By Annabel Barker
Ten years ago, when I left school, I ticked an item off my bucket list: I went to Liverpool. Specifically, I went to a very special museum commemorating one of my favourite bands – The Beatles Story. This marked my very first visit to Liverpool, and, along with this particular attraction, I noticed a few other fun things to see and do.
However, what inspired this list was the realisation that not everybody who comes to Liverpool for the first time is interested in seeing anything Beatle-related (their loss, in my not-so-humble opinion). This list will solely focus on non-Beatles-related things to do in Liverpool. So, without further ado, these are the five best things to do in Liverpool for first-timers.
1. Wheel of Liverpool
Is it just me, or are Ferris wheels now popping up all over the country? Blackpool, Brighton, Manchester, Newcastle, and Scarborough, to name a few.
Anyway, Liverpool’s own wheel sits on the Keel Wharf waterfront on the River Mersey, offering beautiful views from glass capsules that reach up to sixty metres, or one hundred and ninety-six feet, high. Opened in 2010, the Wheel of Liverpool has 42 fully-enclosed gondolas, including a luxury VIP capsule with a glass floor, leather interior, and a DVD player.
Sounds extravagant, right? If, for any reason, your answer to that question is no, then you should know that you have the option of champagne. Each gondola option, both standard and luxury, also features a commentary about Liverpudlian landmarks that come into view as the wheel goes round.
NB: check the official website for specific times and prices.
2. Wild Shore Watersports and Aqua Park
Situated right on the Royal Albert Dock, Wild Shore provides lots of fun for the whole family or gathering.
Wild Shore has something for everyone of all abilities, from an inflatable obstacle course to stand-up paddle boarding. Families have the option of hiring a mini-port boat, in which they can enjoy a leisurely ride on the Liverpool docks. Also available is Monster Sup, which is great for birthday parties, stag and hen dos, or just any group of friends looking for an adventure.
NB: All participants must be at least six years old. 6-8-year-olds must have an adult with them for every activity. 8-15 year-olds must be accompanied by an adult on-site, though adults do not have to enter the water. All participants must be able to swim at least twenty-five metres unaided.
3. Tate Liverpool
Open every day from 9 am until 5.30, this one of four Tate galleries is located in a converted warehouse within the Royal Albert Dock, opened by Prince Charles in 1998.
From visual stories and large print text to wheelchair availability and hearing loops, Tate Liverpool caters to every need, even providing drinking bowls for guide and assistance dogs! Entry to the Tate’s own collection is free, and tickets are usually available at the door, but booking is recommended just in case. Members and supporters do not need to book but can simply turn up with their cards.
Be sure to check the official website before visiting. You can find sneak previews of temporary exhibitions and also quickly make online bookings.
4. Museum of Liverpool
For a more specific Liverpudlian history lesson, MoL features many a diverse displays regarding the origins and activity of the city, representing the many communities and neighbourhoods within Merseyside.
Collections include archaeology, with objects dating back to the Mesolithic period (10,500 years) and social and community, reflecting Liverpool’s cultural, political, and public history. Open from 10 am-6 pm, Tuesday to Sunday, the Museum of Liverpool is free to enter, though donations are welcome.
I know I promised no Beatles activities but there is a little bit of good news for Beatles fans. MoL has its own collection commemorating the Fab Four, recounting their story from their early days in the Cavern Club to the height of Beatlemania. Exclusive pieces from the collection include the stage where John Lennon and Paul McCartney first met. Yet the Beatles were not just musically talented, as seen with the collection’s reproductions of John Lennon’s drawings and originals by his original bandmate Stuart Sutcliffe (both attended the Liverpool Art School).
You can find out more about the Museum of Liverpool on the official website here.
5. Royal Liver Building 360
Standing at 322 ft tall and sporting fifteen floors, can you believe this building was Europe’s first-ever skyscraper?
Opened in 1911 and, in 2019, opening its doors to the public for the first time in its history, Royal Liver Building 360 is located on the Pier Head. Together with the Cunard Building and Port of Liverpool Building, Royal Liver Building is one of Liverpool’s ‘Three Graces’, which line the city’s waterfront.
Fully guided tours are available, as are 270 Audio Visual experiences (which take place in the clock tower) and the opportunity to get close to Liverpool’s most famous fowls, the Liver Birds. Named Bella and Bertie, these birds are 5.5 metres, or 18 ft high. You can spot the difference as Bella looks dramatically over the sea, and Bertie watches over the city.
So there you have it. First-timers can enjoy these five things to do in Liverpool without resorting to anything Beatle-related. Of course, non-Beatles-related activities and Beatles-related activities aren’t mutually exclusive. But it is great to get a taste of more varied things to do in Liverpool on your first visit.
Fancy extending your Liverpool trip? The port city is the perfect place to embark on a UK ferry holiday, catch the ferry to Belfast for a city break, or drive to a nearby city like Manchester. Liverpool has a great location, so try to save some time for exploring the surrounding area.
Annabel Barker is a freelance writer from the UK. You can find Annabel on Twitter at @writingannabel or contact her directly through LinkedIn.