Planning a city break in Liverpool, England? This guide should help you make the most of your trip…
Capital of Culture in 2008, host of the Eurovision in 2023, and a UNESCO City of Music… Liverpool is FULL of culture.
After all, this is the city that gave us The Beatles, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Echo and the Bunnymen, the Zutons, the Wombats, Mel C, Cilla Black… the list just goes on and on!
The incredible musical heritage is just the tip of the iceberg, though. The city centre is bursting with culture and history, from the beautifully regenerated waterfront area to the stunning Cultural Quarter, crammed with listed buildings and art galleries.
So when Radisson RED reached out to see if I wanted to experience Liverpool from their hot new city centre property, I jumped at the chance. A city break filled with art, culture, and heritage, staying in one of Liverpool’s most iconic buildings, sounded like the perfect way to kick off the year.
Here’s my guide to help you plan the perfect Liverpool city break – especially handy for first-time visitors or anyone who only has a day or two in the city. Enjoy…
I was hosted by Radisson RED Liverpool with an itinerary supported by Museums Liverpool. As always, all words and opinions are absolutely my own.
Where to Stay on your Liverpool City Break
What is the best area to stay in Liverpool?
If it’s your first time visiting Liverpool, I highly recommend staying in the City Centre. This is where you’ll find most of the city’s major museums and attractions so you’ll be able to see a lot while you’re there.
There’s also a great mix of hotels, bars, and restaurants to suit all budgets, from popular chains to independents and hidden gems. Look for hotels close to Lime Street Station and St George’s Place to be within walking distance of all the top attractions. The Radisson RED Liverpool would be my number one choice – more on that below.
- City Centre – best for your first visit to Liverpool.
- The Baltic Triangle and the Ropewalks area – two creative, alternative neighbourhoods. Stay in these areas if you’re looking for nightlife & cool vibes.
- Royal Albert Dock – great for waterfront views. This regenerated waterfront area has several budget hotels – and is also where you’ll find Liverpool’s YHA hostel.
Stay at the Radisson RED Liverpool in the City Centre
If you’re looking for the BEST place to stay in Liverpool city centre, look no further than the Radisson RED Liverpool. It’s directly next door to Liverpool’s Lime Street Station and within walking distance of all the city centre attractions. I was lucky enough to stay here on my recent trip and can confirm that it’s every bit as stunning as it looks!
This beautiful, historic building began life as the North Western Hall, a grand railway hotel that opened in 1871, closed in 1933, and was used as student accommodation in the 1990s!
Radisson RED restored and renovated the iconic Grade-II-listed building – giving it a fun, contemporary makeover whilst still making the most of those incredible original features, like the grand sandstone staircase and a vast 19th-century stained glass window.
I loved how much personality the hotel had. There’s quirky decor throughout and so much art everywhere it feels like staying inside an art gallery. Plus, there are lots of fun nods to Liverpool’s history and culture – including several nods to the city’s most famous export, The Beatles.
The fun decor and historic-meets-contemporary vibes continue in the bedrooms, with exposed brick walls and industrial-chic metal trim. There’s more art here, too, with bespoke pieces created by local artist Indigo Art adorning the walls. Oh, and the bed was one of the comfiest I’ve slept on in a while – perfect after a long day exploring the city.
Book one of the St George’s View rooms, which are found at the front of the property, for stunning views of the grand, neoclassical St George’s Hall.
Downstairs, the stylish Stoke restaurant is easily one of the best places to eat in the city centre – with amazing food, cool decor, and more great views of St George’s Place. Fuel up with their fantastic breakfasts before a day of sightseeing – but be sure to dine here in the evening during your stay too, or at least swing by the bar for a cocktail (I can highly recommend the RED Cosmo).
Top Things to Do on a City Break in Liverpool
If you only have a day or two in Liverpool, you’ll probably want to stick to the city centre. For your first visit, I’d recommend focusing on the Cultural Quarter and the Docklands areas of Pier Head and Royal Albert Docks. Click here for a map showing where these characterful neighbourhoods are.
These are where you’ll find many of Liverpool’s most historic listed buildings – as well as the city’s best museums and art galleries. You can explore all three neighbourhoods on foot, or get around quickly and easily using public transport or Uber. The Commercial District between the two is also home to some beautiful old buildings, including Liverpool Town Hall.
Below, I’ve broken down some of the best things to do in the city centre on a short break in Liverpool….
1. Pier Head and Royal Albert Docks
Climb the Royal Liver Building for the Best View of Liverpool
This was one of the BEST things we did on my recent city break in Liverpool. The iconic, Grade-I-Listed Royal Liver Building was Europe’s first skyscraper when it opened in 1911 – and remains one of the tallest buildings in the city at 322ft tall.
Join the Royal Liver Building 360 guided tour and climb to the 15th-floor viewing platform for stunning 360° views of the city.
On a clear day, you can even see the peaks of Eryri (Snowdonia) in Northern Wales. On the way up, you’ll learn the interesting history of the building – and watch a fab audio-visual show inside the historic clock tower.
Look out for the two Liver Birds, nicknamed Bella and Bertie, who sit atop the two towers of the building. Bella looks out to sea, while Bertie looks inland – either to watch over the city, or to see which pubs are open, depending on which local legend you listen to!
Info: Adult tickets cost £16 and there are tours every 15 minutes from 9am (subject to demand). Click here to pre-book.
Wander the Docklands Area for Merseyside Views
Hop across the road from the Liver Building to explore Liverpool’s beautiful waterfront area: specifically Pier Head and the Royal Albert Docks.
Dating back to the 18th century, this area was once a hub of industrial activity. The original Old Dock was built in 1715, and later the Albert Dock officially opened in 1846.
Neighbouring Pier Head was adorned with three iconic buildings in the early 20th century: the Royal Liver Building, The Cunard Building and the Port of Liverpool Building. Known as the Three Graces, this stunning skyline was built to symbolise Liverpool’s international prestige and commercial prowess.
Following Liverpool’s year as the City of Culture in 2008, a huge regeneration project transformed the waterfront, breathing new life into the area. Today, the Royal Albert Docks’ warehouses and industrial buildings are home to museums and art galleries – including the Tate Liverpool – as well as shops, restaurants, and hotels.
Wander the walkways of this attractive waterfront area to soak up views of the Mersey, the Three Graces, and the historic red-brick buildings of the docks.
Learn the City’s Story at the Museum of Liverpool
It’s not just about the historical buildings in the docklands areas, though. One fantastic new addition to Pier Head is the Museum of Liverpool: an impressive, angular building clad in light grey Jura limestone.
If you only visit one museum in Liverpool, make it this one. The incredible space is home to exhibitions charting the history and culture of the city and the story of Liverpool life.
DON’T miss the brilliant Wonderous Place gallery on the top floor. This is the story of Liverpool as a creative and cultural hub: a fantastic, interactive exhibition showcasing the sporting, TV, film, art, and music legends Liverpool has produced – as well as a small section highlighting Liverpool’s role in the video gaming industry.
The music section feels like the best one here (although sports fans will probably disagree with me)! Predictably, there’s a lot of Beatles memorabilia – including the St Peter’s Church Hall stage where John Lennon and Paul McCartney first met. But there are plenty of other legendary Liverpudlian musicians to celebrate – I was much more excited by Mel C’s stage costume if I’m being honest!
Top Tip: be sure to check out the view from the People’s Republic gallery for an amazing view of Pier Head and the Liver Building:
Don’t Miss the International Slavery Museum
One of the main attractions in Royal Albert Docks is the fantastic Maritime Museum, housed within a historic red-brick building right on the waterfront. There are several floors dedicated to Liverpool’s shipbuilding and seafaring history – including the popular Titanic exhibition on the second floor.
But the one you really shouldn’t miss is the International Slavery Museum on the third floor.
This important and thoughtfully-curated museum tells the story of Liverpool’s role in the transatlantic slave trade – and how that trade impacted the city, the UK, and the world in general.
During the 18th century, Liverpool was Britain’s main slaving port, with ships from the city transporting some 1.5 million Africans across the Atlantic. The museum shines a light on that history – but also addresses contemporary human rights issues. Don’t miss this excellent and thought-provoking museum.
2. The Cultural Quarter
Take a Tour of St George’s Hall
You can’t miss St George’s Hall when you visit Liverpool. Literally, in fact – it’s right opposite Lime Street Station and the neighbouring Radisson RED hotel. So it will be one of the first buildings you see if you arrive by train, and is a bit of a focal point in the city centre.
This is one of Liverpool’s many Grade-I-listed buildings, with striking Neoclassical architecture.
Opened in 1854, the beautiful exterior houses an eclectic mixture of law courts, cells, and lavish concert halls. Initially, the plan was for two separate buildings – but the same architect was hired for both and the plans were combined to create one grand hall.
You can take a guided tour to peep into the underground prison cells, the courtroom, and the two elaborately decorated concert halls. There are also regular concerts held at St George’s Hall, so check out what’s on during your visit!
See What’s On at the Walker Art Gallery
Just across the road from St George’s Hall, the Walker Art Gallery boasts a vast collection of art – from the 13th century to the present day.
It’s free to visit and has some incredible pieces – including works by the likes of Rembrandt, Turner, Monet, and Degas.
The gallery is also home to the UK’s longest-running painting competition, the John Moore’s Painting Prize. Taking place every two years, this contest is open to all UK-based painters, with works submitted and judged anonymously.
The exhibition was on when I visited and features a fantastic range of contemporary paintings. I loved seeing work by established painters alongside pieces by undiscovered and emerging painters.
Each winner’s work is also added to the gallery’s permanent collection – including the prize’s very first winner, David Hockney. So even if the exhibition isn’t on when you head to Liverpool, you can still check out the work of past winners.
Enjoy the Eclectic Collections at the World Museum
Another must-see attraction in the “Cultural Quarter” is the World Museum. This is another beautiful, neo-classical building very close to St George’s Hall, with a sweeping stone staircase in front.
The museum’s collections are wide-ranging: from archaeology and antiquities to natural history and physical sciences. There’s also a small aquarium (with living exhibits) and a full dome planetarium on the top floor.
In short, there’s truly something for everyone at this fab, free museum – and it’s a great place to take the kids if you’re visiting Liverpool as a family.
Beatles Attractions in Liverpool
Liverpool has produced some of the most famous British bands and musicians over the decades – and none are more famous than the Beatles! The iconic rock group were born in the city and their legacy can still be felt today.
If you want to learn more, there’s not one but two Beatles museums in Liverpool – and several other attractions to consider adding to your itinerary:
- Liverpool Beatles Museum – one of the largest Beatles collections in the world. Click here to pre-book tickets.
- The Beatles Story – an immersive journey through the lives, times, and music of The Beatles. Click here to pre-book tickets.
- The Cavern Club – the so-called “birthplace of the Beatles”, a historic underground nightclub which still boasts a thriving live music scene.
- The Beatles Statue – bronze statues of the four Beatles created by sculptor Andy Edwards. You’ll find it opposite the Liver Building on Pier Head.
- Walking tour – check out this Beatles and Cavern Quarter Walking Tour (from £15.40pp) for an in-depth tour led by a local guide.
More Great Museums and Galleries in Liverpool
- Merseyside Maritime Museum – discover Liverpool’s seafaring history. Don’t miss the Titanic exhibition here.
- The Bluecoat – Liverpool’s oldest building, now a creative space hosting regular events and exhibitions.
- Tate Liverpool – iconic art gallery, temporarily housed at RIBA North on Mann Island while the Albert Dock building undergoes refurbishment.
- The British Music Experience – discover the ultimate history of British pop and rock.
If you Have More Time in Liverpool
Looking for more? My blogger pal Steph has a fab guide to the 21 best things to do in Liverpool, so check that out for loads more trip inspo. Here are a couple of quick extras for your time in Liverpool…
- Visit the football stadiums. Liverpool has two premier league teams: Liverpool FC play at Anfield Stadium, while Everton play at Goodison Park. A tour of Liverpool Football Club Museum and Stadium is a must for any football fan! Click here to check prices.
- Visit the cathedral. Liverpool’s cathedral is the largest religious building in the UK. Visit this beautiful, red-brick cathedral to marvel at the historic architecture. You can also book the Above and Beyond Tour (£25pp) to climb the cathedral tower for stunning views.
- Take a boat ride on the Mersey. Soak up views of Liverpool from the iconic Mersey River estuary (and try to resist singing the famous Gerry and the Pacemakers song while you do so). The ten-minute ferry ride between Liverpool and the Wirral costs £3.80 for an adult return. Alternatively, this Sightseeing River Cruise (from £12pp) is a great way to see the waterfront and learn a little local history.
- Explore Chinatown. Did you know Liverpool’s Chinatown was the first to be established in Europe? Head to the area around Nelson Street and Duke Street to discover this diverse area.
- Discover Liverpool’s alternative districts. The Baltic Triangle and Ropewalks neighbourhoods are two formerly industrial areas near the Royal Albert Docks. Historic warehouses provide homes for creative spaces, quirky start-ups, and independent businesses. Both have great nightlife and food scenes – don’t miss them!
Best Tours in Liverpool
If you’re short on time, a tour can be a great way to get a good intro to Liverpool and explore with a local guide. I always use Get Your Guide to find and book tours as they have a great range and a solid review system to help you know what to expect. Here are some of the top-rated tours in Liverpool for your city break…
How to Get to Liverpool
By Car (Cheapest City Centre Parking in Liverpool)
If you’re coming by car, you can drive into Liverpool city centre fairly easily via the M62. The cheapest car parking in the city centre can be found at St Johns shopping centre (use postcode L1 1NQ). It costs £5.50 for 24 hours – but you have to pre-register to get this rate.
This is a bit of a Liverpool travel hack that apparently not even many locals know about! Simply sign up here and add your car registration number (licence plate) and card details in advance. Your car reg will be scanned on arrival and again when you leave – and your card will automatically be charged the correct amount. It’s so easy to use!
The central train station is Liverpool Lime Street. There are direct trains to Liverpool Lime Street Station from many stations in the UK, including nearby Manchester (54 minutes) and London Euston (2 hours 21 minutes).
You can also take a direct train from Manchester Airport to Liverpool Lime Street which takes 1 hour and 20 minutes. Check rail times and schedules on National Rail. If you are travelling by rail, I highly recommend staying at the Radisson RED Liverpool, which is directly next door to the train station.
Liverpool has an international airport, the John Lennon Airport, which has direct routes to over 60 destinations throughout Europe. Within the UK, there are also direct flights between Liverpool and Belfast, Derry, and the Isle of Man.
Liverpool Airport is about a 20 to 30-minute drive from the city centre – costing around £20 in an Uber.
Alternatively, you can take Arriva’s 500 bus service from the airport to Liverpool City Centre (including Great Charlotte Street for Lime Street Rail Station). Buses operate every 30 minutes from 4am until midnight. You can also take the 80A or the 86A into the city centre, or there are several other bus networks from the airport to other parts of the city – click here for a route map.
Alternatively, you can take the 500 or 86A buses to Liverpool South Parkway, then take a train to Liverpool Lime Street or Liverpool Central. Click here for more details on travel between the city centre and the airport.
Liverpool is a pretty small city, so walking is the best and easiest way to get around. There’s also a great public transport network in place: use Mersey Travel to check timetables and to plan your journey.
You can also take a Hop-On Hop-Off Bus around Liverpool. I’ve used these in other cities and they’re a great way to see a lot in one day, without exhausting yourself by walking all over the place. Tickets start from £18pp – click here to check prices and availability.
If you’re going outside the main city centre, Uber, taxis, buses, and the underground stations of Liverpool Central, Lime Street, Moorfield’s, and James Street are also options.
More Tips for Your City Break in Liverpool
How many days do I need in Liverpool?
As it’s a fairly compact city, you could see most of the city centre in two days. That’s why Liverpool makes such an awesome weekend city break destination.
If you’re short on time, you can cram a lot into just one day in Liverpool. But I’d recommend staying for at least two nights. That way, you can see most of the major sights, make the most of the incredible food and nightlife scene, and maybe catch some of the live music the city is so famous for. There’s a reason Liverpool is ranked as one of the UK’s best cities for nightlife!
When to Visit
Like most cities, Liverpool can be a year-round destination. Summer generally has the best weather, but the shoulder seasons of spring and summer can be very pretty. And with so many fab museums and indoor attractions, Liverpool can also be good fun in winter. I visited in January and had lovely, frosty sunshine – great sightseeing weather!
May to September is the peak travel season in the UK, with warmer weather and less rain. But the “Great British Weather” is unpredictable (it’s why we love to talk about it so much) so there can still be rain in the middle of summer sometimes!
Be aware that bank holiday weekends and school holidays can be busier and more expensive to travel – especially the Easter holidays (usually a week either side of Easter) and the 6-week summer holiday (end of July to beginning of September).
Prepare for All Weathers
As mentioned above, British weather can be unpredictable all year round. Even if you’re visiting in summer, you may still experience rain: so pack a light raincoat and/or an umbrella.
In winter, there’s a chance of ice or snow in very cold weather. So pack some shoes or boots with good grip – and make sure to bring lots of layers. We often joke about having “four seasons in a day” in the UK – dressing in layers makes it easy to adjust your outfit as needed throughout the day.
Check out my England Autumn Packing List for tips if you’re visiting in the shoulder season.
Is Liverpool a walkable city?
As mentioned earlier, Liverpool has a fairly compact city centre and is very walkable. If you want to travel to one of the neighbourhoods outside of the city centre, there’s a great public transport network in place – or you can hop in an Uber.
More in Liverpool and Nearby
If you have more time in Liverpool, or want to explore more of the area, check out these other guides…
Also, check out @get_reviewed_liverpool on Instagram for loads of fab local tips about the latest cool places to eat and things to do in the city. I met the lady behind the account on my trip there and can confirm she knows ALL the best stuff in Liverpool!
Are there any other tips, travel hacks, or things to do that you’d add to this Liverpool city break guide? Share in the comments below!