LIVERPOOL: Your insider guide to the ultimate weekend on Merseyside
When it comes to a great stag do, Liverpool ticks all of the boxes – The second-to-none club scene is complemented by superb bars all concentrated in a compact city centre. Then there's the fact that drinks are ridiculously cheap. You don’t have to dig too deep to realise there’s a real buzz about the place.
Liverpool at a glance:
• Liverpool has a great music scene, kickstarted in the 60s by The Beatles, but still very much vibrant today
• From mainstream bars and clubs, to quirkier independent venues with bags of atmosphere, it’s all here on the banks of the Mersey
• Liverpool has its own obscure mascot – located around the city, the Lambananas are part lamb, part banana, which in some warped way sums up the city
• A compact city centre with plenty of attractions all within easy reach and easily negotiated on foot
There’s more to Liverpool than footy and The Beatles, with cool bars and international cultural attractions. This famous North West city is renowned for the River Mersey, The Beatles, Liverpool FC, and...The Beatles (did we mention them already?). We love it, yeah, yeah, yeah…
Lark Lane – Staying cool in ‘Pool
Situated near to Sefton Park, Lark Lane is an area famed for its bohemian reputation, cafes, restaurants, bars, pubs, shops and art galleries. Not the cheapest spot, but if you’re looking for somewhere chic and independent, there’s a good run of international eateries (including Chinese, Greek, Indian, Turkish, Thai, Italian, Jamaican and more) plus a decent gaggle of lounges, bars and inns.
Albert Dock – where the boats used to come in...
The vast 1.25 million sq ft site was officially opened in 1841 and was the first enclosed, noncombustible dock warehouse system in the world, and the first structure in Britain to be built entirely of cast iron, brick and stone. Designed to accommodate sailing ships, its lifespan was relatively short. Though closed in the 1970s, a regeneration plan saw it redeveloped and reopened in 1988, and it is now home to a series of museums and classy bars and restaurants. An upmarket evening destination home to a smorgasbord of foodie treats and evening entertainment. A great waterfront location.
Liverpool City Centre – the beating heart of the city’s nightlife
As you'd expect from any decent city centre, the byword is 'variety'. It's all here. Pubs, bars, nightclubs to suit pretty well every taste. The area surrounding Concert Square is considered to be the heart of Liverpool's nightlife, and is home to some of the best known names. This is where you wanna go if you wanna party. Mathew Street is also well worth a visit if you like the sound of themed and retro bars to get you dancing the night away.
Bold Street - Liverpool's Brick Lane
As the locals like to point out, London might have Brick Lane and Manchester might have Canal Street, but Liverpool has Bold Street. Situated in the Ropewalks Area and with the iconic Church of St Luke at the top end, this now largely pedestrianised street was once home to the city's merchants. Today it’s a top choice for cafes and restaurants with character, including the quirky House and Leaf https://thisisleaf.co.uk/ . Excellent for shopping too.
Liverpool’s best bars and pubs:
The Ship & Mitre, Dale Street
Situated near King George’s Hall, The Ship & Mitre boasts the biggest selection of cask and continental beers on Merseyside, with a constantly changing list. There's typically 15 handpumps offering real ales and ciders from microbreweries which deliver only one barrel at a time – which explains why there are beer menus dotted around the boozer. An atmospheric original 1930s Art Deco building, the interior has been changed to resemble that of a ship. They serve quality burgers in The Gallery area and they also have a bottle shop in the city centre, where you'll find an equally fine array of bottled ales, ciders and 'weird/wonderful beers'.
Cavern Club, Mathew Street
If there was an award for most famous club in the UK, The Cavern would surely win it. Though it hosted a string of top acts in its day, it is best remembered as the launch-pad for The Beatles, while TV host and singer Cilla Black was the hat-check girl. Today, it's a tourist attraction as visitors flock to the pokey cellar to check out 60s tribute acts such as The Cavern Club Beatles. Over the road is The Cavern pub, which continues the rock/pop
nostalgia theme. If you visited Memphis, you'd check out Graceland wouldn't you? Well if you're in Liverpool, at least take a peek at The Cavern.
Ye Hole in Ye Wall, Hackins Hey
It's officially Liverpool's oldest public house, dating back to 1726. Built on an old Quaker burial site, Ye Hole is pretty tiny and tucked away off Dale Street, but for a back-street boozer it boasts bags of atmosphere, with wooden panelling, an ornate fireplace and stained glass. They also serve seven cask ales and proper chips. Not those skinny 'American fries', proper chips.
Aloha, Colquitt Street
In stark contrast to the city’s many traditional boozers, Aloha is utterly fake. But hell, we love it! It's just so kitsch. A basement island oasis filled with tropical vibes, a mock Tiki bar inspired by Hawaiian and Polynesian culture. The drinks come served in ridiculously unnecessary sharing vessels such as elephant heads, volcanoes, conch shells, wooden logs, fresh pineapples, and boats. Ridiculous. And not very practical. But they look so fine. Aloha is open until 3am from Sun-Wed and 4am Thu-Sat too, making it a good place to get well and truly shipwrecked.
Mojo, Back Berry Street
A fine bar to end the night at, Mojo's aim is to be "clean but dirty at the same time like some long forgotten blues riff”. That's the vibe. They like their rock'n'roll, from those omnipresent Beatles and Elvis, to Elbow, Weller and Arctic Monkeys. They also like cocktails, and pride themselves on their cocktail-makery, with quality ingredients such as 12-year-old rum. There are about 50 cocktails on offer, with such monikers as Novocaine and Killer Punch. You can also order Punch Bowls, suitable for up to eight people, making them perfect for partying hordes.
The Baltic Fleet, Wapping
Situated down near the docks, there's evidence that there’s been beer served on the site of The Baltic for 400 years, though the current landmark has only been there for half that time. Once favoured by press gangs and now reputedly haunted, it's the only pub in the city to brew its own beer on-site, in copper kettles in the cellar. They reckon they have 136 recipes for beer, which they brew in rotation. Recently refurbished, the extended bar has been constructed from genuine West African mahogany. For the warmer weeks, there's a summer patio out the back. It’s not a huge space, but they do brew a helluva pint. During the winter months, a roaring hearth adds to the welcoming atmosphere.
Ye Cracke, Rice Street
John Lennon reportedly used to take his then girlfriend Cynthia there for dates when they were studying at Liverpool College Of Art. Now more than 50 years later and it’s still pretty popular with bohos and students. Distinctly laid-back, the leafy green beer garden is very popular on those occasions when the sun shows its face.
Matou, Pier Head
A modern pan-Asian restaurant, cocktail bar and lounge, Matou is situated on the second floor of the Mersey Ferry Terminal Building and boasts a fantastic roof terrace overlooking the waterfront, Pier Head and the Liver building. Very chic. Very swanky. Snapping selfies with the Liver Birds in the background is pretty popular we hear, but otherwise, you’ll need to be on your best behaviour.
The Kazimier, Seel Street
Uber cool venue with its own in-house record label. During the summer, the garden serves slushies, ice creams, house cocktails and Vietnamese coffee, alongside home-brew vegan wildflower ale. There's food freshly made from a charcoal grill with a menu that spans meaty sandwiches, burgers and wraps. They also have a programme of live music, supremely cool DJs, vintage and craft fairs, film screenings and dinner clubs. Filled with mismatched furniture, it oozes character, and it's open all year round too with slow-cooked stews and hot toddies served during the winter.
The Britannia Inn, Riverside Drive, Otterspool
A slight trek out of the city (hop in a taxi), as a pub The Britannia isn't anything special. The carvery's decent and it's family friendly. But what The Brit' does have is a seriously sized outdoor area offering sweeping views of the Mersey. As a result, it gets pretty darn packed in the summer weekends and warmer evenings, so you'll need to be sharp eyed to grab a seat.
What not to miss:
Anfield – home to Liverpool FC
Go out behind the scenes of this world famous stadium with one-hour tours that take in the dressing room and manager’s dug-out, or gaze in awe (or envy) at the mass of silverware in the Liverpool FC Museum. But for the committed LFC fanatic, it has to be The Ultimate Anfield Experience, which includes breakfast with a footy legend, training session, three-course meal, guided tour and Q&A session. Back of the net!
Ferry across the Mersey
For taking in the sights, the ferry still sails across the Mersey and it’s worth taking a trip from Liverpool to Birkenhead if you have the time, or get on board the 50-minute Daily River Explorer Cruise for sightseeing with commentary and the option to hop off at various points of interest.
Back on dry land, the Liverpool Anglican Cathedral is the biggest cathedral in Britain, while the 1960s Metropolitan Cathedral, is a post-war architectural landmark, both of which make for fantastic photo opportunities.
Food: eat like a local
Alma de Cuba, on Seel Street, is a renovated church building. A sophisticated joint, it’s recommended for stags/hens/groups who want to party in style. The mojitos get the thumbs up and the food’s pretty special too.
Down on Hope Street, within the Georgian quarter, The Clove Hitch is a chilled artsy leaning bistro with a fine brunch menu. If you’re suffering with the mother of all hangovers, the homemade hash potatoes are worth ordering.
There’s no shortage of all-you-can-eat Chinese buffet restaurants in the city, with May Sum opposite Liverpool Lime Street station one of the best. For more Chinese restaurants, head into the Chinese quarter – the first Chinatown in Europe it’s home to a 15 metre Imperial Arch, the largest outside of China.
If you want high street names, Liverpool One is home to such brands as Zizzi and Cafe Rouge , plus the Red Hot Buffet (something to suit all tastes there) and Jamie’s Italian , the chain owned by ubiquitous TV chef Jamie Oliver.
To celebrate in style, check out The Malmaison Brasserie on William Jessop Way. An elegant restaurant with top service and a reputation for cooking a steak to perfection. Superb wine list too. Or head to The London Carriage Works , an award-winning restaurant with a luxurious edge.
The best view of the city:
The Wheel Of Liverpool, down on the Docks, offers stunning panoramic views of the city from a height of 196ft. You can also hire a VIP capsule, which includes glass floor, leather
interior, DVD player and champagne if you want to live it up and add some footballer-style extravagance to proceedings.
Most of the main attractions are pretty centrally located and easily accessible – you can walk from Bold Street to the Docks in about 15mins. But there are plenty of buses (the City Link service has services running every 12 minutes) and there’s no shortage of black cabs – although it can often be quicker on foot if you’re not going far.
Did you know?
Liverpool has the largest collection of museums and galleries in the UK outside London.