The Best Things To Do In Birmingham – Day Trip Ideas
The Venice of the North. The UK’s 2nd largest city. Birthplace of the Balti, Cadbury’s, Ozzy Osborne and the windscreen wiper. With those kinds of accolades it’s understandable you’re a little bit curious about a visit to good old Brum. Despite having the nations worst accent and the infamous Spaghetti Junction, which is enough to deter any day-tripper, you’ll have a great time in this vibrant city – there are so many cool things to do in Birmingham!
(Incidentally, do you think there is anyone out there who refers to Venice as the ‘Birmingham of the South’?)
There are so many nice places in Birmingham you could actually make a weekend of it – attractions like the Sea Life Centre, Cadbury World and the Botanical Gardens to name just a few. But if you just fancy a day out and a nice little wander around Birmingham city centre there is still so much to see. We think it’s a fab city and we’d like to share with you our favourite things to do in Birmingham. Day trip ideas for those wanting to get a feel for the city with a little bit of direction to make sure you don’t miss the best bits of Brum!
THINGS TO DO IN BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND
Before we start, we’d like to just say this is by no means an exhaustive list as there are just so many things to do in Birmingham there’s no way you’d accomplish them all in one day. But we think we’ve come up with a good route that will pull in the best bits, give you enough pit-stops and ensure you get a real feel for Birmingham, UK.
We’ve included a map that highlights our favourite attractions in Birmingham. If you would like to save the map to your device just click on the yellow star next to ‘things to do in Birmingham map’ – you can then access them from Google maps whenever you like – cool eh!
MAP OF BIRMINGHAM SIGHTS TO SEE
WHAT TO DO IN BIRMINGHAM…
Wander The Area Of Digbeth (The Creative Quarter)
(PARKING CAN BE FOUND IN DIGBETH FOR AS LITTLE AS £3.50 FOR THE DAY – see our Birmingham map)
One of the best places to visit in Birmingham for Peaky Blinders fans – Digbeth is a five minute walk from Selfridges. Under the mammoth old railway arches that brought trade in and out of Birmingham, Victorian industrial architecture sits handsomely next to some of the cities best street art. You can actually take a Peaky Blinders tour but at the very least look out for the murals inspired by the hit TV show.
But even if you’ve never seen the TV programme, Digbeth is worth a half-hour wander.
The old Birds Custard Factory is now a hub for creatives and the whole area has been decorated in colourful murals, impressive sculptures and gritty graffiti.
There are a few options for a good coffee on Gibb Street.
Have A Swift Half At Birmingham’s Oldest Pub
One thing you must do in Birmingham is have a drink at The Old Crown. Found on High Street Deritend, you’ll easily spot it in all its Tudor glory. Built in 1368 and surviving the English Civil War, it’s no wonder The Old Crown is looking a little crooked in its old age. It’s supposedly the oldest surviving building in Birmingham and who wouldn’t want to celebrate that with a beverage!
See The Iconic Selfridges Building From the Outside
From Digbeth, the most direct way into the centre of Birmingham is through the lively Saint Martin’s Square but not before you’ve caught yourself a glance at the famous Selfridges building. This surely has to be the most eye-catching building in all the city?
It’s curvaceous, polished and dazzling against a blue sky and it has to be admired. I mean, if something gets used as a desktop image for Windows then it has to be worth seeing in real life, right?
TIP: For a unique view see it from an upper level of Park Street Car Park.
Take A Selfie With The Bull
When the Bullring shopping centre opened in 2003 a new sculpture was unveiled too – a huge 2-metre bronze bull! And no Birmingham visit is complete before a selfie with the city’s well-known symbol.
The Great Western Arcade
You will notice as you wander around the city centre that the architecture is mostly a mish-mash of Victorian and modern – typical of several UK industrial cities in the north of England. And one feature that often remains from the golden age of shopping is the Victorian arcade, but you have to know where to look!
Blink and you’ll miss it but behind the doors to the Great Western Arcade is one of the most beautiful places in Birmingham to do a spot of shopping!
Leave the High Street behind, rewind 150 years and absorb some glamour for just 5 minutes. And pick up some shopping gems from some great independents whilst you’re at it.
TIP: For sourdough fiends like myself, you MUST visit Bread Collection at no.1
See The Stained Glass At St Philip’s Cathedral
Thankfully somebody had the foresight to remove the stained glass at St Philip’s during the war years as the church suffered quite some damage. But reinstalled, these beautiful windows are worth a peek when sightseeing in Birmingham. They’re some of the most vibrant and detailed stained glass I’ve ever seen.
It’s free to enter the church and there’s also a short tour you can take too if you have the time.
See The Frescoes In Piccadilly Arcade
The frescoes in the Piccadilly Arcade should be a well-known Birmingham tourist attraction they are so beautiful, but it’s like nobody knows they are there! The arcade on its own is cool enough and yet still people seem to only use it as a quick cut-through to the train station. But if they fail to look up they are missing out on a real Birmingham hidden gem.
Six lifelike frescoes are painted on the ceiling in the style of the Renaissance masters but go figure if you can work out what they’re actually about! Named ‘A Life In The Year Of The Chinchillas’, I’m still none the wiser. But despite their disorienting appearance, not helped by the neck-craning, you can’t help but want to jump right into those scenes and have a good look around.
On your one day in Birmingham, make sure you see the frescoes!
Stop By Victoria Square
On one of our first Birmingham days out years ago, I had my first encounter with a German Christmas Market at Victoria Square. And, ever since then, it seems to me like this grandiose square is the place where the fun in Birmingham happens! We’ve seen dancing and music, food and illuminations – Victoria Square can be a bustling place at times.
But when there are no events planned it’s still a pretty cool square to see, framed on two sides by the impressive looking Council House and Town Hall. Grab a coffee, sit awhile and people-watch…
Fun Fact: The bronze sculpture of a female bathing is also known locally as the Floozie in the Jacuzzi!
Visit The Library Of Birmingham
One of the best places to visit in Birmingham is the cities funky looking library, and it’s free! Impressive inside and out, this glorious piece of architecture became another addition to the growing list of buildings that decorate Birmingham in 2013. And, it’s Europes largest public library!
TIP: Visit the Shakespeare Room and terrace on the 9th floor and take in some of the best views of Birmingham from the Secret Garden on level 7. (Check beforehand in case these areas are closed off for events)
Walk The Canals To The Gas Street Basin
One of the Birmingham ‘must see’ areas has to be the canals on the west side of the city. Why? Well, first off, it’s these canals that put this UK city on the map!
Birmingham has a proud industrial heritage and is sometimes known as ‘the city of a thousand trades’ because the waterways were a good opportunity for trade to be transported, so many businesses were attracted.
Today though, they’re picturesque and peaceful by contrast. The colourful canal boats and Victorian factories around the Gas Street Basin transport you to another era. But, at both Brindleyplace and The Mail Box, there are more than a handful of bars and restaurants where you can enjoy a meal with a canal view.
TIP: If you’re in Birmingham sightseeing in Spring, head off the beaten track a bit to Oozells Square behind the Ikon Gallery – the blossom trees will immediately transport you to Japan!
Have A Curry!
In England Birmingham has to be one of the best places to get a curry, right?
The Balti Triangle, The Curry Mile and more street-food spots than you can shake a naan at, you are spoilt for choice in Brum.
In fact, it was in this very city that the Balti was born – Asian fusion was happening way back in the 1970s!
Have a look at our map of Birmingham to find some top spots for Britains national dish.
Where To Stay In Birmingham
There are so many great places to visit, Birmingham definitely warrants a weekend break. Plus there are a couple of really cool speakeasies you must try after dark!
So, if you’re here for longer than one day check out Hotel du Vin on Church Street. It’s a top location with plenty of bars and restaurants to choose from nearby and the hotel is amazing too. It’s Victorianly handsome and straight out of a Farrow and Ball catalogue, plus the bedrooms are huge! The cocktail lounge is a winner in our books and room prices are also very reasonable.
pin for later…