Liverpool produced the world’s greatest pop band and modern Merseyside moves to a cosmopolitan and cultured beat.
Liverpool struts it stuff in northwest England, arms out-stretched over the famous River Mersey and back turned on its regional rival, Manchester. Beatles heritage is still well and truly at its heart, but Liverpool has grown up; expect culture, art, UNESCO World Heritage and a warm welcome.
During the swinging 60s, and with thanks to The Beatles, Liverpool became the centre of the cultural world. The Cavern Club is where Beatlemania began – the Fab Four played a whopping 292 gigs here – and a visit reveals The Fab Four’s modest musical beginnings and still offers the finest live music in the city.
Devoted fans should bed down at the Beatles-inspired Hard Days Night Hotel and spend their day exploring The Beatles Story museum, which includes an interactive tour, rare photographs, memorabilia and the chance to go beneath the waves in the Yellow Submarine. The exhibition is housed in the Albert Dock.
These historic docklands have been granted UNESCO World Heritage Site status and offer an insight into the city’s role as a major trading centre. You’ll find the UK’s largest group of Grade 1-listed buildings, buzzing with modern attractions, bars and restaurants, day and night. The International Slavery Museum tells the tale of the trade, Liverpool’s role in it and its legacy, while the Merseyside Maritime Museum allows visitors to walk aboard a pilot cutter and even try and catch some smugglers.
Liverpool is second only to the capital in terms of listed museums, and like London has its own contemporary art museum, Tate Liverpool. On the shores of Crosby Beach, north of the city, is the impressive artwork, Another Place by Antony Gormley. Across 1.8 miles (3km) of beach, 100 cast-iron statues stand resolutely staring out to sea only to be submerged as the tide comes in.
A scenic rail trip along the northwest coast will take in beachscapes and pine woods, and deliver visitors to the city of Southport. This quaint seaside city offers a little Victorian nostalgia with England’s oldest iron pier, the grand, domed shopping setting of Wayfarers Arcade which opened in 1898 and traditional half-timber tearooms. There is also the chance to tee off on the links, with 12 exceptional golf courses nearby along England’s Golf Coast.
For visitors who prefer an urban walk, the tour of Liverpool’s architecture will be both informative and entertaining. Hosted by the Royal Institute of British Architects, trips take in the Minton tiles of St George’s Hall, the newly renovated magnificence of Central Library and the long, straight roads of the Ropewalks.
Nearby Port Sunlight is also a worthy excursion. Built in the late 19th century as a home for the employees of Lord Leverhulme’s factory, his 30 architects created one of the most picturesque villages in the north. Houses with pitched roofs, expertly pruned gardens and adjoining allotments create the perfect model of little England.