A down to earth city with a warm soul and a real sense of community, Liverpool is the perfect destination to explore over a weekend or couple of days. As well as its famous football grounds and Beatles-themed tours, Liverpool offers exciting arts and culture venues, a burgeoning food and drink scene and lively nightlife, leaving you with more than enough to squeeze into 48 hours.
Morning: Get off to the right start with breakfast at The Cow & Co Cafe (15 Cleveland Square). Sitting quietly between the river and the main bustle of Ropewalks and L1, this friendly cafe serves up fantastic waffles and some of the best coffee in town. Plus there are plenty of interesting trinkets, homewares and independent magazines to browse over while you sip your brew. It’s chilled and stylish – a great introduction to Ropewalks.
After breakfast, head over to the Albert Dock. Loop around the complex of restaurants, bars and shops, which make up the largest group of Grade I listed buildings in the UK, to Tate Liverpool. The renovated dockland warehouse is home to hundreds of works from some of the biggest names in modern and contemporary art. If photography is more your thing, get your fix at Openeye Gallery at nearby Mann Island.
As you leave the Mann Island complex, the iconic cluster of grand, art deco buildings is hard to miss. When The Royal Liver Building was built in 1911, it was the tallest building in Europe. Look out for the Liver Birds on top – the emblem of the city.
On the corner of nearby Water Street is grandiose tea house Oh Me Oh My (West Africa House, 25 Water St), located within the former Bank of West Africa. Pop in for a sandwich or snack, or head to the nearby Baltic Fleet (33A Wapping) where they serve up traditional pub classics and local ‘scouse’ stew all within an historic drinking house near the docks.
Make your way towards L1, close to the waterfront by the imposing John Lewis carpark. Duck into Utility (8 Paradise Place) opposite John Lewis. The family-run design shop is a Liverpool go-to for quirky gifts, cards and homewares. For more unique shopping, walk up towards Waterstone’s, and turn right to find Bluecoat Display Centre (50 College Ln). The contemporary craft and design gallery sells and promotes quality work from 350 selected craftspeople. Opposite here is Spanish deli Lunya (18-20 College Lane); the tapas is fantastic, but it’s also worth visiting the adjoining deli / shop, which presents a fantastic array of Spanish delicacies, recipe books, dry goods and homewares. Another great spot for gift shopping.
It’s time for a coffee, so walk up nearby Hanover Street to the intersection of Bold Street. Bold Street is the epicentre of food and drink in Liverpool, and it’s where you’ll find the city’s first specialty coffee shop. Bold Street Coffee (89 Bold Street) serves the best cup of coffee in town, and has recently been named one of the top 25 coffee shops in the UK by the Sunday Times.
On the other side of the road, you’ll notice the curved frontage of FACT (88 Wood Street) on adjoining Wood Street. The cultural hub is dedicated to media based arts, and recent exhibitions include Type Motion, featuring outstanding examples of text and typography, and Follow, which investigated themes of identity and social media. There’s also a Picturehouse cinema, cafe and bar inside. Pop into current exhibition before heading back to your hotel or apartment to get ready for the evening.
Start the evening with a cocktail at Filter and Fox (27 Duke Street). The neighbourhood bar is small but perfectly formed, and the charming bartenders shake fantastic drinks. If you’re more of a pub person, the haunts up in the Georgian Quarter will hit the spot – try Philharmonic Dining Rooms (36 Hope Street), Peter Kavanaghs (2-6 Egerton Street), or The Grapes (60 Roscoe Street).
For dinner, Maray (91 Bold Street) on Bold Street has one of the most eclectic menus in town. Running with the concept of small plates, the food is a sort of Lebanese-meets-Scandi affair. Order a selection of things to share, and tuck in.
After dinner, walk up Hardman Street to Buyers Club (24 Hardman Street). Tucked away down a little alley behind The Old Blind School, the complex consists of a restaurant with open kitchen, music venue and bar, which is perfect for a nightcap. Still early? See what’s on in the venue upstairs, or walk down Hope Street to Frederiks (32 Hope Street) or the Pen Factory (13 Hope Street).
Morning: Back to Bold Street for breakfast, where East Avenue Bakehouse (112 Bold Street) serves up the tastiest Eggs Benedict in town. Wash it down with a freshly pressed orange juice and a flat white, enjoying the coffee aromas and morning buzz in the neighbourhood cafe.
Central Station is located at the bottom of Bold Street, where you can catch a handy Mersey Link train to Crosby Beach. Anthony Gormley’s haunting installation ‘Another Place’ of 1000 cast iron figures standing along 3 miles of sand is breathtaking. The sea breeze will blow away the cobwebs, and the beach offers a new perspective of the Liverpool waterfront from the outward curve of the coast.
Return to Central Station, and head to Mowgli (69 Bold Street) on Bold Street for lunch. The restaurant offers a new take on Indian street food, with fragrant and delicious dishes. The friendly staff are happy to help with the menu, but I’d recommend the Tiffin box, which gives you a random selection of dishes from the menu.
Afternoon: Walk up to the Georgian Quarter, where two cathedrals flank Hope Street. Take your pick of which to visit first – the Anglican (St James Mount) is the largest cathedral in the country and offers fabulous views over the city from the bell tower. The Metropolitan (Cathedral House, Mount Pleasant) is both dramatic and iconic, boasting the world’s largest stained glass window and an extraordinary vaulted crypt.
On the corner of Hope Street and Hardman Street is 92 Degrees Coffee (24 Hardman Street), perfectly positioned for an afternoon pick-me-up. Just outside the cafe is a Citybike station – simply use your bank card to hire a bike for an hour. Cycle down Hope Street towards the Anglican, and take a left at Gambier Terrace, then a right down Catherine Street. Cross the main thoroughfare of Upper Parliament Street, and continue down tree lined Princes Avenue. Just short of the end, you’ll see brightly coloured bunting on a road to your left. This is the beginning of the Granby Four Streets; a project which was awarded the Turner Prize recently. The housing project aims to renovate four rows of terraced housing is a sustainable way that gives jobs to local people, offering the homes for rent and sale exclusively to people in the community. On Granby Street, there’s a workshop where you can see people making doorknobs, tiles and accessories from reclaimed items. After a quick cycle around nearby Prince’s Park, it’s time to return the bikes.
Evening: Head over to Liverpool’s financial district. The Ship and Mitre (133 Dale Street) is a lively pub that’s perennially packed thanks to its huge selection of hand-pulled ales, draught beers and jovial atmosphere.
Nearby, the contemporary but unassuming Japanese restaurant Etsu (25 The Strand) is consistently excellent. The artfully prepared sushi, crispy tempura and hearty bowls of Udon are all delectable – make sure you save room for the green tea ice cream. The staff are very hospitable and happy to talk you through the menu.
Around the corner is Jenny’s Bar (The Old Ropery, Fenwick Street). Steps below an old awning indicating a Seafood Restaurant lead to this little hideaway with a twin peaks feel. The cocktails are en point, and the music ranges from motown to disco and funk, which is always great for a boogie.
- Hannah Frances