Things To Do In Birmingham

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[REVIEW] Birmingham has undergone a huge regeneration over the past 20 years and now boasts great shopping experiences, visitor attractions and food and drink venus to fit all budgets & tastes. It is fair to say there are plenty of things to do in Birmingham from family visits, friends and couples of all ages. There are an array of hotels in Birmingham available to suit all budgets in the city centre and close to some many amenities including the train station.


Birmingham has really expanded over the past few years with three new shopping centres as well as chain and independent boutiques and stores in the city centre. No matter your budget from designer to budget instant fashion Birmingham has it all.

The Bullring

The Bullring shopping centre was completed in September 2003 and is home to shops such as Selfridges, Debenhams, Next, Oasis and New Look as well a large selection of coffee shops and restaurants.

Grand Central

Recently opened around New Street Station is the Grand Central Shopping Centre which is home to a variety of places to eat and stores such as John Lewis, Cath Kidston, Joules, Mac and Monsoon.

The Mailbox

things to do in birmingham

The Mailbox is another newly built shopping centre in the city centre. The Mailbox is also the regional base for the BBC as it also have many retail stores included a Harvey Nichols department store and many food and drink places along the canal.

Jewellery Quarter

English Heritage has described the Jewellery Quarter as a ‘national treasure’. as the name suggests this area of Birmingham is world-famous for jewellery production. Although production is nowhere near like it used to be, the area is filled with independent designers using both traditional and modern methods to produce some amazing pieces of jewellery.

Many studios are open to the public for you to see the design process from start to finish. The unique set up of independent jewellery designers allows customers to pick up not only one-off exquisite pieces but also to work with the designers to create your own piece of jewellery.

Like all other jewellery districts around the world, it is recommended that you read up and do your research beforehand. This article offers some insights to shopping safely.

Tourist Attractions

Just like all major cities Birmingham has a variety of tourist and cultural attractions to discover and includes some hidden unexpected gems.

Birmingham Museum And Art Gallery

Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery can be found in the city centre in Chamberlain Square. This part of Birmingham is currently undergoing some regeneration but access to the Museum is not affected. The Gallery has a vast collection of fine art, ceramics, metalwork, jewellery, natural history, archaeology, ethnography, local history and industrial history. Currently, it is hosting a display of the Staffordshire Hoard which is the largest collection of Anglo-Saxon gold and silver metalwork to be found. It consists of over 3,500 items and is a stunning collection of historic pieces.

Free Admission

Thinktank Science Museum

Birmingham’s Thinktank Science Museum is an award-winning science museum for fun-packed family days out and is well worth a visit especially with younger children. The museum has displays on science and industries, natural science, aviation and a planarian.

Entrance Fee

Birmingham Cathedral

Birmingham Cathedral Church of Saint Philip is the Church of England’s cathedral and the seat of the Bishop of Birmingham. It was built in 1715 and lies in the city centre surrounded by a bustling open space. The cathedral is open and staffed from 7.30am to 6.30pm on weekdays and between 7.30am to 5.00pm on weekends.

There are free short guided tours of the cathedral most Mondays at 12.30pm and Wednesdays at 11.30am.  the cathedral is also the starting point of evening graveyard ghost walks.

Free Admission

Birmingham Central Library’s Secret Garden

things to do in birmingham

Hidden on top of the 7th floor of Birmingham’s Central Library is a secret Garden. With panoramic views over the Birmingham skyline and stunning gardens. this hidden gem is a must-see for incredible views of the city.

Free Admission

Birmingham Canal’s

Birmingham has 35 miles of canals, which is said to be more than Venice. After recent regeneration in the city, the canals are now enjoyed by walkers, cyclists, and narrowboat owners and serve as a reminder of a unique industrial history. A short walk along the canal and suddenly you would never guess that you are in the heart of a busy city centre.

The majority of the canals were built during the 1700 and 1800s. During the Industrial Revolution, the canals were busy waterways transporting coal, iron and other heavy goods. They played a crucial role in the development of Birmingham and the Black Country. Birmingham canals have now been renovated and bring a relaxing vibe to the city centre.

The canals in the city link many of the entertainment hubs from Brindley Place/Broad Street which is filled with many popular bars and restaurants to the Mailbox a short 5 minute walk away which hosts a variety of retail stores and bars and restaurants along the canalside. Further along the canal system and you will discover an array of urban and independent food and drink venues in the Jewellery Quarter.

National Sealife Centre

The National Sealife Centre in Birmingham is a family-friendly aquatic exhibition with a variety of sea creatures from sharks to penguins and tropical fish. The sealife centre is full of educational information to enable you to find out more about the sea life in the centre and environmental projects.

Admission Fee

Theatres, Concerts And Comedy

Birmingham is fully on entertainment venues for all variety of tastes. The city’s Hippodrome theatre is home of the Birmingham Royal Ballet which hosts a number of performances throughout the year. The Hippodrome also has a Christmas Pantomime and various touring productions throughout the year. The Hippodrome also have an amazing restaurant where the menus are tailored to the show that is currently on.

The Alexander Theatre also hosts a yearly pantomime as well as touring productions and artists such as Al Murray, Peter Andre, Eddy Izzard and Diversity who are all due to perform this year.

Independent venues such as Cherry Red’s host comedy nights showcasing up and coming talent. The National Indoor Arena hosts varied music, comedy, family and sports events throughout the year. At the Birmingham Rep, you will find a variety of smaller-scale theatre productions.

In under 15 minutes train ride, you will find yourself at National Exipedion Centre where you can find a number of exhibitions throughout the year such as the Good Food Show, Crufts, Caravan and Camping show and Craft Hobby and Stitch International show. The NEC is also home to Resorts World Arena where acts such as Boyzone, Snow Patrol, Tears For Fears, Ozzy Osbourne and the X Factor Live Tour will be performing this year.

If music is your thing Birmingham will also be hosting stars such as Keiser Chiefs at The O2 Arena in the City Centre and Sheridan Smith at Birmingham Symphony Hall.

Admission Fee

Places To Eat And Drink

If you are looking for a foodie trip then Birmingham has every taste and budget catered for. From Michelin starred restaurants, celebrity chefs to independent cafes serving a leisurely brunch Birmingham has all your foodie wants to be covered.

Edwardian Tea Rooms

The Edwardian Tea rooms can be found in Birmingham’s Museum and Art Gallery in Chamberlain Square. They offer a wide choice of cakes, sandwiches and soups plus a delightful afternoon tea.

The Head Of Steam

things to do in birmingham

The Head Of Steam in the city centre offers a great range of pub food that is not only value for money but really tasty. Their sloppy Joes burger (above) is amazing as are their pies. You can read more about the Head of Steam in my review from last year here.

The Pieminster

The Pieminster as the name suggests is all about pies! From traditional meat pies to vegetarian and vegan pies there is a pie to suit all tastes and dietary requirements. The pies are served with mash or fries and are extremely tasty and filling. Just perfect for the cold winter weather.

The Ivy

The Ivy in Birmingham opened last year and is an extremely popular venue for both food or just-drinks. If you are wanting to eat at The Ivy I would strongly suggest booking in advance. The Ivy is open for breakfasts, lunch, afternoon tea (on my wish list!) and dinner and the food is fantastic. They have a varied section of ales and some fantastic cocktails!

Coffee Shops

Like every town and city in the country coffee shops is a firm staple on every high street. Birmingham has the usual chains of Starbucks, Costa and Cafe Nero as well as some lovely independent coffee shops such as 200 Degrees Coffee Shop and Barista (photo on left), Cherry Red’s Cafe Bar Urban Cafe and Java Lounge (photo on right).

Real Ale

If you are a fan of real ale then Birmingham has a number of pubs that you may like. The Head Of Steam is part of a UK chain and can be found less than 5 minutes walk from the Cathedral. They offer a wide selection of ales plus some guest ales. Another pub in the city centre that offers real ales and a varied selection of ciders is The Wellington which can be found on Bennetts Hill. The Wellington sells a variety of bar snacks and if you require more substantial food then you are welcome to take your own or have a takeaway delivered directly to the pub who provide plates and cutlery free of charge.


Birmingham City Centre has many bars which serve cocktails. Around the Catherdral popular bars include The Ivy, The Alchemist, The Head of Steam and Hotel Du Vin. Along Broad Street and in Brindley Place are many more bars selling cocktails and I recommend The Slug and Lettuce who make the most amazing Pornstar martini’s and The Gin Vault (canalside right under Broad Street) who must make the best Cosmopolitian in the city.

You can read about more places to eat and drink in Birmingham in my Birmingham food review archives.


The spending money was gifted by but all views are my own. Some of the places I have referenced in this post were paid for by myself.

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