At the start of the 19th century, 40% of all the world's trade was passing through Liverpool, and many major buildings reflecting the wealth of the city were built at that time. Liverpool's Custom House was at times the single largest contributor to the British Exchequer. As an important port city, Liverpool has drawn it's population from a wide range of peoples, cultures, and religions, with British ships and those from countries all around the world docking here. Many people came from Ireland, just a short ferry ride away. The city's diverse population includes the oldest Black African community in the UK, and the oldest Chinatown in Europe. After second-world-war bombing destruction and the advent of container-cargo vessels the city was a changed place by the 1970's and, like many such older cities, Liverpool needed to re-invent itself. With more museums and galleries than anywhere outside London in the UK, the city was named a joint European Capital of Culture in 2008.
As a tourist destination, the city has attractions such as the Tate Liverpool Museum, the refurbished Albert Dock area, the Kings Waterfront, and a series of new city-center festivals bringing visitors from all over. Being the birthplace of the four Beatles, who changed cultures on both sides of the Atlantic and beyond, remains the biggest draw. Place names like Penny Lane, The Brian Epstein Hotel, the John Lennon Airport, the Cavern Club and an Elenor Rigby statue on Stanley Street, are just a few of many reminders from that era, bringing music fans from around the world.
Liverpool's well-known Gay Quarter is centered around Stanley Street. You’ll find plenty of bars nearby. The month-long Homotopia is Liverpool’s celebration of queer culture that takes place throughout November. Liverpool Pride is a big march and festival celebration in early August. The long history of glbt peoples living in this city, until recently ignored and unrecorded, is being investigated and documented in print and on recordings by the Our Story Liverpool project. Their website has information and samples of this work in progress. For gay and gay-friendly businesses see our map & listings page with locations and website links.
Liverpool John Lennon Airport is about 8 miles outside the city. It has mostly flights from around Europe, although there are a few from North America too. To get into the city take the Airlink 501 bus to Liverpool South Parkway station, then hop the Merseyside blue line train to Liverpool Central or Moorfields stations. Some travelers also use Manchester Airport (see our Manchester guide).
There is direct train service from Manchester Airport every hour on the half hour during peak times on the First TransPennine Express. Liverpool is only about two hours from London Euston station, with departures about every hour on VIrgin Trains. For an overview of all UK rail services see National Rail.
National Express coach company has a bus station on Norton Street, not far from Liverpool City Center. Trips from London take 4-5 hours, and from Manchester Airport, about an hour.
The downtown area is fairly compact, so do as the locals do and see in by foot. Buses and trains can get you around town and to outlying sights. See Mersey Travel for the full scoop, including City Line trains to Blackpool, a gay-popular seaside resort, about 90 minutes away.
Currency and Money
The British pound is king — we mean queen. ATMs are sprinkled throughout the downtown area.
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