Liverpool is one of the most visited cities in the UK. Like neighboring Manchester, Liverpool saw tremendous expansion during the Industrial Revolution, when it became a major port city.
After the city’s decline, Liverpool became known as a dingy industrial city that was filled with crime. It wasn’t a place most people wanted to go.
However, fortunately, that reputation has been shaken off.
In the last few decades, the city has evolved into a major hub for food, art, and music. In fact, in 2008 Liverpool was named the European Capital of Culture.
There’s a lot to see when you visit Liverpool, including many free museums, parks, and inexpensive restaurants. As the World Capital City of Pop, the city is famous for its music scene. It’s best known as the birthplace of The Beatles, but the city is also home to the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, the oldest professional symphony orchestra in the UK.
I love this place. It retains some of that gritty, industrial feeling in its architecture that’s now mixed with a city and people with a ton of spring in their steps.
This Liverpool travel guide can help you plan your trip so you save money and make the most of your time in this lively destination!
Table of Contents
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Top 5 Things to See and Do in Liverpool
1. See the University of Liverpool
2. Visit the World Museum
3. Watch a football match
4. Learn about The Beatles
5. Explore the Royal Albert Dock
Other Things to See and Do in Liverpool
1. Take a free walking tour
One of the first things I do in a new city is to take a free walking tour. It’s the best way to see the main sights and connect with a local guide who can answer all your questions. New Europe offers daily free tours that last 3 hours and covers all the main sights (they have a paid tour just on The Beatles too). Remember to tip your guide at the end!
2. Admire local art at the Bluecoat
Located in a historic 18th-century building (the oldest surviving building in Liverpool), The Bluecoat is a gallery and center for contemporary art. The venue also hosts special talks, events, dance, and visual arts exhibitions too. It’s free to visit, though tickets are required for some special events. Check the website for details to see what’s on during your visit.
3. Visit the International Slavery Museum
The International Slavery Museum (part of the free National Museums Liverpool network) focuses on slavery both past and present. Liverpool was a major slaving port during the 18th century, and the museum helps paint a vivid picture of how Liverpool grew in importance during this time — and at what cost. Exhibitions and artifacts from the Transatlantic slavery collection showcase the impact that slavery had not only on Liverpool but the entire world. Additional exhibitions include the African diaspora collection, the racist memorabilia collection, and an extensive section of the museum focused on contemporary slavery in today’s world. Admission is free.
4. Rock out at Liverpool International Music Festival
Every August, Liverpool puts on one of the biggest music festivals in the world. The festival was initially famous for being Europe’s largest free music event, but since 2018 it’s been a ticketed event (though prices are still reasonable and can be found for around 25 GBP). The performing artists are mostly DJs and producers, with a heavy focus on British artists. The weekend festival includes three outdoor stages and many creative artist spaces to chill out in the summer heat.
5. See Liverpool Cathedral
This 20th century Gothic Revival cathedral is the largest religious building in the United Kingdom. It’s also the longest cathedral in the world and listed on England’s National Heritage List. 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. It’s free to visit but the tower costs 6 GBP.
6. 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. To this day, nobody knows why. Friends of Williamson’s Tunnels offers free guided tours on Wednesdays and Sundays. You can also learn more at the Williamson Tunnels Heritage Centre, which gives guided tours (5 GBP) of a different tunnel section on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays.
7. Enjoy contemporary art at Tate Liverpool
Located in a warehouse at the Royal Albert Dock, Tate Liverpool’s opening in the 1980s helped to solidify Liverpool’s place in the contemporary art world, transforming the city from its rugged manufacturing past into a modern cosmopolitan city. Admission to Tate Liverpool is free (except for special exhibitions).
8. Learn about Liverpool’s maritime history
The Merseyside Maritime Museum details Liverpool’s seafaring past through artist renditions of maritime life, stories of life at sea, shipwrecked objects, ship models, and more. One of the museum’s highlights is an extensive collection on the Titanic (the Titanic’s home port was Liverpool). You can also book tickets here for the Old Dock Tour, where you’ll visit the world’s first commercial enclosed wet dock. Admission to the museum is free and the Old Dock Tour costs 7.50 GBP.
9. Visit the FACT Media Center
Foundation for Creative Art and Technology (FACT) is a leading organization dedicated to supporting British artists. There are two large art galleries here as well as three movie screens showing the latest art house releases (and occasionally mainstream releases). The complex also contains Picturehouse Bar (a cool bar where you can grab a drink) and a café. Entry to the exhibitions is free and cinema prices start at 8 GBP.
10. Relax at Sefton Park
One of Liverpool’s largest parks, here you’ll find plenty of walking paths, green space to enjoy a picnic, a large lake, and multiple cafes scattered throughout. Don’t miss the red Victorian bandstand, which is said to be the inspiration for The Beatles’ song, Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. The historic Sefton Park Palm House conservatory showcases botanical life from around the world as well as hosts regular events for the public (admission is free).
11. 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. Liverpool Tours has a tour that takes you to six different independent food and drink spots over the course of a three-hour tour. Tours are 70 GBP for individual tickets but booking two or more tickets brings the price down to 60 GBP each.
For more information on other cities in England, check out these guides!
Liverpool Travel Costs
Hostel prices – Dorms with 6-8 beds cost 19-25 GBP per night while a private room is 60-85 GBP, depending upon the season. Free Wi-Fi is standard, though most hostels here don’t have self-catering facilities or offer breakfast.
There are several campgrounds outside Liverpool for those who have a tent, but they are only convenient if you have a vehicle. Expect to pay at least 15 GBP for a basic plot without electricity.
Budget hotel prices – Budget hotel start at 50 GBP, with breakfast often included. Expect to pay at least 65 GBP during the peak summer season, especially when there are events or festivals happening.
There are lots of Airbnb options in Liverpool, with private rooms starting at 25 GBP per night while an entire home/apartment costs 70-90 GBP.
Food – While British cuisine has evolved in leaps and bounds due to immigration (and colonialism), it’s still very much a meat and potatoes country. Fish and chips remain a popular staple for both lunch and dinner while roasted and stewed meats, sausages, meat pies, and the quintessential Yorkshire pudding are all common options as well. Curry (and other Indian dishes, such as tikka masala), are super popular too.
Fish and chips usually cost around 5 GBP and you can get a variety of cheap sandwiches for 5-7 GBP at local delis. Fast food (think McDonald’s) costs around 6 GBP for a combo meal.
For a mid-range meal at a pub or restaurant, expect to pay 10-16 GBP for a main course like burger, pasta, or a vegetarian meal. A pint of beer costs around 3.50 GBP and a latte/cappuccino is around 3 GBP.
You’ll find a fair amount of high-end dining in Liverpool. Expect to pay 40 GBP or more for a three-course menu. If you’re traveling on a budget, I’d skip the fancy food, as it’s pretty pricey!
Pizza starts at 8.50 GBP while Indian food is around 6-9 GBP for a main dish.
A week’s worth of basic groceries costs between 40-50 GBP for basic staples like rice, pasta, produce, and some meat. 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 55 GBP per day. This budget covers a hostel dorm, taking public transit, cooking your own meals, limiting your drinking, and doing free activities like free walking tours and free museum visits. If you plan on drinking, add 10 GBP to your daily budget.
A mid-range budget of about 120 GBP per day covers staying in a private Airbnb room or private hostel room, eating out for most of your meals, taking the occasional taxi, having a few drinks, and doing some paid activities like taking a food tour or watching a soccer game.
On a “luxury” budget of about 230 or more per day, you can stay in a hotel, eat out anywhere you want, drink as much as you want, rent a car or take more taxis, and do whatever activities you want. This is just the ground floor for luxury though. The sky is the limit!
You can use the chart below to get an 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 GBP.
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, plentiful public parks, and numerous free activities, there are a lot of ways to cut costs here. These are my top suggestions to save money in Liverpool:
- Enjoy the waterfront – Liverpool’s photographic waterfront of converted 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 for free.
- Take a free walking tour – If you want to get a sense of the city be sure to take a free walking tour. They last a couple of hours and are a great way to immerse yourself in the city while learning about its past. New Europe offers daily free tours of the city.
- Spend an afternoon in the park – Stroll the walking trails and paths of Sefton Park, spending time at the lake and waterfalls. It’s a great spot to enjoy a budget-friendly afternoon.
- Visit the museums – All of the museums that are part of the National Museums Liverpool network are free. These top museums cover a range of topics including art, history, archaeology, and nautical themes. The Tate Liverpool is also free and worth wandering through.
- Stay with a local – If you’re on a budget, use Couchsurfing. It connects you with a local who can host you for free as part of a cultural exchange. They can share their insider tips about the city too!
- Bring a water bottle – The tap water here is safe to drink so bring a reusable water bottle to save money and reduce your plastic use. LifeStraw is my go-to brand as their bottles have built-in filters to ensure your water is always clean and safe.
Where to Stay in Liverpool
Here are some of my favorite hostels in Liverpool:
How to Get Around Liverpool
Public transportation – Buses are the best way to get around the city. A day pass costs 4.90 GBP for a single day and a 3-day pass is 13.80 GBP. Single fares start at 2.20 GBP, making the day pass your best choice.
The city also has a rail system with 68 stations in and around Liverpool. Single-fare tickets cost 4.10 GBP and a 7-day pass is 17.40 GBP.
Bicycle – Liverpool is a bike-friendly city and the city’s bicycle hire system, CityBike, is available all over downtown. It’s 1 GBP to unlock a bike and then you’ll be charged for your usage: 25p per 15 mins (max 10 GBP/day) for a regular bike and 50p per 15 mins (max 20 GBP/day) for an e-bike.
Taxis – Taxis are readily available and cost 2.60 GBP to start and then 1.50 GBP per mile. Prices add up quickly so I wouldn’t take one unless absolutely necessary.
Ridesharing – Uber is available in Liverpool but public transport is the easiest and cheapest to get around in the city. Skip the rideshares if you can.
Car rental – Car rentals can be found for as little as 15 GBP per day for a multi-day rental, though you only need a car if you plan on leaving the city to explore the region. Just remember that you’ll be driving on the left and that most vehicles are manuals.
When to Go to Liverpool
As a northern English city, Liverpool has a similar climate to nearby Manchester. Summer is the peak tourism season and offers warm weather, though it rarely gets above 21°C (70°F). 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 accommodation during these events.
Spring (April-June) and autumn (September-October) are also fantastic times to visit, as temperatures are mild and the summer crowds have thinned. You may get some rain, but otherwise, it’s my favorite time to visit.
Winter sees temperatures just above freezing, sometimes reaching highs of 6-10°C (40-50°F). While the sun sets early during this time, the cold is not unbearable and the city is still bustling with 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 struggles with petty crime, though recently it has been recognized as a safer city than Manchester. Scams and pickpocketing can occur around high traffic areas and on public transportation so be alert and keep your valuables secure and out of sight.
Pickpockets 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 anyway.
Your biggest worry is likely to be walking around late at night, especially after leaving a pub or club after a few too many pints. Stay alert to avoid pickpockets and bad situations. Never walk home alone if intoxicated and always keep an eye on your drink when at the bar.
You can read about common travel scams to avoid here.
if you experience an emergency, dial 999 for assistance.
Remember, if you don’t do it 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.
- Skyscanner – Skyscanner is my favorite flight search engine. They search small websites and budget airlines that larger search sites tend to miss. They are hands down the number one place to start.
- Momondo – This is my other favorite flight search engine because they search such a wide variety of sites and airlines. I never book a flight without checking here too.
- Airbnb – Airbnb is a great accommodation alternative for connecting with homeowners who rent out their homes or apartments. The big cities have tons of listings!
- 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 in their spare rooms for free. It’s a great way to save money while meeting locals who can share 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 a discount 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 in the best and cheapest way possible. It gives you all the bus, train, plane, and 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 paying a small fee. You simply request a seat, they approve, and off you go! It’s a cheaper and more interesting way to travel than by bus or train!
- EatWith – This website allows you to eat home-cooked meals 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 on the road and need some gear suggestions, here are my tips for the best travel backpack and for what to pack!
The Best Backpack for Travelers
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 tips on picking a pack and other backpack suggestions.
What to Pack for Your Trip
- 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 (Unbound Merino is my preferred company. If you’re a member of NM+, you can get 15% off your purchase)
- 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)
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
After spending nearly 20 years living in Great Britain, author Bill 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 before he leaves the UK, 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’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
While this is Emily Brontë’s only novel (originally published under a male pseudonym), its impact has withstood the test of time. The 19th-century story focuses on Mr. Lockwood, the newest tenant of Thrushcross Grange on the Yorkshire moors, who is forced to seek shelter one evening at Wuthering Heights (the home of his landlord). He soon uncovers a love story between an orphan named Heathcliff and high society’s Catherine Earnshaw. The book is about love and the risks and challenges and pain that often accompany it.
Sorry!: The English and Their Manners, by Henry Hitchings
The Brits are notorious for their polite behavior and the importance of having proper manners. This book by Henry Hitchings is an investigation into that phenomenon. It isn’t just holding doors open and keeping your elbows off the table, though — 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 at 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 and then takes up a new station as a proper English gentleman. Dickens is a masterful storyteller and this book continually ranks in the greatest novels of all time.
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: