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Liverpool often conjures images of its maritime legacy, its world-class football, or the birthplace of a certain famous band who played their first show here. Yes, Scousers — as the locals are known — certainly have a diehard love for their team and seem pretty proud of their rock ’n’ roll heritage. And history buffs can certainly sniff out tales of the city’s former glory at the many remarkable museums and historic landmarks, relics of a time when this grand port was one of the major hubs of global trade and industry. But that’s only skimming the surface of this Northern English metropolis.
Across Liverpool’s frenetic cityscape, you’ll find neighborhoods where creatives breathe life into the red-brick warehouses in districts such as the Baltic Triangle and the Ropewalks, known for their independent shops, music venues, and beer gardens. On the revitalized waterfront, the Royal Albert Dock, you’ll find contemporary art on display at Tate Liverpool as well as modern restaurants occupying centuries-old dockside spaces. It’s in corners of the city like these where you witness Liverpool’s modern character — wedged between icons of its past and the avant-garde glimmers of its future.
It takes less than an hour to get between Liverpool and Manchester by road and train, with these two metropolitan areas forming the urban center of Northern England. A longtime travel hub, Liverpool has easy connections to the rest of the United Kingdom by rail, intercity coaches, and Liverpool John Lennon Airport (LPL). Merseytravel operates the city’s public transportation system, with the local Merseyrail trains linking the city center to the surrounding region. Liverpool’s citybike network has more than 130 stations throughout the city where you can rent a bicycle — it’s the nation’s largest bike-share program outside London.
Summer is the driest and sunniest season in Liverpool, with warm temperatures and long days making it the season for enjoying a pint in one of the city’s many beer gardens or enjoying a day at one of the nearby beaches. This means June, July, and August are the peak times, with festivals and events packing the weekend calendars. Late spring and early fall are usually as pleasant, but with fewer crowds. Winter guarantees plenty of drizzling rain and dark snowy days, though holiday markets keep the vibe bright over December and into January.
For an immersion in Liverpool’s alternative scene, head to this formerly industrial district set along the regenerated waterfront. By day, you’ll find specialty cafes, restaurants, and independent shops selling vintage records and streetwear. By night, the scene gets even more eclectic, when you might choose to hit one of the local breweries and beer gardens, or bob your head to an underground DJ’s beats in one of the warehouses turned venues. The creative energy reverberates into adjacent neighborhoods like Chinatown and the Ropewalks.
Southeast of Liverpool’s city center, Speke Hall represents one of England’s finest examples of 16th-century Tudor architecture. Inside the oak-framed manor, preserved today by the National Trust, many period furnishings highlight the life of the region’s nobility throughout the centuries. In the estate grounds, you’ll find manicured lawns, a rose garden, and more open greenspaces where you can take a stroll and enjoy the scenery in each changing season.
Hop on the train for a 15-minute ride north to visit one of the most unusual sculptural exhibits anywhere: During low tide at Crosby Beach, the waters recede to fully reveal 100 cast-iron people with their faces toward the ocean. The work is named Another Place and it’s the creation of contemporary British artist Antony Gormley, who based each near-identical figure on his own body. The stretch of sandy shores here is simply a pleasant place for a stroll, too.