In addition to being located on the banks of the famous River Mersey, Liverpool is known for being the birthplace of the Beatles. Once a tiny fishing village in the 12th century, it later became a major port for the transportation of men and goods to Ireland, of Africans to North America, and of sugar, spices, tobacco, rum and cotton. By the time of Queen Victoria's ascension to the throne, Liverpool had already become the most important commercial maritime port in Great Britain. Towards the end of the 1980s, the city had managed to reverse its then-recent decline by refurbishing Albert Dock and the Tate Liverpool, creating a maritime museum and transforming a large number of warehouses into small shops. It also benefited from its status as the 2008 European Capital of Culture, when 3 billion pounds were invested into the city for its development. Today, it boasts superb museums and first-rate art galleries (all free), offering a large number of activities perfect for a weekend break. Everywhere you turn, Liverpool has a story to tell, whether it be of the UNESCO-listed World Heritage Sites, of the city's two cathedrals, or of the homes of John Lennon and Paul McCartney.
If you are a big fan of the Fab Four then you'll be happy to know that you can visit Penny Lane, Strawberry Fields, and even the homes of the Beatles. To further continue your pilgrimage, you can discover the Beatles Story museum at Albert Dock or go to Matthew Street where you will find several bars with a Beatles theme, including The Cavern, where the group performed 292 concerts. If you would rather avoid this theme, you can visit the Maritime Museum (also at Albert Dock), which displays some interesting links between Liverpool and New York. Finally, it would be shame to miss out on a ferry cruise on the River Mersey to admire its famous shores.
Pier Head, on the shores of the River Mersey, is the inevitable first stop when visiting Liverpool. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site comprising three monuments baptised The Three Graces. The most famous is certainly the Royal Liver Building (insurance), with its two characteristic clock towers crowned with the emblematic Liver Birds. The other two Graces are the Cunard Building (shipping company) and the Port of Liverpool Building (port administrators). These three monuments overlook a large area made up of several squares and dotted with statues characteristic of the 20th century, the time of their construction.
It is easy to get to Liverpool and the surrounding areas by taking any of the regularly scheduled buses, trains and flights from the UK's main cities. The main railway station in Liverpool Lime Street proposes departures every hour to a large number of destinations, including Chester, London, Manchester and Wigan. The National Express Coach Station, 300m north of Lime Street Station, provides connections to most of the UK's major cities, including Manchester, London, Birmingham and Newcastle. Liverpool's John Lennon Airport, also in the vicinity, proposes flights to a range of international destinations such as Amsterdam, Barcelona, Dublin and Paris, as well as other cities in the UK.
Liverpool is a safe city with a strong police presence in the evening. If you take the same precautions as you would in any other city, you shouldn't encounter any problems. However, fights sometimes break out in the city-centre neighbourhoods where the bars are located when patrons return home at night, when it is preferable to avoid the neighbourhoods of Kensington and Toxteth.
The city's main dish, Scouse, is where the nickname of the inhabitants of Liverpool comes from, baptised the Scousers. This is a kind of stew prepared with lamb, carrots, onions, and crispy hazelnuts; there is nothing like it to warm you up on those drizzly Liverpool days. You can also taste a Butty, a sandwich typical of the city. Its variants include the Sugar Butty and the Conny Onny Butty, whose main ingredient is concentrated milk. The Everton Mint is another Liverpool speciality: it is a black and white striped sweet that is hard on the outside and chewy in the centre.
If you love football, you should know that Liverpool FC is one of the biggest clubs in the history of English football, and especially in the 20th century. Why not go to a game and take home a souvenir that will remind you of the legendary "you'll never walk alone" (the anthem and motto of the Liverpool Football Club, among others). Although we have already discussed the Beatles, there are some things you just never tire of. When in one of the Beatles-themed bars or museums, or on a Beatles-themed visit, you'll be able to find a souvenir to remind you that "all you need is love".