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10 Best Things to Do in Birmingham

Birmingham - What is it Famous For?

Birmingham has been through more changes than most other British cities in the 21st century. Long gone are the dull concrete skyscrapers. Thanks to a host of regeneration projects, Birmingham now offers an intriguing mix of urban cool and industrial heritage.

From the mirror-fronted façade of Birmingham’s Grand Central station to the ‘bubble-wrapped’ Bullring shopping centre, modern architectural landmarks are scattered throughout the city centre. Add to this an impressive sporting pedigree and an eclectic food culture – everything from pop-up street dining to (arguably) Britain’s greatest balti restaurants – and the reasons for exploring Birmingham become clear.

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1

Bullring Shopping Centre

Shop for designer gear in Selfridges department store

One of Birmingham’s first modern marvels, the sci-fi-looking Bullring is one of the city’s best places to shop. Check out the gear of some of Britain’s best designers in Selfridges department store, with plenty of other prominent boutiques from the likes of All Saints and Karen Millen to choose from. High street brands include H&M and Foot Locker.

If you’re out and about in central Birmingham, you’re almost guaranteed to come across the Bullring as it’s walking distance from Grand Central station and surrounded by several other prominent attractions. Come meal times, you can choose from French bistro snacks to Asian noodles and plenty in between.

  • Opening Hours: 10am to 8pm daily
  • Location: Birmingham B5 4BU, UK
  • Tel: +44 121 632 1500
2

Try a curry in the Balti Triangle

The birthplace of the balti curry

It might sound strange, but Birmingham’s most famous culinary creation is the balti. It first started appearing in Birmingham restaurants in the 1970s, in an area referred to as the Balti Triangle. To try for yourself, head to Ladypool Road, just south of the city centre.

This fiery Pakistani/Indian dish, served in a metal bowl, is now a staple on menus throughout the country. Meat is roasted in a tandoor oven and then added to a rich curry that comes in several levels of spice. Most Balti restaurants don’t serve alcohol, but you are free to bring your own to enjoy with your meal.

  • Opening Hours: lunch and dinner (most restaurants close around midnight)
  • Location: Ladypool Road, Birmingham B12, UK
3

Watch a game of football at any of Birmingham’s 4 major stadiums

Experience the roar of the crowd at a Premier League football match

Birmingham is blessed with many professional sports teams, but in the hearts and minds of most locals, football comes first. There are 4 major teams playing in and around the city. Aston Villa is probably the most famous, but Birmingham City and West Bromwich Albion are also popular.

If it’s your first time watching football live, the intense experience when you first walk up into the packed stands can really get the adrenaline pumping. Throughout the 90-minute match, the crowd will chant and sing, which is a big part of the experience. The football league runs from August to May every year with most matches played on Saturday afternoons. If you’re here in the summer, you could go to watch a game of cricket instead. Warwickshire County Cricket Club play at the Edgbaston Cricket Ground, around 3 miles from the city centre.

4

Digbeth

Hang Out in Birmingham’s Coolest Neighbourhood

Birmingham’s creative types can be found in Digbeth. Just a short walk from the Bullring, this post-industrial neighbourhood really comes alive in the evenings. You can expect pop-up street food markets, urban art, and some of the city’s best nightlife, held in renovated warehouses. Adding to the eclectic vibe, old boozers and humble cafes offer a glimpse into the past.

From Thursday to Saturday evenings, Digbeth Dining Club is a fun street food event that brings together up to 50 stalls selling regional cuisines and craft beers. If you’re up for some late-night clubbing, head to the Custard Factory for socialising or the Institute for pumping bass.

  • Location: Digbeth, Birmingham B5 6BH, UK
5

Cadbury World

Make your own chocolate at Cadbury World

Cadbury World, one of the UK’s most loved chocolate brands, is just a few miles out from Birmingham city centre. Take the family friendly tour to see how chocolate is made, sample some new recipes and enjoy exciting rides and experiences, including a 4D short movie and a mini rollercoaster. It’s all themed around famous Cadbury brands.

You can no longer take a look at the actual Cadbury production line, but there is a chance to see workers producing handmade chocolate items for the gift shop. Consider the afternoon tea set as a suitably sweet end to the tour.

  • Opening Hours: 9am to 4.30pm daily
  • Location: Linden Rd, Bournville, Birmingham B30 1JR, UK
  • Tel: +44 844 880 7667
6

Bar Hopping Around Brindley Place

Stroll along the canal and hop from bar to bar

It’s a surprising fact that Birmingham has more miles of canals than Venice. There has been a real push to regenerate the waterways around the city, and the best place to see this is around Brindley Place. The whole area is alive with trendy bars, restaurants, and attractions.

Simply stroll along and stop when a bar or restaurant takes your fancy, be it a German beer hall or demure cocktail lounge. A prominent focal point just next to Brindley Place is The Mailbox – the old central post office, which now features high-end restaurants, bars, and BBC television studios. You’ll also find Ikon Gallery, the National Sea Life aquarium and the National Indoor Arena concert hall nearby.

  • Location: Brindley Place, Birmingham, B1, UK
7

Victoria Square

Check out the portrait gallery in Birmingham Council House

Birmingham's Victorian splendour is best experienced in Victoria Square. The Town Hall and Birmingham Council House are two of the best examples of the city’s proud heritage. You’ll find the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery housed here, which contains several rooms of paintings and sculpture to enjoy for free.

The Baroque-style Birmingham Council House has an imposing dome and a clocktower, which has for many years been a popular meeting spot. The whole area is pedestrianised, which makes walking around easy. Every winter, Birmingham’s Frankfurt Christmas Market is set up in Victoria Square and is extremely popular with shoppers looking for presents, handicrafts, and mulled wine.

  • Opening Hours: 9am to 5pm
  • Address: Waterloo St, Birmingham B1 1BB, UK
  • Tel: +44 121 303 1111
8

Jewellery Quarter

Browse the shops and soak up the history

This close-knit community of 150 jewellers and craftspeople lets you experience the industrial heritage of Birmingham. It’s said that up to 40% of Britain’s jewellery business is traded through this enclave of manufacturing on the northern edge of the city centre. You can easily walk to the Jewellery Quarter from Grand Central station in less than 20 minutes or take the train 1 stop to Jewellery Quarter station.

Interspersed between specialist jewellery shops, you’ll find pubs, museums, art galleries, auctioneers, and other boutiques specialising in everything from wedding arranging to home furnishings. The Jewellery Quarter Festival takes place every July, featuring live music, parades, and lots of shopping opportunities.

9

Library of Birmingham

Get inspired by art exhibitions, live theatre and poetry recitals

Forget what you think you know about libraries. The Library of Birmingham has reimagined the whole concept for the digital age, with surprises in store, inside and out. The building itself is a real head-turner, with a 7th-floor garden and several spacious viewing platforms.

There’s a full programme of events to attend for free. Watch live theatre in the amphitheatre or explore the permanent exhibition dedicated to William Shakespeare, Britain’s most celebrated playwright. For movie buffs, the entire National Film Archive is available in private booths, courtesy of the British Film Institute.

  • Opening Hours: 11am to 5pm (open till 7pm on Mondays and Tuesday). Closed on Sundays.
  • Location: Centenary Square, Broad St, Birmingham B1 2ND, UK
10

St. Philip’s Cathedral

Watch the choir singers on Tuesday evenings

For a spot of sightseeing in the swanky surroundings of Colmore Row, you can stop and gaze at St. Philip’s Cathedral. Built in 1715, the baroque stylings are pretty in any season and you can see some beautifully preserved stained-glass windows.

Surrounding the cathedral, you’ll find House of Frasier – a high-end department store – on one side, and a collection of pubs and bars on the other. Mass takes place every Sunday, with free guided tours and choral performances throughout the week.

  • Location: Colmore Row, Birmingham B3 2QB, UK
  • Tel: +44 121 262 1840
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