Our guide to Birmingham

It has more canals than Venice, more trees than Paris and more parks than any other city in Europe. The New York Times even included Birmingham in its top 20 places to go to in 2012.

Our guide to Birmingham

Shop until you drop at the Bullring Shopping Centre

There's so much to choose from, whether you're spending a few hours or a few days in the city. We've picked just a few of our favourites.

Top Attractions

With under 25’s accounting for nearly 40 per cent of its population, Birmingham’s cultural centre is dynamic and distinct and one of Europe’s most vibrant cities.

If you are planning a visit to the city - it’s worth checking our events calendar to see if there are any festivals on. The city hosts over 50 each year, including film festival Flatpack, the provocative arts fest, Fierce and the Birmingham International Jazz Festival which is one of Europe’s biggest free jazz and blues parties. There's also the popular Moseley Folk Festival, Fusion Festival as well as events to celebrate food, literature and comedy - there's literally something for everyone.

Sea Life Centre
The National SeaLife Centre Birmingham is perfect for a family day out

If you’re a film fan, you will LOVE this place. The Electric Cinema shows a mixture of the latest quality mainstream, independent, foreign and classic films. Opening on Station Street in 1909, it’s the UK’s oldest working cinema. Oh, and did we mention the sofas and the waiter service? Date night gold.

There are more than 500,000 works of art in one square mile at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery. Home to the world’s largest online collection of Pre-Raphaelite art and an ever-changing programme of temporary exhibitions, it’s a gallery that just keeps giving.

Much more than just a library, the now iconic Broad Street-based Library of Birmingham plays host to an array of events. A must-visit for any trip to the city.

Take a trip back in time and see the city of Birmingham as it was in yesteryear with a visit to the last surviving Back to BacksThese houses were literally built back-to-back around a communal courtyard, giving you an insight into what life was like as far back as the 1800s for residents who lived and worked in cramped conditions.   

The Hare and Hounds in Kings Heath is a great place to catch live music

It's not often you can visit a real life chocolate factory, but get a look behind the workings of one of the world's most-loved chocolate brands with a trip to Cadbury World in Bournville. As well as sampling a few chocks (well, it'd be rude not to!), you can also discover the rich history that saw the plant grow to where it is today.

The National Sea Life Centre is a great day out for the entire family where you can see feeding demonstrations, hold a crab and touch a starfish, and see a variety of other creatures from giant turtles, seahorses and the 4D Cinema.


A an absolute goldmine for live music, the city boasts huge arenas as well as a multitude of smaller venues where you can catch some top acts. Expect to catch bigger stars at venues such as the NIAsoon to renamed the Barclaycard Arena, the LG Arena, Town Hall and Symphony Hall. You should also check out The InstituteO2 Academy, CBSO.

The Hare & Hounds in Kings Heath and The Jam House are also great spots for great music in a more intimate setting.

Check out the latest listings in our events calendar here

Birmingham has more canals than Venice and after a considerable amount of investment, most of the 56 kilometres of waterways are now clean and navigable. What’s more, the shore is lined with bankside cafes and moorings for upscale urban houseboats.

On a sunny day, it’s worth taking a stroll along the canal from Brindleyplace to The Mailbox. Treat yourself to a cocktail in one of the many bars.

Cadbury World
Discover the history of Cadbury chocolate with a day trip to Cadbury World

The Jam House in the heart of the Jewellery Quarter holds regular gigs and is one of Birmingham's top entertainment venues. An intimate setting for live music, there's no need for futuristic effects - the live music does all the work. Set in a traditional and historic Georgian building, the venue is classy and relaxed.

The post-industrial vibe and cutting edge music combine to make this a real cool crowd-pleaser. Digbeth’s Rainbow venues are fast earning a reputation as the most versatile and innovative live music and club space in the UK. A short walk from the city centre, the complex is made up of nine separate venues. There’s The Rainbow pub, a one-time Victorian boozer, the Courtyard, The Warehouse, a vast industrial space, the Cellar and that’s not to mention the latest addition to the portfolio – The Arena. 


The Bullring Shopping Centre and its landmark Selfridges store, decorated with 15,000 spun aluminium disks, is an iconic part of Birmingham’s modern landscape. For fashion straight from the catwalk to this season’s hottest beauty trends – this place really has it all. Browse everything from designer brands, high street labels or settle in for lunch on the ground floor where you can choose everything from Italian to sushi.

Described by English Heritage as a ‘national treasure’ we think this area rightly deserves its affectionate nickname ‘Birmingham’s Gem’. 

Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter has been an epicentre for jewellery design for over 250 years. Home to over 400 jewellery businesses, it’s not hard to believe that 40 per cent of all UK jewellery comes from here.

There’s more to this place than just jewellery though – here you’ll find some of the city’s best art galleries, museums, restaurants and bars making it a great day out.

the mailbox
A few cocktails are in order with a visit to The Mailbox

Some of our favourites:

Lovely lunch: Café Ikon, part of the Ikon contemporary art gallery in Brindleyplace is perfect for classy, uncomplicated Spanish food. No knowledge or interest in art required.

Supreme supper: There are over 100 Balti houses to choose from in the Balti Triangle, all specialising in the aromatic curry speciality. Attracting over 20,000 visitors each week – This is up there in our food heaven.

Best bargain: If you’re looking for something different and less mainstream than the Bullring, the Custard Factory in Digbeth is the place for all things bohemian. With 30 independent retailers, vintage parlours and retro clothing shops, this is one of the city’s best independent shopping locations.

Wonderful walk: The Lickey Hills Country Park is one of Birmingham’s oldest surviving parks. Walk one of the trails, or if you’re feeling active, you can take your bike. If not – take your blanket as this is perfect for a lazy Sunday afternoon picnic. 

What's your favourite thing to do in the city? Leave your suggestions in the comments box below.

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