Checklist: Liverpool, England

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Checklist: Liverpool, England

Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty

There’s a famous quote about Liverpool from music writer and native son Paul Du Noyer that rings true today more than ever.

“Liverpool is a busker, deep down…When all else fails—and sometimes it does—this town will sing for its supper.”

From glory days as a shipping powerhouse during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, when millions of immigrants arrived in search of work, to serving as a strategic hub during WWII, followed by post-industrial decline, Liverpool has soared high and fallen low.

Through it all, Liverpudlians have managed to sing their own song and create a unique voice that captures the diversity of cultures and ideas that have mixed, struggled and mingled here for centuries.

This feisty spirit and creative energy have ushered in a renaissance. And, today, Liverpool is staging a grand show for all to see. With a nod to the past and wink to the future, the busker is enjoying a much-deserved moment in the spotlight.

And the best part is, discount airlines fly into John Lennon Airport from London and dozens of cities throughout Europe, making a visit to Liverpool as easy as humming your favorite Beatles’ tune (more on the city’s most famous sons below.)

1. Albert Dock

albert dock.jpg
Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty

Nowhere is Liverpool’s industrious past and promising future more in unison than Albert Dock. An empire’s luxury goods—silk, tea, tobacco and sugar—once filled these mid-19th century warehouses. Today, art, music and food are commodities of this UNESCO World Heritage site.

Housing the U.K.’s largest concentration of national museums outside London, most with free admission, Albert Dock is the place to begin Liverpool immersion.

Seek understanding in the International Slavery Museum where powerful exhibits examine the city’s slave trading history as well as modern day servitude around the globe. Explore Liverpool’s lead role in the Titanic story at Merseyside Maritime Museum, then find inspiration in Cindy Sherman’s self-portraits at the Tate Liverpool.

Replenish with a toastie (sandwich) and tea from a dockside food truck as you watch contemporary sailors in action.

2. The Beatles’ Experience

Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty

Liverpool and The Beatles are forever intertwined and the city embraces the immense legacy with well-designed tours and museums.

The Beatles’ Story is a love letter to the Fab Four. Music and memorabilia lead visitors from their humble beginnings to the heights of Beatlemania.

Step aboard the Magical Mystery Tour for a music-fueled bus ride through the places that shaped the band, including childhood homes. Your ticket includes entry to the world’s most famous bar, the brick-vaulted Cavern Club. Experiencing a tribute show in the cellar where the band performed over 300 times is a must for every fan.

3. The Philharmonic Dining Rooms

Such a fancy name is fitting for one of England’s most ornate public houses. Known more simply as “The Phil,” this pub is ideal for enjoying a bitter or Pimms before a performance from the Liverpool Philharmonic across the street.

Seating areas lavished in mahogany and mosaics transport visitors to the salon of grand ocean liner, and rightly so. The same ship builders who crafted the famed RMS Lusitania designed the space.

4. Pier Head

Photo by Richard Stonehouse/Getty

From this area north of Albert Dock, ferries sail the Mersey River as they have for centuries, under watch of the “Three Graces.” The trio of Edwardian buildings includes the Cunard, once home to the world’s largest passenger steamship line. In true Liverpool fashion, transformation is underway with the British Music Experience opening in February.

“Are yeh comin round t’ours disavvy?” Learn the meaning of this phrase and others in local Scouse dialect at Museum of Liverpool. The striking modern museum provides a window into the region’s soul with exhibits ranging from a tenement house replica known as a “court” to films about local passions including football and music. Head to the third floor for a view of the two copper liver birds atop the Royal Liver building, a symbol of the city.

5. Byrnes Fish and Chips

You could visit Liverpool without diving into a “chippy,” but we wouldn’t recommend it. Most locals can speak at length about the delicate art, from type of fish and potato to seasoning. It’s serious business, and no place gets down to business more professionally than Byrnes.

Since 1932, the Liverpool institution has been serving up fish fingers and cakes, alongside puds and pies.

6. Penny Lane

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Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty

It’s impossible to walk along the famous street, without singing, “Penny Lane is in my ears and in my eyes.” Local legend says Beatles’ manager Brian Epstein challenged both Lennon and McCartney to pen a song about their home. Paul’s tune told of the people he saw while walking with his mum down Penny Lane. 

Bypass tourists taking selfies by road signs and make tracks for The Dovey. Once known as Dovedale Towers, the local joint recently reopened with a shorter moniker and larger beer garden. The chatty bartenders are an entertaining source of music news, past and present, as everyone seems to perform in a local band.

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