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Popular Destinations near Birmingham
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10. Winterbourne Botanic Garden The University of Birmingham doesn’t just have its own park, it has its own six-acre botanic garden.

5. Museum of the Jewellery Quarter Human magpies head here then explore the hundreds of jewellery shops that surround it.

9. Sutton Park 970 hectares of wetlands, lakes, ancient forests, several restaurants and a donkey sanctuary. Take that, London.

4. Thinktank ‘Making learning fun’ generally prompts memories of horrible primary school computer games rather than full-sized locomotives, aircraft and a futuristic Planetarium.

8. Millennium Point We don’t know the Queen is such a fan of IMAX cinema complexes, but she gave this one props when she opened it back in 2002.

3. Barber Institute of Fine Arts Art lovers will go nuts for this collection of old masters, British artists and paintings by Picasso and Schiele.

7. International Convention Centre The ICC sits on the west side of Centenary Square and stages more annual conferences than there are days in the year.

2. Cadbury World At Birmingham’s version of Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory you can ride on a ‘beanmobile’, stroll down Cocoa Road and, naturally, gorge on chocolate.

6. Aston Hall Birmingham’s treasure features opulent 17th Century interiors and hands-on exhibits – not two things you generally hear in the same sentence.

1. Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery This impressive building would be worth paying to walk around even if it was empty, but it houses works by Renoir and Degas and a world-renowned pre-Raphaelite collection.

While much of Birmingham is still edgy-ugly rather than edgy-cool, there are plenty of neighbourhoods outside the city centre that are worth wandering out to. Whether you want to peruse the boutiques of Edgbaston or just sit on a few lagers and admire a bunch of old buildings, here are five neighbourhoods to do so.

Bournville

It’s the home of Birmingham’s Cadbury Chocolate Factory (and George Cadbury himself), but there’s more to do in Bournville than just gain pounds. Because you can actually lose them as well.

Bournville’s Village Green is a parade of great shopping boutiques, and at the top of this area lies Selly Manor – a Tudor-style museum that gives a whole new meaning to the term “moving house”. Don’t forget to check out the Carillon with its 48 bronze bells. Cadbury built that, too, but luckily he’s one of the few who can get away with ringing his own bell.

Digbeth

Birmingham may have ditched its workhorse rep a few years ago, but Digbeth is where you can still get a taste of the city’s manufacturing roots. It’s also the heart of Birmingham’s Irish community, and if there’s one thing the Irish and tradesmen have in common it’s that they both like a good brew.

Check out The Dubliner for an Irish pub that will put your local to shame, before heading to The Custard Factory – where you probably won’t find custard but will find workshops, shops and clubs. The Old Crown Inn is being fairy modest considering it dates back to the 12th Century, while The Rainbow caters for a younger crowd.

King’s Norton

While the rest of Birmingham attempts to spruce itself up with nightclubs and shopping streets, King’s Norton still retains its homely village vibe, particularly around The Green where you’ll find the crooked spire of 13th Century St Nicholas Church and The Saracen’s Head, now a public house and shop. In the surrounding graveyard is the 15th Century timber framed Old Grammar School, where notorious misogynist Thomas Hall was headmaster before being subjected to abuse when he later became a parliamentarian.

Moseley

Birmingham’s creative village looks to the future rather than the past. Sure there are old buildings, but people come here for the art galleries, the patisseries and the bustling night-time economy. They also come to gorge on ravioli at Ponte Di Legno, if they can get a table. After a feed, hit as many boutiques as possible in the Victorian shopping area of Moseley Village Green, towards the original town of St Mary’s Row. Moseley isn’t all bustle, however – Sarehole Mill was thought to be the inspiration for Tolkien’s tranquil Shire.

Edgbaston

Pronounce it Edgbaaaarston and you’ll fit right in – this is the neighbourhood giving upper-crust spots down south a real run for their money. While some say Edgbaston has no sense of community, it definitely has a sense of culture in the arsty Moor Pool area, and it most certainly has a sense of cricket thanks to its famous Cricket Ground. And where there’s money, there’s Michelin-star restaurants – check out Turners of Harborne or Simpsons.

Over 27 nationalities have restaurants in Birmingham, and we’re not even talking about the greasy takeaway joints that only become visible after midnight when you’ve spent too long at the pub.

52 Degrees North If you don’t go in for a meal, at least order a cocktail from the 50 foot glass bar. City Centre

Loves Using recipes rather than just slabs of meat and a grill. Be part of the cool crowd and dine here before it starts taking out the awards. City Centre

Pushkar Pushkar achieves just the right amount of tackiness, with its bling bling atmosphere managing to avoid distracting from the sumptuous dishes. City Centre

Turner’s of Harborne Turner’s relies simply on attentive service and fresh seasonal produce. Both those things must be done phenomenally well to earn a reputation like this. Edgbaston

Giovanni’s What’s the point in an Italian restaurant that doesn’t serve calzones and cheesy bread? Giovanni’s has the mix down to a fine (dining) art. Kings Heath

Simpsons Serving foie gras with friendly service, Michelin-star Simpsons draws you in rather than pushing you away with pretention. Edgbaston

Shimla Pinks Curry joints are two a penny in Birmingham, but don’t settle for slurping gristle out of a takeaway container. City Centre

Edmunds It’s hard to get a dinner reservation here, but lingering over a long lunch of lobster, champagne and pudding doesn’t sound too bad. City Centre

Opus English food at its best. City Centre

Purnell’s Glynn Purnell is surprisingly down to earth for a dude whose restaurant has consistently been named the best in Brum. City Centre

Pretty much every city has a film festival, but Birmingham’s Flatpack Festival and Fierce Festival in March throw workshops, live soundtracks and mobile cinemas in to the mix.

Folk, pop and electronic acts band together in Birmingham for the three-day Rites of Spring Ikon Music Festival in April.

Birmingham’s multi-cultural character doesn’t just mean good food – it also means the BASS Music Festival in June, celebrating Black music and art with dancing, concerts and critical debates.

Birmingham makes the most of its short summer with open-air concerts for July’s Birmingham International Jazz and Blues Festival.

It’s clear that the past is popular in Birmingham, so July’s Antiques for Everyone is a pretty big business.

Conversations at Birmingham’s Music for the Mystified tend to revolve around musicians in classical and jazz, but if that’s your thing head to Sutton Library in August.

The Sheldon Country Fair in August is Birmingham’s exciting day of family fun. Or, just a really good reason to try a bunch of tasty food and drinks.

Unlike your parents, October’s Birmingham Comedy Festival gets funnier as it gets older.

Keep up with the Edgbastons by visiting Birmingham’s Grand Designs Live, held in October each year.

Locals compensate for their love of creamy chicken kormas in October at the Birmingham Half Marathon.

WHEN TO GO

• Birmingham is no different than the rest of the British Isles. Summers are short, winters are cool, and rain is on the cards no matter what time of year.

WHAT TO MISS

• Give Broad Street a miss if it’s a Saturday, particularly after 10pm.

• Not even the best books in the world can make the Birmingham Central Library less of an eyesore. Why choose ’70s architecture over 17th Century?

• The Pallasades Shopping Centre is great if you’re the chaviest chav alive, but otherwise you can give it a miss.

The M6 will take you into the city, but you can also fly or take the train.

• The City Centre has an excellent public transport system.

• Birmingham has a bigger canal system than Venice, so try to take at least one ride on a water taxi.

Regular taxis are rather abundant, too, and you can hail a black cab on pretty much any street corner.

Birmingham Hotels

Birmingham hotels

Blossoming Birmingham

You don’t pull crowds by being known as ‘the workhorse of the world’, and it’s evident that gritty Birmingham is aware of this and working hard at shedding its industrialised image. ... Read more »

Once the heart of the Industrial Revolution, Birmingham is slowly but surely establishing itself as a vibrant and cosmopolitan tourist destination, with more than a few things to brag about – it’s the home of Cadbury’s chocolate, J.R.R. Tolkien and, most importantly, the Balti curry.

‘Brummies’ are a curious mix of bristle and warmth, and, like the accent that twists itself into a serious of linguistic gymnastics, stretching one-syllable words into seeming sentences, you never quite know what you’re going to get from them in the end.

Gritty-cool Birmingham’s industrial heart can still be seen and experienced in places like Digbeth and the Gun Quarter, where workshops intersperse hotspot nightclubs. For a taste of the past (and of creamy milk chocolate), it’s King’s Norton and Bournville. Bookworms soak up Birmingham’s literary associations – Washington Irving was also a resident, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle supposedly bought a violin in Sherlock Street. You’re more likely to find a beer and curry there now, but hey… when 5pm rolled around, sipping a pint is what the industrial revolution was all about.

With the youngest population of any city in Europe, Birmingham is in constant state of change. It’s evolving before our eyes, and is coming into its own as a dynamic and innovative city.

Birmingham’s Top 10

10. Winterbourne Botanic Garden The University of Birmingham doesn’t just have its own park, it has its own six-acre botanic garden.

5. Museum of the Jewellery Quarter Human magpies head here then explore the hundreds of jewellery shops that surround it.

9. Sutton Park 970 hectares of wetlands, lakes, ancient forests, several restaurants and a donkey sanctuary. Take that, London.

4. Thinktank ‘Making learning fun’ generally prompts memories of horrible primary school computer games rather than full-sized locomotives, aircraft and a futuristic Planetarium.

8. Millennium Point We don’t know the Queen is such a fan of IMAX cinema complexes, but she gave this one props when she opened it back in 2002.

3. Barber Institute of Fine Arts Art lovers will go nuts for this collection of old masters, British artists and paintings by Picasso and Schiele.

7. International Convention Centre The ICC sits on the west side of Centenary Square and stages more annual conferences than there are days in the year.

2. Cadbury World At Birmingham’s version of Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory you can ride on a ‘beanmobile’, stroll down Cocoa Road and, naturally, gorge on chocolate.

6. Aston Hall Birmingham’s treasure features opulent 17th Century interiors and hands-on exhibits – not two things you generally hear in the same sentence.

1. Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery This impressive building would be worth paying to walk around even if it was empty, but it houses works by Renoir and Degas and a world-renowned pre-Raphaelite collection.

Birmingham History

  • Aston Hall – A restored Jacobean mansion constructed between 1618 and 1635.
  • 14 Lodge Road – A private house in occupation and yet a much-loved attraction with music fans as the birthplace of Ozzy Osbourne.
  • Sarehole Mill – This 1765 mill is a fine example of Birmingham’s ancient water mills.
  • Soho House – The former residence of the industrial pioneer, Matthew Boulton.
  • Birmingham Cathedral (St Philip’s Cathedral) – A Church of England cathedral dating back to 1709.

Birmingham Art & Culture

  • Barber Institute of Fine Arts – A small gallery boasting an excellent permanent artwork collection, including pre-Raphaelite artwork.
  • Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery – A huge museum exhibiting local historical artefacts, many temporary exhibitions and a large permanent collection of artwork.
  • Cadbury World - A chocolate factory located south of the city centre. The tour provides tourists with an insight into the history of chocolate.
  • IKON Gallery – A small Birmingham gallery boasting two or three temporary art installations.
  • Thinktank – A science museum featuring countless hands-on activities.

Birmingham Shopping

  • The Bull Ring – A large shopping centre that is home to the department store Selfridges.
  • The Pavillions – Another of Birmingham’s large shopping centres.
  • The Pallasades (The Mall) – This popular shopping centre is located directly above the city’s New Street Station.
  • New Street – This Birmingham street is home to an assortment of well-known, high-street chain stores.
  • High Street – Where discount outlet stores and trendy clothing stores can be found in abundance. It is the place to be for those looking for affordable purchases.

Gay & Lesbian Birmingham

  • Gay Pride – Held every Spring Bank Holiday in and around Hurst Street, this festival attracts gay guys from Birmingham and beyond.
  • The Village – A popular gay venue that welcomes both straight and gay men.
  • Eden – A great place to enjoy drinks and mingle with the gay community.
  • Equator – A gay-friendly hotspot that welcomes visitors of all ages and sexualities.
  • The Fountain – A men-only Birmingham gay bar in which guys can chill out and enjoy the company of other guys.

Birmingham Outdoor

  • Birmingham Botanical Gardens & Glasshouses – Birmingham’s large botanical gardens, featuring a wide range of plants and gardening-related workshops.
  • Birmingham Nature Centre – A six-acre nature centre home to many animals and birds.
  • Cannon Hill Park – A well-maintained park featuring gorgeous flowerbeds and facilities for tennis and bowling.
  • Lickey Hills Country Park – A popular park spanning more than 200 hectares.
  • Woodgate Valley Country Park – A woodland park, which is home to Woodgate Valley Urban Farm.

Birmingham Sport

  • Visit Villa Park, the home of Aston Villa F.C.
  • Support the Birmingham City F.C. at their home ground of St Andrews.
  • Visit Edgbaston Cricket Ground, the home of Warwickshire County Cricket Club.
  • Watch international athletics at the Alexander Stadium.
  • Take a trip to Edgbaston Priory, Birmingham’s main tennis club.

Birmingham Local

While much of Birmingham is still edgy-ugly rather than edgy-cool, there are plenty of neighbourhoods outside the city centre that are worth wandering out to. Whether you want to peruse the boutiques of Edgbaston or just sit on a few lagers and admire a bunch of old buildings, here are five neighbourhoods to do so.

Bournville

It’s the home of Birmingham’s Cadbury Chocolate Factory (and George Cadbury himself), but there’s more to do in Bournville than just gain pounds. Because you can actually lose them as well.

Bournville’s Village Green is a parade of great shopping boutiques, and at the top of this area lies Selly Manor – a Tudor-style museum that gives a whole new meaning to the term “moving house”. Don’t forget to check out the Carillon with its 48 bronze bells. Cadbury built that, too, but luckily he’s one of the few who can get away with ringing his own bell.

Digbeth

Birmingham may have ditched its workhorse rep a few years ago, but Digbeth is where you can still get a taste of the city’s manufacturing roots. It’s also the heart of Birmingham’s Irish community, and if there’s one thing the Irish and tradesmen have in common it’s that they both like a good brew.

Check out The Dubliner for an Irish pub that will put your local to shame, before heading to The Custard Factory – where you probably won’t find custard but will find workshops, shops and clubs. The Old Crown Inn is being fairy modest considering it dates back to the 12th Century, while The Rainbow caters for a younger crowd.

King’s Norton

While the rest of Birmingham attempts to spruce itself up with nightclubs and shopping streets, King’s Norton still retains its homely village vibe, particularly around The Green where you’ll find the crooked spire of 13th Century St Nicholas Church and The Saracen’s Head, now a public house and shop. In the surrounding graveyard is the 15th Century timber framed Old Grammar School, where notorious misogynist Thomas Hall was headmaster before being subjected to abuse when he later became a parliamentarian.

Moseley

Birmingham’s creative village looks to the future rather than the past. Sure there are old buildings, but people come here for the art galleries, the patisseries and the bustling night-time economy. They also come to gorge on ravioli at Ponte Di Legno, if they can get a table. After a feed, hit as many boutiques as possible in the Victorian shopping area of Moseley Village Green, towards the original town of St Mary’s Row. Moseley isn’t all bustle, however – Sarehole Mill was thought to be the inspiration for Tolkien’s tranquil Shire.

Edgbaston

Pronounce it Edgbaaaarston and you’ll fit right in – this is the neighbourhood giving upper-crust spots down south a real run for their money. While some say Edgbaston has no sense of community, it definitely has a sense of culture in the arsty Moor Pool area, and it most certainly has a sense of cricket thanks to its famous Cricket Ground. And where there’s money, there’s Michelin-star restaurants – check out Turners of Harborne or Simpsons.

Birmingham Eat & Drink

Over 27 nationalities have restaurants in Birmingham, and we’re not even talking about the greasy takeaway joints that only become visible after midnight when you’ve spent too long at the pub.

52 Degrees North If you don’t go in for a meal, at least order a cocktail from the 50 foot glass bar. City Centre

Loves Using recipes rather than just slabs of meat and a grill. Be part of the cool crowd and dine here before it starts taking out the awards. City Centre

Pushkar Pushkar achieves just the right amount of tackiness, with its bling bling atmosphere managing to avoid distracting from the sumptuous dishes. City Centre

Turner’s of Harborne Turner’s relies simply on attentive service and fresh seasonal produce. Both those things must be done phenomenally well to earn a reputation like this.

Giovanni’s What’s the point in an Italian restaurant that doesn’t serve calzones and cheesy bread? Giovanni’s has the mix down to a fine (dining) art. Kings Heath

Simpsons Serving foie gras with friendly service, Michelin-star Simpsons draws you in rather than pushing you away with pretention.

Shimla Pinks Curry joints are two a penny in Birmingham, but don’t settle for slurping gristle out of a takeaway container. City Centre

Edmunds It’s hard to get a dinner reservation here, but lingering over a long lunch of lobster, champagne and pudding doesn’t sound too bad. City Centre

Opus English food at its best. City Centre

Purnell’s Glynn Purnell is surprisingly down to earth for a dude whose restaurant has consistently been named the best in Brum. City Centre

Birmingham Events

Pretty much every city has a film festival, but Birmingham’s Flatpack Festival and Fierce Festival in March throw workshops, live soundtracks and mobile cinemas in to the mix.

Folk, pop and electronic acts band together in Birmingham for the three-day Rites of Spring Ikon Music Festival in April.

Birmingham’s multi-cultural character doesn’t just mean good food – it also means the BASS Music Festival in June, celebrating Black music and art with dancing, concerts and critical debates.

Birmingham makes the most of its short summer with open-air concerts for July’s Birmingham International Jazz and Blues Festival.

It’s clear that the past is popular in Birmingham, so July’s Antiques for Everyone is a pretty big business.

Conversations at Birmingham’s Music for the Mystified tend to revolve around musicians in classical and jazz, but if that’s your thing head to Sutton Library in August.

The Sheldon Country Fair in August is Birmingham’s exciting day of family fun. Or, just a really good reason to try a bunch of tasty food and drinks.

Unlike your parents, October’s Birmingham Comedy Festival gets funnier as it gets older.

Keep up with the Edgbastons by visiting Birmingham’s Grand Designs Live, held in October each year.

Locals compensate for their love of creamy chicken kormas in October at the Birmingham Half Marathon.

When To Go

Birmingham is no different than the rest of the British Isles. Summers are short, winters are cool, and rain is on the cards no matter what time of year.

What To Miss

Give Broad Street a miss if it’s a Saturday, particularly after 10pm.

Not even the best books in the world can make the Birmingham Central Library less of an eyesore. Why choose ’70s architecture over 17th Century?

The Pallasades Shopping Centre is great if you’re the chaviest chav alive, but otherwise you can give it a miss.

Getting There & Around

The M6 will take you into the city, but you can also fly or take the train.

The City Centre has an excellent public transport system.

Birmingham has a bigger canal system than Venice, so try to take at least one ride on a water taxi.

Regular taxis are rather abundant, too, and you can hail a black cab on pretty much any street corner.

Birmingham Rundown

‘Brum’, as Birmingham is affectionately termed, is the UK’s second city and once known as the ‘workhouse of the world’ due to its starring role during the Industrial Revolution. Over time, industry has given way to services, but evidence of the past can be found everywhere in Birmingham – from canals, to warehouses and factories – nowadays happily transformed into swanky apartments, shops, restaurants and cafes.

Birmingham, like many other UK cities, suffered at the hands of the Luftwaffe and has its fair share of hastily constructed concrete abominations - its ring roads haven’t been called ‘Spaghetti Junction’ for nothing. But none of this matters because Birmingham has enough cultural and historical gems to make up for it. These include The Cathedral Church of St Philip, constructed in 1709 and one of England’s smallest cathedrals with stunning Pre-Raphaelite stained glass windows, and Aston Hall, dating back to 1615 with its outstanding collection of fine art and furniture.

The Hippodrome guarantees you a great night out and is home to Birmingham Royal Ballet. Or join the throng from Birmingham University at the best music venue in town, Birmingham Academy, then dance ‘til you drop at multi-million dollar superclub Gatecrasher.


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Britannia Hotel Birmingham
Reviewer score
3.6
out of 56 Reviews
New Street Midlands Birmingham B2 4RX

The Britannia Hotel Birmingham is ideally situated for visitors keen to explore the UK's second largest city, but is a... More hotel details

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Jurys Inn Birmingham
Reviewer score
4.5
out of 52 Reviews
245 Broad Street Birmingham B12 Hq

Jurys Inn Birmingham offers an inviting ambience and friendly service essential for a relaxing vacation. Outdoor enthu... More hotel details

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Copthorne Hotel Birmingham
Reviewer score
4.3
out of 55 Reviews
Paradise Circus Queensway Birmingham B3 3HJ

The Copthorne Hotel Birmingham's prime location right in the centre of the city ensures its popularity with both holid... More hotel details

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Paragon Hotel Birmingham
Reviewer score
2.7
out of 52 Reviews
145 Alcester Street Birmingham B12 OPJ

The Paragon Hotel Birmingham, housed in a Grade 11 listed building dating back to 1903, is popular with tourists and b... More hotel details

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City Nites Birmingham Luxury Serviced Apartments
Reviewer score
3.4
out of 51 Reviews
Arena View Edward Street Birmingham B1 2RX

Well suited to both business and pleasure travellers, the City Nites Birmingham Luxury Serviced Apartment prides itsel... More hotel details

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Copthorne Hotel Merry Hill
Reviewer score
3.6
out of 52 Reviews
The Waterfront Level Street Brierley Hill Dudley DY5 1UR

The Copthorne Hotel Merry Hill is situated in Dudley, about 15 kilometres west of Birmingham city centre. The hotel is... More hotel details

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Drayton Manor Hotel Staffordshire
Reviewer score
4.2
out of 55 Reviews
Drayton Manor Park Tamworth Staffordshire Birmingham B78 3TW

Featuring comfortable accommodations surrounded by local attractions, Drayton Manor Hotel Staffordshire makes for an i... More hotel details

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Hyatt Regency Hotel Birmingham
Reviewer score
4.6
out of 51 Reviews
2 Bridge Street Birmingham B1 2JZ

The Hyatt Regency Hotel Birmingham is directly linked to the International Conference Centre (ICC) in the centre of th... More hotel details

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Bloc Hotel Birmingham
Reviewer score
4.0
out of 51 Reviews
St. Paul's Caroline Street Birmingham B3 1UG

Bloc Hotel Birmingham is a budget-friendly haven in Birmingham that delivers contemporary comforts close to popular ar... More hotel details

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Holiday Inn Birmingham City Centre
Reviewer score
3.4
out of 51 Reviews
Small brook Queensway Birmingham B5 4EW

The eleven storey, contemporary Holiday Inn Birmingham City is only minutes from New Street station and close to all c... More hotel details

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