The chilly breeze of the Atlantic Ocean sent shivers down our spines as we set foot on Albert Dock. The former brick-and-mortar warehouses were once one of the busiest ports in the world, but are now hosts to world-class museums and galleries. We are in Liverpool – a coastal British city that takes much pride in its football and music.
After an arduous 13 hour flight and two-hour train ride from London, we turned all the travel weariness into smiles: we were finally in the land of The Beatles and Liverpool F.C. So, here are 11 things to do, see, eat and cheer in Liverpool!
11 Things to do in Liverpool
1) Get a Dash of Modern Art at Tate Liverpool
Our first stop along Albert Dock is Tate Liverpool, a museum of international modern and contemporary art. This gallery is the first Tate outside of London and harbours a huge collection from the year 1500 until today — all spread across four floors.
We were impressed by the art pieces on display, from humanistic portrayals through the lens of photographers to artworks and sculptures of industrialised cities. I was also enthralled to find out pop art maestro Roy Lichtenstein’s iconic comic book-like works plastered all over the fourth-floor gallery!
2) Learn about the Fab Four’s History at The Beatles Story
No list of things to do in Liverpool is complete without the Beatles trail.
We started our Beatles adventure at The Beatles Story, a museum retelling the famed history of the Fab Four. The exhibitions were meticulously designed, transporting us back to the 1960s where the band first met amidst the “skiffle” craze hitting Liverpool.
We travelled through time and witnessed key moments and places throughout The Beatles’ career like the Cavern Club where they rose to fame, Abbey Road Studios where hits like “Yesterday” was recorded and the Ed Sullivan Show where Beatlemania finally hit American shores.
The most poignant moment was the last gallery – a grand white piano in a white-washed room with John Lennon’s “Imagine” playing on loop. It made me sad to see such a talented singer-songwriter of a generation had his life ended at such a young age.
3) Hop on the Magical Mystery Tour
After reliving the glory days of The Beatles, it was time to witness real first-hand places that were once part of their childhood. The Magical Mystery Tour bus ride took us around the city to the humble childhood homes of John, Paul, George and Ringo, all preserved to this day.
We had a chance to get off the bus to take photos at landmarks immortalised in The Beatles’ songs like “Strawberry Fields Forever,” which was a former Salvation Army children’s home and “Penny Lane,” a street with a local bus terminal at one end and is surrounded by shops and a bank. A selfie at Penny Lane is one of the coolest things to do in Liverpool that lasts forever!
All the buildings we visited looked like typical houses in English suburbs, but they helped me imagine four young musicians meeting up to make music then, not knowing that they would soon be a cultural treasure to the world.
4) Get Loud at the Legendary Cavern Club
We ended The Magical Mystery Tour at the Cavern Club, right in the city centre. The Beatles first show at this club was on 9 February 1961 and their performance convinced Brian Epstein to become their manager and helped them sign their first recording contract.
The Cavern Club is peppered with memorabilia of past and present rock stars. The original stage where The Beatles used to play, a rather small stage with a colourful mosaic of past performers, is still the same as it was 60 years ago.
Just around the corner from Cavern Club is Hard Day’s Night Hotel, a Beatles-themed hotel with countless photos of the band and individually-designed rooms with Beatles artwork. The Lennon Suite even comes with a white grand piano!
5) Feast on a Great British Tradition of Fish and Chips
A full day of The Beatles has made us really hungry, so we decided to hunt for an excellent British signature: fish and chips. Thanks to its close proximity to the sea, Liverpool has a wide selection of traditional fish and chips shops.
We first tried Yanni’s — their haddock was fried to crisp perfection. Not content on just one shop, we walked up Ranelagh Street to The Lobster Pot for another round of fish and chips. Though Yanni’s batter was more delicious, The Lobster Pot’s fillet of cod was huge and came with a generous portion of hand-cut fries.
Trust me when I say that we had the best sleep that night!
6) Stroll along the Pier Head Waterfront
We spent the morning getting swept by the Atlantic Ocean breeze at Pier Head. Admiring the grand buildings lining the waterfront, we chanced upon the Royal Liver Building of which the two towers are guarded by the fabled Liver Birds, protecting both the city and the sea.
I also took photos with The Beatles Statue, where all of them looked dapper in their coats and suits facing the Mersey River. Other statues that were of interest include Titanic Memorial and Merchant Navy War Memorial, a reminder of Liverpool’s maritime roots.
7) Ogle at the Oddly Amusing Superlambanana Statues
While walking along Pier Head, we stumbled upon a bunch of sheep-like sculptures with banana “tails” illustrated with drawings and colours. After further research, we found out they were called Superlambananas, signifying the two most common cargos in the city docks.
The first Superlambanana was created in 1998, and other 125 of these so-called genetic freaks were designed and placed around Liverpool and the Merseyside region. I found the sculpture to be oddly amusing at first, but it became quite an obsession once we spotted other unique Superlambananas around the city.
8) Splurge on Shopping at Liverpool ONE
We spent the rest of the day at Liverpool ONE, a massive strip mall in the city centre with five shopping districts, a park and a Cineplex. We engaged in some high-street shopping, hitting stores like COS, Cath Kidston and Fred Perry. There’s even a Liverpool FC Store for the Reds fans!
Photo credit: Liverpool ONE
The top floor of Liverpool ONE hosts internationally-recognised restaurants, and our taste buds opted for Asian fusion chain Wagamama. We shared a bowl of scrumptious Shiitake Donburi and Seafood Ramen, amazed at the freshness of all the ingredients used.
Shopaholics will definitely love staying at Bridgestreet Liverpool One located right across Liverpool ONE and a 10-minute walk from Albert Dock. This homey serviced apartment comes with a complete kitchen and offers a gorgeous view of the city and the docks.
9) Savour International Flavour on Bold Street
Situated alongside Liverpool Central Station, Bold Street is home to a wide range of restaurants from all corners of the world and chic cafes for those looking for a hot cuppa. We had a tough time deciding what to eat because every eatery seemed equally enticing!
We ended up having lunch at Elif, a Turkish BBQ restaurant. We started with Imam Bayildi, eggplant stuffed with onion, peppers and tomatoes, followed by Ali Nazik, chargrilled chicken cubes served on a bed of aubergine and garlic yoghurt with a helping of rice. The dishes were so delicious we finished everything right to the very last grain of rice!
10) You’ll Never Walk Alone at Liverpool FC
A trip to Liverpool would be incomplete without a visit to Anfield. For many folks in Singapore who make it this side of the world, watching Liverpool FC in action at Anfield is a once-in-a-lifetime epic experience that sits at the very top of things to do in Liverpool. Probably the very reason for even coming out here!
The 55,000-seater stadium is the home to the 18 times league winner and 5 times European champion, Liverpool Football Club. I was indeed fortunate to score a ticket to catch a game while being seated at the legendary Kop end.
I could feel the festive atmosphere across the stadium before the game started as all fans decked out in red chanted to their heart’s content. The noise level was cranked up as soon as the game kicked-off. My hairs rose when the whole stadium belted out “You’ll Never Walk Alone”, and I got a whole lot of adrenaline rush every time Liverpool scored a goal.
After 90 minutes, Liverpool FC claimed victory, and everyone was in a jovial mood, singing the “anthem” as we made our way out of the 134-year-old stadium.
11) Eat Like a Local with a Bowl of Lobscouse
Like the rest of England, Liverpool also gets its fair share of rain, and the best cure for the wet weather is a bowl of lobscouse. Lobscouse is a traditional Northern Atlantic beef stew with onions, potatoes and carrots.
We tried our very first lobscouse at Maggie Mays, a typical British diner, which served it with a side of tangy coleslaw and crusty bread. Although the somewhat bland taste did not jive well with our palates, the heartiness of the stew helped warm our bones.
We were really excited to experience the birthplace of The Beatles and enjoy the roar of a football game. Liverpool also exceeded our expectations by showing off its cosmopolitan ambience with the world-class museums, inventive street art and a wide variety of cuisine.
Unlike The Beatles, it wasn’t a hard day’s night for us to enjoy ourselves, exploring the sights and sounds of the best things to do in Liverpool. Till next time!