There’s more to Liverpool than a football team and the Beatles. In recent years, the gritty dockside city has blossomed into an artistic and cultural powerhouse, with a Unesco-listed waterfront at Albert Dock and more galleries, bars and restaurants than Ringo Starr could shake a drumstick at. To guide your next visit, we’ve asked our local insiders to pick out their favourite places.
Urban regeneration may be the name of the game in trendy Duke Street, but you can try your hand at a variety of others inside this bowling bar. Set inside a transformed car park, Pins mixes shots with shuffleboard and offers a return to what they call “proper, serious fun”. Cocktails are quirky – try the Cotton Candy (an amaretto and cherry number topped with a pink sugary cloud) – and food is bowling-alley-inspired fare whipped up by local vendors Rocket & Ruby and Baraco. Recommended by local insider Heather Forshaw
For Brasco Lounge, life is about being comfortable. The dockside bar and restaurant is an ode to comfort, from its cosy cushions to its hearty, Mexican-influenced menu. While friendly bartenders sling cocktails and beers late into the evening, a faithful crowd returns here every weekday morning for Breakfast Club, where you can exchange £7.95 (US$10) for a full Lounge breakfast and a cuppa. On weekends, nurse the night before over a breakfast burrito before taking a turn around the docks and Liverpool Museum opposite. Recommended by local insider Heather Forshaw
The Fab Four may no longer be in action, but you can still catch brilliant local bands at this pub and live music venue. Despite its modest appearance, the Cali is a local hotspot for “bevvies” (an extensive real-ale selection ordered at a wooden bar), “scran” (delicious vegan junk food – try the chimken wings) and “craic” (live music, community library and friendly banter). It wouldn’t be out of the ordinary for an impromptu singalong to burst out, and the jazz nights draw a lively crowd, too. Recommended by local insider Matthew Caffrey
There’s only one word to describe Baltic Market: cool. Liverpool’s first street food market threw open its warehouse doors in 2017, and now more than 100,000 hungry Scousers crowd its long tables every week. Once you’ve snagged a seat, order the tofu sumbat from Malaysian street food experts, nasi lemak (ask for extra peanut sauce), before tucking into the gooey Hot Kinder Cookie Dough from the Midnight Delivery. Round off your evening with a beer-fuelled dance to one of the cheesy-but-great live bands. Recommended by local insider Matthew Caffrey
One of Liverpool’s oldest streets (yes, even older than the Beatles), the Lane marries the charm of red-brick Victorian houses with a bohemian edge and has a seriously good food scene. Head to Cypriana for halloumi and flaming ouzo, or if you fancy Italian, Maranato’s is best. To drink, hop through the red doors of Keith’s Wine Bar to enjoy top-notch wines served with a no-fuss attitude. Alternatively, pop into Polidor 68, which sets a trendier tone with its French speakeasy vibes and killer cocktail list. Recommended by local insider Matthew Caffrey
You’ll need to factor in two visits to the Royal Albert Dock during your time in Liverpool. First, educate yourself about the city’s darker legacy as one of the most prolific slave ports in the world at the International Slavery Museum (inside the Mersyside Maritime Museum). It’s free to enter and is the world’s only museum entirely dedicated to documenting the history of slavery. Return after dark for a nightcap at one of the dockside bars to soak up the reflections of the Unesco-listed architecture in the water. Recommended by local insider Matthew Caffrey