Birmingham is often regarded as Britain's "second city"; one trip to the West Midlands hub will show why. There's plenty to see and do in the city, and you don't need to be cooped up in one small area. Venture into the quieter parts of Birmingham with our 48 hour itinerary and explore this unique city for yourself!
Did you know that Birmingham has more miles of canals than Venice? Embark on a canal boat tour and explore the city’s heritage without having to move a muscle. There are several routes to choose from, ranging from tours of the more modern developments of Birmingham to the city’s pretty suburbs and out further into the countryside.
If you want to burn some early morning energy, you can discover adventure in the heart of a city. Test your mental and physical abilities at Birmingham’s recently opened Bear Grylls Adventure, the TV presenter’s eponymous activities venue. Choose from thrilling climbing challenges; tackle Europe's tallest high-ropes courses; experience unadulterated joy at the indoor skydiving; or submerge yourself for the underwater challenges. Feeling extra adventurous? Take on all the challenges in one day with a special package deal!
After a morning of adventure, you'll definitely be hungry. How about a botanical-inspired cocktail (think poppy and pomegranate martini or a sage and rhubarb spritz) created from greenhouse herbs grown on-site to accompany a hearty lunch in a charming venue? The Botanist evokes a secret garden atmosphere, its décor embellished with various knick-knacks and ornaments. The restaurant serves up BBQ, deli and rotisserie-based dishes such as its famous hanging kebabs, ranging from tandoori cod and king prawn to lamb kofta with harissa jam.
Room for more? One of Britain’s most famous confectionary brands, Cadbury, was born and bred in Birmingham. Discover its story and feast on as much chocolate as you can eat at Cadbury World, 25 minutes from the city centre by train. You’ll find out how chocolate is made, explore the 4D Chocolate Adventure zone and the 4D cinema experiences before watching the chocolatiers at work. And don’t forget to stock up on treats at the world’s largest Cadbury shop on-site!
Head back into Birmingham and make your way over to the Custard Factory in the city’s creative quarter, and enjoy a round of crazy golf against a backdrop of graffiti art and cool music at Ghetto Golf. After you’ve hit 18 holes, sip a cocktail or two at its stylish bar.
Afterwards, head for the city centre and enjoy a meal at one of Birmingham’s newest dining experiences, Pint Shop. Located in a building dating back to 1860 in Bennett’s Hill, the restaurant focuses on a menu of seasonal British produce and local and national beers.
Time to rest up before the next day of your Birmingham adventure! Pentahotel is ideally located in the heart of Birmingham, just minutes away from the city centre and Birmingham New Street station. With all the home comforts and luxuries you could want at an affordable rate, it's the perfect spot for a mid-adventure snooze.
Rise early and gain a genuine insight into what life was like in the Black Country (just west of Birmingham) as the region grew into one of the world’s first industrial landscapes at the Black Country Living Museum. This fascinating open-air museum is packed with original period shops, houses and villages, with costumed characters telling stories of life in the region in the mid-19th century. Plans are also under way to create a new town centre telling the story of the Black Country from the 1940s to the 1960s.
In addition to its well-documented industrial heritage, Birmingham is renowned for its jewellery and metalworking heritage. Head to the Museum of the Jewellery Quarter in the Jewellery Quarter to discover more – the museum is a perfect time capsule, built around a preserved jewellery workshop. Take a guided tour, explore the galleries and watch live jewellery-making demonstrations before exploring the Jewellery Quarter itself. The area is ideal for picking up a new bracelet or pair of earrings and also boasts a thriving arts scene.
Stop for a quick bite to eat at the Jewellery Quarter-based Rose Villa Tavern. Described as a ‘vintage Victorian mecca’ it’s a highly decorative venue (think antler chandeliers and artistic tiles), creating a lovely atmosphere to enjoy classic diner-style food, craft beers and one of the 100 vodkas it stocks.
Birmingham has long been a magnet for TV and film producers. One of the biggest hits recently filmed here is Peaky Blinders, a show set in the city during the late 1800s and early 1900s. Discover Birmingham’s darker past on a Peaky Blinders-inspired walking tour. There are several companies offering these tours, as well as a host of other walking routes. BrumTours, for example, also runs a BrumPubs tour, a Birth of Birmingham tour and a Thousand Trades tour, as an homage to the city’s rich trading and manufacturing past.
Walking works up a thirst, so head to the neighbourhood of Digbeth, a cool, creative hub where street and graffiti artists have changed the outlook of the area’s classic red brick walls. Order a drink in one of the newest bars in the area, The Ruin, with its mural-style map featuring 12 independent and unique neighbours, together called ‘The Digbeth Dozen’. Created by Birmingham graffiti artist Title (Andy Mills) it features venues such as the street-food focused Digbeth Dining Club, where you can stop by for a bite to eat on Fridays and Saturdays.
Round off your trip to Birmingham with an evening at one of its theatres. Check out the Birmingham Repertory Theatre for classic and contemporary theatre and the New Alexandra Theatre for its mix of musicals, comedy, drama and concerts. For more contemporary work across a variety of genres, head to the Midlands Arts Centre (MAC), boasting four performance auditoria.