Birmingham, usually known as The Second City, stands out from other UK cities in many aspects. One of its most famous features is its student life, with over 80000 students attending to any of the eight universities within Brum. If you are one of them, this post will inspire you to discover some of the city’s best hidden gems between classes and assignments’ deadlines.

Whether you are a foodie, a party animal, or you simply love sightseeing, Birmingham always has something attractive to offer. I first arrived in the city to study abroad for a semester in 2017, and almost 4 years later I am still here! That should tell you how many experiences and places you can enjoy while studying here.

Let’s check my top 8 list of things to do when you are not in campus:

  1. Wander around Birmingham’s city centre

This is a must for every new student in their first day in Brum. You will discover that it is so easy (and cheap) to move around the city by walking. Also, you get to know how well-connected is the city centre. The Bullring, The Rag Market, Grand Central, New Street Station… all these buildings represent Birmingham’s shopping quarter and you will be amazed by how well integrated they are into the city’s life.

  1. Get to taste the Balti Triangle

If you are passionate about international food, you will enjoy this. Birmingham is the paradise of every foodie, and the city’s diversity has been transferred into its food offer throughout the years. At the Balti Triangle, an area located in the south of the city, you can taste dozens of different curries cooked by the Balti method. Every place here, from Indian and Pakistani award-winning restaurants to local food trucks, is worth visiting.

  1. Enjoy the night

As I said in the beginning of this post, Birmingham is full of life and people from all over the country come here to enjoy the city’s amazing nightlife. Some of the areas where you and your mates will be partying in include Broad Street, Chinatown, Temple Street, Digbeth, Brindleyplace, or Moseley. From warehouse clubs to canal pubs, the list of places is nearly endless and there is one for everyone.

  1. Explore the Library and its secret roof garden

The Library of Birmingham is way more than an architectonic treasure. Behind its walls, thousands of books and dozens of different rooms wait for you to explore them. Also, you can find information about tours, events, and places to visit on its ground floor. But there is more. On the top floors, you can visit the Shakespeare Memorial or learn about the history of the city in the Birmingham Archives. Finally, if you head to the last floor, you will discover a quiet roof garden where you can relax while having a view of the whole Centenary Square area.

The Library of Birmingham, one of the city’s most iconic buildings. Image credit: Visit Birmingham

  1. Visit the Jewellery Quarter

This is probably one of the most special neighbourhoods from Birmingham, where history meets the present. The area is well-known for its importance in the manufacturing of jewels, and in the past it was home to many retailers and workshops. Today, many of these businesses are still operating and they share space with a unique food and drink scene. Also, many of the area’s heritage has been preserved and can be admired in places like the Pen Museum, The Coffin Works, or the Jewellery Quarter Museum.

  1. Experience the good vibes of Digbeth

Digbeth, the coolest neighbourhood of the UK, 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 is 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 lots of pictures of incredible graffiti, and I have both danced and laughed with my friends (and even with strangers).

Every street of Digbeth has something special. Image credit: @davidtravelwriter

  1. Get your daily dose of art and culture

Birmingham is filled with heritage. Across the city, you will find art galleries, museums, exhibitions, theatres… any form of art that exists is present in Birmingham. Although is not currently open to the public, the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery is a must-see for everyone. In the meantime, the list of cultural alternatives is quite broad. My favourite places include the Barber Institute of Fine Arts, the Ikon Gallery, and the Birmingham Hippodrome.
Side note - students across the city get free admission to Thinktank, Birmingham Science Museum every Wednesday throughout the year. More info can be found here.

  1. Your next adventure starts here

New Street is one of the best connected train stations of the country. Once you have had a good taste of what Birmingham is all about, you can just pop up and take a train to your next destination. There are a few lovely towns worth visiting which are quite near. I would recommend you to visit Stratford-Upon-Avon, Henley-In-Arden, and Coventry.

I hope this list, and all the places and activities included on it, will give you some ideas about what you can discover during your stay in Birmingham. If you have any questions or if you need tailored recommendations, feel free to drop me a message. In the meantime, enjoy Brum and make as many memories as you can, and do not forget to study either.

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