It is hard to think of any other band so strongly associated with a particular city. Liverpool makes much of The Beatles, its most famous musical sons, and tourists coming to the city find there are plenty of Beatles-themed things to do and museums to visit. Starting in 1960, the Beatles built their reputation playing clubs in Liverpool and Hamburg over a three-year period.
It is often said that the Beatles “could only have come from Liverpool,” and it is more than an empty cliché. As surely as Memphis and the American South produced Elvis and white boys who could sing the blues, Liverpool was an unlikely but ideal site for rock’s rebirth, where even British kids could play real American rock & roll. Most visitors enter Liverpool via train at Lime Street Station, a familiar name to Beatles fans thanks to Dirty Maggie Mae. Lime Street Station was the site of many Beatles comings and goings in the years before their fame and wealth allowed for plane travel.
Just down the waterfront from Pier Head lies the massive Albert Dock complex, a renovated warehouse area that now houses shops, restaurants, galleries, tourist offices and the Beatles Story Museum, where one can wander through rooms dedicated to the various stages of the Beatles’ career. Albert Dock is also where you embark for the National Trust tour of Paul and John’s boyhood homes and a daily 2-hour “Magical Mystery Tour” of Beatles sites run by Cavern City Tours.
The replica of the original Magical Mystery Tour bus is a pleasant if slightly eerie site as it meanders through Liverpool, and the tour is a good way to see the major Beatles sites in a short time or to get your bearings for further exploration. There are many excellent Beatles guides who will take you on a personalized private tour if you desire, which is a good way to see some of the farther-flung sites and hear some engaging firsthand accounts of the Beatles’ days as a local band.
Unhurried and on foot is the best way to get a real sense of the Beatles’ world, and you can also navigate well with a rented bicycle and on the city buses.(Remember that John Lennon was a famous Beatles before he got his first driver’s license.) With a guidebook and a good map you can roam the streets and commune with the spirits at your own pace, lost in your own Beatles reveries.
The Cavern Club today is a major tourist attraction.The original was demolished in 1973 in one of the great civic planning blunders of all time. The increasing hordes of Beatles tourists convinced the city
fathers of their mistake, and a rebuilt Cavern was opened in 1984 in roughly the same spot, built to the roughly the original dimensions with “many of the
Across Mathew Street from the Cavern Club is Liverpool’s first official civic tribute to the Beatles, a rather macabre Mother Mary figure holding three babies (Paul fell off) commemorating the “Four Lads Who Shook the World.” Erected in 1974, the statue, along with the “Lennon Lives” cherub that was added after John’s death, has provoked decades of incredulous reactions—”This is the city’s tribute?” but the quirky strangeness and small scale of the tribute seems somehow appropriate for Liverpool. (The nondescript little streets, miles from any possible tourist route, that the city chose to name after the Fab Four are similarly underwhelming in an endearing sort of way.
Another odd tribute sits a block over on Stanley Street: a statue of “Eleanor
Rigby” sitting on a bench, missing the face that she keeps in a jar by the door…
St. Peter’s Parish Church in Woolton, Liverpool where John Lennon and Paul McCartney first met. This gallery documents Liverpool locations which feature in the history of The Beatles and some of their famous works.
Visit The Beatles Story Museum
Choose your Beatles tour of Liverpool