On 9 February 1961, four Liverpool lads – John Lennon, Ringo Starr, George Harrison, and Paul McCartney – gave their debut performance at The Cavern Club in Liverpool. Over 60 years later, The Beatles remain as popular as ever. And nowhere is that more true than in the city of the band’s birthplace, Liverpool.
As one of the UK’s most vibrant cities, Liverpool draws tourists for many reasons. Yet, exploring the history of The Beatles in Liverpool remains one of the city’s biggest attractions. Being from Liverpool, I feel like I was born with the Beatles lyrics running through my veins. In this guide, I’ll share with you the top Beatles spots in Liverpool from museums to basement bars to locations behind the songs, together with my local tips.
At the end, I’ve included a map of the best Beatles locations in Liverpool. You might also like my guide to the best things to do in Liverpool.
1. The Beatles Story, The Albert Dock
The Beatles Story is the world’s largest permanent exhibition about The Beatles and is the perfect starting point for your visit. Located in the Royal Albert Dock, the museum is a unique exhibition of the life, times, and culture that surrounded this famous band. As well as taking visitors on a journey through The Beatles’ lives, you’ll find unseen photos and iconic items such as John Lennon’s glasses. There are also replicas of Mathew Street, The Cavern Club, and Abbey Road Studios as they were in the 60s; an experience that will pull you back in time.
It’s a self-guided tour complete with audio guides. There’s also a giant floor piano for kids (and adults) to jump on and karaoke if you’re game. Buy tickets for The Beatles Story here.
2. The Cavern Club
The Cavern is probably one of the most famous clubs in the world, not least because it was at The Cavern that The Beatles were discovered by Brian Epstein, the man who managed them to international fame. I remember my mum and aunty telling me stories of queueing outside The Cavern, complete with long hair and mini-skirts, eager for a hit of the new music playing inside.
However, most tourists don’t realise that The Cavern Club is not the original Cavern where The Beatles performed. The original club was closed by British Rail in the 1970s as part of the city’s new underground train service (epic fail, British Rail). However, The Cavern Club is just a few doors down from the original site, forms part of the same chain of cellar bars, and is a close replica of the space where the boys performed. In truth: you wouldn’t know the difference.
Local tip: don’t get drawn into the Cavern Pub across the road. While it’s owned by the same people behind The Cavern, it’s a tourist overspill and isn’t the same as the dark basement Cavern Club.
What I love about The Cavern Club is that it’s just as experimental with its music now as it was back then and you’ll find live music almost daily. Do check if there is a band playing before you go in, to make the most of your £5 entry fee (ask at the door).
3. The Original Cavern Club
Although the original Cavern Club remains closed, you can visit the exterior. It’s located on Mathew Street, a few buildings to the left of The Cavern Club (if you’re facing the club). There, you’ll find a display with pictures and details about the original venue. Don’t miss ‘Our Cilla’, the Cilla Black statue just to the left of the original club doorway. Cilla Black was a Liverpool lass, a popular singer who performed at The Cavern and, later, a TV presenter in the UK. Her statue was placed in 2017 to celebrate the 60th anniversary of The Cavern Club.
4. Statue of Beatle Street
While you’re wandering along Mathew Street, take time to look up and find the statue and plaque of “Four Lads Who Shook the World”. The sculpture is by Liverpool artist and dock worker, Arthur Dooley, and was erected on 20 April 1974. The official title of the sculpture is ‘Beatle Street’ since Mathew Street is so synonymous with The Beatles.
The statue is of a woman holding three babies with a fourth baby (featuring wings) behind her. The fourth baby was meant to depict Paul McCartney flying free to his new band, Wings. However, the fourth baby was stolen in the 1980s and hasn’t been replaced. I find the whole thing creepy but that’s modern art for you.
5. The Wall of Fame
The Liverpool Wall of Fame is a brick wall where the bricks are etched with the name of musicians from Liverpool who have reached the number 1 position in the UK pop music charts. Although the wall was created in 2001, the musicians date back to 1952 and, as you can imagine, includes The Beatles.
You’ll find the Liverpool Wall of Fame on Mathew Street, to the left of The Cavern Pub (if you’re facing the pub). The Wall was created by the people behind The Cavern. Check out the plaque ‘Don’t be conned by the bar above with the same name…’. This refers to The Wall of Fame Bar which opened up nearby and isn’t related to The Cavern. Ha ha. Liverpool is full of opportunists!
6. John Lennon Statue
Casually leaning against The Liverpool Wall of Fame on Mathew Street, you’ll find a bronze statue of John Lennon. The statue was created in 1996 by David Webster and was modelled on the image of John Lennon from the Rock and Roll Album during the Hamburg years.
On the album cover, John Lennon leans in a doorway but has a quiff which wasn’t the iconic Lennon image most of us know. So, for a long time, people walked past the statue, not recognising it as a famous Beatle. Years later (after vandalism), John Lennon had a ‘head change’, making him more recognisable and boosting this sculpture from one of the most obscure to one of the most photographed statues in the city.
7. The Grapes Pub, Mathew Street
The Cavern Club gets most of the glory on Mathew Street but it’s otherwise a street busting with bars and booming music. Honestly, Mathew Street can be really good fun or a hot mess depending on the amount of sunshine, the number of bridal parties and the football fixtures in the city.
But as a Beatles fan, you should at least pop into The Grapes. Not only is it an iconic Liverpool pub, it was the place The Beatles went to have a drink before they performed. You’ll find live music, karaoke and a lively atmosphere at The Grapes, which is one of my favourite old-school pubs in the city.
8. Liverpool Beatles Museum
Located on Mathew Street, the Liverpool Beatles Museum goes head to head with The Beatles’ Story. Claiming one of the largest Beatles collections in the world, this is the museum to visit if you’re a die-hard fan and want to clap your eyes on the kit that the kids used.
At the Liverpool Beatles’ Museum, you’ll find the medals worn by John Lennon on the Sgt Pepper album, original instruments like George Harrison’s guitar and a microphone used by Paul McCartney at the Casbah Coffee Club. There are also some more obscure items like John Lennon’s garden furniture.
If you only have time for one Beatles museum, I’d head to The Beatles Story in the Albert Dock but this museum is a bonus with over three floors of memorabilia.
9. Beatles Statue at the Pier Head
Probably the most photographed Beatles attraction in the city, the life-size statue of the Beatles at the Pier Head shows the four lads taking a casual stroll along the waterfront. The statue is a relatively recent addition to the city, unveiled in 2015. It is the work of another Liverpool sculptor, Chris Butler, who based the sculpture on the ‘Live at the BBC’ Beatles album cover.
The statue is well located with Liverpool’s famous ‘three graces’ as the backdrop. The three graces are the most elegant buildings in the city from the Victorian period: The Port of Liverpool Building, The Royal Liver Building and The Cunard Building. Good luck getting a photo of The Beatles without a ‘fifth’ Beatle photobombing you!
10. Eleanor Rigby Statue
Located on Stanley Street, there is a stone bench with the statue of a lone lady cast in brass. Without paying attention it’s easy to walk past her, which may have been part of the artist’s point because, look closer, you’ll see that the statue is a tribute to Eleanor Rigby and is dedicated to “all the lonely people” (a line from the song of the same name).
The statue was unveiled in 1982 and shows a lady feeding a sparrow with a bag of groceries at her side. See if you can find the football boot and four-leaf clover on the statue. A man was sitting eating his lunch next to Eleanor when I visited to take a picture, which seemed very cute.
11. Eleanor Rigby’s Grave in St Peter’s Church
But who was Eleanor Rigby? The band released the hit in 1966, telling the tale of death and loneliness. There are many theories behind the song, but one of the most popular and most haunting is that Paul McCartney, who wrote the lyrics, borrowed the name from the gravestone of “Eleanor Rigby” who was laid to rest in the cemetery at St Peter’s Church in the Woolton suburb of Liverpool. The church has a social club and is the place where John Lennon and Paul McCartney first met.
Whether this is a local legend or fact, the grave still exists and you can visit it. Taking an Uber or taxi is your best option. The grave is located on the second row from the street to the left of the church, near the central walkway. Please be respectful of the graves.
12. Hard Day’s Night Hotel
If you’re a Beatles fan, The Hard Day’s Night Hotel is your best option in the city. As well as being perfectly located near Mathew Street, this four-star hotel is the world’s only Beatles-themed hotel. Even more, the hotel is in a Grade II historic building that was built in 1884 and has been elegantly restored. Each of the 110 rooms has original Beatles artwork inside. And, as four-star hotels go in the city, it’s pretty competitively priced.
Even if you don’t stay there, check out the four rock figures of The Beatles mounted on the outside.
13. Penny Lane
Part of the success of the Beatles was undoubtedly the lyrics of the songs. And you don’t need to spend long in Liverpool to know that many of these lyrics were inspired by real places.
Penny Lane is one of the songs named after a place – a street in Liverpool that was near John Lennon’s childhood home. We can’t be proud of the street name itself, having been named after a slave trader. However, in the context of The Beatles’ history, it’s the place where John Lennon and Paul McCartney met to take the bus into Liverpool city centre when they were performing. Penny Lane, a simple residential street, hasn’t changed much over the decades. I bet you can’t visit without having the song playing on a loop in your ears.
Local tip: since the boys didn’t live in the centre of the city, many of the places behind the lyrics are a little out of the centre. The best way to visit them is on a guided tour. I’ve got recommended tours below.
14. Strawberry Fields
Strawberry Fields Forever was released in 1967 and, like Penny Lane, there is a real Strawberry Fields behind the song. The place was a Salvation Army children’s home near where John Lennon lived as a child. It’s believed he sneaked into the grounds and played there as a kid.
The home was closed in 2005 but the ornate, wrought-iron red gates to Strawberry Fields remained a pilgrimage point for Beatles fans. The Victorian-era home is still owned by the Salvation Army and after decades of seeing fans at the fence line, in 2019, the Salvation Army opened the grounds of Strawberry Fields to the public with a cafe, visitors’ centre and shop. Though the site remains a place for youth care, you can now finally step where Lennon once played.
15. John Lennon’s Childhood Home
The house located at 251 Menlove Avenue in the Woolton suburb of Liverpool is famous as the former home of John Lennon. What was once a standard semi-detached home outside Liverpool city centre is now a Grade II listed property that is managed by the National Trust.
It wasn’t until relatively recently that the house became a museum, restored to its 1950s state. Yoko Ono bought the house in 2002 and donated it to the National Trust. Today, you can buy a ticket to visit both Menlove Avenue (also known as Mendips) as well as Paul McCartney’s Childhood home. However, there are strict rules for visiting, see below.
16. Paul McCartney’s Childhood Home
Paul McCartney’s childhood home is at 20 Forthlin Road. Another National Trust property that you can visit, the house is smaller than Mendips but has more significance as many more songs were written here than at John Lennon’s house.
It can be a little harder to spot as this home doesn’t have the same blue National Trust plaque which is only issued after the 20th anniversary of the death (or 100th birthday) of the famous person. Along with John Lennon’s childhood home, most Beatles bus tours will take you past the houses but the only way to get inside is to book a guided tour.
Frustratingly, the tours don’t leave from the city centre. They leave from either Speak Hall or, more conveniently from, Liverpool South Parkway train station (near the airport). As both homes are in residential areas, you can only visit if you arrive by mini-van. You can’t go there directly. You can book tickets for the Beatles’ Childhood Homes here.
17. Casbah Coffee Club
It can be hard to believe, but the Beatles didn’t have overnight success. They started out playing in some of Liverpool’s basement bars. In a city that was beholden to jazz, it was hard to find a spot that accepted alternative styles of music. The Casbah Coffee Club was one such spot. Dubbed the ‘holy grail’ of the Beatles trail, the club, which is located in the West Derby suburb of the city, was the place where it all began.
The club was started and is still owned by Mona Best, mother of Pete Best, The Beatles’ first drummer. The club has lots of the original features from when the Beatles played there including where John scratched his name in the paintwork. Get there by Uber or Taxi and settle in for the night.
19. The Jacaranda
If you’re a die-hard Beatles fan, you’ll know that they were once called The Silver Beatles and The Jacaranda was one of their first performance bars. Today, it remains a true-to-heart music venue. There are three floors offering everything from rehearsal space to a record store, coffee shop and event space. I’d recommend going for the live music and soaking up the atmosphere where the famous Merseybeat music scene once played out. Who knows, maybe you’ll hear the next Beatles in the making. You can find the club at 21-23 Slater Street.
You might hear locals referring to it as “The Jac’, and they’ll tell you it’s ‘up the other end of town’, i.e. away from Mathew Street, closer to Bold Street where the locals go to eat and drink.
20. Yellow Submarine
“We all live in a yellow submarine, a yellow submarine, a yellow submarine…” I remember singing this song at the top of my voice along with my classmates on our visit to the Liverpool festival gardens. I was 8 years old and the gardens had been opened to encourage tourism back into the city in the 1980s, during a period of financial struggle.
Why was I singing that song? Because of the giant yellow submarine placed in the gardens in homage to the 1966 Beatles song of the same name. The submarine is 51 feet long and, since the gardens are now closed, can be found outside Liverpool John Lennon Airport. So, if you’re flying into the city, keep an eye out. Not that you can miss it! If you’re not naturally at the airport, you can visit via train – head to Liverpool South Parkway.
21. Beatles Street Art
As you can imagine, there is a lot of Beatles Street art in the city and it’s ever-changing. One of my favourites is the image right at the beginning of this article with the four Beatles each cast in a different colour. You can find this work by artist Paul Curtis on Jamaica Street near the crossroads with Bridgewater Street within the Baltic Triangle area of the city. See my map below.
Best Beatles Tours
Since so many of the best Beatles attractions are spread out across the suburbs of the city, taking a Beatles tour can be a good way to pack in as many sights as possible. Do keep in mind that many of the stops will be photo visits only. So, if you especially want to go inside a place e.g. the childhood homes, you’ll need to visit separately. Fortunately, Uber operates in the city as well as taxis. If you do take a tour, here are my favourites:
- Fab 4 Taxi Tours – this private tour is the best you’ll get. Driven around in a black taxi, your private group will spend 3 hours visiting the major Beatles sights outside the city.
- City Sightseeing Beatles tour – this tour takes you to Penny Lane, Strawberry Fields as well as some facts about Liverpool. Check out the discounts with your ticket e.g. to the British Music Experience. Make sure to get on the right ‘Beatles’ bus, not the general city sightseeing bus (it’s the same company).
- Magical Mystery Tour – this tour is very popular and does take you to the most Beatles sights. I had a bad experience with them hence I recommend the city sightseeing tour above but don’t let me put you off. The bus is brightly coloured and the tour is run by the people who own The Cavern Club.
Map of The Beatles Attractions in Liverpool
Here is my map of The Beatles Attractions in Liverpool.
More UK Travel Guides
On a longer trip through the UK? You might like some of my other guides: