Written by David F. Villar

Any visitor arriving to Birmingham, either by plane or by any other transport, should make their first stop at New Street Station. Even after years living in this city, I am still impressed by this engineering masterpiece where thousands of people come and go every day. This place’s unique design embraces both modernity and foretime, showing how the city itself has evolved over the years. New Street Station is synonymous with connectivity, a dream place for travellers willing to explore the whole country.

Stepping out of New Street Station, I would take my friend to the epicentre of the city. Here any visitor will find a cosmopolitan area where they can get their favourite coffee, taste international food, or treat themselves in any of the hundreds of shops located in the heart of the city. Just a stroll towards Grand Central and the Bullring shows that Birmingham is a vibrant city that has maintained its trading spirit throughout its history.

Regarding history, there are countless pieces of heritage and art spread across Birmingham that are worth sharing with any visitor. The church of St Martin stands just a couple of minutes from the shopping area, an area that has hosted the famous Bullring Markets for centuries until today. Here visitors can admire modern constructions like the colossal Rotunda or the Selfridges’ building, structures that shape the city’s skyline.

Another place that I would show off is Digbeth, or how I like to call it, the coolest neighbourhood of the world. This area is a beacon for creativity, art, and fun. My favourite places in this area include Custard Factory and its street art murals as well as the lights on Floodgate Street. Digbeth represents the best area to meet new people and to discover the most bohemian and colourful face of Birmingham. Here I have enjoyed vibrant events like DJ workshops or street food markets, I have taken plenty of pictures of incredible pieces of street art, and I have both danced and laughed with my mates. Who would not like their friends to experience this vibe?

After exploring Digbeth, the next place that comes to mind is St Philip’s Cathedral and its outskirts. This is my favourite place to enjoy the sunshine while reading a good book. I am pretty sure that any visitor would enjoy everything about this area, from the yellow flowers spread across the grass to the Victorian buildings that surround the cathedral. New Street is just a stone’s throw away from St Philip’s, connecting the most important wonders of Birmingham city centre that I wrote about in previous paragraphs.

But there is another place worth visiting by the end of New Street. Having a nice stroll across this pedestrian street will take you first to Victoria Square and then to Chamberlain Square. What I like from this part of the city is not just its mix of architectural styles but also two monuments that are well-know to any brummie, the Floozie in the Jacuzzi and the recently renovated Chamberlain Memorial Fountain. This zone is the prelude to Centenary Square, an area where my favourite building of the city stands, the Library of Birmingham. The building’s design makes it a must-see for every visitor and its roof garden offers outstanding views of the city, plus it is one of the most instagrammable sites of Birmingham in my opinion.

The final stop of this tour would be the city’s canals. When I first arrived in Birmingham, I was surprised by how extensive the canal network is, and how easy it makes to move around the city. I particularly like the Brindleyplace area, it is a good spot to enjoy the sunshine or simply watch the boats cruising up and down the canal. Also, there are lots of pubs and restaurants to grab a bite or drink, with a buzzing place like Broad Street just around the corner.

All of these wonders are concentrated in the city centre area, but that is not all that Birmingham has to offer. Many hidden gems await for visitors, and locals, to discover them. From green areas like Kingstanding Beacon and Woodgate Park, to attracting museums like The Pen Room, to secrets lakes barely a few miles away from city. Birmingham has been passed down to posterity as City of a Thousand Trades, yet it could also be known as City of a Thousand Wonders.

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