Liverpool travel guide and things to do: 20 reasons to visit

1 STAY TITANIC-THEMED HOTELS

Liverpool's resurgence as a popular city break destination has heralded a fleet of decadent new hotels, with two of the latest openings inspired by Titanic. The doomed vessel carried Liverpool's name on its stern, and the former HQ of ship operator White Star Line has been transformed into the plush 30 James Street hotel, which vows to make guests feel "like a first-class passenger aboard a premium cruise liner". Rooms from $153. Nautical paraphernalia – including vintage cruise posters and model ships – decorates the Titanic Hotel, set in a refurbished tobacco warehouse. The bedrooms are humungous.  Priced from $210. See rmstitanichotel.co.uk; titanichotelliverpool.com

2 SEE ALBERT DOCK

Liverpool's Titanic links are among the seafaring subjects explored in the Merseyside Maritime Museum on Albert Dock, a rejuvenated waterfront packed with cafes, bars and cultural gems. Here, too, is the International Slavery Museum, which charts how Liverpool grew rich from the trans-Atlantic slave trade. An offshoot of the London gallery, Tate Liverpool is another free dock highlight, earning plaudits for its quirky permanent collection and revolving exhibitions. A Jackson Pollock retrospective runs until October 18. See albertdock.com

3 DO THE BEATLES STORY

To Fab Four tragics, Albert Dock means one thing: The Beatles Story. Marking its 25th anniversary, this multimedia extravaganza illuminates the rise and demise of the world's most famous pop band, from its early days as The Quarrymen to the height of Beatlemania and beyond. Departing from outside the museum, the Magical Mystery Tour takes passengers to the real Strawberry Field and Penny Lane, and the childhood homes of John Lennon and Paul McCartney.  See beatlesstory.com

4 STAY HARD DAYS NIGHT

In a grandiose 19th-century building, the Hard Days Night Hotel is an ode to the Fab Four, with iconic tunes, such as Help! and Yesterday, permeating public areas; walls and staircases flaunting photographs of John, Paul, Ringo and George, and rooms –  priced from $185 –  sporting Beatles trimmings (a picture of a yellow submarine overlooked my bed). Round the corner is the vibrant Cavern Quarter, whose Cavern Club is an intimate replica of the basement bar where the band played, and the epicentre of the International Beatleweek Festival (August 26-September 1, 2015). See harddaysnighthotel.com

5 EAT LONDON CARRIAGE WORKS

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Liverpool's swish new hotels hide terrific places in which to eat, drink and socialise. While Hard Days Night has the stylish Bar Four cocktail joint and Blakes restaurant (named in honour of Sir Peter Blake, the artist behind the Sgt Peppers album cover), the boutique Hope Street Hotel adjoins The London Carriage Works. With an arresting interior (think: exposed brick walls and sculpted glass shards), the Works has an enticing, varied menu fusing regional fare (such as Liverpool bay sea bass and Wirral beef) with ingredients and influences from the Mediterranean and Asia. See thelondoncarriageworks.co.uk

6 SEE TWO CATHEDRALS

Liverpool has two marvellous cathedrals. They sit at opposite ends of hill-top Hope Street and both have spectacular stained glass windows. The avant-garde, teepee-shaped Metropolitan Cathedral has been dubbed Paddy's Wigwam by Liverpool's Irish Catholic community. Designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott (the architect of the red telephone box), the red-brick Anglican cathedral is the UK's largest church and affords superb views from its 101-metre tower. See liverpoolmetrocathedral.org.uk; liverpoolcathedral.org.uk

7 WATCH THE EVERYMAN THEATRE

Whether you fancy edgy drama, comedy, panto or dance, Liverpool's theatres come up trumps. The most celebrated venue is the Everyman – where Liverpudlian talents, such as David Morrissey and Daniel Craig, learned the ropes. Founded in 1964, it reopened in 2014 following a massive overhaul and earned the prestigious RIBA Stirling Prize for architecture. Myriad plays – from Shakespeare to the Coen Brothers – draw audiences to the Everyman and sister theatre, the Playhouse. See everymanplayhouse.com

8 DRINK  THE PHILHARMONIC DINING ROOMS

Also on Hope Street, the Philharmonic Dining Rooms is one of England's most ornate alehouses. An ensemble of wood panels, stained glass, mosaics and ceramic tiling, it's great for a leisurely pint or two (and does pub grub). Whatever your sex, pop into the gents' toilets; said to be the only heritage-listed lavatories in the country. "The Phil" faces the Liverpool Philharmonic Hall, an institution that showcases the city's philharmonic orchestra, plus a diverse brew of musical acts. See nicholsonspubs.co.uk

9 SEE  THE THREE GRACES

Liverpool has more Grade I and II listed Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian buildings than anywhere in Britain outside London. Travellers arriving by train will see the giant, neo-classical St George's Hall when exiting Lime Street station. Close by, the Walker Art Gallery, World Museum and Central Library are all elegantly crafted – inside and out. The most breathtaking cluster is on the UNESCO World Heritage-listed waterfront. A trio of towering Edwardian edifices, the Three Graces, mushroomed when Liverpool was at its economic zenith. 

10 RIDE  THE MERSEY FERRY

The first ferry service between Liverpool and the Wirral – the peninsula across the Mersey – began in the 14th century, when Benedictine monks rowed people back and forth. Mersey Ferries now operates the crossing, linking Liverpool's Pier Head with Wirral villages such as New Brighton and Seacombe. Drawing tourists and commuters, the ferry offers fantastic views of Liverpool's skyline and plays Gerry Marsden's Ferry Cross the Mersey over its PA system. See merseyferries.co.uk

11 SEE MUSEUM OF LIVERPOOL

Set inside a shiny steel and limestone building by Pier Head, the Museum of Liverpool uses antique exhibits and interactive displays to regale the topsy-turvy history of this cosmopolitan port city. After decades in the economic doldrums, Liverpool's fortunes have been on the up recently, with ambitious urban renewal schemes and visitor attractions complemented by the city's ultra-successful stint as 2008 European Capital of Culture. The locals – nicknamed Scousers – still talk fondly about this year-long festival. See liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/mol

12 SHOP LIVERPOOL ONE

Another symbol of Liverpool's regeneration is this glossy open-air mall, which sprawls across a former city-centre wasteland. With more than 160 fashion chains and stores, 25 eateries, a 14-screen cinema, a grassy park and an artificial summer beach, ONE is a treat for shopaholics and celeb spotters. Liverpool football legends past and present – including Steven Gerrard – are occasionally seen here, while buskers strum hummable Beatles tunes. See liverpool-one.com

13 DO SPORTING PILGRIMAGES

Liverpool is football mad, with most Scousers either "Reds" – fans of Liverpool FC – or "Blues" – supporters of Everton (for whom Socceroo great Tim Cahill is a cult hero, after eight years with the Toffees, as they're known). If you can't attend a game – tickets for top Premier League fixtures are tough to get – both clubs do guided stadium tours. The two grounds – Anfield and Goodison – are divided by Stanley Park in Liverpool's residential north. See liverpoolfc.com; evertonfc.com

14 DRINK ALMA DE CUBA 

Don't be surprised to see a famous footballer or three in Alma de Cuba, a flamboyant bar-restaurant housed in a former Polish church in Ropewalks (a district that reverberates with pumped-up tunes and boisterous revellers). Alma lures a mixed crowd with tapas and Latin-spiced dishes, innovative cocktails and memorable entertainment (think: exotic samba dancers bopping around candle-lit altars). See alma-de-cuba.com

15 SEE  THE BLUECOAT

Constructed in 1716, central Liverpool's oldest surviving building is a former school, now home to the Bluecoat, a beacon of arts, crafts and literature. Yoko Ono held an exhibition here in 1967 – a year after she met John Lennon. The Bluecoat participates in Light Night – an annual May event that sees Liverpool's cultural spaces open through the twilight hours. See thebluecoat.org.uk

16 EAT EUROPE'S OLDEST CHINATOWN

During its pomp, Liverpool cultivated strong links with the Far East. Hundreds sailed from Shanghai and Hong Kong, and founded what's claimed to be Europe's first Chinatown. It's tiny –  a few streets sprinkled with takeaways and restaurants, of which North Garden (at 28 Nelson Street) gets consistently good reviews. Shipped in from Shanghai ahead of the 2000 Chinese New Year, Chinatown's ceremonial arch is a striking spectacle. See liverpoolchinatown.co.uk

17 DRINK THE BALTIC TRIANGLE

Chinatown abuts Liverpool's burgeoning hipsterville. Still exuding a gritty mercantile aura – with derelict factory units, mechanics' garages and graffiti-riddled warehouses – the Baltic Triangle has been tickled by gentrification. Studios, boutiques and galleries hum with creative entrepreneurs and there are happening places for refreshments and live music. Cafe-bar-events spaces, such as the Baltic Bakehouse, 24 Kitchen Street and Camp and Furnace, are "boss" (Scouse for excellent). See liverpoolbaltictriangle.co.uk

18 SEE CROSBY BEACH

Near the meeting point of the Mersey and Irish Sea, Crosby Beach has a cool installation masterminded by Antony Gormley (creator of the Angel of the North sculpture near Newcastle). Another Place consists of 100 cast-iron models of Gormley's body and is a haunting sight when submerged at high tide. Sunsets are often magnificent here.

19 EAT SEFTON PARK

Home to a lake, Victorian palm house and a bandstand believed to have inspired The Beatles' Sgt Peppers Lonely Heart Club Band, Sefton Park is Liverpool's most alluring green space – especially during autumn's annual Liverpool Food and Drink festival (September 18-19, 2015). Attracting celebrity chefs, budding foodies and  families, it's a smorgasbord of seasonal local produce and mouth-watering global offerings, from Cheshire cheese and Lancastrian beers to Brazilian coffee and Transylvanian jams. See liverpoolfoodanddrinkfestival.co.uk

20 SEE THE NEIGHBOURS

Liverpool has lots of side-tripping potential. Timber-framed Speke Hall, a National Trust Tudor manor house, is 10 kilometres from the centre, near John Lennon International Airport. Lovely Chester has walker-friendly Roman walls and a famous racecourse (Liverpool's Aintree is another good bet for a flutter, especially on April's Grand National day). Manchester is a 33-minute train trip – or six hours with Mersey Ferries' Manchester Ship Canal cruise, which traverses this gem of Victorian engineering via the bucolic Cheshire countryside. 

The writer was a guest of Visit Liverpool (visitliverpool.com) and Visit Britain (visitbritain.com)

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