It’s not hard finding fun things to do in Liverpool. This charismatic English city has a spring in its step, from its bubbly nightlife to its world-famous football team. There’s also a profound sense of community in Liverpool that gives it an ambiance more reminiscent of a small town than a city that is home to nearly half a million people.
While fun activities to do in Liverpool are many and varied, exploring its rich cultural and historical legacy (the Beatles, anyone?) will be at the top of most visitors’ agendas. Liverpool is also extremely well-placed for day trips, as it sits on the border with Wales, close to Manchester, and just south of the Lake District. Here’s a list of fun things to do in Liverpool.
1: Feel Fab on the Beatles Tour
Liverpool has an engaging history that stretches back into the early Middle Ages. But many around the world associate this great northern city with a single pop foursome that exploded onto the scene in the 1960s—The Beatles.
Of course, the Beatles weren’t just any band but musical pioneers whose influences remain audible in the charts today. The Fab Four’s impact on their hometown was as enormous as it was on the rest of the globe, and their legacy is enshrined in museums and landmarks that are peppered throughout the city.
Of all the fun things to do in Liverpool, joining a Beatles tour has to top the list. Explore the band’s roots as you follow in the footsteps of John, Paul, George, and Ringo through Liverpool’s historic streets. You’ll see the homes they grew up in and important venues in their career, such as the Cavern, where they first played early hits like “I Saw Her Standing There.” Of course, you can’t miss taking the obligatory selfies at the Penny Lane street sign and Strawberry Fields.
Afterward, find your way to the UNESCO-listed Royal Albert Dock for the immersive The Beatles Story museum. As you conclude the tour in the Fab4 gift shop, pick up a teddy bear with a Yellow Submarine t-shirt for those budding Beatles fans in your life.
2: Enter the Past at Speke Hall
The National Trust is a charity that preserves sprawling estates that are important to the UK’s heritage. One such place is Speke Hall, an immense Tudor-age pile located near the banks of the River Mersey in Liverpool’s southern suburbs. Walking within its oak-paneled rooms and breathing in the heavy scent of the walls gives you a tangible sense of its history.
The heavily timber-beamed estate has been the home of several families, and their stories, retold within the house, help to illuminate that of Liverpool’s through the eras. Owned by the Norris family since the 14th-century, their time at Speke witnessed the introduction of Protestantism, the slave trade, and Liverpool’s development into a significant port. Following the Norris family, new owners and tenants restored, rebuilt, and revamped areas of the mansion, and an intriguing architectural blend emerged.
Once you’ve finished admiring the house’s original William Morris wallpaper, spying the priest hole, and discovering the fossils embedded in the interior flagstones, it’s time for a stroll in the sprawling gardens. Five hundred-year-old yews form part of a spectacular natural tapestry that’s divided into various themed gardens, woodland, and outlooks that deliver wide-ranging vistas over the Mersey River and surrounding areas.
3: Experience the Royal Liver Buildings
The Royal Liver Building, which forms part of Liverpool’s UNESCO-designated heritage, is one of Liverpool’s most iconic buildings. As the city’s fourth-highest building, its art nouveau design, dramatic silhouette characterized by its twin clock towers, and broad dimensions are more in keeping with New York skyscrapers than with the two other buildings—the Cunard and Port of Liverpool Building—with which it makes up the city’s “Three Graces.”
Crowning what used to be the purpose-built home of the Royal Liver Assurance group are the Liver birds (pronounced to rhyme with “diver”). These mythical, cormorant-like creatures are symbols of the city, and the building’s verdigris pair look in different directions: one protectively out to sea, the other inland. A local tongue-in-cheek interpretation is that the female is looking for handsome sailors arriving in the port while the other male is checking to see if the city’s pubs have opened.
A tour of the building has only been accessible to the public since 2019, making it one of the most recent fun things to do in Liverpool. It’ll allow you to see the inside of one of the UK’s most instantly recognizable buildings, including a visit to the lofty 10th floor that offers unbeatable views over the city’s townhouses, docks, and towers.
4: Shop the Royal Albert Dock
For many of the six million visitors that grace its waterside walkways each year, the Royal Albert Dock represents the brick red heart of Liverpool.
Aside from being a commercial mecca, the Albert Dock (as it was known before being bestowed with a royal charter) also has the highest density of Grade I-listed buildings in the country. In the mid-19th century, the distinctive brick and cast-iron warehouses that allowed boats to dock, load, and unload directly was an architectural first.
After becoming obsolete and falling into disrepair, the docks became a conservation area before being repaired into their current mixed-use form. Touring the docks is one of the most fun things to do in Liverpool, and you’ll find a lively array of bars and restaurants here alongside a huge cultural offering that includes the Tate Liverpool, Merseyside Maritime Museum, and The Beatles Story.
The Royal Albert Docks are also studded with indie shops that include the country’s oldest satchel making company, The Leather Satchel Co., Roly’s Fudge, and Pride of Liverpool—the latter is a souvenir shop for everything, from the prosaic teddy bear to the replica of the city’s enigmatic Superlambanana sculpture.
5: A Classical Take at St. George’s Hall
Liverpool’s Grade I-listed St. George’s Hall wouldn’t look out of place on the Acropolis. Created in 1854, this dual-purpose concert venue and law court have a neo-classical design that’s been described as one of the finest neo-Grecian buildings in the world. Refurbished in 2007, it’s since re-established itself as the city’s premium event space. A live rooftop gig by Ringo Starr the following year helped cement that reputation.
If you’re not seeing a concert, it’s still worth taking a tour and having your footsteps echo off of its stately red granite columns and tunnel-vaulted ceiling—Europe’s longest. St. George’s is also frequently used as a backdrop in movies, with its striking 30,000-piece Minton Tile floor, which adds a Victorian dash to productions.
Located opposite the city’s Lime Street train station, a visit to St. George’s will plant you in the UNESCO-listed St. George’s Quarter. The city’s cultural hub offers a handsome collection of Victorian architecture and an impressive density of museums and art galleries. Wandering this area is one of the most fun things to do in Liverpool in the afternoon.
6: Broaden Your Horizons at Radio City Tower Viewing Gallery
Officially known as St. John’s Beacon, Radio City Tower is a landmark radio tower located in the heart of the city, just a short walk from Liverpool Central train station. Measured to the top of its 10-meter tall antennae, it’s the tallest structure in Liverpool, but its popularity stems from being the home of the hugely successful Radio City radio station.
Stop in for a visit, no booking required, and you’ll be able to see the working studios of the Radio City family of channels. The real draw for most is The Gallery, which, at 400 feet above street level, offers incredible panoramas over Merseyside, the Wirral, and into moody and mountainous North Wales. On very clear days, it’s possible to look north and see the rounded peaks of the Lake District.
Read: Best Lakes in Europe
7: Visit Manchester
Only an hour’s drive from Liverpool, you’ll find Manchester, a twin city that is well worth visiting during a day trip. Slightly larger than Liverpool, it’s world-famous for its Manchester United soccer team. (Naturally, the cities have an intense football rivalry.) But Manchester is about more than just sport, as this northern metropolis is easily one of the most engaging and entertaining cities in the country.
Similar to its sibling to the west, it has its own rich musical legacy. Bands such as Oasis, The Smiths, and Joy Division have all emerged from Manchester’s buzzy streets. The city is also home to numerous world-class museums (including the National Football Museum), startling neo-gothic edifices, such as the Town Hall, and a superb nightlife scene with upscale bars, such as Cloud 23 at the Hilton.
Take a day trip and explore the center’s iconic landmarks at your own pace. Step in and out of the eclectic boutiques, and eventually give in and head over to Manchester City FC Stadium and Old Trafford (home to Manchester United) for some envy-inducing selfies on the famed terraces.
8: Go on a Deep Dive at Merseyside Maritime Museum
With the wide River Mersey running through the city, you’ll feel a pull to explore Liverpool’s immense seafaring heritage. One of the best places to comprehensively scratch this itch is behind a rather sizable anchor on the Royal Albert Dock, where you’ll discover the Merseyside Maritime Museum.
Within these converted red-brick warehouses, you’ll find a collection of naval knick-knacks from 1862 that has grown into a fabulously immersive experience. If you’re a model enthusiast, you’ll be in heaven, as the museum is filled with detailed model ships alongside a galaxy of other artifacts from the city’s maritime past. Squinting at the miniature rigging can become one of the most fun activities in Liverpool.
On the third floor is the International Slavery Museum, both a part of the museum and its standalone attraction. Open since August 23, 2007—the date of the bicentenary of the abolition of the slave trade, as well as Slavery Remembrance Day in the UK—it details Liverpool’s role in the trade alongside poignant exhibitions about life and culture in West Africa before the transatlantic slave trade arrived at its shores.
9: Reflect in the Walker Art Gallery
Described as the “national gallery of the North,” the Walker Art Gallery is one of the most significant collections of paintings, sculpture, and decorative arts in England outside of the capital. Like all the best galleries, it’s also a wonderfully serene and reflective place.
With a history stretching back to 1819, the gallery’s neoclassical walls house a collection of European art with significant works by Rembrandt, Turner, and Degas. The Walker is also well known for its British art focus, exhibiting modern stylists such as Hockney, Freud, and Gilbert and George. A trip to the magnificent Walker can be combined with a cornucopia of other cultural highlights as it is located on William Brown Street, the country’s only street composed entirely of museums, libraries, and art galleries.
10: Marvel at Conwy Castle
Drive for an hour over the Welsh border from Liverpool and into Snowdonia National Park and you’ll soon see the extraordinary 13th-century fortress of Conwy Castle loom before you. Set on the side of the Conwy Estuary, the castle was built by King Edward I in an astonishingly swift four-year period, as one in a series of castles intended to stamp the English king’s dominance on the region.
The imposing structure, one of the best Medieval castles in Europe, certainly makes a statement with its numerous towers casting a long shadow on the landscape. It also remains in astonishingly good repair for its age and it contains the most intact set of medieval royal apartments in Wales. Its restored staircases also allow you to ascend to the battlements for a complete circuit of the castle and a chance to breathe in refreshing gulps of the sea breeze.
From your lofty perspective, you’ll be able to see the town of Conwy and the protective walls below, built concurrently with the castle that still encloses its streets. Once you’ve seen the castle, Conwy offers a handsome harbor to explore as well, which includes irresistible curios, such as the fabled 16th-century “Smallest House in Great Britain.”
11: Get Outdoorsy in Betws-y-Coed
The name Betws-y-Coed translates as “the prayer house in the woods,” which reflects the timelessness that surrounds this thriving resort town.
Today, most of the prayers being said are by those hoping for clear weather while they attempt to hike up Snowdon, Wales’ highest mountain. Of course, if the weather isn’t favorable in one of the UK’s most rugged ranges, then the charming cafes of Betws-y-Coed offers a more gentle alternative, including hot teas and more-ish welsh cakes slathered in butter and blackberry jam while you wait for the showers to pass.
And let’s not forget about the woods. Betws-y-Coed is ensconced in the lush Gwydyr Forest, which has emerald ferns and lichen-plastered oaks watered in part by the three rivers that unite at this picturesque spot in the landscape.
You can explore the bridges crossing the rivers, each themed with a unique connection to the region’s history, as well as the numerous well-marked hiking paths that lead into the forest. For those looking to hit the links, it’s hard to beat the wild setting of Betws-y-Coed Golf Club.
12: Be Mesmerized by Historic Chester
Located just half-an-hour south of Liverpool, the small city of Chester strikes a quaint juxtaposition with grand, industrial Liverpool. Chester’s Tudor-style half-timber buildings, known as “The Rows,” lean into the cobbled high street while the city’s renovated Roman town walls allow pedestrians to rise above the convivial hubbub below.
But it’s not all small scale. Chester is home to the UK’s largest Roman amphitheater, a 1,000-year-old cathedral, and the country’s oldest racecourse. This small city also packs in some excellent shopping. Just be sure to pick up a briny wedge of equally historic Cheshire cheese to replenish the legs along the way.
A yellow submarine isn’t the only way to travel to Liverpool. Discover the extraordinary maritime history of this cultural powerhouse on a luxury cruise. Browse cruise itineraries online and start planning your next unforgettable vacation.