The seaside town with the UK’s longest promenade, a street art quarter and independent spirit
When to go
Across the River Mersey from one of the world’s great port cities, Liverpool, is the Wirral peninsula. On its shores at the mouth of the Mersey is the town of New Brighton – a Victorian treasure built by Liverpool merchant James Atherton to rival the Regency resort of Brighton.
A favourite destination for well-heeled families of the region through the turn of the 19th century, more recently it was easy to conclude that New Brighton’s best years were well behind it.
Now, through revitalisation of its heritage features and modernising through much-needed investment, the town is enjoying a resurgence.
On hot days, expect to find the promenade – the UK’s longest, at just over two miles – and long stretches of sand buffering the Irish Sea to be packed with families and dog-walkers. When the Mersey adopts gloomier shades, there are dozens of independent shops, restaurants and entertainment venues to divert.
How to get there and around
New Brighton lies at the north-eastern tip of the Wirral peninsula. The best way to get here is via Merseyrail from Liverpool Lime Street station. Situated at the end of the New Brighton branch of the Wirral Line, trains to New Brighton take 25 minutes. The 432 and the 433 buses run from Liverpool city centre every 10 to 20 minutes. The journey takes around 40 minutes.
From New Brighton train station, it is a 10-minute walk down to the centre of town and the promenade. Once here, it is easy to get around on foot or by cycling, with everything within a 1.5-mile radius. There is also plenty of free parking along the promenade.
Where to stay
Dunsandles Guesthouse is a lovingly restored Victorian guesthouse on a quiet road off the promenade, offering accessible family rooms, doubles, a twin and single room, all en suite. Doubles from £75.
The New Brighton Hotel Bar & Lounge has accessible singles, doubles, twins and family rooms, some with views across the water to Liverpool. It’s just a couple of minutes’ walk from the promenade. Pets are allowed on request. Doubles from £92.
Up with the sun
Set your alarm to rise early for the 2.5-mile walk from New Brighton to Seacombe Ferry Terminal and catch the views of the sun rising from behind the Liverpool skyline. Catch the direct commuter ferry to Liverpool’s Pier Head which sets sail every 20 minutes from 7.20am to 9.40am. On your return, enjoy a breakfast at Smuggler’s Cave Café, a dog-friendly spot popular with locals.
New Brighton has a great selection of independent shops in the Victorian Quarter, such as quirky coffee shop/local arts and crafts store SUP on Victoria Road (closed Mon-Tues). Scour Seabank Road for vintage, reclaimed and pre-loved finds at shops like Vintage Weighs and Concept Corner (get your shopping in on a Saturday as they are both closed on Sundays).
The Mermaid Trail is a fun way to explore the town. Inspired by the Black Rock Mermaid, thought to have been spotted by a sailor in New Brighton in the 18th century, this set of six statues is dotted around town. Learn the full story by following the trail in order, catching a glimpse of eye-popping street art and murals as you go (visitwirral.com).
Time for a sundowner
Found in the Victorian Quarter, the Bow-Legged Beagle specialises in local craft ales. With a changing roster of rich stout and porters to malty red and hoppy citrus IPAs, this well-loved spot may overflow on to street seating, but still maintains an intimate atmosphere. Speciality gins, whiskeys and wines are all available, too.
Then head down to Fort Perch Rock – built to defend the port of Liverpool in 1829 – for sunset views of the iconic New Brighton Lighthouse and Liverpool Bay.
Right next door to Dunsandles Guesthouse, busy Bistro 115 has an ever-changing menu which always serves up a pleasant surprise, from the wildly popular Cuban beef to veggie gözleme.
If you can’t bag a table (or if it’s a Sunday or Monday), head to Ayla at Marine Point. Open every day, this is the place to go for flame-grilled meat and seafood, with a generous selection of mezes.
Hit the beach
New Brighton Beach is a large stretch of golden sand. At low tide, it stretches out for more than a mile and on sunny days, it’s busy with dog-walkers and families. Adjacent, New Brighton Marine Lake is popular for water activities such as paddleboarding, wakeboarding, tubing and pedalos.
For a blast of fresh air, walk the coastal path from New Brighton to West Kirby. This eight-mile route takes you along the North Wirral Coastal Park past quieter beaches and points of interest like Leasowe Lighthouse, Meols promenade and Red Rocks.
Perch Fish Bar serves decent-sized portions, with seating overlooking the Marine Lake. Wait times can be long due to its popularity.
Time to relax
Dating to 1899, the elegant Victorian-era Vale Park is just off the promenade and overlooks the Mersey. It flourishes with a rose garden, wooden sculptures, playground, café, picnic area and bandstand, where a variety of events including concerts and children’s shows are held throughout the summer.
A final treat
The much loved Floral Pavilion Theatre showcases a mix of comedy, music, dance and children’s shows as well as special events including the screening of the Eurovision final. The indulgent afternoon teas at the theatre’s Panoramic Lounge – with views across the River Mersey – are well worth dressing up for.
Three things you might not know about New Brighton…
1) The 173m, Eiffel Tower-like New Brighton Tower was Britain’s tallest building when it opened at the turn of the century. Now demolished, The Beatles performed at its Tower Ballroom 27 times – more than any other location in the UK aside from the Cavern Club.
2) Perched on a hill above New Brighton, the dome of St Peter and Paul’s Roman Catholic Church is nicknamed the “Dome of Home”, because it was often the landmark sight for returning sailors.
3) New Brighton Palace is one of the UK’s original indoor arcades and is still run by the founding Wilkie family.