09:00 As far as the sophistication goes, Liverpool isn’t as obvious a destination as Florence or Paris, but the city earned its stripes in 2008, when it was named the European Capital of Culture. So get straight into what it has to offer in the way of art, with a visit to Tate Liverpool (tate.org.uk/liverpool), which holds the national collection of modern and contemporary art for the north of England – it’s well worth checking out. From June until October, it’ll exhibit Turner, Monet and Twombly in a show that brings together the work of the three influential artists.
12:00 It’s time to get more acquainted with the city. There’s no better way to see the whole place than from above, so climb the steps (or take the lift) up the tower at Liverpool Cathedral (liverpoolcathedral.org.uk). It’s the biggest cathedral in the UK and the fifth largest in the world, so it’s worth stopping off to appreciate the interior, too.
13:30 Or adhere to the idea “heaven can wait” – the catchphrase at Alma de Cuba (alma-de-cuba.com), a restaurant and bar in a converted 200-year-old Polish Catholic church. Head back later in the evening at weekends for Latin-style dancers or on Sundays for brunch soundtracked by a live gospel choir. Tapas plates from £2.25.
15:00 It’d be pretty shameful to visit Liverpool and not do anything Beatles-related. So head out on the Magical Mystery Tour (cavernclub.org/beatles-tours), which leaves from the Albert Dock. You’ll be taken to the houses where each member of the fab four grew up, plus the real Penny Lane and Strawberry Fields. The guide knowledge (and tour-bus banter) is second-to-none and the trip is soundtracked by some favourite Beatles tracks. Tickets are £15.95 per person, and that also includes your entrance fee to The Cavern Club later on.
19:00 Before you head out, treat yourself to a tasty dinner at Marco Pierre White Steakhouse Bar & Grill (mpwsteakhouseliverpool.co.uk). The menu, by the enfant terrible of the UK food scene, is pretty reasonable for what you get (about £15 for a good-sized main). Go for a succulent fillet steak, teamed with beef-dripping chips or one of the many classic English puddings.
22:00 If you’re not too stuffed, head out for a drink. On Matthew Street, you’ll find plenty of busy bars and clubs, and to get more of your Beatles fill, hit The Cavern Club (cavernclub.org). It may not be the original one – it’s actually moved across the road – but it was built with many of the same materials to look so similar you could be fooled into thinking it is. Saturday nights include Beatles tribute groups and live-band-backed karaoke – so you can say you’ve performed on the same stage as the greats.
00:30 Head back to the newly refurbished Hotel Indigo (hotelindigoliverpool.co.uk), which is a 10-minute walk from the city centre and close to the waterfront. It’s clean, comfy and you get a lot for your money, including a free minibar. Rooms start from £79 per night.
09:00 After your hotel breakfast fry-up, sports fans should head to Anfield Stadium (anfieldtour.com), to say you’ve emerged from the tunnel on to the pitch of one the most successful clubs in English football. Tickets are £15 per person.
12:00 To appease any vintage fans in your group, head to Bold Street. It’s got probably the best Oxfam in the country (it’s basically a vintage store, but without a weighty price tag). While you’re there, hit independent tea shop, Leaf (thisisleaf.co.uk) for a cuppa and a cheap lunch (they do a delicious Greek mezze that’s £10.50 and big enough for two). If you’re here at the right time, Leaf holds Retro Sundays on the last Sunday of every month, with a vintage fair selling men’s and women’s clothing, accessories and homeware.
14:00 For some alternative modern art, head out of town to the coast. Get the number 53 bus, which leaves Queen Square in Liverpool city centre, to Crosby Beach, where you’ll find an in-water installation called Another Place by Antony Gormley. It’s made up of 100 cast-iron, life-sized sculptures of people dotted around, heading nearly one kilometre out to sea. One heck of a creepy sight.
18:00 You’ll be pretty hungry by the time you get back, so head to the Albert Dock for dinner at Blue Bar and Grill (bluebarliverpool.co.uk) overlooking the waterfront (international mains about £14). Head downstairs to Baby Blue for live, award-winning comedy, with stand-ups and sketch shows from around the world.
23:00 Continue your night at the Berry and Rye, a old-time cocktail bar located just a couple of minutes walk from the town centre. There’s no menu here – the guys ask you what you’d like to drink, so feel free to stay classic or experiment a little.