Visitors to Liverpool often exclaim their surprise at how magnificent it is. Liverpool seems to have a mixed reputation of being poor and being feisty but rarely is it known for being magnificent. It has a waterfront comparable to the best in the world (New York, Sydney, Venice, Shanghai) and it has buildings comparable to the architecture of London (although not quite as many listed ones, however, more than nay other UK city outside of London). What is it about Liverpool that surprises people?
It’s not just the architecture, the geography of the waterfront city, the vibrant food and drink culture and its thriving arts and alternative scenes. It is the fact that it is constantly being reimagined, regenerated and reinvigorated into a bigger and better version of itself. There is so much to explore that is not in the guidebooks or on the usual routes. Let’s take a quick tour…
There is a company called Independent Liverpool, set up to give independents a chance to thrive using a discount card and a website with plenty of offers. It is currently £15.00, so even if you used it over a weekend, it would be value for money and you would experience the alternative commercial life of the city.
The Acorn is a fabulous bohemian art gallery and vegan / vegetarian café. You can take your own bottle for a small fee. Sadly, it is not accessible.
The Philharmonic in the city centre’s Hope Street is always worth a mention it is well known for its stunning architecture, the men’s toilets in particular being worthy of a visit.
The Albert is one of Lark Lane’s most cherished pubs, popular with locals, visitors and students alike. It is in the centre of Lark Lane, with Keith’s Wine Bar (that also has a good food menu) on the opposite side of the road. People often hover between the two, having a drink on the go at both bars simultaneously.
The Pen Factory on Hope Street in the city centre is the cool sub-street hang-out that has replaced the once-prominent Everyman Bistro as the place to be. It is the hangout of writers, artists, students, theatre-goers, actors and anybody who isn’t in a category. It is large, open plan with a garden. It is accessible too and has a good vegan menu.
The Old Hardware Café in Woolton is an excellent vegan only café that does a fabulous range in soups, snacks, all day breakfasts and delicious cakes. It is very popular, so het there early.
The award-winning Homebaked Anfield is famous for its match-day pies. It is a tiny premises and the queues are often around the block but on non-match days you can get a seat and eat a variety of pies including a vegan option.
Croxteth Country Park is the home of the splendid Croxteth Hall, used for weddings and many films due to its magnificent architecture, landscaping and décor.
The park has a conservation farm that hosts family activities all year round and a 500-acre nature reserve, open to the public all year and is host to a plant so rare that it is worth more than the price of a detached house.
Sefton Park is great for a leisurely day of feeding the ducks (it has two lakes), visiting the lakeside café or peddling around the lake in the swan boats. It is also home to the stunning Victorian Sefton Park Palm House, saved from dereliction by a team of volunteers and the council in the 1980s and 1990s.
Another park with an impressive Victorian Palm House is the Grade ll* listed Green Flag and Gree Heritage award-winning Stanley Park, in North Liverpool, with its impressive and newly-renovated Isla Gladstone Conservatory. It receives bonus points for being within walking distance of both Anfield and Everton football stadia. The park’s bandstand has played host to the Liverpool Bandstand festival and has regular arts and music activities throughout the year. Visit their website for a full timetable
Calderstones Park is the home of the internationally important relic the Calder Stones. At approximately 5,000 years old, the stones are a contemporary structure of Stonehenge, although much smaller in number and scale. The stones have their new setting at The Reader Mansion House, a wonderful initiative by Liverpool City Council and The Reader Organisation. There is a thriving café, reading rooms for hire, a literary and very quirky shop, a story barn for children, an ice cream parlour, extensive activities throughout the year and an art gallery. The Calder Stones have their unique history laid out over several rooms. There is a miniature railway trip around part of the park every Sunday at 2 pm and a 1,000 year-old oak tree to marvel at. The whole park is a must visit.
Liverpool is such an exciting (and cheaper) alternative to London, that many Hollywood films are shot here, as well as TV series such as Peaky Blinders and Foyles War. if you want to visit purely to witness some of your favourite films being made, go to the Liverpool Film Office site and see what ids coming soon.
Peaky Blinders fans can visit at least of the prime filming locations across the city and end it with a visit to the Peaky Blinders bar. Visit the tour site although this particular tour company has no accessible tours lined up. However, you could check out the locations cited in local paper The Liverpool Echo and arrange your own visit their website.
Due to its architecture resembling Victorian London, Liverpool has its own Film Office to oversee and book all location filming. Twickenham Studios will be opening a “World class film and TV production space”, so the sign says, in the wonderful Art Deco style former Littlewoods Pools building on Edge Lane near the city centre.
Do you know where Paul McCartney was asked to join the Beatles? Not many do. It is on the corner of Vale Road, where Paul’s friend and bandmate Ivan lived and Linkstor Road.
Strawberry Fields, the former playground of John Lennon immortalized in the song of the same name has recently been rebuilt and opened to the public. There is a café, a nature trail and a museum. There is onsite parking for cars and it is fully accessible.
Take the ferry to Woodside to both experience the sail across the river and the new-look terminal that is a thriving food hall (with vegan options). You can take part in the many family fun days throughout the year and visit the U-boat Story next door.
Otterspool Prom has a great waterfront walk that stretches several miles to the Liverpool Garden Festival. There is a decent café, a skateboard and BMX park, an adventure centre and the Northern Kite Flyers meet every Wednesday and Sunday at 13.00. If you make it to the Garden Festival, you are handy for a walk into town, still along the waterfront but there is no pedestrian promenade.
Liverpool has some thriving food and arts markets.
Granby Street Market is on the first Saturday of the month and has an eclectic mix of stalls with food, arts and crafts, second hand goods, clothes, craft products all accompanied by a local band. It has a great atmosphere and is certainly not out of most people’s price range. You can also visit the Granby Four Streets project.
Lark Lane Farmers’ Market is one of the most thriving farmers’ markets in Liverpool, with lots of stalls selling all the usual farmer’s style produce from meat to marmalade and plenty in-between. It is 09.00 to 13.00 on the third Saturday of the month.
The Baltic area of Liverpool, near the city centre, is a bonanza of a place with all things food, drink, arts, crafts and vintage from the huge Red Brick Vintage to the fantastic Baltic Market. Go to Baltic Market site.
You can now get closer than ever to the Liver Birds, due to the new Royal Liver Building 360 tour. The Royal Liver Building is one of the waterfront’s iconic Three Graces and from the top, you can see across the city and over the water to the Wirral and even Wales on a good day. Visit the site to book your tickets.
If you wish to see a really early depiction of the Liver Bird is a symbol depicted in many ways, in many materials, across the city. For the enthusiasts, go to the Doubletree at Hilton and ask to be let into the original hallway of the entrance from Dale Street. There is an early depiction of the Liver Bird in stained glass.
Liverpool has two statues of note: the statue known locally as “Dicky Lewis”, the naked and well-endowed male that stands above the main entrance to the former Lewis’s department store (“I’ll meet you under Dicky Lewis” has long been the instruction for friends meeting up) and Queen Victoria in Derby Square where, from a certain angle, she has an erection. You will often see people moving about the area trying to find “the spot” so to speak.
What’s your favourite place to visit in the city? Let us know in the comments below