The magnificent waterfront
Liverpool is renowned across the globe for its unrivalled musical heritage and world-class sport but there is a whole lot more to this UNESCO World Heritage Site. With more parks than Paris, one of the largest collections of Grade 1-listed buildings in the UK and more museums and art galleries than anywhere outside London you’ll never be short of something to do. One of the many great things about Liverpool is its size. Relatively small but perfectly formed, you can visit most city centre attractions on foot and that’s the best way to take in the sights.
A great place to start is Liverpool’s magnificent waterfront – the jewel in the city’s crown and a huge source of civic pride. The iconic Liver Birds, Three Graces, cathedrals and other landmarks provide a stunning backdrop to the River Mersey. Before you begin exploring, pay a visit to the Museum of Liverpool – the world’s first national museum devoted to the history of a regional city. More than 6,000 objects bring Liverpool’s incredible history to life, celebrating thousands of years of the city’s achievements.
Take a trip on a Ferry ‘cross the Mersey’. Seeing the world-class Liverpool skyline from the water is an experience you are unlikely to forget and there are lots of journey options including night cruises. Mersey Ferries offer a River Explorer ticket with guided commentary, including entry to the U-Boat story attraction at Woodside in Wirral, as well as longer cruises along to the Manchester Ship Canal.
The Albert Dock is packed with attractions including Tate Liverpool which houses a fine collection of British and international modern and contemporary art, as well as the Merseyside Maritime Museum and International Slavery Museum. The award-winning Beatles Story, the world’s largest permanent exhibition purely devoted to the life and times of The Beatles, is a must for music fans.
Liverpool boasts two cathedrals, immortalised in the old folk song ‘In My Liverpool Home,’ and even though they are vastly different in architecture, both are majestic and beautiful. Liverpool Anglican Cathedral, described by writer and poet Sir John Betjeman as ‘one of the great buildings of the world,’ took 74 years to build from the foundation stone being laid in 1904. Check out the Tower which boasts spectacular views across the city. The Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King was opened in 1967 and features modern works of art, a crypt and glorious multi-coloured windows.
The iconic Liver Birds, Three Graces, cathedrals and other landmarks provide a stunning backdrop to the River Mersey
For those who prefer organised tours, there are plenty of bus and walking tours including The Magical Mystery Tour, a two-hour exploration of Beatles Liverpool. There are lots of options for Beatles fans including National Trust tours of Mendips and Forthlin Road, former childhood homes of Lennon and McCartney. Tours also include Anfield, home of Liverpool FC and Everton’s ground Goodison Park. Walking tours take in the city’s rich history, and many landmarks including historic Chinatown, the oldest in Europe. Liverpool’s spooky past can also be explored on ghost tours packed full of sinister tales – not for the faint-hearted.
Other interesting and quirky tours include the Mersey Tunnels Tour and an exploration of the Williamson Tunnels – a labyrinth of tunnels in the Edge Hill area of the city, built under the direction of eccentric businessman Joseph Williamson. You can also get a fascinating glimpse into the past with an Old Dock Guided Tour, seeing the historic dock that now lies beneath the Liverpool ONE complex.
Those with a head for heights can take a trip to the viewing gallery at the top of the landmark 400 feet Radio City Tower (or to give it its official name, St John’s Beacon). For those with a bit more time to explore attractions a little further out from Liverpool, there are numerous options. Just five miles north of Liverpool lies Crosby, home to Another Place, an art installation by renowned artist Antony Gormley. The installation features 100, spectacular cast iron, life size figures located across three metres of foreshore, stretching about one kilometre out to sea.
A further five miles north and you’ll reach Formby with its stunning sand dune-lined coastline, pine woods and a red squirrel reserve. At the northernmost tip of Merseyside is Southport, a classic seaside town. The recently-restored pier will blow the cobwebs away or stroll along the wide shopping avenues and arcades that are full of character. Younger members of the family will love Dunes Splash World waterpark and Southport’s Model Railway Village, while the town also boasts two great parks Hesketh Park and the Botanic Gardens, located in the quaint village of Churchtown.
Other interesting and quirky tours include the Mersey Tunnels Tour and an exploration of the Williamson Tunnels – a labyrinth of tunnels in the Edge Hill area of the city, built under the direction of eccentric businessman Joseph Williamson
Take a trip to Blackpool or the zoo
Head up the coast through Lancashire to Blackpool, a great day out no matter how old you are. Thrillseekers can enjoy white knuckle rides at Blackpool Pleasure Beach, while other attractions include the landmark tower, a zoo, two piers and donkey rides on the beach. If you are visiting the region in late summer/autumn extend your day trip into the evening to experience Blackpool illuminations, an annual lights festival founded in 1879. The event lasts for 66 days from late August to early November.
A little further north lies the glory and majesty that is the Lake District, England’s largest national park. Lovers of wildlife should head to Martin Mere Wetland Centre in Burscough, West Lancashire, around a 40-minute drive from Liverpool. Whatever time of year, there’s always something to see at the vast marshlands, from ducklings to migrating swans.
For an experience that gets you up close and personal with animals including lions, elephants and baboons, visit Knowsley Safari Park, a 30-minute drive from Liverpool city centre. Visitors are taken on a thrilling five mile safari drive; though take care in the baboon enclosure as the cheeky primates are very fond of snapping off car windscreen wipers; there is a car-friendly route. A new attraction is the Amur Tiger Trail, where visitors can explore a forest in search of tigers.
Chester Zoo is also a fantastic family day out. The world-renowned, award-winning zoo boasts 21,000 animals, 500 different species and a new attraction featuring the recreation of the tropical environments of six South East Asia islands. Chester is close to the North Wales border, and wildlife enthusiasts will also love the Welsh Mountain Zoo in Colwyn Bay, featuring chimpanzees, penguins, sea lions and camels to name a few.
North Wales is a great place to spend a day or two, if time is on your side, including the seaside town of Llandudno, castles and stunning scenery. Attractions also include the Great Orme Tramway, Britain’s only cable-hauled public road tramway that transports visitors up and down the Great Orme, a limestone headland. If stepping back in time is more your thing, there are plenty of attractions that bring the rich history of the area alive.
For an experience that gets you up close and personal with animals including lions, elephants and baboons, visit Knowsley Safari Park, a 30-minute drive from Liverpool city centre
Historical houses and the great outdoors
Speke Hall Gardens and Estate, just outside Liverpool, is a Tudor house set on the banks of the River Mersey. The restored house and gardens tell the story of the property’s turbulent history and children will love the maze. South of Liverpool lies Sudley House, a magnificent Victorian merchant’s mansion, set in its own grounds and displaying its original art collection.
If your passion is more industrial history or architecture, Port Sunlight in Wirral is a must-see. The model village, built by the Lever Brothers to accommodate workers at its soap factory, features a museum, a restored worker’s cottage and the Lady Lever Art Gallery – containing a stunning collection of British 18th- and 19th-century paintings, tapestries and sculptures. It’s easy to while away a day in the village which is just a short train ride from Liverpool city centre.
Tatton Park is an award-winning tourist attraction featuring a Tudor Old Hall, neoclassical mansion, a rare-breed farm and 50 acres of landscaped gardens. Also in Cheshire is Beeston Castle and Woodland Park. Boasting a 4,000-year-old history and 40-acre woodland park, Beeston has something for everyone, including peace and tranquillity and some of the best views across the Cheshire plains.
Nearby Delamere Forest is a stunning location for walks, cycling (bike hire is available), horse riding, Go Ape tree top adventure and Forest Segway. There is also plenty to ensure younger family members have a great time. As well as the attractions mentioned above, highlights include the Blue Planet Aquarium in Ellesmere Port, the World of Glass in St Helens, the Catalyst Museum in Widnes and Spaceport in the Wirral.
Award-winning Farmer Ted’s Adventure Farm, near Formby, is also a firm favourite with younger children. There are also lots of attractions in Liverpool to keep kids occupied when the weather isn’t so good including the World Museum’s Little Liverpool gallery, a hands-on fantasy world where children can play and learn. Younger visitors can create their very own Liverpool – a city where they are in charge! You’ll never be short of something to do, whether you’re spending your time exploring the city, its outer edges or a full day or two away. And the sheer breadth of options available means you’re guaranteed to keep everyone happy.
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