When visiting England, most people immediately think of London. However, the truth is that many other cities in the country have a whole lot to offer. Birmingham is the perfect example of that – it may not be at the very top of your list of places to visit, but once you do, you will be extremely happy you decided to go. Loads of history, beautiful canals, incredible musical heritage… These are just some of the reasons to spend at least one day in Birmingham. Oh, and it’s an absolute foodie paradise. Find out all about these and many other Birmingham features in the rest of this itinerary.
What’s the best time to visit Birmingham, England?
Birmingham is a good example of typical English weather, so the best time to visit it would be summer. Summers here are warm but not very hot, so it will be quite pleasant to walk the city streets and explore what they have to offer (do be prepared for rain, though). Not to mention that this is the time of the year when Birmingham is at its liveliest.
Winters are relatively cold and snowy, while springs and autumns usually have much lower temperatures than summer. That being said, coming here outside of peak season will get you better hotel deals.
As far as events are concerned, the Foodies Festival in June is one of the big things to watch out for, and the Mostly Jazz Soul & Funk Festival in July is ideal if you want to enjoy some good music. Birmingham also boasts a huge Pride event, and the German Christmas Market is ideal if you’re here during the winter holidays. But this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the events you can visit, and no matter when you come here, you’ll have plenty of options to have fun.
A few facts about Birmingham
You may be surprised to know that Birmingham is actually the second-largest city in the UK – with over 1.1 million people in the city proper and more than four million people in the wider metropolitan area, it is second only to London.
Many incredibly popular food brands were born in this city, chief among them Cadbury Chocolate, but also Bournville Drinking Chocolate, HP Sauce and Typhoo Tea.
People from Birmingham are called Brummies. Don’t let that word confuse you if you hear it around here. The locals called the city Brummagem, so this is where the name Brummies originates from.
Black Sabbath and Judas Priest are just some of the world-famous bands that were founded here, and two of Led Zeppelin’s founding members also come from the city. Birmingham is actually considered by many to be the cradle of heavy metal, but it has left quite a mark in other music genres, as well.
The game of tennis was invented in Edgbaston in Birmingham, and this is also where the first match was played.
Birmingham has more canals than Venice!
More than one third of the people living here are younger than 25, which makes Birmingham the youngest city in Europe. Additionally, this means that you can be sure you will be able to find a great place to go out and have a fantastic time.
One day in Birmingham Itinerary
The second-largest city in England is a fantastic place to visit, especially for young people because there are A LOT of places to enjoy at night around here. But older travelers and even families will find plenty of sights to keep their one day in Birmingham incredibly interesting and busy. Follow this itinerary and you will discover some truly amazing places.
Start in with the canals
As mentioned above, Birmingham has more canals than Venice, so the best way to get a feel of the city early in the morning is to take a walk exploring this maze. Gas Street Basin is in the center of the network, and here you can see traditional narrowboats on the water and plenty of bars and cafes around you. It’s a great way to see how the city gradually developed because this location represents the perfect blend of the old and the new. From here, head northeast towards the main square.
Take a moment and enjoy the city center
You will want to start your one day in Birmingham in the city center. Not only is it very pedestrian-friendly, but it also has quite a lot of excellent places to visit, all within walking distance from each other. Victoria Square is the very heart of the city, and you can sit down for a morning coffee or a cup of tea in several nearby places.
Edwardian Tea Rooms is certainly one of the most interesting places for that, Second Cup is also very good, and there are a few bakeries around if you want to pick up a quick breakfast.
Visit the Town Hall
While at Victoria Square, you will definitely notice a very peculiar building that looks more like a Roman temple. But this is actually Birmingham Town Hall, built in 1834. It’s an absolute masterpiece and one of the most important buildings in town from an architectural point of view, so it would really be a pity not to check it out. The place also hosts events, especially concerts (The Rolling Stones have performed here, for example), and even Charles Dickens had readings here.
Enter Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery
Another major Birmingham sight is Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, also right there on Victoria Square. This exquisite institution opened its doors at the end of the 19th century and is considered to be one of the best museums in England.
You will learn a lot about the city’s history, but you can also check out a collection of no less than 6000 wooden items and numerous incredible pieces of art. The gift shop is a great place to pick up a souvenir, and the aforementioned Edwardian Tea Rooms are also here. You won’t regret coming here!
Grab a nice lunch
All of this running around will probably have made you hungry by now, so get yourself something nice to eat in one of the nearby restaurants – there are some really good ones in the wider city center. Grand Central Kitchen is very much recommended if you want something quick and delicious (a sandwich or a pizza), and on the other hand, Adam’s Restaurant will provide you with a wonderful fine dining experience.
Turtle Bay Birmingham offers Caribbean dishes, cocktails and a killer barbecue, but you will find a variety of different restaurants within a radius of just a few hundred meters – vegan, Thai, Polish, seafood… whatever you feel like having, it’s there!
Don’t forget about the central library
A great thing about spending one day in Birmingham is that it’s relatively easy to come up with the itinerary – so many important places are right here in the city center. The Library of Birmingham is just across the street from the Museum and Art Gallery, on Centenary Square, and you can’t miss it thanks to its modern design.
This is actually the largest public library in Europe and it holds the largest collection of Shakespeare’s volumes on the continent, too. It was opened in 2013, it has a cafe and a gift shop, and it’s definitely deserving of a place on this list.
See what life used to be like
Back to Backs is one of the most popular Birmingham attractions, and you really should find time to visit them. These small houses vividly show you what life was like for an average citizen in the middle of the 19th century and what problems they needed to face. It really is an enlightening experience that clearly shows the effects of the Industrial Revolution. Oh and there’s a great sweet shop here, an old-fashioned establishment that fits in perfectly.
Explore the Jewelry Quarter
The Jewelry Quarter really needs to be a part of this itinerary because it’s an incredibly charming and fascinating part of this city. Located just northwest of Victoria Square, this is an area where you will find dozens, if not hundreds of jewelers and similar shops (be on the lookout for some great deals!). But it is also brimming with history, and all those red buildings take you back in time almost instantly. A great place to just come for a stroll and maybe pick up a souvenir or two, but you can also sit down for a drink in one of the bars. Really a place to relax and enjoy Birmingham.
Sit for a drink or go clubbing
Birmingham is an excellent place if you’re looking for something fun to do in the evening. There are all kinds of bars to choose from, plenty of very special restaurants and many excellent nightclubs to dance your night away.
The Wizard Brunch and Dinner, for example, creates a very special dining experience for all of its guests, while Birmingham Bierkeller is the place to go if you want to have some serious fun with a pint of lager in your hand. Broad Street is a whole area you can check out for bars and clubs, and The Jam House keeps things nice and easy with plenty of groovy beats.
Mind you, this is just the beginning, so do try and explore a bit and you’ll be amazed by what you can find.
Where to stay in Birmingham?
The Grand Hotel Birmingham
Colmore Row Birmingham, Birmingham, B3 2BS
The Grand Hotel Birmingham is a five-star beauty located in a sensationally beautiful building. Close to the city center, but at the same time in a quiet neighborhood, it will amaze you from the moment you set foot in it. Luxurious rooms with fantastic beds, an excellent fitness center, a great bar and an extremely delicious English breakfast are just some of the highlights. With a bit of luck, you’ll get a room with a splendid view and come as close to a perfect stay in Birmingham as humanly possible. If you’re looking for luxurious accommodation, you simply have to choose this!
Aloft Birmingham Eastside
4 Woodcock Street, Birmingham, B7 4BL
Stylish, modern, and at a great location, Aloft Birmingham Eastside has absolutely everything you need for a pleasant stay in this wonderful city. The rooms’ features go from private bathrooms to kettles and fridges, the view is excellent, and you can even enjoy some evening entertainment in the hotel. Furthermore, their English breakfast is great, the same as their fitness center, plus you are also allowed to bring in pets. Excellent value for money, you certainly won’t regret booking a room here!
Holiday Inn Express – Birmingham – City Center
19 Holliday Street, Birmingham, B1 1HH
Another great-looking modern hotel, Holiday Inn Express – Birmingham – City Center gives its guests excellent service at very reasonable prices. It’s not exactly in the city center, but it’s definitely within walking distance. You’ll love the modern interior, and you can also enjoy a great restaurant and bar in the hotel, too. Everything is very clean, plus the rooms are extremely comfortable and come with free toiletries and a power shower, among other things. The cherry on top of this great offer is the pillow menu that will make sure you rest well every time.
Toby Carvery Birmingham West by Innkeeper’s Lodge
Quinton Toby Carvery, 563 Hagley Road West, Birmingham, B32 1HP
Located in an exceptionally charming house, Toby Carvery Birmingham West will win you over at first sight. But the interior has a lot to offer too, with cozy design, comfortable beds and plenty of free toiletries in your room guaranteeing you will have a pleasant stay. And you get free tea and coffee. The staff is just excellent, there’s no other word for it, and they’ll make you feel right at home. The hotel even has a bar, so all in all, booking a room here means you’ll be getting a fantastic deal!
Day trips from Birmingham
Nobody will blame you if you decide to stay more than one day in Birmingham to explore the city. Should you opt for that, you may want to think about going on an interesting day trip as well. There is plenty to enjoy and explore in this part of England, but if you need some inspiration, here are a few suggestions you won’t regret visiting.
Cities of the north
if you want to explore other great cities of England, a good bet is to head north, less than two hours away by train. Spending one day in Manchester or Liverpool will provide you with an incredible experience and loads of fascinating sights. The Beatles, Liverpool’s docks, legendary football stadiums, Manchester’s Town Hall, incredible museums, friendly people and great restaurants, all of that and much more awaits on this day trip from Birmingham. Choose one (or both) – you just can’t go wrong!
A train from Birmingham to London will get you to your destination in less than an hour and a half, so if you haven’t visited one of the greatest cities in the world yet, this is your chance to spend one day in London. Walk along the Thames, ride the London Eye, see Big Ben and visit Westminster Abbey. And all that’s just the beginning! You can spend days exploring what London has to offer, but even one day will be quite enough to get a sense of its grandeur. A day trip to remember!
Located about an hour and a half’s drive away from Birmingham, this incredibly serene part of England is perfect for those who want to spend a day outdoors hiking and enjoying a breath of fresh air. The hills are jaw-droppingly beautiful, the winding roads give you the feeling like you’re in another world, and the villages you can find around here are quintessentially English and offer good food and many interesting things to see.
Many of you will probably think of castles when somebody mentions England, and Warwick Castle is one of the most important ones around. Built by none other than William the Conqueror, it has stood here for almost a thousand years. Today, however, it is surrounded by incredibly beautiful gardens that stand in stark contrast to the castle’s dungeons. Just half an hour away from Birmingham, it’s an ideal location for a quick and simple day trip.
Extra tips for visiting Birmingham
- Since Birmingham is in England, it’s worth remembering that they use different AC sockets than most other countries. Check and see if you will need an adapter to charge your phones, tablets and/or laptops.
- Restaurants usually have a service charge included in the bill, so tipping is really not necessary. In bars, however, leaving something like a pound on top of what you pay will be greatly appreciated.
- There are many places you can visit for free in the city, and various free events are organized throughout the year. Inform yourself what’s on when you’re coming to town and you will have a great time without spending much.
- Keep your eyes open for good deals! Many places in Birmingham offer great prices on various items, from jewelry to old records, so you could come across something really cool and pick it up at a big discount.
Make sure you have everything you need
What to pack for your next trip?
Make your next trip as simple and as enjoyable as possible by packing smart. It’s amazing how much stress top travel items can save you, so choose carefully.
Things like lightweight travel backpacks, for example, are ideal for short trips and allow you to move around with ease, and a passport holder will make sure you keep your documents safe at all times.
Check our travel checklist guide for 2021 to make sure you haven’t missed anything, and travel to your next destination in style and with maximum comfort.