There’s More to Liverpool Than The Beatles — A First Timer’s Guide

Discover why Liverpool never lost its cool.

best things to do liverpool
Photo: Stock

You won’t find anywhere quite like Liverpool. Liverpudlians, as they call themselves, love their city, and as a tourist, it’s hard not to be infected by their patriotism. From birthing  The Beatles and other iconic musicians, to being the birthplace of global trade and exploration during the 18th and 19th centuries, Liverpool has always been at the forefront of culture, and if you ask a Liverpudlian, they will happily confirm that.

Although beyond its iconic past, the city pulses with modern energy as a vibrant up-and-coming destination. After recently hosting Eurovision, thousands descended upon the music city, discovering its trendy neighbourhoods, burgeoning food scene and lively arts landscape.

One would say it’s been revived, and we agree. So we decided to visit the historic waterfront city to uncover the spirit that makes it a desired destination for travellers seeking both tradition and trend.

best things to do liverpool

History and Architecture

Walk Along Royal Albert Dock

Royal Albert Dock, once a UNESCO World Heritage site, should be your first stop when you arrive in Liverpool to get your bearings. Once buzzed with ships unloading cargoes from around the world, the revitalised dock is now a vibrant cultural hub, preserving the past while keeping up with the present.

The cobbled walkways will lead you to the striking red-brick warehouses repurposed to house museums, galleries, shops, and restaurants. From the Tate Liverpool, showcasing modern and contemporary art, to the Merseyside Maritime Museum, delving into the city’s seafaring history, every corner reveals a new facet of Liverpool’s character.

Marvel at Neo-Gothic Architecture of Liverpool Cathedral

Liverpool Cathedral, also known as the Liverpool Cathedral Church of Christ, stands as a towering testament to human creativity, spirituality, and architectural grandeur. This awe-inspiring structure is one of the city’s most iconic landmarks and definitely worth a peek into.

Beyond its religious significance, Liverpool Cathedral also serves as a cultural hub, hosting events ranging from choral performances to art exhibitions. Its breathtaking panoramic views from the tower’s vantage point allow visitors to marvel at the city’s skyline and the River Mersey.

best things to do liverpool
Photo: Dave Thompson/Getty Images

Music and Tours

British Music Experience

Step into the beat of British musical history at the British Music Experience. This immersive journey takes you on a melodic odyssey through the vibrant tapestry of British rock and pop music. From the iconic melodies of The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, and Bowie to the chart-topping hits of The Spice Girls, Oasis, Adele, and even the contemporary wave of talents like X-Factor stars, the museum boasts an unparalleled collection of costumes, instruments, photographs, and captivating footage.

The Beatles Story

Everything you need to know about The Beatles is neatly packaged inside The Beatles Story Museum, located in the heart of Liverpool. Immerse yourself in the early years of the Fab Four as the museum recreates the humble beginnings that led to their meteoric ascent. Wander through meticulously recreated settings, from the famous Cavern Club, where they first rocked the stage, to the historic Abbey Road Studios, where their groundbreaking albums were recorded.

Music Tour of the City 

Want an insider’s perspective of the music city? Trust Charley. Charley stands out as the sole Green Badge tour guide in the UK, equipped with a Master’s Degree in The Beatles and Popular Music. As the founder of Livertours Liverpool, Charley’s expertise brings a unique dimension to your experience. Traverses the city’s musical heritage, encompassing renowned venues and historical sites. You will visit the iconic Camp and Furnace venue and M&S Bank Arena, which hosted Eurovision 2023, to connect with Liverpool’s musical significance. Charley will also take you to Bridwell Pub, once a rehearsal haven for Frankie Goes to Hollywood and frequented by none other than Charles Dickens.

The Cavern Club

Is there anywhere more iconic than The Cavern Club? Follow the red neon sign down a dark sketchy staircase to find Liverpool’s underground heartbeat. The club’s storied stage has hosted countless iconic performances — including The Beatles, who made it their second home — making it a pilgrimage site for music enthusiasts worldwide. The intimate atmosphere and low arched ceiling with the spirit of the 1960s is electric, intoxicating, and a must-visit in Liverpool. Duck across the quarter to Cavern Restaurant for a classic steakhouse feed before a gig.

Baltic Triangle

From its iconic street art to its bustling markets and buzzing nightlife, the Baltic Triangle is often overlooked by travellers, but if you’re into music, art, and edge, add it to your to-do list. Formerly an industrial area, it has transformed into a vibrant neighbourhood pulsating with artistic energy. This district, nestled between the waterfront and the city centre, thrives on its independent spirit, offering a mix of art galleries, studios, live music venues, including Camp and Furnace, and innovative eateries. One such eatery is Lu Ban, a sleek, modern venue highlighting the flavours of the Chinese region of Tianjin. Please do yourself a favour and order the hot and sour soup; it’s a signature.

best things to do liverpool
Photo: Barnacle

Food and Drink

Duke Street Market

Forget everything you know about food halls because Duke Street Market is a melting pot of cuisines, all under one industrial-chic roof. While still casual, the eateries are a step up from your taco truck and street food stand. Instead, expect vibrant players of Latin American favourites, Italian pizzerias, steak from Bone and Block, Liverpool’s favourite steak restaurant, and fish and chips, served with three kinds of condiments.

Upstairs is a casual fine dining restaurant, Barnacle, helmed by The Art School’s Paul Askey. Here, the menu heroes fresh, organic, and local ingredients, with drinks inspired by the port’s history. Each artfully presented dish is a mosaic of colour, taste and texture. Think Ward’s Peterhead hake with tomato, green strawberries, gooseberry and borlotti beans. Barnacle is a good place to start if you’re looking for something special or something unique.

Ma Boyles

If there is only one place you go for lunch, make it Ma Boyles. A stone’s throw from the Albert Dock, Ma Boyles is more than just a pub — it’s a living testament to Liverpool.

This iconic establishment has been a beloved haunt since the 19th century, offering a place to unwind, share stories, and enjoy hearty fare with its wood-panelled interiors and maritime-themed décor. The timeless charm harks back to a seafaring past, with a menu reflecting that, including serving up traditional British dishes and seafood delights, including fish and chips and a classic Scouse (British stew).

best things to do liverpool
Photo: Radisson Hotels

Where to Stay

Liverpool, like most cities, has its neighbourhoods. There’s the Baltic Triangle, Albert Docks, Ropewalks and the city centre. Choosing a hotel requires some research, depending on what you want to see. However, our top pick is Radisson RED Liverpool, a vibrant and contemporary haven that embodies the city’s dynamic spirit.

The sleek and stylish rooms offer a perfect blend of comfort and urban flair, providing a comfortable retreat to sink into after a long night in the quarter. You will find panoramic views of Liverpool’s skyline from the rooftop bar and terrace. Inside, take some time to look around the art-filled public spaces, where you can immerse yourself in all things Beatles and culture.

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Ditch your Phone for ‘Dome Life’ in this Pastoral Paradise Outside Port Macquarie 

A responsible, sustainable travel choice for escaping big city life for a few days.

nature domes port macquarie
Photo: Nature Domes

The urge to get as far away as possible from the incessant noise and pressures of ‘big city life’ has witnessed increasingly more of us turn to off-grid adventures for our holidays: polled travellers at the start of 2023 and 55% of us wanted to spend our holidays ‘off-grid’.  Achieving total disconnection from the unyielding demands of our digitised lives via some kind of off-grid nature time—soft or adventurous—is positioned not only as a holiday but, indeed, a necessity for our mental health. 

Tom’s Creek Nature Domes, an accommodation collection of geodesic domes dotted across a lush rural property in Greater Port Macquarie (a few hours’ drive from Sydney, NSW), offers a travel experience that is truly ‘off-grid’. In the figurative ‘wellness travel’ sense of the word, and literally, they run on their own independent power supply—bolstered by solar—and rely not on the town grid. 

Ten minutes before you arrive at the gates for a stay at Tom’s Creek Nature Domes, your phone goes into ‘SOS ONLY’. Apple Maps gives up, and you’re pushed out of your comfort zone, driving down unsealed roads in the dark, dodging dozens of dozing cows. Then, you must ditch your car altogether and hoist yourself into an open-air, all-terrain 4WD with gargantuan wheels. It’s great fun being driven through muddy gullies in this buggy; you feel like Laura Dern and Jeff Goldblum in Jurassic Park.  As your buggy pulls in front of your personal Nature Dome, it’s not far off that “Welcome…to Jurassic Park” jaw-dropping moment—your futuristic-looking home is completely engulfed by thriving native bushland; beyond the outdoor campfire lie expansive hills and valleys of green farmland, dotted with sheep and trees. You’re almost waiting to see a roaming brachiosaurus glide past, munching on a towering gum tree…instead, a few inquisitive llamas trot past your Dome to check out their new visitor. 

To fully capture the awe of inhabiting a geodesic dome for a few days, a little history of these futuristic-looking spherical structures helps. Consisting of interlocking triangular skeletal struts supported by (often transparent) light walls, geodesic domes were developed in the 20th century by American engineer and architect R. Buckminster Fuller, and were used for arenas. Smaller incarnations have evolved into a ‘future-proof’ form of modern housing: domes are able to withstand harsh elements due to the stability provided by the durable materials of their construction and their large surface area to volume ratio (which helps minimize wind impact and prevents the structure from collapsing). As housing, they’re also hugely energy efficient – their curved shape helps to conserve heat and reduce energy costs, making them less susceptible to temperature changes outside. The ample light let in by their panels further reduces the need for artificial power. 

Due to their low environmental impact, they’re an ideal sustainable travel choice. Of course, Tom’s Creek Nature Domes’ owner-operators, Cardia and Lee Forsyth, know all this, which is why they have set up their one-of-a-kind Nature Domes experience for the modern traveller. It’s also no surprise to learn that owner Lee is an electrical engineer—experienced in renewable energy—and that he designed the whole set-up. As well as the off-grid power supply, rainwater tanks are used, and the outdoor hot tub is heated by a wood fire—your campfire heats up your tub water via a large metal coil. Like most places in regional Australia, the nights get cold – but rather than blast a heater, the Domes provide you with hot water bottles, warm blankets, lush robes and heavy curtains to ward off the chill.

nature domes port macquarie
Photo: Nature Domes

You’ll need to be self-sufficient during your stay at the Domes, bringing your own food. Support local businesses and stock up in the town of Wauchope on your drive-in (and grab some pastries and coffee at Baked Culture while you’re at it). There’s a stovetop, fridge (stocked as per a mini bar), BBQs, lanterns and mozzie coils, and you can even order DIY S’More packs for fireside fun. The interiors of the Domes have a cosy, stylish fit-out, with a modern bathroom (and a proper flushing toilet—none of that drop bush toilet stuff). As there’s no mobile reception, pack a good book or make the most of treasures that lie waiting to be discovered at every turn: a bed chest full of board games, a cupboard crammed with retro DVDs, a stargazing telescope (the skies are ablaze come night time). Many of these activities are ideal for couples, but there’s plenty on offer for solo travellers, such as yoga mats, locally-made face masks and bath bombs for hot tub soaks. 

It’s these thoughtful human touches that reinforce the benefit of making a responsible travel choice by booking local and giving your money to a tourism operator in the Greater Port Macquarie Region, such as Tom’s Creek Nature Domes. The owners are still working on the property following the setbacks of COVID-19, and flooding in the region —a new series of Domes designed with families and groups in mind is under construction, along with an open-air, barn-style dining hall and garden stage. Once ready, the venue will be ideal for wedding celebrations, with wedding parties able to book out the property. They’ve already got one couple—who honeymooned at the Domes—ready and waiting. Just need to train up the llamas for ring-bearer duties! 

An abundance of favourite moments come to mind from my two-night stay at Tom’s Creek: sipping champagne and gourmet picnicking at the top of a hill on a giant swing under a tree, with a bird’s eye view of the entire property (the ‘Mountain Top picnic’ is a must-do activity add on during your stay), lying on a deckchair at night wrapped in a blanket gazing up at starry constellations and eating hot melted marshmallows, to revelling in the joys of travellers before me, scrawled on notes in a jar of wishes left by the telescope (you’re encouraged to write your own to add to the jar). But I’ll leave you with a gratitude journal entry I made while staying there. I will preface this by saying that I don’t actually keep a gratitude journal, but Tom’s Creek Nature Domes is just the kind of place that makes you want to start one. And so, waking up on my second morning at Tom’s —lacking any 4G bars to facilitate my bad habit of a morning Instagram scroll—I finally opened up a notebook and made my first journal entry:

‘I am grateful to wake up after a deep sleep and breathe in the biggest breaths of this clean air, purified by nature and scented with eucalyptus and rain. I am grateful for this steaming hot coffee brewed on a fire. I feel accomplished at having made myself. I am grateful for the skittish sheep that made me laugh as I enjoyed a long nature walk at dawn and the animated billy goats and friendly llamas overlooking my shoulder as I write this: agreeable company for any solo traveller. I’m grateful for total peace, absolute stillness.” 

Off-grid holiday status: unlocked.

Where: Tom’s Creek Nature Domes, Port Macquarie, 2001 Toms Creek Rd
Price: $450 per night, book at the Natura Domes website.

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