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One of the largest cities in the North of England. Liverpool is the UK’s 9th largest city and is home to around 500,000 people. It is at the heart of Merseyside, the UK’s 5th largest metropolitan area and is home to around 2 million people.
Liverpool did not achieve city status until 1880, however the Industrial Revolution and the growth of its port made it a significant location prior to that. It was the departure point of many emigrants from the British Isles who were starting a new life in the Americas. It was the second most bombed city in the UK during World War 2.
Today, Liverpool is a financial, cultural and academic centre. It is best known as the hometown of The Beatles, and you can still see the marks of the Fab Four in the city today, with bus tours and commemorative plaques throughout the city. It has a buzzing nightlife and it’s popular gay village was the first in the UK.
For information about gay rights in United Kingdom, please check out our Gay London City Guide page.
Despite its proximity to Manchester and its internationally recognised gay scene, Liverpool’s gay scene more than holds up to Manchester’s. Its gay village is the oldest in the country and is the only one officially recognised and supported by a city council. Liverpool’s strong socialist tradition makes it a very welcoming city.
In and around the Stanley Street gay quarter you will find a good selection of bars and dance clubs, and further afield there are saunas. The city hosts an extremely popular gay pride festival at the end of July/beginning of August. The Homotopia festival in November showcases a fascinating program of local and international queer art.
Liverpool John Lennon Airport (LPL)is 12 km south of the city. It is well served by budget airlines to destinations in Europe and North Africa by budget airlines where you can change at these hub airports. In the summer months there are more charter services available from Liverpool.
From the airport you can take buses into the city centre. The Airlink 500 is an express service that takes you into the centre in around 30 minutes. A single journeys costs around £4 but note services stop 7 pm. The 86a service is a cheaper and longer service however it runs 24 hours so is a good way to get into the city centre at night.
Hackney cabs can be caught outside the terminal building and and drivers need to be approved to work at the airport. The journey takes around half an hour and will cost between £20-30 in a taxi, traffic depending. Private taxis will pick you up from the car park. Car hire is available at the airport and can be arranged in advance.
Manchester Airport (MAN) is relatively close to Liverpool and offers a wider range of services, including several long-haul flights. It is around an hours drive from Liverpool and there are direct train and coach links to Liverpool from the airport terminal.
Liverpool Lime Street is Liverpool’s main rail hub and it is an impressive Victorian structure in the centre of the city. It is well-connected to destinations around England (you can get to London in 2 hours) however you will have to change connections if coming from Scotland or Wales.
There are some ferry services from Dublin, Belfast and Douglas (Isle of Man) to Pier Head in the city centre. Journeys from Ireland take around 8 hours and please note that Northern Irish bank notes may not be accepted by taxi drivers or in some shops.
Liverpool city centre is relatively compact and is well signposted so getting around by foot is the best way to take in the stunning architecture. It can be quite a wet city so make sure you dress for the weather.
By public transport
Liverpool has a comprehensive transport operated by Merseytravel. There are regular and frequent bus services throughout the day (night buses are prefixed with an N). Tickets start in the region of £2-3 for a single and day tickets which can be bought from the driver (preferably with coins). Weekly passes can be bought from bus stations.
Merseyrail operate the commuter trains which are quite handy if you’re staying a bit out of the city centre (or going to do some adventuring). The Mersey Ferry is an attraction in itself and takes you from Liverpool to the Wirral. You can purchase a Saveway ticket for just over £5 which covers buses, trains and the ferry.
Liverpool has a well maintained fleet of recognisable black hackney cabs. They can be hailed on the street but there are also many taxi ranks situated throughout the city. Private hire vehicles can only be ordered in advance and any soliciting you should be treated as suspect. Uber operates in Liverpool.
For a list of recommended hotels in Liverpool, please check out our recommended hotels in Liverpool page.
Tate Liverpool – the northern branch of one the UK’s most prominent art institutions. Here, at the Albert Dock, you will see some of the best modern art for free. Previous works on display have included Tracey Emin’s infamous unmade bed.
Merseyside Maritime Museum – A fascinating museum which covers Liverpool’s history as a port. It includes several museums in one including the Border Force national museum, the International Museum of Slavery and an exhibition on the Titanic. Be sure to check out the poignant “Hello Sailor!” exhibition about gay life on the open seas.
Walker Art Gallery – situated on the only street in the UK that only has museums or libraries. The Walker Art Gallery hosts works by Degas and Banksy. Of note is its special exhibition dedicated to gay fashion designers.
Bold Street – for hip boutiques and quirky cafes, make a beeline for Bold Street. To try the traditional stew Scouse which gave the locals their infamous nickname (scousers) be sure to head to Maggie May’s and don’t skip the pickled beetroot or red cabbage on the side!
The Beatles Story – you’d be a fool to pass up an opportunity to find out more about the Fab Four in their city of origin. Here you will find a recreation of the original Cavern Club where the Beatles made their name.
Everton and Liverpool FC – Liverpool has not one but two Premier League team in the city so why not take in the drama and atmosphere of a football match. The local derby match can provoke some mild disturbances so keep your wits about you but also accept it as part of the fun (to an extent).
Peaky Blinders tour – although the award-winning show is set in Birmingham it is actually filmed in Liverpool. Here you can take in some of the iconic sights from the series.
Matthew Street – here you will find a great collection of bars (not gay bars but welcoming) to get a true feeling for Liverpool’s buzzing nightlife. You will also find a statue in commemoration of Liverpool’s most famous daughter- the inimitable Cilla Black.
Liverpool has a temperate climate with relatively pleasant summers and mild winters. The weather here is very unpredictable so check forecasts and pack accordingly. Late spring and summer has the best weather however this is when tourist numbers are at there biggest but the city doesn’t exactly get swarmed.
There are a wide variety of festivals and events held in Liverpool throughout the year. Liverpool International Music Festival has a great programme of musical acts for very reasonable prices. June’s Mersey River Festival sees historic tall ships descend on the city amongst other attractions. The Liverpool Biennial has an international reputation.
In recent years, the UK has tightened its immigration procedures and introduced the use of biometrics. Full details can be found here.
Most visitors from Europe, and countries such as the USA, Hong Kong SAR, Singapore and Taiwan do not require a visa – check here to see if this applies to you.
Most other visitors from Asia, South Africa and South America need to obtain a visa before travelling to the UK. You will normally be required to attend an interview at your local UK Embassy.
Entry is normally permitted for a period of 6 months, and you are free to travel anywhere in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. A UK visa is not valid for travel to other European countries.
The official currency of the United Kingdom is pound sterling (£, GBP), commonly known as the pound. Exchanging cash into British Pounds in the UK can be expensive. Most Asian travellers get a better rate by exchanging currency before travelling to the UK.
Visa & MasterCard and debit cards are accepted almost everywhere. American Express and Diners cards are widely accepted. The UK uses a ‘Chip and PIN’ system for all payments. If your card has a microchip, expect to be asked to enter your PIN number rather than sign. If you do not have a PIN, expect to be asked to show official photo ID.
Contact-less debit and credit card payments are becoming more popular for smaller purchases in coffee shops, car parks, grocery stores and on public transport.
Banks usually open between 09:30 and 16:00, although many in larger cities or major shopping areas will stay open a lot later.
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