If you’re thinking about visiting the United Kingdom, it’s no surprise that London is the first place that comes to mind.
Consider one of the country’s cultural capitals instead: Liverpool.
Home of The Beatles and Liverpool Football Club, Liverpool is a charming and quaint city with an abundance of history and culture.
Here is a taste of what the UNESCO World Heritage Site has to offer:
Meander through the museum
As someone who has stepped foot inside the museum of every city I have visited, this is one museum I won’t be forgetting anytime soon.
Spanning across three floors, the Museum of Liverpool takes you on a journey of the city’s history and diverse culture through fun, interactive exhibitions.
You could easily spend half a day wandering through the museum, as I did. Find out what it means to be Liverpudlian, or how the great dock system came about.
The exhibits are always changing so no two visits are ever the same. This month features the LGBTQ community in addition to John Lennon and Yoko Ono.
Entrance to the museum is free.
Don’t forget to take a moment to appreciate the stunning architecture and landscapes, courtesy of a floor-to-ceiling window overlooking the famous waterfront.
Eat, play and love at Cat Café
Cat lovers all across the world are rejoicing this global craze. And because I am guilty of being one of these people, I could not resist paying a visit to London’s first cat café.
Fortunately, a Liverpool cat café will be opening its doors on May 26. For £12 (R200), you get an hour of cat time, including unlimited hot and cold beverages.
Sit back and relax over cuppa as furry felines cuddle up to you and keep you company. The Cat Café is currently home to 23 cats of all breeds and ages.
My experience at Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium in London is similar to what you can expect at Cat Café Liverpool: adorable cats dozing around your table or playfully creeping up behind you to be petted.
Cats, coffee and cake. What more could you ask for?
Ferry across the Mersey
Forget the bus and train. Experience the iconic Liverpool waterfront aboard the world-famous ferry.
The 50-minute cruise costs £9 (R150) and includes commentary as it runs from Pier Head, to Seacombe and Wirral.
I have been on two other boat rides (Cape Town and Durban) and neither of them left me in such awe as this one did. The view of the skyline and the surrounding tranquil boroughs is simply spectacular.
The ticket also includes admission to the U-boat Story, where you can get up close and personal with the remains of German submarine U-534. The submarine has been dissected into four pieces to showcase its decimated interior, which can be viewed through glass partitions.
No trip to Liverpool would be complete without a visit to the Kop.
Watch a football match at Anfield Stadium, or go behind the scenes on a stadium tour to get a peek of the team’s dressing room and feel what it’s like to be a player about to walk out onto the pitch from the tunnel.
Even if you’re not an avid football fan, it’s difficult not to cheer on (the chants are especially catchy) and get caught up in the hype.
The Liverpool FC Story interactive museum is a must-see for any Liverpool FC fan. It houses the history of the Reds and some of their most precious treasures, including five European trophies.
Legendary former captain Steven Gerrard also donated his personal collection of football memorabilia to the museum for fans to enjoy. Expect to admire signed shirts, medals, trophies and awards, and match items from Istanbul 2005.
Tickets for tours and the museum start from £10 (R166).
Lock your love in
Take a romantic stroll with your partner through Albert Dock while marvelling at hundreds of engraved padlocks.
Couples flock to the promenade to affix a love lock to the fences and throw away the key in the River Mersey to symbolise their eternal love and commitment to one another.
One of the love locks that caught my eye consisted of a chain of three padlocks. From what I could infer, it was placed by a couple when they started dating and then every year after that on their wedding anniversary. It’s beautiful acts like this that just melt my heart.
However, love locks are not just confined to lovers. Some of the locks I looked at were engraved with heartfelt messages to loved ones who had passed on.
As I held hands with my significant other and threw our key into the water below, I couldn’t help but wonder how many of the couples who we were echoing at that moment were actually still together.
If you’re in need of retail therapy, swing by Liverpool One, the biggest open-air shopping mall in the UK.
Don’t be surprised if you stumble upon some talented street performers while shopping, such as a magician or a man doing headstands in a bucket.
Being a food fanatic, I treated my palate to tandoori from a Pakistani restaurant, hot dogs from an American diner and even flame-grilled chicken from our very own Nando’s.
In short, the city’s rich food culture and vibrant nightlife are also not to be missed.