Things to do in Birmingham

Thinktank

Museums

There’s no time like the present to discover the past. Take a deep-dive into the foundations of modern science at this family-friendly museum. It holds a massive collection of classical artefacts, including some of the world’s earliest coins. Explore the city’s industrial past, the IMAX cinema and the state-of-the-art Planetarium.

Accommodation near Thinktank
Bullring Shopping Centre

Shopping areas

It’s all bull. A giant bronze one, to be precise. This 5-ton statue stands at the middle of the mall, ready to charge. Charge your credit card at one of 140-odd stores, including big-brands like Gap, Armani Exchange, Forever 21 and G-Star Raw, plus English department store stalwart Selfridges. Afterwards, grab a treat from Millie’s Cookies and count your purchases.

Accommodation near Bullring Shopping Centre
  • Bullring Shopping Centre, Birmingham, B5 4BU
  • Open Monday–Friday 10:00–20:00, Saturday 09:00–20:00, Sunday 11:00–17:00
  • http://www.bullring.co.uk/
Hippodrome Theatre

Theatres

No hippos were harmed in the making of this theatre. Or cast in a production. Home to the Birmingham Royal Ballet, many a lithe body has piqued and pirouetted across the stage since it first opened in 1895. Outside of ballet season, the theatre hosts the works – opera, pantomimes, dramas and a never-ending parade of West End shows. Book early for tickets.

Accommodation near Hippodrome Theatre
Birmingham Back to Backs

Landmarks

Get back to basics. These back-to-back houses are built around a communal courtyard. Once upon a time, a quarter of Birmingham’s residents lived here in cramped conditions. They squeezed into places much like this to work, rest and play. Learn about the lives of Birmingham’s forefathers on the quirky walking tour, or visit for a spot of boutique shopping.

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The Mailbox

Shopping areas

Bring a healthy appetite … for shoes! This building has gone from Royal Mail sorting centre to the hottest mall in town. Dandy up at fashion shops like Emporio Armani, or mix it up with a medi-pedi and a facial at Harvey Nichols. Whether you’re catching a film at the Everyman Cinema or dining out bistro-style, there’s always something happening here.

Accommodation near The Mailbox
Symphony Hall

Stadiums and arenas

The orchestra is in session. Cue strings, woodwind, brass and percussion – and with a ding of the humble triangle, the music begins. See a performance by the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and hear the orchestra reach a thunderous crescendo. Rock, pop and stand-up comedy shows are regular fixtures, in a venue celebrated for its acoustic flexibility.

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National Sea Life Centre

Attractions

“Where were you on World Turtle Day”? May 23rd’s festivities may not be celebrated far and wide, but this centre centre takes them seriously. Every year, they draw attention to the plight of turtles in the wild. See them, plus blacktip reef sharks, horseshoe crabs, Gentoo penguins and a big fat floppy Pacific octopus while walking the transparent underwater tunnels.

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Broad Street

Popular areas

Broad tastes or niche needs? Whether you’re after a buffet or a balti, Broad Street has got you covered. This is Birmingham’s most renowned strip, packed to the brim with all-you-can-eateries and intimate canalside restaurants. After dark, join the young, fabulous and infinitely stylish to party the night away at Jongleurs, Mooch Bar or Gatecrasher.

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Cadbury World

Museums

Chocolate’s in this season. Shoes, handbags, that sort of thing. Buy chocolate in the form of your favourite objects at the biggest Cadbury shop in the world! It’s attached to a factory that walks you through the brand’s history, and how they produce the most indulgent substance known to man. There are even chocolate-themed rides for the littlies – and free samples.

Accommodation near Cadbury World
  • Linden Road, Bournville, Birmingham, B30 1JR
  • Open Monday–Friday 10:00–15:00, Saturday–Sunday 09:30–16:00. Changes seasonally. Check website for details.
  • http://www.cadburyworld.co.uk/
Genting Arena

Stadiums and arenas

The lights dim. A figure steps into the spotlight. The crowd roars! See your entertainment heroes and heroines perform inside this multi-purpose entertainment venue. Over a million people a year pool into the city from far and wide to enjoy bands like The Moody Blues, Fleetwood Mac, Maroon 5 and Take That, plus comedy and sports. There’s something for everyone!

Accommodation near Genting Arena

Accommodation and hotels in Birmingham

Jurys Inn Birmingham

8.5 Very good

Score from 3531 reviews

£55

Average price per night
  • 245 Broad Street, The Westside, Birmingham
Radisson Blu Hotel, Birmingham

7.7 Good

Score from 3025 reviews

£62

Average price per night
  • 12 Holloway Circus, Birmingham Shopping District, Birmingham
Hampton by Hilton Birmingham Broad Street

8.5 Very good

Score from 5106 reviews

£50

Average price per night
  • 200 Broad Street, The Westside, Birmingham
Crowne Plaza Birmingham City

8.4 Very good

Score from 2164 reviews

£58

Average price per night
  • Central Square, The Westside, Birmingham
Holiday Inn Express Birmingham Star City

7.6 Good

Score from 693 reviews

£50

Average price per night
  • Cuckoo Road, Heartlands Parkway, Birmingham
Hyatt Regency Birmingham

8.9 Fabulous

Score from 1741 reviews

£94

Average price per night
  • 2 Bridge Street, The Westside, Birmingham
Macdonald Burlington Hotel

8.2 Very good

Score from 1716 reviews

£63

Average price per night
  • 126 New Street, Birmingham Shopping District, Birmingham
ibis Birmingham Centre New Street

8 Very good

Score from 2392 reviews

£35

Average price per night
  • Ladywell Walk, Birmingham Shopping District, Birmingham
Britannia Hotel Birmingham

6.1 Review score

Score from 8934 reviews

£25

Average price per night
  • New Street, Birmingham Shopping District, Birmingham
Discover Birmingham

Popular neighbourhoods in Birmingham

The Westside

19 properties

Westside has gone from blah to hurrah! In mere decades, it rocketed from fun-free industrial zone to an entertainment free-for-all. Walk the series of Canals in the Gas Street Basin, shop it up on Broad Street, get literary inspiration in the new Library of Birmingham, or stare at the Rubick's cube that is "The Cube".

Theatreland Birmingham

6 properties

Get a box seat at the best theatres in town. The Hippodrome, New Alexandra Theatre and the Old Rep represent the triumverate of noteworthy theatres in the area. From touring productions to musicals, foot tap the night away in style. After curtain call, head to one of the area's swanky restaurants.

Chinatown

5 properties

Chinatown had us fooled – it’s nowhere near as big as China, but the breadth of restaurants here is truly staggering. Luscious Asian cuisines are ripe for the picking, with restaurants that sell everything from bento boxes to egg foo yong. The area is plonked amidst a series of trendy nightclubs, just a stone’s throw from New Street Station.

Eastside

4 properties

Up-and-coming Eastside brims with student life. Activities in the area orbit around the Eastside City Park, which is flanked by a host of science and art-themed institutes. Evolve your view of the natural world at the Thinktank Science Museum. Watch aerial acrobatics at RoguePlay, or check out the giant cinema screen at Millennium Point.

Brindleyplace

3 properties

Brindleyplace has the whole shebang. A conglomeration of eateries, shops and entertainment venues are here, each with something for everyone. Dine al fresco at the quaint Café Rouge, then catch some musical theatre at The Crescent Theatre off Broad Street. Big kids will love The National SEA LIFE Centre’s bubbling aquariums.

Digbeth

2 properties

Do you dig? Birmingham’s creative quarter is a laid-back place to dive into the city’s heritage. The Typhoo Tea HQ and Wharf and Banana Warehouse underline the area’s industrial roots, which have given way to a hip café culture. Explore the vintage boutiques in the legendary Custard Factory, or snap funky street art like the mosaicked JFK Mural.

Jewellery Quarter

2 properties

Arrive bare-necked and leave dripping with diamonds. This semi-residential area holds over a hundred jewellery stores. Buy truly outrageous gems from Mitchel and Co., or find an artisan to craft your perfect bespoke piece – which usually sell for much less than popular retailers. For divine inspiration, stop by the Museum of the Jewellery Quarter.

Local tips for Birmingham

Hidden Spaces
Elisabeth by Elisabeth

Native Brummie Elisabeth is a dedicated foodie who seeks out street markets and new restaurants.

Hidden Spaces aims to show unseen sides of the city and reveal the people and stories that have helped shape its history. Its events let you explore some of the city's most well-known historic buildings, including New Street Station, the former Municipal Bank and the Victoria Law Courts.

The Jekyll & Hyde
Jack by Jack

Cambridge-born Jack spent his 3 years in Birmingham discovering secret bars and restaurants.

This quirky bar-restaurant boasts over 90 different gins, retro sweets and a cocktail chemistry masterclass. The drinks come in all shapes and sizes and are even served in miniature bathtubs! And after a few inventive cocktails, what better than a mouthwatering burger or pie and mash?

  • 28 Steelhouse Lane, Birmingham, B4 6BJ
  • www.thejekyllandhyde.co.uk
  • Open Monday–Thursday 12:00–23:00, Friday 12:00–23:00, Saturday 12:00–01:00
The Electric
Laura by Laura

A Brummie born and bred, cinema-lover Laura lived in Birmingham until she was 18.

The Electric is the oldest working cinema in the UK, and shows everything from retro classics to the latest blockbusters. It’s great to settle down in one of the comfy sofa seats and enjoy their homemade cakes or even a cheeky drink from the absinthe fountain!

The Rainbow Venues
Judith by Judith

When she’s not visiting Birmingham for work, Judith enjoys travelling and exploring new cultures.

The Rainbow’s got it all – a Victorian pub on the ground floor, a club in the cellar and a warehouse-style covered courtyard. I love the easygoing atmosphere and wide variety of events which bring together different genres and their crowds, from indie and hip-hop to house and reggae.

See what past visitors said

Best of Birmingham

We was told to avoid Broad Street as its the trouble-some area but we found it very pleasant and less drama then a Friday night in Brighton. Deff recommend if your under 25. If your over 25, check out the Arcadiam - its more up market, so nice dresses and heels for that one.

There are some very good vintage stores out towards the Custard Factory in Digbeth with is worth a look if you are into those sorts of clothes. The meat and rag market is also great to look around and there are some lovely things to get to eat there.

The Alexandra theatre is small and cosy and puts on good productions. It's fairly comfortable although the tiered seating is not great. If you are short you will struggle to see above the head of the person n front.

Eating around the jewellery quarter there are some nice gastro pubs but around Bennett's Hill there are some excellent restaurants which are away from Broad Street and the chain restaurants in Brindley Place.

A visit to the Bullring is a must along with the arcades and malls. Look behind New Street and you will find shops like House of Fraser etc that maybe you thought were not in Birmingham.

Booking.com asked travellers...

Why would you recommend Birmingham for food?

Ate at a fab Indian Restaurant East to East. Excellent value for really good quality food. Staff excellent.

Very friendly and helpful

Nothing else like it.

crufts

Transport

Birmingham transport

Air - Birmingham Airport

The free AirRail Link connects Birmingham Airport to Birmingham International Station every 2 minutes from 05:15–02:00: just follow the signs in Arrivals. From the station, 7 trains an hour make the 10-minute trip to Birmingham New Street for GBP 3.60. Buses also stop outside the airport 24 hours a day and reach the centre in 25 minutes. Tickets are available on board for GBP 2.20 (exact change only). A taxi will charge about GBP 30 and take around 20 minutes.

Taxi

Licenced taxis in Birmingham are generally black London-style hackney cabs, which can be hailed in the street or found at taxi ranks. All hackney cabs are wheelchair accessible. Fares are standardised by the council and are metered, although the driver can negotiate a fixed fee for journeys which finish outside the Birmingham metropolitan boundary. It’s advisable to avoid any taxi which isn’t a hackney cab, and any unmarked car apart from pre-booked radio taxis.

Bus

Buses criss-cross the city, departing from various different points – you can pick up a route map at a tourist office, library or Travel West Midlands shop. Tickets are sold on board (cash only, no change given) and prices range from GBP 1.90–2.20 for adults, with reduced fares for kids. If you plan to make several journeys, a day pass offers better value at GBP 4. National Express West Midlands buses let you make a single trip within the city centre for just GBP 1.

Train

Trains are mainly used to reach other cities, rather than for travel within Birmingham. The main city centre stations are New Street, Moor Street and Snow Hill, while Birmingham International serves the airport and NEC. Birmingham New Street is the city's major railway hub, with direct links to most major UK cities. Trains run between New Street and International from 05:29–23:53. Tickets are sold at desks and machines in stations, but are up to 40% cheaper online.

Tram

Midland Metro trams run out from the city centre as far as Wolverhampton. Trams operate from 05:15–00:00 (Sunday 08:00–23:45), with up to 10 an hour at peak times. Stops are marked with a pink and blue logo, and tickets are sold by an on-board conductor. Exact change is encouraged, and notes above GBP 10 can’t be accepted. A single ticket costs GBP 2.30 or a day pass is GBP 6.20. Fares are lower outside peak hours and for under 16s, while kids under 5 travel free.

Bicycle

Birmingham isn’t particularly well equipped for cyclists and doesn’t yet have a municipal bike hire service. Some local residents do cycle, but the traffic and absence of bike lanes make this a fairly unappealing option for most visitors. If you do decide to cycle in Birmingham, there are several private bike hire companies to choose from. It’s best to plan your route in advance and avoid the city centre whenever possible.

Car

Birmingham's roads can be confusing and somewhat daunting for visitors. Weekday traffic tends to be heaviest from 08:00–09:00 and 17:00–18:00, while Saturdays are busy with shoppers. Patience is needed when trying to get out of the city centre. There are many council-run Pay & Display car parks dotted around the city – tickets must be purchased from machines and displayed in the front windscreen. It’s advisable to carry a supply of small change in order to pay.

Scooter or Motorbike

A small minority of Birmingham’s road users choose to travel by motorbike or scooter. While this is a very effective way of getting around the city centre, it may be tricky for visitors who aren’t familiar with the Birmingham road network. On the upside, scooters and motorbikes can park for free in most major car parks, making them a convenient and cost-effective way to get about.

Food in Birmingham

Top restaurants in Birmingham

Good value
International
Annexe
Cheap 'n' tasty
Cafe
Boston Tea Party
Cheap 'n' tasty
American
Chicago Gourmet Burger Company
High-end dining
British
Aalto
Good value
Japanese
Mount Fuji
Good value
Italian
Rossopomodoro
Cheap 'n' tasty
Cafe
Centenary Lounge
Good value
Polish
The Karczma
  • Polish Millennium House, Bordesley St., Birmingham, West Midlands, B5 5PH, United Kingdom
  • Open Tuesday–Saturday 11:00–23:00,Sunday 11:00–21:00
  • www.thekarczma.co.uk
  • 0044 121 448 0017
Good value
Gourmet
Bistro 1847
  • 26 Great Western Arcade, Colmore Row, Birmingham, B2 5HU
  • Open Monday–Friday 12:00–15:00 and 17:00–22:00,Saturday 12:00–22:30,Sunday 12:00–20:00
  • by1847.com
  • 0044 121 236 2313
Cheap 'n' tasty
Mexican
Habaneros Mexican Street Food
  • Temple Row, Birmingham, B2 5JP
  • Open Monday–Friday 11:30–15:00
  • habvan.com
Good value
Thai
Ekachai Noodle Bar
  • 1 Bullring Shopping Centre, Birmingham, B5 4BP
  • Check website for details.
  • www.ekachai.co.uk
Good value
British
The Old Joint Stock
Cheap 'n' tasty
Italian
Fumo
Good value
British
The Botanist
  • 14–16 Temple Street, Birmingham, B2 5BG
  • Open Monday–Wednesday 12:00–00:00,Thursday 12:00–01:00,Friday–Saturday 12:00–02:00,Sunday 12:00–00:00
  • thebotanist.uk.com
  • 0044 121 600 7430
Cheap 'n' tasty
Gourmet
The Warehouse Cafe
High-end dining
International
Purnell's
High-end dining
Gourmet
Adam's
Good value
International
Pure Bar & Kitchen
Cheap 'n' tasty
Spanish
Rico Libre
Cheap 'n' tasty
Mexican
Bodega Bar and Cantina
High-end dining
Thai
Chaophraya
High-end dining
Cafe
Yorks Bakery Cafe
High-end dining
Indian
Asha's
  • Edmund House, 12–22 Newhall Street, Birmingham, B3 3LX
  • Open Monday–Friday 12:00–14:30 and 17:30–22:30,Saturday–Sunday 17:00–23:00
  • www.ashasuk.co.uk
  • 0044 121 200 2767
Good value
Chinese
Shangri-La Chinese Restaurant
  • 51 Station Street, Birmingham, B5 4DY
  • Open Monday–Thursday 12:00–23:00, Friday–Saturday 12:00–00:00, Sunday 12:00–23:00
  • 0044 121 616 2888
Good value
Chinese
Chung Ying
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