Make the most of your time in Birmingham with our guide to the city's best attractions
Previously known for its industrial past, Birmingham has emerged to become a popular shopping and cultural destination. Whether you’re heading for a short weekend break in Birmingham or sticking around to check out all the city sights, here are a few of the best things to do in Birmingham.
Get your museum on
"Birmingham doesn’t boast a whole lot of historical attractions, but it certainly makes up for it in art galleries and museums. The Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery is famous for its collection of pre-Raphaelite paintings and Anglo-Saxon gold, as well as the beautiful Round Room with Jacob Epstein’s The Archangel Lucifer. If you want to know more about Birmingham itself, head up to the third floor where you’ll find a detailed history of the city. Plus, it’s completely free to enter! The Barber Institute of Fine Arts is also free and is home to artwork dating from the 14th century to the 20th, by famous names such as Van Gogh, Picasso and Rembrandt.
Contemporary art more your thing? Birmingham has plenty of modern art galleries, including Ikon in Brindleyplace, Eastside Projects housed in an old-yet-cool warehouse, and Mac Birmingham, which also dabbles in theatre, cinema, dance and visual art."
Shop ‘til you drop
"The Bullring in central Birmingham is a shopper’s paradise with an appealing combination of both high street stores and designer brands. Stock up on favourites from Selfridges, Zara, AllSaints, Michael Kors and more, then sate your appetite at Jamie’s Italian or Wagamama. If you’re on more of a budget, then head next door to the Bull Ring Markets, where you’ll find everything from fresh food to knick-knacks. Those looking to splash some serious cash can go straight to the Mailbox for Harvey Nichols (and its champagne bar), Emporio Armani and Hugo Boss.
Looking for something special? The pretty Jewellery Quarter in the north-east is one of the city’s oldest and most beautiful areas, with some 200 heritage-listed buildings and over 100 independent jewellery designers. Many retailers have their workshops on site, so you can go behind the scenes and watch your new bauble being custom made.
Wander around the gardens
Even though it’s Britain’s second largest city, Birmingham has plenty of green spaces filled with native flora and fauna. Take a stroll around the Birmingham Gardens and Glasshouses, spend a day at the Birmingham Nature Centre and Cannon Hill Park, or get lost amongst the 6,000 different types of plants at Winterbourne House and Garden.
Two other popular Birmingham attractions are the National Sea Life Centre, a huge aquarium with turtles, seahorses and penguins, and Villa Park, where football fans can take a tour of the home of Aston Villa Football Club."
Catch a live music gig…
Birmingham has a thriving live music scene, and you can catch a gig almost any night of the week. Keep an eye out for Ryan’s Gig Guide which will has an updated calendar of concerts and events. The O2 Institute is your best bet for big name acts, Hare & Hounds is for rock and electro, and Alfie Bird’s is a cool hipster venue in the heart of the indie Digbeth area.
…then party all night long
"Brummies know how to party (and mostly on the cheap too). Whether you’re after a pumping rave in an old warehouse or perhaps a cocktail at a cool bar, Birmingham has it covered. The Lost & Found serves up some of the best drinks in the city (the Tequila Mockingbird is a must try), while the 12-year-old Rainbow club is a landmark in the grungy Digbeth area.
No matter what you’re after, whether it’s shopping and museum hopping, or simply dining and drinking, there are always plenty of fun things to do in Birmingham!"