Now that the Beatles are into their 50th anniversary as a band with global success, it’s time to honor the numerous tours you can take in Liverpool on how Beatlemania got started. It’s amazing all the choices that are presently offered.
When I was in Liverpool in 1983 there was only a coach tour or hire a private tour guide. It was the latter that was the only option available to us at the time. There was very little to offer Beatle fans visiting Liverpool back then. Even our hotel had nothing about the Beatle sites in Liverpool’s City Centre. Thankfully a bobby pointed us in the right direction.
Nowadays you can you go on a big bus around Liverpool, or a sign-up for the mini bus tour, take advantage of taxi tours, and of course go on a private tour of your own. You have a Beatles-themed hotel and information at your fingertips of any and all Beatles tour information, thanks to the internet. Liverpool is busting with Beatle points of interest.
If you’re planning a trip to Liverpool or simply want more information, here are five different ways to see the sights and hear the sounds of the Fab Four’s hometown where it all got started.
Beatles Magical Mystery Tour – Group Bus Tour
“The Magical Mystery Tour is coming to take you away, coming to take you away.” This is ideal for those who like big bus tours with many other people aboard. It’s one of the most popular ways to visit the Beatle sights. Your qualified Beatles tour guide will play their lively music, in addition to giving commentary on each drive-by sight and stop along the way. This colorful bus is fashioned after the “Magical Mystery Tour” TV special of the Fab Four’s road trip, along with some other travelers.
You will of course drive-by and see the homes of John, Paul, George, and Ringo. Stops will be made at the legendary Strawberry Field and Penny Lane landmarks made famous in their titled songs. Another highlight is the place where John met Paul on that fateful day and the rest is history. The Beatles Magical Mystery Tour lasts two hours. There are two tours daily, one at 11:30 a.m. and the other at 2 p.m. “The magical mystery tour is waiting to take you away, waiting to take you away!”
National Trust – The Beatles Childhood Homes – Mini Bus Tour
This is the only way Beatle fans and tourists will be able to go inside the National Trust designated homes of Paul McCartney and John Lennon. There are no tours inside the former childhood homes of George Harrison and Ringo Starr as they are presently occupied by current residents. Every other Beatles tour will certainly take you by their homes, but no one is allowed inside except for this tour company.
During my visit to Liverpool back in the early-to-mid ’80s, our guide was able to take us to Paul McCartney’s home on 20 Forthlin Road. At the time, before it became a National Trust property, there was a family already living in McCartney’s former home. Apparently they allowed tours on occasion. Unfortunately we were not able to visit John Lennon’s home on Menlove Avenue, since it was occupied and they didn’t allow visitors.
The National Trust is more or less the equivalent of the National Park Service in the U.S. They both oversee homes, gardens, cemeteries, and forest reserves. Park Rangers take care and maintain the NPS properties, while the National Trust hires live-in employees to take care of Paul’s and John’s homes (as well as other estates). Each of their homes is refurbished to its 1950s interior. The late ’50s were a time when John and Paul first became acquainted. Later they began playing professionally, while writing songs at home that would eventually become classics.
This is a chance to relive those magical times in their lives. The National Trust custodian will give you a tour, lecture, and answer your questions. Each tour is only allowed to take up to 15 people in their mini bus. Depending on the time of year there are 3-4 tours that run Wednesday through Sunday, and on Monday bank holidays.
The Beatles Fab Four Taxi Tour
Hands down this has become and is becoming the most popular, highly decorated, and beloved way to see the Beatle sights around Liverpool. If you aren’t interested in any bus tours or have the time for the National Trust tour of John’s and Paul’s home, this is the best alternative. You’ll ride in one of the famous English black cabs around the city and suburbs of Liverpool.
This is a personalized tour that’s just you and your friends or family and the taxi driver. It’s almost similar to hiring a private tour guide. You will definitely go by and stop at the Beatles homes and the famous sites like Strawberry Field, Penny Lane (including the barber shop and the roundabout), and Eleanor Rigby’s grave. Come see why The Fab Four Taxi Tour is rated #1 at TripAdvisor.com with a five star rating from over 1,322 reviews.
Jackie Spencer Beatles Guide – Private Chauffeur Driven Tours
She’s considered Liverpool’s preeminent tour guide and Beatles expert since 1995. Jackie is a born and raised Liverpudlian. She was even born in the same hospital as Paul McCartney. Industry-wise she is well qualified in her field by holding the coveted Blue Badge that’s accepted by travel organizations globally. Jackie Spencer Beatles Guide is one of Liverpool’s few that’s officially recognized. One thing that must be noted, anyone in Liverpool can say they are a tour guide and take you around the city to the Beatles sites. Jackie is of course is the real deal.
Before the plethora of Beatles bus and taxi tours that would eventually come along, she was doing her own taxi tours. Now she has elevated her service to luxury executive vehicles, Mercedes MPV. Jackie gives you the tour while someone else chauffers you around. Along the way you can enjoy Beatles music, films, and photos making your tour experince much more rewarding. Her private tours range in the standard 3-hour taking you to South Liverpool where Penny Lane and Strawberry Field are located up to an all-day excursion. She also offers other tour choices that include walking around and taking public transportation like the four lads did in the early days..
Magical History Tour (Colin Unwin) – Private Tour Guide
He’s been a Beatles fan since their very early days in 1962 living in Manchester. Now he gives his own private tours to friends, family, and those who become acquainted with his Beatle Maniac fan site. Colin Unwin offers one extraordinary advantage with his Beatle tours over all the others. He was the part-time custodian for the National Trust childhood homes of Paul McCartney and John Lennon. Even though you won’t get to go inside, unless you go on a separate excursion, Colin can tell you all about them since he had to stay many a nights there. You can ask questions and get a true insight into their homes. Obviously other tour guides have been to John and Paul’s homes, but none have lived in them.
Colin, the former Guinness Book of British Hit Singles Editor, and author David Roberts have created the “The Unofficial Beatles Liverpool iPhone App.” It features more than 60 Beatle-related locations covering a 12-mile area around the famous city on the banks of the River Mersey. The app takes you on your own Magical Mystery Tour to Penny Lane, Strawberry Field, The Cavern Club, statues, plaques, homes, pubs and some interactive visitor attractions dedicated to the Fab Four.
Be sure to read Colin’s ebook ” I’ve Just Seen a Place I Can’t Forget: Walking in the Footsteps of The Beatles .” This will give you an excellent idea of what his tour will be like. He may be under the radar compared to other Beatle tour operators; Colin’s Magical History Tour is right up there with the very best. For more information you can contact him at Beatle Maniac.