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the lure of liverpool

In the United Kingdom's primate city structure, London surpasses all other cities in size and importance. The 'Second City', however, is an unofficial title that is subjective and cultural in nature and has been claimed by many UK cities over the years. If you asked the inhabitants of Birmingham what they think the 'Second City' is, they'll say 'Birmingham'. If you ask Mancunians, they'd no doubt reply with 'Manchester'. But if you ask proud Liverpool scousers, they'll say 'London'.


It may not be London, but for a compact and walkable city, Liverpool packs a big punch. It was named the second 'friendliest city in the UK' in the Condé Nast Traveler 2023 Readers Choice Awards. It is often used as a filming location due to its variety of architectural styles. It is England's only UNESCO City of Music. Sports wise, it's the home to two renowned Premier League football teams. And it's known for having some excellent restaurants and a lively nightlife.


MUSIC

I'd be remiss not to mention the Beatles first as one of the most famous, and best, gifts that Liverpool has given the world. Regarded as one of the most influential bands of all time, the Beatles rose to fame in the 1960s. The Fab Four are still celebrated around the globe today and responsible for vast amounts of tourism in Liverpool.

You'll see references and landmarks dedicated to John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr all over the city. The hotel where I stayed even had references on their website and memorabilia in their lobby.

I highly recommend taking a Beatles-themed tour. I did this one and my guide, Roy, was a delight!

Many other influential and notable musical acts hail from Liverpool as well. Musicians from this city have released more chart-topping hit singles than anywhere else in the world.


SPORTS

Liverpool isn’t just about the Beatles. Football is also a vital component of Liverpool's culture and economy. Plenty of cities have two football clubs, but the Blues and the Reds rivalry is one of the most amicable because of their proximity (only meters separate Goodison Park and Anfield) and lack of fundamental difference between the supporters, in terms of religion and social status.

If you can, get tickets to a match. I chose to see Everton because they were playing at home and Liverpool FC were away the weekend I was visiting. Both clubs also offer grounds tours, if there are no games on when you're in town.

If you see the Toffees, get to Goodison Park with plenty of time and have some drinks with the supporters in one of the many nearby pubs.


FOOD/BEVERAGE

I wouldn't necessarily call Liverpool a foodie city, but it is home to several great restaurants. Most notable was 8 by Andrew Sheridan. Having achieved three AA-Rosettes, 8 is also listed in The Michelin Guide, was named by The Times as one of its top 10 worldwide dining experiences and won best restaurant in the UK and Best restaurant in Liverpool at the British Restaurant Awards.

I stumbled upon the Petit Café by accident but I recommend experiencing this taste of France, on the edge of Liverpool's China Town. Enjoy specialist wines, crafted cocktails and live jazz every weekend.

The Royal Albert Dock offers a glimpse of Liverpool’s maritime history. It is the most-visited free tourist destination in Northwest England, home to museums, galleries, shops, restaurants and bars.

If you like gin, visit the Liverpool Gin Distillery on Castle Street. Located in the heart of the city, it is spread over four floors. On the ground floor you will find the Gin Bar, which is home to over 40 different gins.


Regardless of where you stand on the ranking of UK's cities, if you're planning a trip to England and you fancy a change from the usual London-focused visit, then Liverpool is a great option.


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