Places to visit, where to eat and how to travel. In our Birmingham area guide you’ll find hidden gems, ideas for days out, restaurants and activities.
Birmingham has a lot to offer. With a rich history as a cultural and market hub, there’s plenty to do within walking distance of Birmingham’s central stations, as well as the wider area for those looking to get out of the bustling city and into some of the area’s stunning historic houses and gardens for the day. The central location and connectivity of the city means it’s extremely easy to travel to and from Birmingham from all over the country.
Attractions & Days Out
Whether you’re looking for something for the kids, a day out with your mates or a fun date idea for that someone special, there are days out and activities in Birmingham for everyone.
Winterbourne House & Garden
Perfect for those balmy summer days, this historic house provides a calming break from the hustle and bustle of Birmingham city centre. Just three miles from the city centre, the Edwardian house and gardens of Winterbourne provides respite for families and couples alike. There are seven acres of botanic gardens you can walk through (or picnic in!), which are the home of over 6,000 species of plants and a stunning Japanese bridge. When you’ve had your fill soaking in the antiques and the beautiful grounds, the tea room serves meals, cakes and snacks from 12pm-3pm.
National SEA LIFE Centre
If the sea won’t come to Birmingham, then Birmingham will bring the sea to it! Home to over a thousand incredible sea creatures, the National Sea Life Centre has penguins, giant sea turtles, seahorses and even sharks. The relaxing atmosphere of the aquarium means it’s a perfect day out for when the sun is hiding behind those rain clouds. With talks (and the opportunity to feed the penguins, the otters and even the piranhas) it’s a great day out for families and friends.
What better way to spend a day than surrounded by chocolate? Just over 10 minutes from Birmingham New Street by train, Cadbury World in Bournville takes you through the beating heart of the chocolate industry, with a chance to see Willy Wonka-esque rivers of chocolate (yes, you get to try some!) as well as one of the biggest chocolate shops you’ve ever seen. Perfect for kids and big kids (i.e. adults) this fun-filled day out is choc full of fun from start to finish.
Food and Drink
Birmingham has so many bars and restaurants it’s hard to know where to stop! We’ve chosen our top four for you, a mixture of restaurants, bars and cafes, so that whatever you fancy – you’re covered.
Located in the Jewellery Quarter, this bar and restaurant combo is the perfect way to round off your day. With low-level, relaxing music creating a vibrant atmosphere, 1000 Trades features bold brews and even bolder dishes to wet the palate. With kitchen residencies lasting a month, you’ll experience something new every time you walk through the doors, from street food inspired delicacies to home-cooked classics from every corner of the world. To top it all off, every Sunday they have Jazz/Roast, with live bands sound tracking your traditional roast dinner.
Attentive service and an intimate atmosphere make this the perfect date night location. Simpsons is a Michelin star restaurant located in Edgbaston, with the closest station being Five Ways, just five minutes from Birmingham New Street. The epitome of British fine dining, the menu features classics like guinea fowl as well as treats like suckling pig. For those who don’t eat meat, there’s plenty to choose from by way of their Vegetarian Tasting Menu.
The Old Joint Stock
Is it a pub? Is it a restaurant? Is it a theatre? It’s all three! The Old Joint Stock is home to craft beer, home-baked pies (which are their speciality) as well as a selection of comedy, theatre and performances. Comedians often stop off here on their way to the Edinburgh Fringe and there’s also Gin Tasting events and even musicals. Grab your friends and hop on the train to Birmingham New Street, just 5 minutes from Temple Row where you’ll find this eclectic dining, drinking and entertainment venue.
One of Birmingham’s best loved coffee shops, 200 Degrees began in Nottingham before flying the roost for Birmingham’s city centre. With exposed brick and high vaulted ceilings it’s the perfect place to unwind and catch up with friends. Located on Colmore Row, just two minutes from Birmingham Snow Hill, it faces the gorgeous Cathedral and backs onto the city’s creative hub, meaning it’s great for a spot of culture (and people watching!)
Shopping is as much a part of Birmingham’s history as it is part of Birmingham itself. A market town since 1154, Birmingham has always been an exciting retail hub, and never more so than today. With shopping centres to suit every taste and every budget, Birmingham has a lot to offer shoppers from far and wide.
Bullring & Grand Central
The Bullring & Grand Central is the heart of all things shopping related in Birmingham. Home to an enormous Selfridges as well as designer brands such as Whistles, Michael Kors and Kurt Geiger, it’s a must for anyone looking to indulge in a spot of retail therapy. As well as boasting 200 shops it also has a choice of stylish restaurants, cafes and places to grab a quick bite. The website often features some great discounts and offers too – meaning you get the most for your money on every trip!
Located just minutes from Birmingham New Street Station, the Mailbox is a heady mixture of shopping and champagne. Sip a glass of bubbly at Harvey Nichols before donning your best shopper face and heading out to explore the 28 shops, restaurants and bars in this compact yet luxurious venue. Home to well-known brands like Emporio Armani, Calvin Klein and L.K. Bennett, it’s a must-visit for hard-core shoppers.
History & Heritage
Birmingham has a rich history and you can see it all in the heritage, historical houses and museums throughout the city. Grab the kids or jump on the train with your friends and explore the city’s vibrant past.
Museum of the Jewellery Quarter
Situated just north of the city centre, the Museum of the Jewellery Quarter is a gateway to the past. Once a functioning jewellery manufacturer called Smith and Pepper, this incredible landmark showcases Birmingham’s heritage as one of the UK’s main jewellery and metal producers. Take a guided tour through this time capsule of history and discover what it was like to live and work in the Jewellery Quarter in bygone days.
Aston Hall is a beautiful, red brick Jacobean house of royalty. Built between 1618 and 1635 for Sir Thomas Holte, Aston Hall is steeped in history and is one of the last great Jacobean houses to have been built. Take a step back into Civil War times and discover what life inside the house would’ve been like under siege – and keep your eyes peeled for the cannonball hole on the staircase! Perfect for families and couples alike, events at Aston Hall include Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty tours for the children and Behind the Scenes tours for adults, which give you the rare opportunity to see sections of the building closed to the public.
If you’re looking for culture, look no further than Birmingham. Home to some of the UK’s most popular West End shows, its own orchestra and ballet company as well as comedians and theatres, there’s no shortage of things to see and do in Birmingham.
Birmingham Symphony Hall
The Symphony Hall was officially opened by the Queen in 1991. The resident home of the Birmingham Symphony Orchestra its programme includes jazz, folk, rock, pop and classical concerts, meaning there’s something for everyone.
Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery
Home to some stunning statues, paintings and works of art, the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery’s incredible collection features old and new side by side. Dive into one of the largest collections of Anglo-Saxon gold ever found, before taking a walk around the modern exhibitions, which features artwork from local artists. When your feet are sore, you can relax and unwind in the Edwardian Tea Room with a hot brew and a slice of cake. And what’s more, it’s just 6 minutes walking from Birmingham New Street, meaning you’ll be on a train home in no time at all.
Bringing all of the glitz and glam into the heart of Birmingham, the Birmingham Hippodrome (just a 5 minute walk from Birmingham New Street) is the best place to see theatre performances, ballet and opera. Home to productions such as Wicked and The Lion King in the past, the Hippodrome attracts the best shows straight from London’s West End and is also home to the Birmingham Royal Ballet, which stages productions throughout the year. For the theatre enthusiasts, you can also get a Behind the Scenes tour between August and March. Perfect for that date night you’ve been meaning to have…
Library of Birmingham
The Library of Birmingham isn’t just a stunning piece of design, it’s also home to one of the best views over the city. Take the lift up to the secret garden, which sits 51 metres above street level, offering panoramic views of the entire city. There’s also the Shakespeare Memorial Room (designed in 1882) as well as the Discovery Terrace, which is on the third floor. Sometimes there are also performances in the sunken pit at the entrance to the library, meaning you’ll be seeing a lot more than just books.
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