Liverpool, Merseyside… in my opinion one of the most underrated cities in the UK. For years it has struggled to shake off a bad reputation and I think it’s finally, belatedly happening. Liverpool is my home and I could wax lyrical for hours on the many reasons you should add this city to your travel list, the overt kindness of the people, the grandeur of the architecture, the vibrancy of the music and art scene, and the endless potential of its nooks and crannies. I have been very restrained here and just stuck to 15 places to visit that take in the North, South, and Centre of town and over the water in the Merseyside stretch of The Wirral Peninsula. I hope it persuades you because this town is very close to my heart, my adopted home and in case you can’t tell, I love it dearly! Here are my best and most beautiful places to visit in Liverpool and Merseyside…
Royal Albert Dock and The Three Graces, Liverpool – gorgeous spot to explore in Liverpool
This is probably the most famous landmark in Merseyside and for good reason! The beautifully restored Albert Dock is Victorian Industry at its finest and a really special place for a stroll, a meal or a cup of coffee, or to just take in the lights playing on the water and the boats bobbing gently in the marina. Just a short walk along the waterfront will take you to The 3 Graces; the famous Liver Building, The Cunard Building, and St Nicholas’s church with its moving WW2 memorial and impressive Spire.
Just opposite these is Pier Head, where you can take the ‘Ferry Across The Mersey’ These are considered the finest architectural structures in the city but in my opinion they are in great company. As you stroll around the city itself be sure to look up and take in all the other fabulous buildings it has to offer… to name but a few St George’s Hall, where they recently filmed Batman, Liverpool Town Hall, Liverpool Central Library and the old White Star Line offices are all quite spectacular.
Bold Street – a lively and vibrant shopping street to visit in Liverpool
If you love quirky little shops and tasty street type food then head for Bold Street. It’s just a little street but it is packed full of global cuisine, vintage shops and great coffee.
Grab a cuppa in Bold Street Coffee enjoy a mooch in such institutions as News From Nowhere, the city’s activist book shop, Shared Earth fair trade emporium and Cow Vintage or stock up on organic veggies at Mattas International food store. Great in the summer when the cafe’s are allowed to spill out onto the pavements and the good vibes really get going.
Baltic Triangle – former industrial estate turned cool alternative hub
This is one of Liverpool’s newest offerings which started as a sort of artists movement before it got swept up in the ‘hip’ scene. Although more commercialised than it was originally it is still a fun place to head for drinks and merriment. The industrial warehouses are now home to new hip businesses, local breweries, coffee merchants and bars.
The splendid old Cains Brewery is now a complex which includes Baltic Market..for street food and cocktails, Red Brick Vintage and various unusual nightlife options including a Yellow Submarine and Ghetto Golf. It is a great spot for street art, much of which centres around New Bird skate park, built before the area was developed by the Skating community themselves.
The Beatles Story and The Cavern Quarter, Liverpool – one of the most popular attractions to visit in Liverpool
Now we are definitely wandering into the realms of tourist traps here but if you’re visiting the city it seems rude not to pay homage to its most famous exports. The enduring legacy of The Fab Four is still thriving 60 years on! The Beatles Story on the Albert Dock is a small museum with the reconstructed Cavern Club and lots of authentic memorabilia to enjoy whilst the audio guide gives you lots of information and anecdotes about the band.
At the site of the old Cavern Club there is a statue of John Lennon and a fantastic wall of bricks sporting the names of all the famous acts that played there. By the Cavern Quarter you’ll also find the Hard Days Night Hotel and the statue of Eleanor Rigby and plenty of places to buy souvenirs too. To get a little further afield you might consider a Magical Mystery Tour which could take in John and Paul’s childhood homes..Mendips and 20 Forthlin Rd, or stroll up Penny Lane in the pleasant suburb of Allerton.
Speke Hall and Gardens – a beautiful manor house in Speke, Liverpool
Nestled in an unusual setting on the banks of the Mersey by the airport is Speke Hall and Gardens. A rare and beautiful Tudor framed building that was restored in the 19th Century and now perfectly blends the Tudor Simplicity of the exterior with the rich and beautiful Victorian Arts and Crafts interior, replete with William Morris wallpaper.
There is a lovely cottage garden, wildflowers and butterflies and a cafe serving up tasty locally sourced food and drink. All as the planes soar overhead… well worth a visit! The history of the house is fascinating too so history buffs will definitely get a kick out of it!
Museums Liverpool – one of the best things to do in Liverpool
Liverpool has a rich and diverse history and its excellent museums are a reflection of that, especially the Museum of Liverpool Life at PierHead which has exhibitions that reflect the city’s varied Industrial, Cultural, and of course Musical past. The Maritime Museum helps explore the rich shipbuilding, sailing, and seafaring history of the city and the top floor is home to the harrowing International Slavery Museum… an expose on the more shameful parts of Liverpool’s past.
The Liverpool World Museum by St George’s Hall has a plethora of curiosities from dinosaurs to world cultures and masks. If you have time call into The Picton Reading Room at Liverpool Central Library too and check out Audoban’s Book Of Birds which is on display there.
Antony Gormleys Another Place – a surreal and stunning art attraction on Crosby Beach
Jump on the train at Liverpool Central and take the 25 minute trip to Waterloo and Crosby Beach where you will find the famous Gormley sculpture(s) Another Place. Stretching over a mile of beach the artist erected hundreds of cast-iron replicas of himself.
The effect is wistful and eerie and really beautiful, one of my favourite places to go and be reflective. The sculptures stand silently looking out over the Irish Sea, from the beach you have a view of both the industrial docklands and wind turbines and the relatively unspoilt coastline to the north. The effect is a strange merging of past, present, and future as the gradually eroding sculptures stand sentinel to an ever-evolving landscape in an ever-evolving world. That’s my humble opinion anyway!
Arrowe Country Park – a gorgeous beauty spot to explore in the Wirral
Arrowe Country Park is on the Wirral Peninsula close to Birkenhead and was first developed by slaver John Shaw and later passed on to his cantankerous great nephew who built an Elizabethan Style Hall and laid out the gardens around it. The hall is still there but not open to the public. The grounds cover 250 acres of land and include lakes, waterfalls, woodland trails and nature walks and are a great spot for twitchers who might spot some unusual bird life.
The park now includes a golf course and a cafe to take shelter in on a cold day and is a great option for escaping the bustle of the city for a few hours. Whilst you’re over there you may want to take in the view from Birkenhead Priory too or visit Port Sunlight… a protected village built by the Lever Brothers for employees at their soap factory.
Formby Beach – the most stunning beach to explore in Merseyside
A few stops on from Another Place in the direction of Southport you’ll find the splendid National Trust Nature Reserve of Formby Beach and Freshfields Red Squirrel Sanctuary. Acres of protected pine forests are home to many of our native red squirrel population, with greys being kept out of the area to prevent spreading disease. The little creatures are quite shy but you can buy a bag of grain from the car park and if you’re lucky it will coax them out.
The woodland trails meander over soft pine needles until they reach the rare and beautiful sand dunes that form the natural barrier between sea and land. The beach itself is broad and wild and unspoilt and it’s really fantastic if you manage to catch Formby Kite Club on one of their regular meets. The stretch of white windswept sand comes alive with colourful kites and the rustle and swoop of kite tails on the breeze. There is a coffee stand and public loos at the car park and plenty of pubs in Formby Village… if the weather is good it’s a great spot for a picnic, either with a spread on the beach or at one of the sheltered picnic areas dotted around the peaceful woodland.
Art Galleries Liverpool – one of the best places to visit in Liverpool
There are two main art galleries in Liverpool, The Walker art Gallery which has a really rare collection of Victorian Narrative Art, a real buzz if you enjoy myth and folklore like me! The gallery has some really beautiful artworks and hosts special exhibitions of famous painters and photographers. It also accommodates the biennial Liverpool John Moores Art Prize, giving a platform to new and contemporary artists.
The second gallery is The Tate on The Albert Dock which has a constantly evolving collection of modern and contemporary art including permanent fixtures from the pop art movement such as Warhol and Litchenstein. If you are an art lover you may also be interested in The Open Eye Gallery at PierHead, The Bluecoat Arts Centre in town and The Victoria Gallery and Museum which is part of The University of Liverpool.
Sefton Park – one of the most beautiful places to visit in Merseyside
Honestly my very favourite park in the world I love this park with a passion. It’s a gorgeously landscaped stretch of greenery in South Liverpool with a lake, a grotto, stepping stones and a faerie glen. Not to mention a haunted bridge and a spectacular Victorian palm house.
It’s big enough to feel the freedom but small enough not to get lost in and has something to offer all year round. In summer it is host to many festivals, in autumn the rare trees turn all manner of breathtaking hues, spring brings cherry blossom and ducklings and winter brings snowy branches and hot chocolates in the cold.
Otterspool Promenade – lovely a riverside walk in Liverpool
If you start at the Albert Dock and head south along the river for a couple of miles you will eventually find yourself passing Festival Gardens, with its woodland paths and Japanese themed garden, and eventually Otterspool. It’s a great riverside spot for walking, cycling, running, skating and picnicking whilst enjoying views out over the Mersey towards Wirral, Cheshire, and North Wales.
An excellent spot to take in the sunset. At Otterspool park itself, there is an excellent cafe that serves tasty hot meals and a wide array of local ice cream. Adjoining the cafe is Otterspool Adventure Park, a great little spot to let the kids run off a bit of steam! The nearest train station is St Michael’s, but the nicest way to do it is to hire a bike or a scooter and cycle along the waterfront from town, that way you can really enjoy the feeling of space created by the wide river mouth and the distant hills.
Everton Park Colonnades – a great place to explore in Liverpool
North Liverpool gets quite overlooked on visits, largely due to the amount of redevelopment that gives it a very industrial feel. Folks tend to go just for the Stadiums but not much else. However, North Liverpool is home to perhaps the best view of the city as it is the highest point of town. Everton Park is a long stretch of greenery between St Xaviours church…last known location of the infamous Spring-Heeled Jack, and Everton Rd, which will eventually lead you to the stadiums. On the edge of the park is a plateau surrounded by big stone columns which looks directly out over the city and beyond….it’s a stunning vista and well worth the trip up there if you have the time.
Once you’re in North Liverpool you might like to check out local social enterprises such as Homebaked, opposite Anfield station, and the beautiful but abandoned Everton Library. Also, St. George’s church with its unique iron beamed interior and the Everton wildflower meadow in the springtime.
New Brighton – a pretty seaside resort in the Wirral
Just a short hop from Liverpool City Centre either by train or ferry is the seafront at New Brighton. Having endured many years of decline it is now buzzing with new life, many quirky little local businesses are sprouting up around the train station and artists have begun to congregate around Vale Park. The Floral Pavillion hosts antique fairs and collectibles markets as well as shows and comedians.
The harbour area has been redeveloped to include a big cinema and various chain cafes and restaurants and the waterfront and lido provide a great little spot for swimming if you can brave the cold! The view from New Brighton Promenade over to the working docks is one of my favourites as the massive red cranes stand out starkly on the skyline giving it all a very Sci-Fi feel!
Quirky Quarter – a surreal and fun attraction to visit in Liverpool
Quirky Corner is a fairly recent addition to the city and can be found just around the corner from The Chinese Arch on Duke Street. It’s a cool little experience where visitors can walk through a series of rooms and enjoy a whole bunch of optical illusions, from classic magic eyes to more complicated plays on perspective… such as walking up walls or appearing dwarfed by a giant table.
There are numerous puzzles to figure out as you pass through the spaces and it culminates in a crazy gothic style hall of mirrors which is at once exciting and confusing! It’s the brainchild of a local chap who is often at the entrance and very friendly and happy to chat… as you will find frequently in this city!