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Birmingham skews young. With nearly half its population under 25, it’s a youth-centric city that brims with cheerful optimism. For proof, mall-shop at The Bullring and The Mailbox, see creative street art in vintage-loving East Side, or take to the scintillating nightlife on Broad Street.
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.Accommodations near Thinktank
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.Accommodations near Bullring Shopping Centre
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.Accommodations near Hippodrome Theatre
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.Accommodations near Birmingham Back to Backs
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.Accommodations near The Mailbox
Stadiums or 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.Accommodations near Symphony Hall
“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 craws, Gentoo penguins and a big fat floppy Pacific octopus while walking the transparent underwater tunnels.Accommodations near National Sea Life Centre
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.Accommodations near Broad Street
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.Accommodations near Cadbury World
Stadiums or 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!Accommodations near Genting Arena
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".Accommodations in The Westside
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.Accommodations in Theatreland Birmingham
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.Accommodations in Chinatown
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.Accommodations in Eastside
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.Accommodations in Brindleyplace
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.Accommodations in Digbeth
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.Accommodations in Jewellery Quarter
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.Accommodations nearby
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?Accommodations nearby
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!Accommodations nearby
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.Accommodations nearby
Booking.com asked travelers...What should you avoid to make the most of the nightlife in 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.See all 21 answers
Booking.com asked travelers...Is there more to shopping in Birmingham than just brand-name stores?
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.See all 48 answers
Booking.com asked travelers...Did the theater performances in Birmingham live up to their reputation?
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.See all 23 answers
Booking.com asked travelers...Where should people go if they don't want to eat in a tourist trap?
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.See all 21 answers
Booking.com asked travelers...Describe what other people like you would like about shopping in Birmingham.
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.See all 71 answers
Booking.com asked travelers...What makes Birmingham one of those classic city-trip experiences?
its different in a good waySee all 11 answers
Booking.com asked travelers...What makes the people from Birmingham so friendly? Tell us your story.
Very friendly and helpfulSee all 17 answers
Booking.com asked travelers...What was the most entertaining thing you saw in Birmingham?
cruftsSee all 21 answers
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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