10 amazing things to do in Birmingham

Britain's second city, Birmingham is conveniently found in central England, easily accessible from London and most other major cities. Perfect if you’re seeking ideas for city breaks. Once at the heart of the global Industrial Revolution, Birmingham is now leading the way in culture, shopping, dining and more. So if you want things to do in Birmingham, you’ll discover plenty more where all this came from...

1. Strike gold at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery

This impressive museum is a great starting point as you’ll find out all about the city’s integral place in the history books, plus how it’s evolved over the years. It’s worth devoting at least a couple of hours to it so you can explore the Pre-Raphaelite paintings – the largest collection in the world – plus the Staffordshire Hoard, the biggest stash of Anglo Saxon gold ever found. You see? There’s heaps of history here. 

2. Indulge your sweet tooth at a real-life chocolate factory

Cadbury World, Birmingham

Famous British chocolate-maker Cadbury is based in Birmingham. At Cadbury World you can go on a 4D chocolate adventure, take a ride in a beanmobile and watch big vats of chocolate being made into your favourite bars. And the best bit – you get to taste test a warm pot of melted Cadbury Dairy Milk with sprinkles of your favourite topping. 

3. Go on a sensational shopping spree

Birmingham Bullring

The Bullring shopping centre is instantly recognisable as the entire building is adorned with thousands of shimmering aluminium discs – perfect for that prize-winning Instagram shot. But don’t hang around outside too long, there are lots of shiny new things to buy inside. Peruse more than 160 shops, including a branch of luxury department store Selfridges. 

4. Find the jewel in Birmingham’s crown

Birmingham Jewellery Quarter

Find the gem of your dreams in Birmingham’s historic Jewellery Quarter. Be sure to pop in to the Museum of the Jewellery Quarter, which is built around a carefully preserved workshop. Then get shopping for the perfect rock! It’s not just for soon-to-be-weds though, with more than 100 jewellers there’s bling for every type of ring… or any other piece you can imagine.

5. Stroll along Birmingham’s canals

Birmingham Canals

Did you know Birmingham has more miles of canals than Venice? Take a walk by one and stop for a refreshing pint at a canalside bar. For an even more leisurely experience, hop on a colourful narrowboat for a gentle cruise along the historic waterways.

6. Warm up with a fiery balti curry

Birmingham’s Balti Triangle, in the southern part of the city, is made up of more than 50 restaurants all making curry in this unique way. The balti was invented in Birmingham and refers to a quick cooking process using a thin pressed steel wok. Check out this handy Balti Triangle mini guide to find out more and get ideas for your balti-licious break.

7. Take a tour of the BBC

Lots of BBC programmes are produced from their broadcasting centre in Birmingham. You can take a tour and see how all the TV and radio magic is made behind-the-scenes. And budding broadcasters - you can have a go at presenting your own show. 

8. Treat your beloved to a real gem

Shoppers in Birmingham

Fine dining, plenty of shopping opportunities for buying that treasured gift, and the picturesque canals for strolling hand-in-hand – Birmingham has all the ingredients for romance. There’s also accommodation just made for special occasions. Try Malmaison Birmingham for a stay with a difference. Its Nirvana Suite is fit for a rock star couple, complete with a mirrored jacuzzi!

9. Experience life in old Birmingham

The Birmingham Back to Backs attraction is a courtyard of houses conserved to show how life was for dwellers of these back-to-back houses typical of their day, from when they were built in the 1840s up until their last residents left in the 1970s. As you step through each doorway, you’ll meet different characters from each era further flavouring your experiences of the past. You can even spend the night in one!

10. Embark on some time travel 

Birmingham is a great base for further exploration of central England – within easy reach of the city you’ll find medieval Warwick Castle, Shakespeare’s birthplace, Stratford-upon-Avon, and the Black Country Living Museum - an open-air recreation of what life was like for local people during those first days of industry in the region known as the Black Country.

Getting there

Birmingham is less than 90 minutes north west of London by train. Get a Britrail England Pass and you’ll be able to explore all the attractions nearby too.