Liverpool’s culture
The Beatles may have brought Liverpool its greatest fame, but there’s plenty more to the city’s cultural reputation than that. The Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra is one of the best in the UK — though some people do go there just to see the ornate, marbled gents toilets in the nearby Philharmonic pub!
Terence Davies, creator of The Long Day Closes, is the city’s most famous film-maker, but you’ll frequently see Liverpool’s soaring, striking architecture in other films. Lennon and McCartney do have the last word: the Eleanor Rigby bench in Stanley Street, dedicated to all the lonely people, is a deeply moving sight.
4. Take the Ferry Cross the Mersey
You will have to endure the inevitable tape of Gerry Marsden’s greatest hit as you cruise along the Mersey, but there’s no doubt that the best way to see Liverpool is from the water. Just 50 years ago, this was one of the busiest commercial ports in the world; now most of the boats out here are pleasure craft.
Make sure you get the classic photo of the “Three Graces” — the Royal Liver Building, the Cunard Building and the Port of Liverpool Building. From the right angle, you can also get the massive bulk of the city’s Anglican Cathedral in the shot. Despite the decline of shipping, the Mersey is still in the blood.
5. Delve deeply into history
Most large port cities have a darker side to their history and Liverpool is no exception — but, unlike some, it doesn’t shy away from this. The Merseyside Maritime Museum acknowledges the terrible disasters that have occurred over the years in the River Mersey, but the International Slavery Museum is simply fascinating. Don’t expect a light, superficial treatment of this difficult subject: the museum’s displays are uncompromising and brutal.
It’s not a place to take young kids, but older children may find it interesting and instructive. On a lighter note, the World Museum contains everything from Egyptian mummies to dinosaur fossils.