Known for its winding canals, Brummy accents, Jewellery quarter and of course the Peaky Blinders, Birmingham is Britain’s beloved “Second City". Offering an array of culture, independent shops, unusual buildings, and a buzzing nightlife you’ll never be bored in Brum.
Here are 12 great things to do while you're there:
Named after the great Queen Victoria in 1901, this square is the centre of Birmingham. The square is home to a collection of wonderful architecture and sculptural pieces, such as the Town Hall, and the statue of Victoria herself. However the most famous of them all is The River by Dhruva Mistry, affectionately known as the Floozie in the Jacuzzi.
(Since 2015 The River no longer operates as a water feature, and the Floozie instead now sits in a bed of flowers, which I still think looks pretty cool.)
The Bullring has been the shopping hub of Birmingham since the middle ages when markets were first held there. Although there is still a bullring market, the area now also houses one of Britain’s busiest shopping centres.
After your fix of retail therapy, make sure to get an iconic Brummy selfie with the Bullring’s Bull.
Once the industrial quarter of Birmingham, (and home of the peaky blinders) Digbeth’s old factory buildings have now been revived with hundreds of amazing street art pieces, giving way to Digbeth’s new title of the “creative quarter.”. Digbeth was definitely a highlight of the trip for me.
The Electric Cinema situated on Station Street has shown movies since December 1909, making it the oldest working cinema in the country.
Although the cinema closed in 2003, it was then reopened in 2004 and restored to its original Art Deco look based on photographs taken of the cinema in the 30s. If you have a spare 2 hours during your stay in Birmingham - it's definitely worth seeing a film in this historic venue.
Home to one of the largest Pre-Raphaelite collections in the world, as well as many Anglo-Saxon, Greek and Roman artefacts, this museum and art gallery is a great place to spend an afternoon. It even has an Edwardian tea room if you fancy stopping for a traditional tea and a slice of delicious cake!
As well as the many history pieces in this museum, the building also houses a contemporary gallery called the Gas Hall which holds temporary exhibitions from both international and local artists. There was an amazing exhibition on there when I visited which included the works of Tracey Emin and David Hockney.
Enter this brightly coloured house of 18 Crazy golf holes, cocktails, street food and DJs. The inside of the venue was painted by over 130 street artists and is full of crazy props such as a bus, and a blockbuster storefront.
Even if golf isn't your thing you should definitely stop by for a snack and a cocktail (or two).
The Mailbox is Birmingham’s other shopping centre which is home to shops including Harvey Nichols, The BBC Birmingham museum, the everyman cinema, and many eateries.
As we were staying in the cube which is located right next door to the mailbox we enjoyed walking through this on the way to town and ate inside the mailbox on a couple of occasions.
Situated in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter, the Indian Brewery offers Birmingham brewed craft beers, coffee, and delicious Indian street food.
The venue is quirky and adorned with Bollywood posters as well as other indian memorabilia. I ate here twice during my short time in Birmingham and had a great experience both times. If you decide to eat here I definitely recommend drinking a bottle of Indian Summer and eating the Roti Rolls and the Bombay Bites!
Did you know that Birmingham has more miles of canal than Venice? We spent a lovely day walking along them starting at the mailbox. While walking along the Canal Network you can see pretty much all of Birmingham’s major sites, and there's also some great restaurants and bars situated along them too! We stopped for lunch near the Regency Wharf.
As well as being the home of British Jewellery since the 19th Century, the Jewellery Quarter is now also home to some pretty great bars, restaurants a thriving art scene, and some niche museums (including the pen museum).
Even if Jewellery isn't your thing or you don’t fancy going into any of the many other craft shops it's definitely taking a stroll through this quarter to see the beautiful listed buildings situated here - there’s over 200!
At 31,000sq meters, Birmingham library is the largest pubic library in Europe. Its 10 floors are home to around 40,000 books, to garden terraces, and a panoramic viewing platform which has a perfect view over the city.
Make sure to check out the Shakespeare Memorial room which contains one of the most important Shakespeare collections in the world and dates back to 1882 when it sat in the original central library. The room was preserved then fitted into the current library when the old building was demolished.
This unusual landmark building is located in the Bullring and houses Selfridges department store. Its curved façade has now become one of the most distinctive and recognisable buildings in the UK. However although some people love the atypical design, others hate it and it was even voted as the ugliest building in England during a 2008 survey.
During my trip to Birmingham I posted a poll on Instagram to see whether my followers loved or hated the Selfridge's building and the results came back with 63% loving it vs 73% hating it. Make sure you check it out and decide for yourself!
I had a great time during the weekend I spent in Birmingham and will definitely be making a return visit again soon. Hope you found this list useful in planning your own trip to Britain's "second city", enjoy!