Whilst Liverpool is the perfect destination for a city break or more extensive holiday, it is really easy to get about and explore what’s on offer around other parts of Merseyside – the name given to the area as a whole.
Let’s start with the Wirral, a lovely part of the world with plenty for visitors to discover and just a short ferry ride across the Mersey from the city itself (look back at the spectacular Liverpool skyline as you head over). Set between the Rivers Dee and Mersey, the Wirral peninsula extends into Liverpool Bay and the Irish Sea and is a region of outstanding natural features with its own rich heritage.
From refined golf courses to its wild and unspoilt 25 mile coastline, the Wirral is a great place for outdoor pursuits such as walking, sailing and sampling traditional English pubs. It’s interspersed with charming coastal towns like Hoylake (where the Open Golf Championship was held), West Kirby (great boutiques) and the wonderful re-emerging resort of New Brighton. In contrast, on the eastern coast, are the busier areas of Wallasey and Birkenhead, including Birkenhead Priory, Merseyside’s oldest standing building. Don’t miss the Wirral Tramway and Transport Museum which celebrates Birkenhead's historical significance in public transport and which operates a wonderful heritage tram.
Wirral is also home to Port Sunlight, a truly delightful village with its distinctive architecture built by William Hesketh Lever for his “Sunlight Soap” factory workers at the end of the 19th Century. Here you’ll find the Lady Lever Art Gallery, opened in 1922 which contains a highly personal collection of fine and decorative arts. A visit to Port Sunlight never fails to wow visitors and there is even a Beatles link there as it’s the very first Ringo Starr played drums as a member of the Fab4!
At Knowsley, half an hour’s drive from the city, Knowsley Safari Park and the acclaimed nearby animal farm visitor attraction, Acorn Farm, both come highly recommended. Knowsley Hall is one of the most important country houses in the country with claims to the throne of England.
St Helens has a museum called the World of Glass which celebrates its history and you can try your hand at glass blowing, whilst nearby Prescot is the home of clock and watchmaking and is shortly to have the UK’s newest theatre a £26milliion Shakespeare Playhouse.
Further up the coast from Liverpool you’ll discover Crosby Beach, site of the ‘Another Place with Sir Anthony Gormley’s cast iron statues stretching nearly a mile across the beautiful sandy beach.. Carry on a little further and you’ll come to the classic seaside town of Southport, which has a Grade II listed pier, Britain’s second longest.
Historic and cultural Lord Street in Southport is an elegant parade of Victorian arcades with a number of smart shops. Southport is the home of yet another world class links golf course called Royal Birkdale and makes up part of Liverpool City Regions “Golf Coast” Two miles north is Churchtown, a preserved village dating back to Anglo-Saxon times and listed in the Domesday Book.
For great bargain shopping, meanwhile, don’t miss out on Cheshire Oaks, just outside Ellesmere Port, the UK’s first and largest Designer Outlet Mall which is itself very close the the national waterways or “boat museum”.