In my previous Liverpool post, I talked about the cathedrals. Yeah, they are special, and they are lovely. But the thing with England is, every city/big town in England has their own three main attractions: a cathedral/main church, a museum, and an art gallery.
Stereotype mode on
And, Englishmen accuse the Italians for being territorial, but I think they are equally guilty of the same “problem”. You try asking an English person what’s the best town to visit when in England, and he/she will tell you: “Oh you have to visit my hometown, it is the most lovely town in the country!”. If that person is from York, then York is the best town. If that person is from Hull, then Hull is the best town. And if that person is from Grimsby, then Grimsby is the best town.
Then you follow up by asking what’s so special about said town, and you will hear something along this line: “Oh, we have an absolutely lovely church/cathedral with amazing windows/carvings/crypts/etc! And you must visit the museum and the art gallery, we have got the most interesting collections!”
I guess what I am trying to say is, if you stay in England long enough and visit enough towns and cities around the country, you hardly want to prioritize visiting churches anymore. See one amazing cathedral and it is absolutely amazing. See ten cathedrals and it starts to get “Yeah, they’re alright, what’s next?”. Unless you are a church/cathedral afficionado, then you can ignore my ranting.
I’m here today to tell you where the must-see places are if you are visiting Liverpool, not as a local but as a tourist.
If you are visiting Liverpool as a tourist, my recommendation is that you start off at a place called the Liverpool Waterfront.
See the picture above? That’s the Pier Head. Here there are three buildings, collectively known as the Three Graces of Liverpool. Any Scouser (Liverpool people) will tell you that they are the most important buildings to see in Liverpool.
- Royal Liver Building – this building has not one, but two clock towers! And on top of each clock tower stands a statue of the Liver bird. The Liver bird is a mythical bird (as mythical as a phoenix I suppose) that Liverpool is supposed to be named after.
- Cunard Building – You might not know Cunard, but you should know Titanic. Titanic is owned by White Star Line. Cunard Line is their fiercest competitor. A few of the more famous Cunard ships that you might know: Queen Mary, Lusitania and Mauretania. Cunard Building is the headquarters of Cunard Line, obviously.
- Port of Liverpool Building – There is a story about this building, but I cannot recall the story. I guess this building made the least impression on me. But it is still one of the Three Graces, so it must be awesome. And it has one big dome and four small domes, how wonderful..
Also, notice that ferry terminal by the sea, right in front of the Cunard Building? This is where you can get on the boat to go to Ireland or the Isle of Man if you so wish to.
Right next to Pier Head is the Albert Dock. Now, there are actually quite a few docks along the waterfront. After all, Liverpool used to be the main port in England. Most ships that sailed to America did so from Liverpool. But the most famous dock is the Albert Dock.
Again, there’s a story about this dock. It is a story of awesomeness, the most cutting edge shipping/warehouse technology or the most advanced design or something like that. Again, I can’t recall the details of this story. You can read it up on Wikipedia if you so wish to. Just click on this link.
Today, it is just another tourist attraction. You can enjoy the sea breeze, take loads of pictures, and admire rich people’s boats here.
Or you can visit three attractions here:
- Merseyside Maritime Museum – remember I mentioned about how every city has their own flagship museum? Well, this is not it for Liverpool, Liverpool’s generic best museum is World Museum Liverpool located in the city center. This Maritime Museum is a museum that is focused on, well, maritime stuff. You can come here to see boats, ships, submarines and torpedoes. To make it even more attractive, there is a very big replica model of the Titanic here. Liverpool is the home port of the Titanic, if you didn’t know.
- Tate Liverpool – Tate is a a chain of four art museums in Britain, and they are very famous. They have two galleries in London, one in Cornwall, and one here in Liverpool. Again, this is a highly specialized museum, specializing in art exhibits. Although if you have been to the one in London before you come here, you will probably feel bored with the exhibits here.
- The Beatles Story – I suppose I cannot call this a museum, because members of The Beatles are not dead yet. What do we call a place that houses exhibits in tribute of something famous? An exhibition center? Basically this is what The Beatles Story is, an exhibition center for The Beatles. The Beatles is a band formed in Liverpool, so it is a big deal here, you will be seeing the exhibits right at the source. I don’t know The Beatles since they are not the music of my age so I am not so in awe, but apparently I am the minority.
Actually, I was more interested with the shop above The Beatles Story. It is a shop called Nauticalia. As the name of the shop implies, it sells a wide range of seafaring themed souvenirs, from bloody cheap to bloody expensive ones. Window shopping here is the same as visiting a seafaring exhibition center 😀 .
When you are finally done with the waterfront, you can then set off to the other attractions of Liverpool. The city center, the cathedrals and Chinatown, they are all within 10 minutes walk from Albert Dock.
Or, if you are tired, you can opt for one of these two city tour vehicles for a fee. Both these have their starting points at the Albert Dock.
This is why I recommended in the beginning to start off with the Liverpool Waterfront. You start here because this is a must-see place, and if you have more time then this is the most convenient place to access the other attractions.
And that, my friends, is my take on how you should visit Liverpool. So, what do you think?