Liverpool is a vibrant city located in the North West of England, best known for its rich history, iconic landmarks, and... the Beatles! With a population of around 500,000, Liverpool is the sixth-largest city in the UK, and one that is definitely deserving of a visit.
Liverpool's history dates back to the 13th century, with the city's port playing a crucial role in the slave trade and the Industrial Revolution. Today, visitors can explore Liverpool's maritime past at the Merseyside Maritime Museum, which showcases the city's seafaring heritage through interactive exhibits and artifacts. Nearby, visitors can learn about the city's dark past and hear harrowing true stories from enslaved people at the International Slavery Museum. Both are conveniently located on the Royal Albert Dock (more on this soon!)
Liverpool is also renowned for its thriving arts and culture scene. The city is home to numerous museums and galleries, including the Tate Liverpool, which features art exhibitions from around the world. For music lovers, Liverpool is of course the birthplace of the Beatles. Visitors can even step inside the famous Cavern Club where the band regularly performed in the 1960s.
Beyond its cultural and historical offerings, Liverpool is also a top destination for sports enthusiasts. The city is home to one of the most successful football clubs in the UK, Liverpool F.C. Those interested in touring Anfield Stadium (home of Liverpool F.C.) can purchase tickets below.
In recent years, Liverpool has undergone significant regeneration, with new developments such as the Liverpool ONE shopping complex and the waterfront district attracting visitors from around the world.
In this blog post we'll explore the best things to do in Liverpool for travellers who are short on time, and provide the estimated time needed for each location. With careful planning, you should be able to fit the below activities (and maybe even a couple more) into one day in Liverpool.
Let's get started!
Explore the Royal Albert Dock area
Liverpool's Royal Albert Dock (often simply referred to as Albert Dock or the Docks) is a historic and iconic landmark that was officially opened in 1846. It was designed by architect Jesse Hartley and engineer Philip Hardwick, and served as a major hub for shipping and trade in the 19th and early 20th centuries. The docks were named after Prince Albert, the husband of Queen Victoria, who opened them officially.
The docks were a significant development in Liverpool's history, as they allowed ships to dock directly at the heart of the city. The warehouses surrounding the docks were used to store goods such as cotton, tobacco, and sugar, which were then transported from Liverpool to all over the world. The docks were a bustling hub of activity back in the day, with cranes and wagons constantly moving goods between ships and warehouses.
In the 1970s the docks fell into disuse, and many of the warehouses were left abandoned. Thankfully the area underwent significant regeneration in the 1980s, and the Albert Dock was transformed into the thriving tourist destination that it is today. The warehouses are now home to museums, galleries, shops, restaurants, and bars, and the area hosts many cultural and community events throughout the year.
You can probably see why Royal Albert Docks is a popular destination for tourists and locals alike. Visitors can take a stroll along the waterfront, enjoy a meal at one of the restaurants, or visit one of the many attractions, such as the Tate Liverpool, the Merseyside Maritime Museum, or the Beatles Story.
Estimated time needed to explore Liverpool's Albert Docks: 1.5-2hrs, more if entering a museum, or stopping for lunch.
Enjoy lunch or dinner at Royal Albert Dock
As mentioned above, there are plenty of restaurants for visitors to explore in the Albert Dock area of Liverpool. The style of food and price of drinks and meals varies greatly from restaurant to restaurant, so it's a good idea to take a look at Google Maps for the latest menu, or to ask to see a menu before being seated. During the busy season, customers may need to make a reservation for popular restaurants.
How long you spend at a restaurant or cafe entirely depends on whether you like to eat quickly or enjoy a long meal, so I've omitted the estimated time for food and drinks in this post.
Let's take a look at some of the food on offer at Royal Albert Dock.
The Smuggler's Cove Bar & Restaurant
The Smuggler's Cove Bar & Restaurant is open seven days a week for lunch and dinner. Indoor and outdoor seating is available, however I suggest sitting inside toward the front of the restaurant to enjoy the interesting décor and the beautiful view of Albert Dock.
Roly's Fudge Pantry
Roly's Fudge Pantry isn't unique to Liverpool, as it's originally from Devon in the UK, however, what makes Roly's Fudge Pantry special (and why I've decided to include it) is that each store is independently owned and cooks up fresh fudge using traditional recipes every day.
The fudge is available in lots of flavours, and is smooth and silky, and not at all grainy. There are no artificial colorings, flavorings or additives used. It makes for a great little sweet treat, and also a good souvenir. You can buy individual fudge pieces sold by weight, or in pre-packaged bags.
Rough Hand Made Bakery
Rough Hand Made is a local Liverpool bakery serving up freshly baked goods every day of the week. Plan your visit for breakfast or morning tea and enjoy warm treats straight from the oven. Indoor and outdoor seating available.
Taking the train to Liverpool? Buy your ticket in advance to enjoy a discount on train travel.
Check out an exhibition at the Tate Liverpool
Tate Liverpool is one of the four Tate galleries in the UK, renowned for its small but impressive collection of modern and contemporary art. The museum has been a cultural hub of Liverpool since its establishment in 1988, and attracts thousands of visitors to its collections and exhibitions every year.
The museum is housed in a converted warehouse on the Royal Albert Dock, a site that was once a bustling hub of Liverpool's maritime industry. This location provides a unique backdrop for the museum's vast collection of artwork, which ranges from painting and sculpture to photography and installation art.
One of the standout features of Tate Liverpool is its commitment to showcasing the work of local and regional artists in addition to international artists. The museum's exhibitions are often designed to spark conversations and engage visitors in critical dialogue about contemporary issues.
As well as the permanent collection and rotating exhibitions, Tate Liverpool offers a wide range of events and educational programs for visitors of all ages. From artist talks and workshops to film screenings and family-friendly activities, there is always something exciting happening at the museum. Visitors can check out the museum's website to see what exhibitions and activities are available on the day of their visit.
When I visited in February I was able to enjoy the free collection, in addition to the JMW Turner exhibition (on display until June 4, 2023). Current collections and exhibitions can be found on Tate Liverpool's website.
A few photos from the JMW Turner exhibition at the Tate Liverpool.
Overall, the Tate Liverpool is a must-visit destination for anyone interested in modern and contemporary art. With its stunning location and impressive collection it really is a cultural gem in the heart of Liverpool, and one I'd recommend to all art lovers.
For travellers looking for a museum with a stronger focus on Liverpool, the Museum of Liverpool may be a better option.
Estimated time needed to explore Tate Liverpool: 1.5-2hrs to see the free collection and paid exhibition.
Popular tours and activities in Liverpool.
Book in advance to avoid missing out!
Explore the Beatles' very own Liverpool on the Beatles Magical Mystery Tour
The Beatles Magical Mystery Tour in Liverpool is a must-see attraction for any die-hard Beatles fan. This tour is an immersive experience that takes visitors on a journey through the band's history in Liverpool.
The tour begins at the easy to find bus stop in Albert Dock, opposite the ticket booth where reserved tickets can be picked up. From there, the tour bus takes guests to the birthplace of George Harrison, and the last known house in Liverpool that belonged to Paul McCartney. The tour will briefly stop at both for photo opportunities. Please note that these homes can not be entered during the tour. The tour also includes stops at famous Liverpool landmarks, including Penny Lane and Strawberry Fields.
Penny Lane and Strawberry Fields, made famous by the Beatles.
The birthplace of George Harrison - 12 Arnold Grove, Liverpool.
The last known house to have belonged to Sir Paul McCartney in Liverpool on Forthlin Road.
As the bus winds it's way around the streets of Liverpool, the tour host will entertain you with band history and lesser-known stories about the members of the Beatles.
The tour does not stop at every Beatle's related attraction, although many more locations such as schools attended by the Beatles members and locations mentioned in songs will be pointed out through the window of the bus when passing by.
The final stop of the tour is a visit to The Cavern Club, where the Beatles played close to 300 times between 1961 and 1963. The club has been restored to look exactly as it did in the 1960s and still hosts live music performances today.
The Beatles Magical Mystery Tour is a fun and informative way to learn about the band's history in Liverpool, and it's a convenient way to see some of the places that inspired what many consider to be the greatest music of all time.
Those who just can't get enough of the Beatles should visit The Beatles Story Exhibition/Museum located at Royal Albert Dock, not far from where the Beatles Magical Mystery Tour begins.
Estimated time needed for the Magical Mystery Tour in Liverpool: The tour runs for 2hrs, excluding time spent at the Cavern Club. Tour guests are free to explore the Cavern Club for as long or as little as they wish at the end of the tour.
Buy your tickets for the Beatles Magical Mystery Tour in advance to avoid missing out!
Enjoy the music at the world-famous Cavern Club
The Cavern Club is a legendary music venue located in the heart of the city. It first opened its doors in 1957 and quickly became a focal point for the up and coming rock and roll scene of the 1960s.
The club is located on Mathew Street, in the city center, and is housed underground. Despite its small size and somewhat cramped conditions, The Cavern Club has remained a popular destination for music lovers and tourists alike. The venue hosts a variety of live music events, ranging from rock and roll to punk and pop, and has played host to many well-known artists over the years. Some of the most famous musicians to grace the Cavern Club stage include Elton John, Oasis and Adele.
The Cavern Club not only serves as a live music venue, but also as a music museum of sorts. The venue has signed posters and photos on the walls from bands and musicians that have played there throughout the years. There are also guitars, drum kits, and other music related paraphernalia on display from some of the bands and artists who have performed at The Cavern Club over the years.
Today, The Cavern Club remains an important part of Liverpool's important cultural heritage, attracting visitors from around the world who come to experience the history and atmosphere of this iconic music venue. It's a must-visit destination for all music lovers and definitely a must-see attraction during your stay in Liverpool.
Estimated time needed for the Cavern Club: Around 1hr, or longer if you're having a good time! I recommend browsing the items on display, and then enjoying the live music with a drink or two.
Pose with the Liverpool sign
The Liverpool sign is located in a public space across from the Albert Docks. It's a great place to pose for a photo which will serve as a great memory of your time in Liverpool.
Estimated time needed at the Liverpool sign: 5-15mins depending on crowds.
End your day with something sweet from Heavenly Desserts
Heavenly Desserts is a cafe focused on all things sweet, guaranteed to have something to satisfy every sweet tooth. The menu is extensive, and includes anything and everything from ice-cream to cakes and croffles. Those who are overwhelmed by the menu can ask the staff for some recommendations, however the store has also included a handy popular item indicator on the menu.
I enjoyed the ruby and white chocolate croffles (croissant x waffle), although I did find the dish to be a little too sweet.
The most convenient area to stay in Liverpool
The hotel I stayed at during my 24 hours in Liverpool was the super convenient Heywood House Hotel, located around five minutes walk from Albert Dock. For travellers hoping to explore Liverpool in a short amount of time, I can't recommend the location of this hotel enough. Being within walking distance of Royal Albert Dock makes it easy to see some of the best things Liverpool has to offer, without having to worry about dealing with public transport. In fact, all of the locations mentioned in this blog post were easily reached on foot from Heywood House Hotel.
The hotel is also conveniently located within a couple of minutes walk from James Street station, which is useful for people travelling to or from Liverpool via Liverpool Lime Street station. The trip from James Street station to Liverpool Lime Street station is only two stops and takes around five minutes.
I can't stress enough the importance of staying in a convenient location if you're only spending 24 hours in Liverpool (or any other city!) A conveniently located hotel means there's no time wasted on public transport, money spent on Ubers, and you won't need to walk kilometers to get to the main sights.
Final Thoughts about my 24 hours in Liverpool
Liverpool is a great city to visit in the UK for those who are interested in music and history. There are many things for tourists to enjoy in the Albert Dock area including but not limited to museums and restaurants. In addition there are lots of Beatles related locations scattered around Liverpool for Beatles fans to enjoy. Be sure to book your train ticket in advance if you plan to travel to and from Liverpool by train to avoid missing out on a seat.
In my opinion, one day in Liverpool is definitely enough time to see the main sights, however, if you wish to dive deeper into the city and explore some lesser-known attractions, you may wish to spend two days in Liverpool instead.
For anyone planning on visiting London, be sure to read about how to see some of London's best views for free!