Liverpool is no longer the dingy industrial city people associate it with. In the last few years, the city has become a center for food, art, and music.
There’s a lot to see when you visit Liverpool. It’s home to the Philharmonic Orchestra and is the birthplace of The Beatles. It offers many free museums, parks, and inexpensive restaurants. If you’re here in August, go to the Matthew Street Festival to enjoy one of the biggest music events in Europe.
The city has really thrown off its past reputation and reinvented itself as an eclectic modern city. You can feel the energy in the here as you visit.
This travel guide to Liverpool can help you plan your trip while saving money too!
Table of Contents
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Top 5 Things to See and Do in Liverpool
1. Enjoy the University of Liverpool
2. Learn at the World Museum
3. See a football match
4. Get the Beatles Story
5. Explore the Royal Albert Dock
Other Things to See and Do in Liverpool
1. Experience local art at the Bluecoat
Located in a historic building dating from the 18th century (and the oldest surviving one in Liverpool), The Bluecoat is a gallery and center for contemporary art. The venue also hosts special talks, events, dance, and visual arts exhibitions. It’s free to visit, though tickets are required for some special events. Check their website for more information.
2. Visit the International Slavery Museum
The International Slavery Museum (part of the free Liverpool Museums network) focuses on the history of transatlantic slavery. Exhibitions and artifacts from their collection showcase the impact that slavery had not only on Liverpool, but the entire world. Many slave trading ships were built here in Liverpool during the 18th century, and the museum helps too paint a vivid picture of how Liverpool grew in importance during this time—and at what cost. Additional exhibitions present artifacts representing life in Africa during the time of slavery, as well as an extensive section of the museum focused on contemporary slavery still happening around the world today. Admission is free.
3. Rock out at Liverpool International Music Festival
Every August, Liverpool puts on one of the biggest music festivals in the world. The festival, once called the Liverpool Mathew Street Music Festival, was initially famous for decades for being Europe’s largest free music event, but since 2018 it’s now a ticketed event (though prices are still reasonable). The performing artists are mostly DJs and producers, with a heavy focus on featuring British artists. Taking place over the August Bank Holiday weekend, the weekend festival includes three outdoor stages and lots of creative artist spaces to chill out in the summer heat.
4. See the Liverpool Cathedral
This 20th century cathedral is one of the finest examples of Gothic revival architecture. It’s the largest religious building in all of the United Kingdom, and the longest cathedral in the world. Huge vaulted ceilings make up the central nave, choir, and central tower with impressive stained glass windows throughout. On a clear day, the tower has breathtaking views of Liverpool, Merseyside, and beyond. The Cathedral is free to visit but the Tower Experience costs £6 ($7.50 USD).
5. Get lost in the Williamson’s Tunnels
In the early 1800s, a Liverpool tobacco merchant, Joseph Williamson, funded the construction of an enormous labyrinth of tunnels around the city and, to this day, nobody knows why! The tunnel chamber under Paddington is free to visit on a guided tour on Wednesdays and Sundays. You can find more information and maps to help explore the tunnels from the Williamson Tunnels Heritage Centre in central Liverpool.
6. Experience contemporary art at Tate Liverpool
Located in a warehouse on the Royal Albert Dock, when Tate Liverpool opened in the 1980s, it helped to solidify Liverpool’s place in contemporary art, transforming the city from its rugged manufacturing past into a modern city. Admission to Tate Liverpool is free, except for special exhibitions.
7. Learn about Liverpool’s maritime history at Merseyside Maritime Museum
This museum is host to a multitude of exhibits, highlighting the amazing story of 9 million emigrants and their efforts to get to Australia and North America from Liverpool. The two major highlights to see here are the Transatlantic Slavery exhibit and the walk-through lifesize model of a typical ship that would have been built in Liverpool during its ship-building heyday. There’s also an extensive collection related to the history of the RMS Titanic and RMS Lusitania which both sailed out of Liverpool. Admission is free.
8. Visit the FACT Media Center
FACT is a leading organization dedicated to supporting British artists. There are two large art galleries here as well as three moviescreens which show the latest art house releases (and occasionally mainstream releases). There is also a cool bar to grab drinks at and a café. Prices start at £7 ($8.65 USD), with discounts available.
9. Spend an afternoon at Sefton Park
One of Liverpool’s largest parks, you’ll find a lot of walking paths and green space to enjoy a picnic in the sun. There’s also a boating lake and multiple cafes throughout the park too. Check Liverpool event listings to find out what’s on, or keep an eye out for the poster advertisements along the street.
10. Take a food tour
Liverpool has a vibrant food scene, and there’s no better way to spend your day than learning about the food culture of the city. I recommend Liverpool Tours as they cover six different food and drink spots, where you’ll try everything from tapas and craft beers. Tours start from €50 ($61 USD).
Liverpool Travel Costs
Hostel prices – Dorms cost between £19-25 ($24 USD–$31 USD). A private ensuite room in a hostel will be between £40-80 ($50–100 USD) depending upon the season. Most hostels are located in the heart of the city.
There are lots of campgrounds outside Liverpool. Expect to pay at least £12 ($15 USD) for a plot with basic facilities for caravans or pitching a tent. The campgrounds are really only convenient if you have a vehicle.
Budget hotel prices – Nightly rates for a budget two-star hotel with a double room and a private ensuite bathroom cost between £70-120 ($87-150 USD) for a double room during peak summer season, with breakfast often included. In the off-season, budget rooms start from about £55 ($69 USD).
There are lots of Airbnb options in Liverpool. A shared room (like a bed in a dorm) averages about £15 ($19 USD) per night, while a private room is about £24 ($30 USD) per night. An entire apartment will cost between £29–48 ($35–60 USD).
Food – Liverpool has lots of budget food options. Fish and chips usually cost around £5 ($6 USD). Delis will give you a good variety of cheap sandwiches for £5-7 ($6-9 USD) and some Indian restaurants have large lunch menu deals (curry, rice, bread, and an appetizer) for as low as £6 ($7.50 USD).
For a mid-range meal at a pub or restaurant, you can expect to pay between £10-16 ($12.50-21 USD) for a main course like a traditional British roast, burger, pasta or a vegetarian meal. A pint of beer can cost up to £6 ($8 USD).
You’ll find a fair amount of high-end dining in Liverpool. Expect to pay £40 ($50 USD) or more for a three-course menu, without alcohol or wine included. If you’re traveling on a budget, I’d skip the fancy food! It’s pretty pricey!
A week’s worth of basic groceries (fruits, veggies, pasta, chicken, sandwich stuff) will cost between £40-£50 ($52-60 USD). The best places to buy cheap groceries are Lidl, Aldi, and Sainsbury’s.
Backpacking Liverpool Suggested Budgets
If you’re backpacking Liverpool, expect to spend about £44 ($55 USD) per day. This budget will cover a hostel dorm, public transit, eating cheap food, cooking some of your own meals, and free attractions. Avoid drinking too many beers at the pubs if you want to stay on budget, or stick to drinking during happy hours when a pint is as little as £3 ($4 USD).
A mid-range budget of about £95 ($120 USD) will cover staying in a private Airbnb room, eating out for most of your meals, public transit, and a few paid attractions or tours.
On a luxury budget of about £255 ($320 USD) or more per day, you can get an excellent four-star hotel, eat at nice restaurants, have some drinks, and take a few taxis. You’ll also enjoy a tour or a few attractions. The sky is the limit!
If you come in the low season, you’ll save at least 25% on hotels.
You can use the chart below to get some idea of how much you need to budget daily, depending on your travel style. Keep in mind these are daily averages – some days you’ll spend more, some days you’ll spend less (you might spend less every day). We just want to give you a general idea of how to make your budget. Prices are in USD.
Liverpool Travel Guide: Money Saving Tips
Liverpool’s reputation as a student-friendly city makes it more affordable than most other English cities. With cheap pubs, public parks, and lots of free activities, there are a lot of ways to cut costs and save money in Liverpool. Here are my top ways to save money when you visit Liverpool:
- Enjoy the waterfront – Liverpool’s photographic waterfront of former warehouses and docks is a great place to take in some seaside views and enjoy the historic architecture. There are lots of outdoor spots to sit and enjoy people watching.
- Spend an afternoon in the park – Sefton Park has lots of walking trails and paths, and even a lake and waterfalls. It’s a great spot to enjoy a take-from-home picnic.
- Visit the museums – All of the top museums part of the National Museums Liverpool network are free, and they cover a range of topics including art, history, archaeology, and nautical themes. The Tate Liverpool is also free and worth wandering through.
- Take a free walking tour – If you want to get a sense of the city be sure to take a free walking tour. They usually last a couple hours and are a great way to immerse yourself in the city while learning about its past. New Europe Tours offers daily tours of the city, including a Beatles tour.
- Save money on rideshares – Uber is way cheaper than taxis and are the best way to get around a city if you don’t want to wait for a bus or pay for a taxi. Using the Uber Pool option, you can share a ride to get even better savings (though you can get your own car too). You can save $15 off your first Uber ride with this code: jlx6v.
- Couchsurf – If you’re on a budget you’ll definitely want to try couch surfing. it’s a great way to cut costs while connecting to the local scene. Many students will be away in the summer, however, so be sure to apply early.
Where To Stay in Liverpool
Liverpool a lot of accommodation options. Here are some of my favorite hostels in Liverpool:
How to Get Around Liverpool
Bus – Buses are the best way to get around the city, and a day pass will cost £4.90 ($6 USD) for a single zone, or 3-day pass is £13.80 ($17.25 USD).
Bicycle – Liverpool is a bike-friendly city and the city’s bicycle hire system, CityBike, can be found all over the city center. A day pass is £10 ($12.50). For shorter distances, the first 5 minutes are free and it’s £1 ($1.25 USD) every hour after that.
Taxis – Taxis are readily available and cost about £6 ($7.80 USD) per one mile, but the price decreases the further you go. For example, a six-mile journey will cost you around £24 ($31.20 USD) (but more during peak hours). You can also use an app such as “mytaxi” to order your ride. Given how expensive they are, I wouldn’t take one unless absolutely necessary.
Uber – Uber is available in Liverpool but the public transport is probably easiest to get around in the city. You can save $15 off your first Uber ride with this code: jlx6v.
When to Go to Liverpool
As a northern English city, Liverpool has a similar climate to Manchester which is just a short distance away. Summer is the peak tourism season, with temperatures warmer, but rarely above 70°F (21°C). The summer season is also festival season; expect the city to be more crowded during busy festival dates. Liverpool International Music Festival (August), Liverpool Pride (July), Africa Oyé (June) and Creamfields (August) are the biggest summer events. Expect higher-than-usual accommodation prices if you’re planning a trip that coincides with any of those weekends.
Spring (late March to June) and autumn (September to November) are also fantastic times to visit, as temperatures are mild, and its drier than other times throughout the year. Winter (late November to February) sees temperatures just above freezing, sometimes up to 40°F or 50°F (6°C to 10°C). While the sun sets early in Liverpool during this time, it’s not unbearable, and the city is still bustling with life and plenty of activities. Around Christmas, the city is especially popular thanks to ice rinks, a festive Christmas Market and lots of shopping.
How to Stay Safe in Liverpool
Liverpool is full of petty crime, though recently it’s been recognized as a safer city than Manchester. Scams and pickpocketing can occur around high traffic areas. Pick-pocketers tend to work in teams, so stay alert and be aware of your surroundings. The Toxteth, Dingle, and Wavertree neighborhoods in south Liverpool are known to be seedier than other parts of Liverpool and Merseyside, but as a tourist, most of the attractions are in the central and north regardless.
Your biggest worry is likely to be walking around late at night, especially if leaving a pub or club after a few too many pints. Stay alert to avoid pickpockets and bad situations.
You can read about the 14 travel scams to avoid right here.
Always trust your gut instinct.
As a general rule, if you don’t do something at home, don’t do it in Liverpool!
The most important piece of advice I can offer is to purchase good travel insurance. Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. You can use the widget below to find the policy right for you:
Liverpool Travel Guide: The Best Booking Resources
These are my favorite companies to use when I travel to Liverpool. They are included here because they consistently find deals, offer world-class customer service and great value, and, overall, are better than their competitors. They are the ones I use the most and are always the starting points in my search for travel deals.
- Momondo – This is my favorite booking site. I never book a flight without checking here first.
- Skyscanner – Skyscanner is another great flight search engline which searches a lot of different airlines, including many of the budget carriers that larger sites miss. While I always start with Momondo, I use this site too as a way to compare prices.
- Airbnb – Airbnb is a great accommodation alternative for connecting with homeowners who rent out their homes or apartments. (If you’re new to Airbnb, get $35 off your first stay!)
- Hostelworld – This is the best hostel accommodation site out there, with the largest inventory, best search interface, and widest availability.
- Couchsurfing – This website allows you to stay on people’s couches or spare rooms for free. It’s a great way to save money while meeting locals who can tell you the ins and outs of their city. The site also lists events you can attend to meet people (even if you’re not staying with someone).
- Booking.com – The best all around booking site that constantly provides the cheapest and lowest rates. They have a no money down policy, great interface, and the widest selection of budget accommodation. In all my tests, they’ve always had the cheapest rates out of all the booking websites.
- Intrepid Travel – If you want to do a group tour around England, go with Intrepid Travel. They offer good small group tours that use local operators and leave a small environmental footprint. If you go on a tour with anyone, go with them. And, as a reader of this site, you’ll get exclusive discounts when you click the link!
- The Man in Seat 61 – This website is the ultimate guide to train travel anywhere in the world. They have the most comprehensive information on routes, times, prices, and train conditions. If you are planning a long train journey or some epic train trip, consult this site.
- Rome 2 Rio – This website allows you to see how to get from point A to point B the best and cheapest way possible. It will give you all the bus, train, plane, or boat routes that can get you there as well as how much they cost.
- BlaBlaCar – BlaBlaCar is a ridesharing website that lets you share rides with vetted local drivers by pitching in for gas. You simply request a seat, they approve, and off you go! It’s a cheaper and more interesting way travel than by bus or train!
- EatWith – This website allows you to eat home cooked meal with locals. Locals post listings for dinner parties and specialty meals that you can sign up for. There is a fee (everyone sets their own price) but this is a great way to do something different, pick a local’s brain, and make a new friend.
- World Nomads – I buy all my travel insurance from World Nomads. They have great customer service, competitive prices, and in-depth coverage. I’ve been using them since I started traveling in 2003. Don’t leave home without it!
Liverpool Gear and Packing Guide
If you’re heading to Liverpool, here are my suggestions for the best travel backpack and tips on what to pack.
The Best Backpack for Liverpool
Straps: Thick and cushy with compression technology that pulls the pack’s load up and inwards so it doesn’t feel as heavy.
Features: Removable top lid, large pocket at the front, hydration compatible, contoured hip belt
If you want something different, refer to my article on how to choose the best travel backpack for other backpack suggestions.
What to Pack for Liverpool
- 1 pair of jeans (heavy and not easily dried, but I like them; a good alternative is khaki pants)
- 1 pair of shorts
- 1 bathing suit
- 5 T-shirts
- 1 long-sleeved T-shirt
- 1 pair of flip-flops
- 1 pair of sneakers
- 6 pairs of socks (I always end up losing half)
- 5 pairs of boxer shorts (I’m not a briefs guy!)
- 1 toothbrush
- 1 tube of toothpaste
- 1 razor
- 1 package of dental floss
- 1 small bottle of shampoo
- 1 small bottle of shower gel
- 1 towel
Small Medical Kit (safety is important!!!)
- Hydrocortisone cream
- Antibacterial cream
- Hand sanitizer (germs = sick = bad holiday)
- A key or combination lock (safety first)
- Zip-lock bags (keeps things from leaking or exploding)
- Plastic bags (great for laundry)
- Universal charger/adaptor (this applies to everyone)
- LifeStraw (A water bottle with a purifier. The tap water is safe to drink here. This is just to cut down plastic bottle usage!)
Female Travel Packing List
I’m not a woman so I don’t know what a woman wears, but Kristin Addis, our solo female travel guru, wrote this list as an addition to the basics above:
- 1 swimsuit
- 1 sarong
- 1 pair of stretchy jeans (they wash and dry easily)
- 1 pair of leggings (if it’s cold, they can go under your jeans, otherwise with a dress or shirt)
- 2-3 long-sleeve tops
- 2-3 T-shirts
- 3-4 spaghetti tops
- 1 light cardigan
- 1 dry shampoo spray & talc powder (keeps long hair grease free in between washes)
- 1 hairbrush
- Makeup you use
- Hair bands & hair clips
- Feminine hygiene products (you can opt to buy there too, but I prefer not to count on it, and most people have their preferred products)
For more on packing, check out these posts:
Liverpool Travel Guide: Suggested Reading
Notes from a Small Island, by Bill Bryson
It’s pretty impossible to not love anything Bill Bryson writes. After spending nearly 20 years living in Great Britain, Bryson decides to return to the United States. (To quote him: “I had recently read that 3.7 million Americans believed that they had been abducted by aliens at one time or another, so it was clear that my people needed me.”) But first he sets out on a tour of his adoptive country, delivering hilarious social commentary on the nation that brought us Shakespeare and zebra crossings.
Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen
Jane Austen’s most popular novel is one of those classics you read and can’t ever forget about it. It’s famous for a reason. When Elizabeth Bennet meets an arrogant bachelor named Fitzwilliam Darcy, she immediately brushes him off as too conceited – and he immediately ignores her good looks and charm. Elizabeth discovers that Darcy has become involved in the disastrous relationship of his friend Bingley and her sister Jane, which further deepens her disdain. What follows is an excellent commentary on England’s snobbish middle-class life, and the dangers of judging someone by first impressions.
Wuthering Heights, by Emily Brontë
This is Emily Brontë’s only novel, but itsa impact has withstood the test of time. The story focuses on Lockwood, the newest tenant of Thrushcross Grange on the Yorkshire moores who is forced to seek shelter one evening at Wuthering Heights (the home of his landlord). He soon uncovers a love story between a gypsy orphan named Heathcliff and high society’s Catherine Earnshaw. She eventually succumbs to societal pressure and marries the well-bred Edgar Linton, and Heathcliff’s bitterness is cast upon the next generation. Somehow, the couple’s heirs must escape this painful legacy.
Sorry!: The English and Their Manners, by Henry Hitchings
The Brits are notorious for their polite behavior and the importance of having proper manners, and this book from Henry Hitchings is an investigation into this phenomenon. It isn’t just holding doors open and keeping your elbows off the table, either – there’s a whole system for things like sexual conduct, hospitality, chivalry, online etiquette, and so much more. This is a funny, upbeat read about British manners and what it all says about the English character.
Great Expectations, by Charles Dickens
An English reading list without Charles Dickens isn’t a reading list of all! The book is about the course of orphan Pip Pirrip’s life as he is transformed from a poor boy begging for soup to the heir of a mysterious inheritance from an unknown person. Dickens takes us through Pirrip’s life as he abandons his apprenticeship to a blacksmith named Joe Gargery and then takes up a new station as a proper English gentleman. Dickens is a masterful storyteller.
My Must Have Guides for Traveling to Liverpool
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Kristin Addis writes our solo female travel column and her detailed guide gives specific advice and tips for women travelers.
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Liverpool Travel Guide: Related Articles
Want more info? Check out all the articles I’ve written on backpacking/traveling England and continue planning your trip: