No trip to Liverpool is complete without seeing Penny Lane, Strawberry Fields, or Mathew Street, among other sites that The Beatles made famous upon becoming the most famous and influential musical act in modern history. After all, The Beatles are the true main attraction for foreign tourists despite there being so many more reasons to visit the historic port city.
While the Cavern Club (situated on Mathew Street and dubbed “the most famous club in the world”) is located within Liverpool’s tourist district and is easily accessible by foot from anywhere within the city center, most of the other sites including the childhood homes and early hangouts of the Fab Four are a few miles drive into the suburbs and are best accessed with the accompaniment of a tour guide.
That said, the best bang for your buck in getting to see all these places comfortably would be The Magical Mystery Tour, which is a bus tour operated by a guide that will talk you through all the iconic and relevant sites throughout The Beatles hometown for a reasonable price.
The tour begins at Albert Dock, where the coach bus donning the famous Magical Mystery Tour logo picks passengers and introduces the 2 hours route through Liverpool. If any fans have yet to experience the classic Liverpool charm (for which The Beatles themselves were famous) they will get a healthy dose on the Magical Mystery Tour, so there is no risk of getting a stereotypically monotone guide here.
As we quickly make our way out of the city center to the first destination, we pass the largest cathedral in the UK, which was the site of a massive memorial for John Lennon after he was shot dead in New York City in 1980. Once out of the center, we find ourselves in a drab looking area with many rows of boarded-up houses that have only recently been rescued and planned for redevelopment – this is where Ringo was born and went to school, and also past the still-standing building pictured on Ringo’s 1970 solo album Sentimental Journey.
Moving through the area, we drive past the second largest park in the UK, Sefton Park, as it is noted to be the place where John’s parents met and a great place to spend social time or quiet time in nature. Finally, we make it to our first real photo opportunity, the beginning of the iconic Penny Lane. Passengers piled out of the coach to take pictures with the famous street signs before piling back into the coach for the next stop.
There was never a dull moment on the two-hour ride as our guide pointed out where the boys would walk along and stop, and ask us to use our imaginations to go back in time as he described the way things would have looked in the fifties. Then he’d play some Beatles music until we reached the next point of interest, which included all the boys’ childhood homes, the fateful day that John met Paul (also affectionately referred to as ‘feteful’ as they met during an annual fete), and their schools with a few photo ops outside George and Paul’s homes as well as outside the gates of the heavily vandalized Strawberry Fields (which are thankfully not the original gates – those are being safely exhibited at The Beatles Story Museum).
The tour ends outside the Cavern Club, where passengers are free to go in and spend the rest of their day enjoying the famous club complete with live entertainment as well as explore the extensive souvenirs and memorabilia lining the dungeon-like walls. Those who were lucky to take the tour on a Thursday will be delighted to know their ticket gives them free entry to the resident Beatles cover band that evening who could fool even the most avid fan into believing they’re the real deal, if only for a moment.
Pros: Sheltered bus tour is immune to touchy weather conditions. The ticket includes free all-day entry to Cavern Club plus a free gift from the bar (an exclusive limited edition postcard).
Cons: Tour does not include entering any of the homes, although a separate tour can be booked with the National Trust to enter the homes of John and Paul. Stops are very short, not allowing much opportunity to really digest and absorb the site.