Once the empire's second city, LIVERPOOL spent too many of the twentieth-century postwar years struggling against adversity. Things are looking up, as regeneration brightens the centre and old docks, and the city's stint as European Capital of Culture for 2008 has transformed the view from outside. Some may sneer at the very concept of Liverpudlian "culture", but this is a city with a Tate Gallery of its own and several innovative museums. Acerbic wit and loyalty to one of the city's two football teams (Liverpool and Everton) are the linchpins of Scouse culture, although Liverpool also makes great play of its musical heritage, which is reasonable enough from the city that produced The Beatles.
The River Mersey provides one focus for a visit, whether crossing on the famous ferry to the Wirral peninsula or on a tour of the attractions in Albert Dock. The associated Beatles' sights can easily occupy another day, plus there's a fine showing of British art in the celebrated Walker Art Gallery, a multitude of exhibits in the terrific World Museum Liverpool, and a revitalized arts and nightlife urban quarter centred on FACT.
Liverpool was a humble fishing village until the booming slave trade prompted the building of the first dock in 1715. From then until the abolition of slavery in Britain in 1807, Liverpool was the apex of the slaving triangle in which firearms, alcohol and textiles were traded for African slaves, who were then shipped to the Caribbean and America where they were in turn exchanged for tobacco, raw cotton and sugar. After the abolition of the trade, the port continued to grow into a seven-mile chain of docks, not only for freight but also to cope with wholesale European emigration, which saw nine million people leave for the Americas and Australasia between 1830 and 1930. During the 1970s and 1980s Liverpool became a byword for British economic malaise, but the waterfront area of the city was granted UNESCOWorld Heritage status in 2004, and there has been major subsequent refurbishment of the city's magnificent municipal and industrial buildings.
Liverpool is a compelling, fascinating city with a compact central area that provides good transport links to the rest of the region. If you are fanatical about sports or fancy a sporting chance at the races, if you want some culture or prefer to go clubbing, explore some heritage sites or experience some musical delights, this is the place to be! A visually spectacular city that guarantees visitors a warm and friendly welcome.
Aigburth The artsy student quarter otherwise known as Lark Lane is a very trendy and bohemian area with fabulous bars and restaurants. Enjoy a slap up Sunday breakfast at Keith's Wine bar, and walk it off in nearby Sefton Park . Alternatively head in the opposite direction to Otterspool Promenade, where you can watch the world and the ships sail by.
Aintree Famous for top quality horse racing and of course the Grand National. A new attraction at Aintree is the Grand National Experience - an interactive all year round display offering historical tours and simulator rides. Aintree offers a motor racing circuit, archery, clay pigeon shooting, quad biking and golf. Shopaholics do not despair, there is a huge retail site a short distance from the racecourse.
Allerton Mainly a residential area, this pleasant leafy suburb has, in recent years, become a very popular eating quarter. The main stretch of Allerton Road has a fine selection of shops and is a good alternative to visiting the city center. Entertainment is plentiful, a cinema, lively bars and excellent restaurants are all situated in the area. The district attracts tourists who come to visit the infamous Penny Lane and 20 Forthlin Road —former home of Paul McCartney—which is now open for guided tours. If landscaped spaces are more appealing, visit Calderstones Park , a beautifully maintained expanse of green fields, exotic greenhouses, Chinese gardens and huge play area.
Anfield Strictly one for Liverpool Football supporters; apart from the stadium and Stanley Park there is not much else to see. Nevertheless, football supporters will be in their element with the museum and tour center .
Childwall A quiet neighborhood, well worth a visit due to the friendly pubs and exceptional food that can be found in Owens restaurant. The area has two beauty spots, Black Woods and Childwall Woods, both of which are perfect for a relaxing stroll or taking the children on a nature trail. The Church of all Saints in the conservation area is Liverpool's only remaining medieval church.
Chinatown On the outskirts of the city center sits a spectacular gateway to Europe's oldest Chinatown . The magnificent 44ft high arch—the largest in Europe—was erected by a team of Shanghai workers to mark the Chinese New Year celebrations in February 2000; the staggering cost of 220,000 pounds gives you some idea of how magnificent it looks. The area has a mass of good restaurants and supermarkets.
City Center Great for a shopping expedition, lots of variety but compact enough to see what's on offer in one day. The main pedestrian area and two indoor shopping centers— Cavern Walks and Clayton Square —have a wide range of stores and specialized designer outlets. Nightlife in the city center is buzzing, and the choice of venues can be overwhelming. The Cavern Quarter around Mathew Street has some great pubs and excellent restaurants. If you want to eat out the only problem is what to choose: Russian, Spanish, Italian, Greek, Chinese or Portuguese, there is something to suit every palate.
An abundance of fine architecture and culture are visible throughout the city center. The grandeur of St Georges Hall , two Cathedrals, the Museum and the Bluecoat Center , are just a few examples. Theaters, music venues and comedy clubs are all within walking distance. Albert Dock , a major attraction on the waterfront, can be found on the outskirts of the central shopping area, along with the Mersey Ferries and the tunnels.
Edge Hill Not much to see on the surface, but underneath lies a totally different story. Around 1820 Joseph Williamson—the mole of Edge Hill—built a kingdom of underground tunnels and caverns. The tunnels are believed to include complete houses and an 80ft long banqueting suite. Robert Stephenson, the great railway engineer came across the incredible sight while extending Lime Street station.
Speke This is a busy commercial area of the city and home to Liverpool Airport. Just seven miles from the city center, this is the U.K.'s fastest growing regional airport and offers excellent facilities. Not far away is the New Mersey Retail Park that contains a wide range of superstores and high street shops such as Next, Boots and PC World. Also in the area is one of England's great historic houses, Speke Hall (1490) ; set in its own glorious grounds, this popular attraction offers an insight into several eras and has the added bonus of lovely woodland walks.
Toxteth Once inhabited by wealthy shipping merchants, it lapsed into a rather run down neighborhood in later years. Today, regeneration projects are making vast improvements to this multi-cultural district and the true magnificence of the buildings is visible once again. Europe's best example of Moorish revival architecture can be seen at the Princes Road Synagogue .
Walton This is the home of Everton Football Club, which can be found at Goodison Park. Sign up for a stadium tour or just enjoy the game. If you are feeling brave enough, wander down to County Road after the match and savor a pint in one of the many pubs teeming with the football masses. Reef Revellers Diving Center is located here.
Woolton This quaint village has retained its original style and is awash with listed buildings. It houses a small but busy shopping area and has a good selection of pubs and restaurants. The fabulous Woolton Redbourne Hotel is situated on the outskirts of the village. A popular attraction for children is Clarke's Gardens, where you can find a quiet park complete with ponies, goats, geese and rabbits; the parkland also houses Allerton Hall , a listed building that has been converted to a charming pub and restaurant.
A wise old sage once said that you could tell a lot about a city by its churches and its pubs, and Liverpool is a great example of this theory. The late 20th century saw a great influx of designer bars appearing at the speed of light, this was undoubtedly the biggest area of development in the city.
One of the first of these was the Baa Bar, located as the jewel in the crown of the Liverpool Palace on trendy Slater Street. Its streamlined architecture and late licence helped it gain cult status among students and music lovers, who would queue patiently to gain entry to this exclusive drinking den. Mello Mello, also on Slater Street, was the second bar to gain kudos with the Liverpool in-crowd, as a well-known watering hole for footballers, celebrities and fashion-conscious clubbers on their way to Cream . Next to open was the Modo and Roccomodo complex, situated in Concert Square. The first major development dedicated to luxury entertainment, Modo combines dining and drinking with fabulous design and a laid back atmosphere. Check out Modo Bar and Grill for unusual, quality bar food.
For those seeking a more traditional approach to drinking, Peter Kavanagh's , The Albert , Ye Cracke , The Pilgrim and The Philharmonic Pub are well worth seeking out, while lovers of the Irish vibe should check out Pogue Mahone in the city centre and Flannagan's Apple in the Cavern Quarter. For those who prefer a Beatle theme to their evening, the Cavern Quarter is the best place to begin. Also worth visiting are the Cavern Pub and The Lennon Bar .
Eating out in Liverpool never took precedence over drinking until recently, with takeaways and curry houses the main fodder for that post-booze bellyache. Nowadays, the choices have improved ten-fold, with a wide variety of restaurants and cafe bars available to suit all tastes and pockets. The St Petersburg Dining Club , situated slightly out of the town centre and hidden behind a shabby exterior, is the only fully authentic Russian restaurant in the country and offers a wonderful dining and drinking experience.
In the Lark Lane area, L'Alouette offers fantastic French dining, while Que Pasa Cantina serves South American style meals. The two Greek restaurants include the Akis Greek Taverna , which provides a great party atmosphere, and Romios for a more intimate affair.
The central area has the highest concentration of dining opportunities. A Passage To India on Bold Street has to be one of the best, with Musapir also on the same street offering a vegan version of Indian cuisine. Hardman Street is home to Valparaiso , which offers South American cuisine, Antoni's Cypriot Restaurant and The Italian Bistro . A short walk away, Berry Street—leading into Chinatown —houses Bijou and Ziba.
The fabulously restored Albert Dock on the city's waterfront is a perfect choice for a night out. There is the superb Est Est Est Italian restaurant and in the same building, the more informal What's Cooking . A few minutes walk along the quayside brings you to the much-admired and ever so trendy Blue Bar and Grill , the food is heavenly but be prepared to wait as the service can be erratic at times. A couple of doors away is Mr M's Waterside Restaurant, which is essential dining for all seafood lovers. If you don't want to waste good drinking time by eating then there are many options including the classically decorated Pump House , the stylish Est Bar, Babycream and The Blue. On warm sunny evenings, the relaxing ambiance and view across the docklands is something not to be missed.
For those seeking a lunchtime meal or post-work nosh up, Bucca Di Bacco , The Balti House , La Tasca and De Coubertini's are all fine eating places located in the business sector of town. Cafe bars worth a mention include The Qube and Prohibition Bar & Grill , although there are many more to choose from. Liverpool has so much to offer these days that no mere guide can do it justice. Whatever your preference and budget, there's something out there for everyone.
Travelers have a choice of walking or purchasing an economical one-day ticket, valid on buses, trains and ferries. Queen Square, in the heart of the city center is a good place to start. It's a brand-new complex dominated by the Marriott City Center hotel and has an amazing variety of modern and high-tech designer watering holes and eateries. Have your breakfast on the piazza or roof terrace of the Rat & Parrot , and survey the scene. Take a moment to consider the evening dining possibilities, perhaps La Tasca Tapas Bar & Restaurant, Squares, De Alto Mediterranean restaurant, Ask and many more. Close by is the Royal Court Theater hosting a wide range of concerts. For those on the culture trail follow the signs to St Georges Hall , which is one of the finest Neo-classical buildings in the world. After gazing in awe, you can stroll across to the Walker Art Gallery and view the collection of old Masters. Next door is the Liverpool Museum and Planetarium. Children will love the outstanding displays from the natural world and the inner mysteries of outer space. Spaced-out? Then you could indulge in some light refreshment at the museum or gallery. If you have time, you could pop down the road to Rumford Street and visit the Western Approaches Museum . Here you can search the underground labyrinth of rooms that were once the top-secret nerve center in 1940s wartime Britain.
Enjoy a pleasant stroll back to Mathew Street and Cavern Walks. For those who support the reds, about-turn to Williamson Square as the Liverpool Football Club shop supplies the lot, from LFC hallmarked baby bottles to home and away kits. Fancy a bargain? Call at St John's Market , sharp left and you're there. Or are you a high street groupie? If so carry on down Tarleton Street, past John Lewis (George Henry Lee) and Marks & Spencer , to find what used to be the main pedestrian shopping area. Never fear, however, as the shops are only a side street away. Discover the chain shops you know and love so well, whilst squeezing past the street market stalls that sell everything from handbags to hot dogs.
Serious shoppers will not be disappointed. Clayton Square shopping center offers a wide selection of stores including Disney Shop , Virgin, Boots The Body Shop and Oasis . Walking out of the Square opposite Central Station, to your left is the huge Lewis's building with its "statue exceedingly bare". To your right, you will see Bold Street, well-known in the 50s and 60s for its posh frock shops. Now pedestrianized, you can find a more contemporary selection of stores including Monsoon , Karen Millen , Warehouse, Kookai and Dune .
If you are already weak at the knees from shopping overkill, then visit one of the many cafe bars further along the same street. All new, Bijou, Coffee Union, Cafe D'oro, XS and more.
Walk back through Church Street, past Top Shop, WH Smiths , and Next ; you will now be back in Mathew Street, otherwise known as the Cavern Quarter and have at last reached the infamous Cavern Club .... Ah! Those heady days of the 60s with stone walls, dripping excitement and sounds of the Beatles, the Searchers, and the Swinging Blue Jeans. If you want to know more, The Magical Mystery Tour will take you there.
Time for lunch now and just around the corner you can find Casa Italia and Casa Bella , or try De Coubertini's, an exciting themed sports bar serving delicious light meals. For the afternoon's delights head towards the Pier Head, the River Mersey, and Albert Dock . Walk or ride on one of the circular mini buses that run from the city center to Albert Dock at regular intervals. Once there you can enjoy a 50-minute cruise on the Ferry across the Mersey and view the spectacular sights of the famous waterfront; The Royal Liver Building , complete with mythical Liver Birds, the Cunard and Port of Liverpool Buildings are all magnificent in grandeur and architectural vision.
Back on dry land, take a pleasant stroll to the Museum of Liverpool Life . A footstep away is the renovated Albert Dock complex offering a haven of goodies. Shops, cafes, restaurants and pubs are in abundance and don't forget a visit to the Tate Gallery . Within the gallery, the Tate Cafe with its boat-shaped mezzanine level is well worth a visit. After a light snack you could visit four floors of displays that make up the largest modern art collection in the North of England. Back among the Colonnades, there are plenty of souvenirs, jewelery, sweets, books and toys to buy. Children can examine Fred the Weatherman's Island and perhaps take a trip on the ship that sails around the dock throughout the day.
Situated within the complex, The Beatles Story awaits, so take a walk through time and re-visit the 60s Mersey beat era; George Michael's recent purchase of John Lennon's piano is hopefully due to return here later in the year. During peak holiday periods you will often find a fairground geared towards young children in the vicinity. You may now be feeling exhausted and ravenous, seek no more.... sustenance is close at hand; What's Cooking , Mister M's Seafood Restaurant, Blue Bar & Grill , Bar Monaco and Est Est Est all offer exceptional cuisine and a warm welcome. Enjoy the break as the evening has only just begun.