Birmingham: The UK City Break You Didn't Expect

By Ivan PetrenkoMay 6, 2024 18:30 PMNews
People walking near glass building during daytime
People walking near glass building during daytime. Source: unsplash

Multicultural and industrious, Birmingham, the capital of the West Midlands, proudly showcases its heritage. The city underwent a transformation during the 2022 Commonwealth Games, demonstrating its multicultural identity and manufacturing history. This former industrial powerhouse earned the nickname "workshop of the world" in the 18th century and later became home to major car manufacturers like Jaguar and MG Rover.

1. Roundhouse Birmingham Kayak Tours

Birmingham's canals, initially created for heavy goods transport, now serve as urban parks. The city's 19th-century Roundhouse, previously used as stables, has been revamped as a base for tours. Kayak trips offer unique views of landmarks like Gas Street Basin.

2. Sarehole Mill & Moseley Bog

JRR Tolkien drew inspiration for his books from Sarehole Mill, a working watermill, and Moseley Bog, an ancient forest. These sites, located south of Birmingham, are great for exploring the origins of Middle Earth.

3. Positively Birmingham

Positively Birmingham's walking tours, led by local authors and photographers, cover Victorian heritage, Peaky Blinders filming locations, and landmarks like the Library of Birmingham.

4. Aston Hall

Aston Hall, a Grade I-listed Jacobean mansion, is one of Birmingham’s most haunted buildings. Combine a visit with a tour of Aston Villa’s Villa Park stadium.

5. Jewellery Quarter

Birmingham's Jewellery Quarter, home to Europe's largest concentration of jewellers, is filled with bars, museums, and restaurants. St Paul's Square is a central highlight.

6. Cadbury World

Cadbury World, celebrating 200 years, offers an immersive factory tour in Bournville, where the Cadbury family built a model village for workers. The tour includes interactive displays, actor appearances, and tastings.

7. Ikon Gallery

The Ikon Gallery, in a neo-gothic building, aims to make art accessible. The gallery, turning 60, showcases artists like Vanley Burke and Mali Morris.

8. Parks & Green Spaces

Birmingham’s parks, like Cannon Hill, offer outdoor activities and arts. Cannon Hill includes the Midlands Arts Centre, a boating lake, tennis courts, and mini golf.

Where to Eat and Drink in Birmingham

  1. Shababs – An authentic balti house in the Balti Triangle, famous for Pakistani-Brummie cuisine.
  2. Cherry Reds – A cafe-bar known for its brunch and vegetarian options, opposite New Street Station.
  3. Simpsons – A Michelin-starred restaurant in Edgbaston, known for contemporary British cuisine.

Where to Stay in Birmingham

  1. Bloc – A hotel near St Paul’s Square, offering great value and modern design.
  2. Staying Cool at Rotunda – A central hotel with apartment-style rooms, featuring local delicacies.
  3. The Grand Hotel – A landmark hotel with a NYC-inspired brasserie, offering family and accessible rooms.
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