Liverpool is a city whose very name is evocative. It is a historic port that was once one of the most important in Britain. It was home to the Beatles, and in sporting terms, horse racing and football are centre stage.
However, these elements are not the full story of Liverpool. True, it has a long and distinct history as a centre of trade and has been a major contributor to the sporting and cultural landscape. But after decades of economic decline, it has often received a bad press; not any more! Visitors might be rather pleasantly surprised with much of what they find in a city with lots to see and do and a wide array of cultural, architectural and historic attractions. Make no mistake: Liverpool is a city undergoing a significant renewal.
Currency: GB pound
Customs: As anywhere in the UK, it is important to remember the value of queueing and good manners. Tipping in restaurants is not mandatory but it is the norm.
Liverpool has an extensive rail network, with the main station being Lime Street. Trains run through tunnels in the city centre and for this reason the Merseyrail system is often referred to locally as the "Underground". However, although many platforms, and indeed some whole stations - such as Central and James Street - serve trains running under the streets, these are still part of the mainline rail network, not a separate underground 'Tube' system such as that found in London.
Buses are also useful for getting about, but the most evocative means of transport is to cross the river by one of the famous Mersey Ferries. This provides a panoramic view of the waterfront.
Liverpool's sporting sights are mainly located at the northern end of the city, with Aintree Racecourse just outside the city boundary and Liverpool and Everton football clubs based either side of Stanley Park at Anfield and Goodison Park respectively. Visitors can enjoy the Liverpool Football Club museum at Anfield.
Museums are a key feature of Liverpool, particularly at the waterfront. The Merseyside Maritime Museum in Albert Dock details the seafaring history of the famous port, while the next door Museum of Slavery covers a darker side of the transatlantic trade. The nearby Museum of Liverpool provides a more wide-ranging history of all aspects of the city's past.
Culture vultures can enjoy some art down in the docklands at the Tate Liverpool, while across the Albert Dock is the Beatles Story, a great place to learn about the Fab Four.
For those wanting to see some of the venues where the Beatles played, the Cavern Club is still operating in the city centre and retains its cosy atmosphere.
Liverpool is also famous for having two cathedrals, with the Anglican Liverpool cathedral just south of the city centre and the Catholic Metropolitan Cathedral featuring a very distinct roof.
As well as their spiritual significance, these buildings contain some notable features; look out for a stained glass window in the Anglican Cathedral paying tribute to the locally-born J. Bruce Ismay, one-time owner of the Liverpool-based White Star Line and the man behind the construction of the Titanic. He has been widely portrayed as a coward for not going down with the ship, but many argue this was undeserved and his life and career are at least celebrated here.
Although the ship never actually docked there, Liverpool was the Titanic's official home port and the waterfront contains a memorial to the stokers in the engine rooms, who kept the lights on while the ship sank. It stands close to the iconic Liver Building, which is topped by the famous Liver Birds.
Like any large British city, Liverpool has cafes and restaurants to suit every taste, featuring cuisine from around the world. For fine dining combined with sightseeing, however, there is nowhere better than Panoramic 34, located 300ft above street level in the West Tower, a skyscraper overlooking the docks, river and city centre.
For something more local, try the 'scouse' stew, the dish that gives the locals their nickname 'scousers'. Not dissimilar to a Lancashire hotpot, this meat and veg stew can be found in many places, such as the cafe in the Maritime Museum.
The city centre has plenty of wine bars and coffee shops with some great pubs around, many of which can be relied on to sell good real ales.