Top 10 amazing things to do in Birmingham

Gas Street Basin is on the historic Birmingham canal, which was completed in the late 18th century. The canal has traditional and tourist traffic and narrowboats carry people and goods through the city.

 

Britain's second city, Birmingham is located in central England, making it easily accessible from London and most other major cities. Once at the heart of the global Industrial Revolution, the city is now leading the way in culture, shopping, dining and more, and is host of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games. Sport is just the beginning here, and if you're looking to visit the city, you’ll discover an eclectic destination with so much to explore…

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

Famous British chocolate-maker Cadbury is based in Birmingham. Cadbury World takes you on an immersive 4D chocolate adventure even Willy Wonka would be proud of, with a ride in a bean mobile that gives you the chance to watch big vats of chocolate being made into your favourite bars. The best bit comes at the end when you get to taste-test a warm pot of melted Cadbury Dairy Milk with sprinkles of your favourite topping. There’s even the opportunity to try doodling your name in chocolate in the "Have a Go" zone, before the tour ends in the world’s biggest Cadbury store!

2. Strike gold at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery

This impressive museum is a great starting point if you want to find out about the city’s place in the history books and how it’s evolved over the years. It’s home to a vast Pre-Raphaelite collection of paintings, prints and drawings – one of the largest in the world - in addition to The Birmingham School of Art collection, which reveals the creative energy and impact of the city at the start of the 19th century. The museum is closed until 2022 for upgrades, with major online events continuing until its re-opening.

3. Discover sensational shopping

Birmingham city centre. The modern architectural landmark, Selfridges department store

The Bullring & Grand Central shopping centre is instantly recognisable as the entire building is adorned with thousands of shimmering aluminium discs – perfect for a prize-winning Instagram shot. You won’t want to hang around outside too long though, as there are lots of shiny new things to buy inside. The Bullring has more than 200 shops, including a branch of luxury department store Selfridges, the biggest designer brands and an abundance of popular high-street retailers. 

4. Find the jewel in Birmingham’s crown

Birmingham’s historic Jewellery Quarter is home to one of Europe’s largest concentrations of manufacturing jewellers, as well as hundreds of independent specialist retailers and craftspeople, from florists and chocolatiers to tattoo artists! The Museum of the Jewellery Quarter is built around a carefully preserved workshop and details the rich heritage of the region.

5. Stroll along Birmingham’s canals

Gas Street Basin at the heart of the city centre, the meeting point of the Worcester & Birmingham Canal and the Birmingham Canal Main Line. Historic buildings.

Did you know Birmingham has 35 miles (56km) of canals? You can look forward to taking a walk along the banks, or for an even more leisurely experience, hopping 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 a cluster of restaurants all making curry in this unique way. The balti was reportedly invented in Birmingham, inspired by traditional Kashmiri recipes, and refers to a quick cooking process using a thin pressed steel wok. This handy directory showcases the region’s excellent balti dining.

7. Embark on a unique underwater journey

The National SEA LIFE Centre in Birmingham is home to Britain’s only 360-degree Ocean Tunnel, where sharks, a 20-stone giant green sea turtle and many other colourful species swim above and below you. The centre’s Marine Mammal Rescue Facility also welcomed two Alaskan sea otters in 2020, part of a ground-breaking education and conservation project.

8. Follow in the footsteps of the Peaky Blinders

Hit gangster drama Peaky Blinders, starring Cillian Murphy, follows the Shelby family and much of the action has been filmed in Birmingham. Eagle-eyed fans of the show will recognise parts of the Black Country Living Museum in Dudley - 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. The show's creator Stephen Knight has even called the museum the “home of Peaky Blinders”.

9. Experience life in old Birmingham

The Birmingham Back to Backs attraction is a courtyard of houses conserved to show what life was like for residents from when they were built in the 1840s up until their last occupants left in the 1970s. You’ll also have the chance to meet different characters from each era, who help to add flavour as they reveal the stories and experiences of life in the Back to Backs.

10. Embark on some time travel 

Hall's Croft. Front view of Hall's Croft and its garden, the home of Susanna Shakespeare, daughter of William Shakespeare, and her husband Dr John Hall. Half timbered lathe and plaster traditional building. Gardens in full flower in summer.

Birmingham is a great base for further exploration of central England. Within easy reach of the city is the medieval Warwick Castle, complete with a number of interactive attractions, and William Shakespeare’s birthplace, Stratford-upon-Avon. Here it’s possible to see the home where the famous Bard grew up and to discover how his works have shaped the world we live in today.

 

For more practical information on Birmingham, visit our Birmingham destination page or discover more about the West Midlands.

 

Restrictions on travel to and around Britain are in place due to Covid-19. You are encouraged to always check individual websites for the latest information, as details are subject to change.

13 Jan 2022(last updated)