Birmingham, the second-largest city in England after London, is a vibrant and diverse destination located in the West Midlands region of the country. With a rich history as a hub of industry and manufacturing, Birmingham has transformed itself into a modern and exciting city that offers something for everyone. From world-class museums and art galleries to bustling shopping districts, picturesque parks, and lively nightlife, there are plenty of things to see and do in Birmingham. Whether you’re a first-time visitor or a local looking for a new adventure, Birmingham is an ideal destination that promises to leave you with unforgettable memories. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at ten of the best things to do in Birmingham, UK.
1. Visit the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery
If you’re a fan of art, history, or culture, a visit to the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery is a must-do activity in the city. Located in the heart of Birmingham, this world-renowned museum and art gallery is home to an impressive collection of art and artefacts, covering everything from ancient history to contemporary art.
The museum’s collections are vast and varied, with highlights including the Staffordshire Hoard, the largest collection of Anglo-Saxon gold and silver ever discovered, and the Pre-Raphaelite art collection, which includes works by artists such as Dante Gabriel Rossetti, John Everett Millais, and William Holman Hunt.
Visitors can also explore the museum’s Natural History collection, which features a range of specimens from around the world, including dinosaur fossils, taxidermy animals, and insects. Meanwhile, the History galleries tell the story of Birmingham’s past, from its industrial heritage to its role in the Civil Rights movement.
The museum also hosts a range of temporary exhibitions throughout the year, which showcase works from local and international artists and offer unique insights into different aspects of art and culture.
Overall, a visit to the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery is a fascinating and enriching experience that is sure to leave you with a deeper understanding and appreciation of art, history, and culture.
2. Take a stroll in Cannon Hill Park
Cannon Hill Park is a beautiful green space located in the heart of Birmingham, just a short distance from the city center. Spanning over 200 acres, the park is one of the largest in the city and offers a range of activities for visitors of all ages.
As you enter the park, you’ll be greeted by the stunning landscape, featuring a large lake, flower gardens, and wooded areas. You can take a leisurely stroll along the many paths and trails that weave through the park, or simply sit and relax in one of the park’s many open spaces.
The park also boasts a range of recreational facilities, including a boating lake, tennis courts, and a mini-golf course. There’s also a children’s play area, featuring climbing frames, swings, and slides, which is sure to keep the little ones entertained.
For those interested in art and culture, Cannon Hill Park is home to the impressive Midlands Arts Centre (MAC). The MAC hosts a range of exhibitions, performances, and workshops throughout the year, covering everything from visual arts to music, theatre, and dance.
Whether you’re looking to relax and unwind, explore nature, or enjoy some fun activities, Cannon Hill Park is a perfect destination for a day out in Birmingham. With its stunning scenery and range of activities, it’s no surprise that Cannon Hill Park is a favorite spot among locals and visitors alike.
3. Go shopping in the Bullring and Grand Central
If you’re a shopaholic looking for a retail fix, look no further than the Bullring and Grand Central shopping centers in Birmingham. Located in the heart of the city center, these two iconic shopping destinations offer a vast array of stores and brands, from high street favorites to designer labels.
The Bullring is a multi-level shopping center that boasts over 200 shops, ranging from popular fashion chains like Zara, H&M, and Topshop to luxury brands like Louis Vuitton, Selfridges, and Burberry. There are also plenty of beauty and homeware stores, as well as a range of cafes and restaurants where you can refuel after a day of shopping.
Adjacent to the Bullring is Grand Central, a premium shopping and dining destination that connects directly to Birmingham’s New Street Station. With over 60 shops, including John Lewis, Cath Kidston, and The White Company, Grand Central offers a more upscale shopping experience.
Apart from shopping, the Bullring and Grand Central are also popular destinations for dining and entertainment. There are plenty of restaurants and cafes serving a range of cuisine, from casual eats to fine dining, and there’s even a cinema and a rooftop bar with stunning views of the city.
Overall, the Bullring and Grand Central are must-visit destinations for anyone looking for a shopping experience in Birmingham. With their impressive selection of stores and entertainment options, they offer an exciting and unforgettable shopping experience that’s sure to leave you satisfied.
4. Visit the Cadbury World chocolate factory
No visit to Birmingham is complete without a trip to Cadbury World, the chocolate factory and visitor center that’s home to one of the world’s most beloved chocolate brands. Located in Bournville, a suburb of Birmingham, Cadbury World offers a unique and immersive experience that’s sure to delight visitors of all ages.
The attraction offers a range of interactive exhibits that tell the story of the Cadbury family and the history of chocolate, from its origins in ancient Central America to its present-day popularity. Visitors can learn about the cocoa bean, see how chocolate is made, and even take a ride through a chocolate wonderland.
One of the highlights of the Cadbury World experience is the chance to make your own chocolate. Visitors can choose from a range of toppings and decorate their own chocolate treat, which they can take home as a souvenir.
There are also plenty of opportunities to indulge in the chocolatey goodness throughout the visit. From the World’s Biggest Cadbury Shop, where visitors can buy a wide range of Cadbury chocolate products, to the various chocolate-themed cafes and restaurants, there are plenty of opportunities to savor the sweet delights of Cadbury.
Cadbury World is a fun and educational destination that offers a unique and unforgettable experience for visitors. Whether you’re a chocolate lover or simply interested in learning more about the history of this delicious treat, a visit to Cadbury World is sure to be a highlight of your trip to Birmingham.
5. Take a Canal Trip through Birmingham’s Network of Waterways
Birmingham is famous for its extensive network of canals, which played a crucial role in the city’s industrial past. Today, these waterways offer a unique way to explore the city and its surroundings, providing a peaceful and scenic escape from the hustle and bustle of the city.
One of the best ways to experience Birmingham’s canals is by taking a canal trip. There are several operators offering canal trips that vary in length and route, allowing visitors to choose a trip that suits their interests and schedules.
A canal trip through Birmingham offers the opportunity to see some of the city’s most iconic landmarks from a different perspective. From the colorful and quirky narrowboats that line the canals to the impressive industrial architecture of the Gas Street Basin, there’s plenty to see and photograph along the way.
In addition to the city itself, a canal trip can also take you through the beautiful countryside and suburbs that surround Birmingham. Passengers can enjoy the tranquility of the waterways, watching as the world goes by and spotting wildlife such as ducks, swans, and even the occasional kingfisher.
Many canal trips also include commentary from knowledgeable guides, who can provide insight into the history and culture of the area, making it a great way to learn about the city and its past.
Overall, a canal trip through Birmingham’s waterways is a unique and memorable experience that offers a different perspective on the city and its surroundings. Whether you’re a history buff, nature lover, or simply looking for a relaxing way to explore, a canal trip is a must-do activity when visiting Birmingham.
6. See a show at the Birmingham Hippodrome
The Birmingham Hippodrome is one of the UK’s most famous theaters and a must-visit destination for any theater lover. Located in the city center, the Hippodrome hosts a range of productions throughout the year, including West End shows, ballet, opera, and comedy.
The Hippodrome has a long history, having opened in 1899 as a circus venue before becoming a theater in the 1960s. Today, it’s one of the largest touring theaters in the UK, with a seating capacity of over 1,800 and a stage that can accommodate large-scale productions.
The theater’s stunning architecture and luxurious interior make it a beautiful setting for any performance. From the ornate ceiling in the main auditorium to the intricate gold leaf detailing throughout the building, every detail has been carefully considered to create a memorable experience for visitors.
The Hippodrome has played host to some of the world’s most famous productions and performers, from Les Misérables and The Lion King to the Royal Ballet and Sir Ian McKellen. With such a diverse range of shows on offer, there’s something for everyone at the Hippodrome, whether you’re a theater aficionado or simply looking for a fun night out.
In addition to its impressive performance schedule, the Hippodrome also offers a range of dining options, from pre-theater meals to post-show drinks, making it a perfect destination for a night out in Birmingham.
Overall, the Birmingham Hippodrome is a must-visit destination for anyone interested in theater or looking for an unforgettable night out in the city. With its stunning architecture, diverse range of productions, and luxurious setting, it’s no wonder that it’s considered one of the UK’s top theaters.
7. Check out the street art in Digbeth
Digbeth is a neighborhood located in the heart of Birmingham and is known for its vibrant street art scene. The area is home to some of the city’s most iconic and colorful murals, which attract visitors from all over the world.
The street art scene in Digbeth is constantly evolving, with new murals appearing regularly. The works range from large-scale murals covering entire buildings to smaller, more intricate pieces that are hidden down side streets and alleyways.
One of the most famous pieces of street art in Digbeth is the “City of Colours” mural, which covers the entire side of a building and features a colorful abstract design that’s become an icon of the neighborhood. Other notable works include the “Birds of Paradise” mural, which features a colorful array of tropical birds, and the “Liquorice Allsorts” mural, which pays homage to the famous candy brand.
The street art in Digbeth is not just limited to murals, with many of the area’s buildings and public spaces decorated with colorful graffiti and tags. Visitors can take a walking tour of the area to see the best examples of street art, or simply wander around and discover the works for themselves.
In addition to the street art, Digbeth is also home to a range of independent shops, cafes, and bars, making it a great destination for a day out in the city. Whether you’re a street art enthusiast or simply looking for a fun and alternative way to explore Birmingham, a visit to Digbeth is sure to be a memorable experience.
8. Explore the Back to Backs
The Back to Backs is a preserved courtyard of working-class homes that provide a unique insight into life in Birmingham in the 19th century. The courtyard is located in the heart of the city, and it features four houses that are arranged back-to-back, with a communal courtyard in the center. These homes were built in the early 1800s and are now the only remaining example of this type of housing in the city.
Visitors to the Back to Backs can take a guided tour to explore the houses, which have been furnished to reflect the different eras in which they were occupied. The tour takes visitors through the living quarters, kitchen, and other rooms, giving a glimpse into the everyday lives of the people who lived and worked in these houses. The tour guides provide fascinating insights into the social and economic conditions of the time, as well as the challenges and joys of life in this type of housing.
The Back to Backs have been preserved and restored by the National Trust, and they offer a fascinating and unique experience for visitors to Birmingham. It’s a must-visit destination for those interested in history, architecture, and social justice. The Back to Backs also have a gift shop that sells souvenirs, books, and local crafts, as well as a tea room serving refreshments and light meals.
9. Take a tour of the Aston Hall
Aston Hall is a stunning Jacobean mansion that was built in the 17th century for Sir Thomas Holte, a prominent member of the Birmingham gentry. The mansion is located in Aston, a suburb of Birmingham, and is surrounded by beautiful gardens and parkland. It is considered one of the finest examples of Jacobean architecture in the country, with its distinctive red-brick facade and ornate interior decoration.
Visitors to Aston Hall can take a guided tour to explore the mansion’s rich history and architecture. The tour takes visitors through the various rooms of the house, including the Great Hall, the Drawing Room, and the Long Gallery. Each room is filled with exquisite period furniture, paintings, and decorative arts, providing a glimpse into the lifestyle of the aristocracy in the 17th century.
The guided tour also includes access to the mansion’s cellars, which were used for storage and as a hiding place during the English Civil War. Visitors can see the remains of the underground passages that connect the cellars to other parts of the estate.
In addition to the mansion, visitors can also explore the beautiful gardens and parkland surrounding Aston Hall. The gardens include a walled garden, a herb garden, and a sunken garden, as well as a children’s play area and a picnic area. The parkland features a lake, a nature trail, and a variety of wildlife.
Aston Hall is a fascinating destination for history and architecture enthusiasts, as well as anyone who appreciates beautiful gardens and parkland. It’s a must-visit destination for anyone visiting Birmingham.
10. Stroll Through The Birmingham Botanical Gardens
The Birmingham Botanical Gardens is a 15-acre green oasis located in the Edgbaston area of Birmingham. It is one of the most visited tourist attractions in the city, and for good reason. The gardens are home to over 7,000 plants from around the world, including tropical plants, exotic orchids, and rare trees.
Visitors to the Botanical Gardens can take a leisurely stroll through the various themed gardens, including the Mediterranean House, the Japanese Garden, and the Rose Garden. The gardens are designed to showcase the beauty and diversity of plant life, with each area featuring a different type of plant or landscape.
The glasshouses at the Botanical Gardens are also a popular attraction, featuring a range of tropical and subtropical plants, including palms, ferns, and cacti. The glasshouses are designed to recreate the natural habitats of the plants, providing visitors with a glimpse into the world of exotic plants and flowers.
In addition to the gardens and glasshouses, the Botanical Gardens also offer a variety of events and activities throughout the year. These include workshops, guided tours, and seasonal events such as the Christmas lights display and the summer outdoor cinema.
The Botanical Gardens is a beautiful and tranquil destination for visitors to Birmingham, and a must-see for anyone interested in botany and horticulture. It’s a great place to relax and unwind, and to learn about the diverse and fascinating world of plants.
Birmingham is a vibrant and diverse city with something for everyone. From its world-class museums and galleries to its beautiful parks and gardens, and from its shopping and entertainment to its rich history and culture, Birmingham has it all.
Whether you’re a local or a tourist, there is always something new to discover in Birmingham. With so many unique and exciting activities to choose from, there is never a dull moment in this dynamic city.
So if you’re looking for a destination that offers a little bit of everything, come and explore Birmingham. You won’t be disappointed! With its welcoming atmosphere, friendly locals, and endless attractions, Birmingham is truly a city that has it all.