By Kingfisher Visitor Guides
The Wirral is only a few short train stops or a quick drive from Liverpool – but you could be in a different world. The peninsula occupies a glorious position between two rivers, the Dee and the Mersey, and offers visitors a dazzling array of stunning countryside, fine food, arts, culture and nightlife.
A down-to-earth experience
Birkenhead offers a great shopping centre – Pyramids – which pulls together more than 100 shops and cafes. It’s also next door to the fantastic Birkenhead Market, which features the Merseyside Collectors’ Centre, an Aladdin’s cave for anyone interested in stamps, coins, models and much more.
As well as high street shopping, Wirral also boasts a range of more quirky retail experiences – such as the antique stores and boutiques in West Kirby and Hoylake, and Brimstage Hall & Courtyard, where you can find unique fashions, crafts, homewares and gifts. Out towards Ellesmere Port is Cheshire Oaks, a huge outlet village where you’ll find bargains galore, as well as restaurants, bars and a nearby cinema.
For food lovers, Wirral has a lot to offer – including farmers’ markets, a rich variety of locally-sourced produce, and an impressive calendar of food-related events. Restaurant Fraiche in Oxton is Merseyside’s only Michelin-starred venue, and joining it in the Good Food Guide’s pages is Da Piero in Irby.
More casual dining can be found throughout the area, including some great gastropubs – try the Fox & Hounds in Barnston. If you’re more in the mood for liquid refreshment, try the stylish, award-winning Wro Bar in West Kirby – there’s even a sister restaurant nearby. If you prefer something more traditional, try Gallaghers Pub and Barbers in Birkenhead. This is a true original, offering a wide selection of locally-brewed ales, as well as the chance to get a trim or a shave in the barbers upstairs!
As well as high street shopping, Wirral also boasts a range of more quirky retail experiences – such as the antique stores and boutiques in West Kirby and Hoylake
While eating, drinking and shopping are all well catered for, one of the areas main attractions is its stunning scenery, walks and bike trails. Wirral has several amazing country parks, all offering something different. Wirral Country Park has a great visitor centre in Thurstaston, lots of open space, and beautiful clifftop views over the beach and the Dee Estuary. At the 400-acre Arrowe Country Park, you can also find football pitches, tennis, and an 18-hole golf course.
If you’re feeling adventurous, try a trip to Hilbre Island where you can see rare plant, bird and animal life, and even a colony of grey seals. Make sure you check the tide times first, as the islands are cut off from the mainland at certain times.
There are lots of high-quality green flag parks in the area, and you are never far from green spaces – even the bustling town of Birkenhead has its own vast park, the first of its kind in the world, home to listed buildings, lakes and a superb children’s playground.
The beaches in Wirral are beautiful, offering panoramic views and a variety of watersports and leisure activities. Quaint seaside towns like West Kirby and Hoylake sit along the coast, packed with bars, cafes and attractive shops, and the recently regenerated New Brighton has a traditional seaside feel – with theatres, amusements, and lots for the kids to do.
Inland, there are also some gorgeous, postcard perfect villages to visit. Leafy Thornton Hough is an idyllic spot, as is the conservation area at the heart of Bidston Village. There are walking trails and cycle paths throughout the area, both at the coast and in the countryside, allowing you to really get out and about in beautiful British scenery. Ness Botanic Gardens in Neston has more than 60 acres of beautiful garden walks, featuring 15,000 plants and amazing views, as well as the Botanic Kitchen Cafe.
If you’re feeling adventurous, try a trip to Hilbre Island where you can see rare plant, bird and animal life, and even a colony of grey seals
Arts and culture
Culture buffs aren’t left out, as Wirral’s rich history is reflected in a present that has a strong emphasis on the arts. Port Sunlight is well worth a visit, with its pretty workers’ homes, museum, and even its own Gladstone Theatre. You can also see some amazing works of art at the Lady Lever Gallery, containing one of the best collections of fine and decorative art in the country.
The ferries are an attraction in their own right, but there are also lots of great places to visit nearby the ferry terminals. Spaceport Science Centre near the Seacombe Ferry Terminal provides hours of entertainment and education.
In Birkenhead, you can visit both the Williamson Art Gallery & Museum, and the unique Wilfred Owen Gallery and Story, in tribute to the famous poet. You can see a great display of vintage, trams, buses and other vehicles at the Wirral Transport Museum, and even hop a ride on a ‘heritage bus’.
If you have children with you, there are a variety of animal-based attractions that they might enjoy – including the Tam O’Shanter Urban Farm in Bidston, and Church Farm in Thurstaston.
Wirral itself has more than enough to offer visitors, from coast to country, from galleries to eateries – but if you want to travel further afield, it’s also perfectly located next to Cheshire and North Wales, both destinations in their own right.
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