An Incredible Vegan Weekend in Liverpool Everyone Will Love
We stayed in Liverpool for a week and did all the things. Here, we organize it all so that you can enjoy the thriving city of Liverpool in a weekend, eating vegan the entire way, tuning into the Beatles, and discovering everything else this “scouse” city has to offer. Strap on your walking shoes, let’s discover Liverpool.
A Travel Hack on the Bus, Train, Ferry
To get the most out of Liverpool in one weekend, you’ll want to stay in the city center near the Lime Street Train Station. We stayed at this super cute Airbnb right off Parker Street and around the corner from everything, including the Cavern Club, the Central Library, the International Slavery Museum, and all the vegan eats you’d want to have.
To start your fun, make your way to the Queen Street bus station for this great travel hack. Ask to buy the Merseytravel Saveaway pass. Make sure you mention you want to take the ferry. The entire card will cost about £6.50, including the £1 for the plastic metrocard, and it will allow you unlimited bus, ferry and train access for one day. The hack here is this: on the weekend, the commuter ferry doesn’t run, and Merseytravel turns the commuter ferries into tourists ferries called River Explorer Cruises. The weekend price to take a ride on the River Mersey is £11 and includes a little tourist ditty. But with the Saveaway pass, you get the tourist experience included. Whilst everyone else pays £11, you don’t pay and you just show your metrocard at the ticket counter.
Two Must-See Areas: the Waterside and City Centre
You’ll want to sort out your weekend into two areas: the waterside and the city center and organized around the tide tables for Crosby Beach. You’ll want to be at Crosby Beach for low tide. If it’s in the morning, head there first and follow the itinerary below. If it’s in the afternoon, head there last, and reverse this itinerary. Or swap Saturday’s itinerary for Sunday’s and visa versa.
The Waterside: Mersey, Crosby, Birkenhead
With your metrocard in hand, make your way to Crosby Beach (use google to tell you which bus to take.) Get off at Waterloo bus stop and walk a couple of blocks to the beach. There, you’ll enjoy one of the most zen, yet odd and slightly eerie sculptures we’ve ever stumbled upon. Buried at the same elevation but at different latitudes up and down the beach are 100 identical cast iron sculptures of Sir Anthony Gormley and the installation, “Another Place.” They all face toward the sea, and as the tide comes and goes, the sculptures get covered and uncovered. Walk among them, admiring the way barnacles and moss have encrusted their skins. See how far out into the water you can spot the furthest one, walking up and down the 2 km of beach.
Once you’ve gotten a fill of Crosby Beach, go back to Waterloo Station and take the train back to the waterfront. Take the Mersey ferry across the River Mersey to Birkenhead. Learn about the history of Liverpool’s waterfront and the story of the Razzle Dazzle ferries. Operating continuously since the 1800s, the Razzle Dazzles confused enemy shooters in World War 1. Paying homage to those boats’ histories, Sir Peter Blake, most famous for The Beatles Sgt Pepper album cover, designed the Snowdrop ferry you’ll take across the Mersey.
In order to honor the rules of your metrocard, you’ll need to disembark and catch the next ferry back to Liverpool. While in Birkenhead, walk around the market at the pier and amble up the Queen Victoria’s Square to see one of the best example of a Victorian park we’ve ever seen, including a middle-of-the-park Victorian marker.
Vegan High Afternoon Tea
By the time you get back to Liverpool, you’ll be ready for a vegan high tea. Whereas there are many options in Liverpool for vegan high tea, where they charge about £25 per person, we opted to make our own high tea. Walk over to Leaf on Bold Street. They have a tea menu of over 40 teas, vegan small plates, and delicious desserts. Rather than getting our treats served on a tower and paying a premium, we each ordered tea (Steve got the Autumn Fire and Chris sipped the Secret Garden.) For our snack, which actually was lunch, we shared the vegan platter.
Our vegan platter arrived, loaded with multiple servings of bite-sized treats that created a meal for each of us. The jackfruit tostados topped with a tangy mango salsa started off the meal. Tasty mushroom arancinis rounded out the middle of the indulgence, a tasty rocket salad with mustard vinaigrette sided the finger food, and pepper seiten bites added a pop of toasty crunch. We continued sipping our tea, enjoying the atmosphere at Leaf, then we ordered a round of desserts.
Leaf’s desserts rotate so they don’t have a set menu. But on this day, although they had one vegan choice, we couldn’t pass up trying two desserts we’ve never had, Eton Mess with passion fruit and Sticky Toffee Pudding. An Eton Mess is a traditional English dessert made with fruit, meringue, and whipped cream. Mentioned in print in 1893, it originated from Eton College and is served at the annual cricket match against the pupils of Harrow School. (By the way, if you are a Poldark fan, Harrow School is where Caroline’s son goes to school.) Sticky Toffee Pudding, on the other hand, is a newcomer to the dessert word, having been invented in the 1980s, supposedly.
A Whole New Perspective on Who Built the Western World
With a full belly, head back down to the docks and go to the International Slavery Museum. Regardless of your citizenship, the information in the Slavery Museum is eye-opening. We couldn’t get over the statistics about the Slave Triangle and how the US had only imported 3-4% of the 9 million slaves traded. The entire exhibit, sometimes provocative, always alarming, and forever memorable will stick in your mind. Finish your museum experience by exploring the other two floors which cover Titanic and Lusitania history.
Before heading to your second vegan dish of the day, continue exploring the Albert docks, and make sure you capture your picture of John, Paul, Ringo and George at the Fab 4 statue. You might not get back here before you leave.
Scouce for the Liverpudlians
For the last event of the day, hop the bus or walk over to Ship and Mitre. A traditional English pub filled with locals, here is where you’ll get the chance to try the famous “scouse.” Local Liverpudlians call themselves “scoucers” after this famous stew, originally brought to Liverpool by the Norwegians. Traditionally made of cheap chunks of meat and root vegetables, there is a long history of its vegan version, “blind scouse.” Originally eaten by those who couldn’t afford the meat, now its enjoyed by folks looking for a meat-free option. By the way, if you’re here on a Wednesday after 5, the scouse is free.
We ordered two pints, one scouse for Steve and one blind scouse for Chris. The scouse arrived, piping hot and sided with a beet slaw and a chunky slice of potato bread topped with butter (or vegan butter upon request.) We also added the vegan loaded fries topped with onion bhajies, curry, and coriander. The crunchy bhajies, something new in our repertoire of foods, brought a surprising delight.
The City Centre and the Beatles
On your second day, head back to Queen Street bus station and get the Solo Ticket. It’s good all day for any bus and costs around £5. You can reload your existing metrocard.
Tunnels of Mystery
Start your day with a free tour of the Williamson tunnels. High on Edge Hill in the early 1800s, there was a sandstone quarry. Williamson made his money from tobacco and sandstone. When the quarry finished, he decided to build brick arches on top of the quarry to create solid land above it where he built and rented flats and businesses. Underneath in his quarry, he continued to build tunnels that archeologists have yet to figure out where they go or why.
On this tour, you get to help uncover this mystery. A bonus? While excavating the tunnels, the explorers had to unearth 18th-19th century trash. There’s a treasure trove of old English bottles, ceramics, dolls and toys on display in the tunnels that you can enjoy while spelunking.
Tip: if you can’t get on the free tunnel tour, head over to the Central Library. Unlock the secret written in the approaching tiles to the library, and enjoy the Cyclops in the Woods book in the Oak Room. This section of the library, on the other side of the round Picton room, shines with antiquarian books and Audubon masterpieces any booklover will drool over.
Map of Day 1 in Liverpool
Here’s a visual of where you’ll go for Day 1. Although it shows a car route, you can absolutely do this via the bus/train/ferry option with a bit of walking.
The Beatles on Your Own
Once you’ve finished exploring Liverpool’s underground, you cannot miss its Beatles history. You’ll want to sign up for any of the walking tours to get the most out of their impact on the growth of Liverpool. We signed up for a guruwalk with Jimmy; he traipsed us all over town for over 4 hours while imitating John’s voice and playing the ukulele. If you don’t have time, make your own tour by following this path of the highlights.
But first, grab some vegan lunch at The Egg Vegetarian. It was like Thanksgiving dinner for Chris when we ordered the nut loaf with mash and gravy. It even came with a side of cranberry sauce! (Only available on Sundays.) Steve jumped into a spicy vegan hamburger and a side of chips.
Google George Harrison and Paul McCartney’s houses. Take the bus to George’s first, take your picture, then take the bus to Paul’s. From Paul’s walk or ride the bus to Penny Lane. If you need a haircut, jump inside for a quick £10 cut and listen to the stories from the hairdressers about when James Corden came with Sir Paul for Car Karaoke.
This car karaoke with James and Sir Paul might be the best one James ever did.
With your new flop top, walk down Penny Lane to the Penny Lane sign that Paul signed. Take another picture!
Vegan Indian Food in The Baltic Social
From Penny Lane, walk back to the bus, or walk to your last vegan meal in Liverpool before heading back to Lime Street. At The Baltic Social, they had so many vegan options, it took us a while to choose.
We finally settled on two dishes, the vegan Indian Katsu Curry and the vegan Sloppy Juan. The super spicy Katsu popped open our taste buds with its gravy-style curry on top of rice and squash pakora. The vegan sloppy comforted our bellies. By the way, we eye spied the Punk Vegan Afternoon Tea at £25 per person here at Baltic if you insist on having your treats piled high on a tower.
Visit The Cavern Club Anytime
And finally, to finish out your Beatles on Your Own Day, you’ll need to stop at where the Beatles got their break, the world-famous Cavern Club. Its two lives stages pump out music from 11 am til past midnight. Pay the £5 cover charge, and you can enter to stay as long as you like. Pick a stage. Either are good. You’ll find local musicians belting out Beatles, Garfunkle, Simon, Squeeze, Fats, and even their original tunes. It’s a good time. A really good time. Where in the world can you find a place that plays all the songs you’ve loved your entire life? Where you can sign along with everyone? And share memories and giggles? We arrived at 4 and didn’t leave until after 8. I couldn’t believe we had stayed over 4 hours through two musicians. It was a Fab 4 we didn’t expect.
While you’re at the Cavern Club, be sure to check out all the memorabilia on the walls. Even if you’ve been before, go again. They rotate their collection, so it’s likely you’ll see something new. We adored the Cheap Trick display and the original Rolling Stones artwork. Yup, the Cavern Club is damn touristy, and yup, it’s damn good. By the way, all the tourists were locals from England!
Day 2 Map of Liverpool
Here’s a visual of where you’ll go for Day 2. Although it shows a car route, you can absolutely do this via the bus option with a bit of walking.
A Vegan Weekend in Liverpool
You don’t have to eat vegan while in Liverpool to enjoy this itinerary. You don’t even have to like the Beatles. But if you do both, and you love big sweeping sculpture, interesting mysterious corners, and fun, lively people, Liverpool is a great place to get away, eat some great chow and have a super time.