Things to Do in Birmingham
by Pranita D, Seek To Travel, February 17, 2019
Birmingham is often called a ‘heart of England’ as it lies almost in the middle of the country. It is the second largest city after London. Birmingham is a post-industrial city that can’t be compared to quirky and iconic London.
Birmingham is mostly loved for its hipster side, shopping malls and canals that are longer than all Venice canals altogether. There are lots of Things to do in Birmingham for free, so if you are travelling on a budget you are going to love it. However, if you are able to splurge a little bit, you will find some great things, too.
The city has one of the biggest train stations in England making it easy to access from all different corners in the UK. It is a perfect getaway for a one day or weekend trip.
Now let’s move forward to our top things to do in Birmingham list.
Best Things to do in Birmingham
- Attend a Concert at Symphony Hall
- Explore Marine Life at Sea Life Centre Birmingham
- Dive into the Chocolate at Cadbury World
- Relax at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens and Glasshouses
- Grab a drink at Jekyll & Hyde Pub
- Go wild shopping at the Bullring
- Wander Around Famous Jewellery Quarter
- Perfect Night at the Electric Cinema Birmingham
- Visit the Wonder of Baroque – St. Phillips Cathedral
- Explore City‘s History and Art at The Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery
- Spend a Perfect Evening at the Gas Street Basin
- Take a Shakespeare Express
1) Attend a Concert at Symphony Hall
Birmingham Symphony Hall is one of the United Kingdom’s finest concert hall that is located in the heart of the city. It is praised for its acoustics and stunning architecture that make everyone to fall in love. The symphony hall is built in the 19th-century style and is full of modern touches that make the hall be more attractive for the visitors.
Birmingham Symphony Hall hosts various international performances of orchestras, jazz, pop, rock, folk, and even a stand-up comedy. It is definitely a place for every taste. Also, the hall has an essential role in hosting graduation ceremonies, community events, and various conferences. There is even a possibility to hire an entire hall for your occasion.
A symphony hall is a majestic place that holds concerts almost every day all year around. If you are looking for things to do in Birmingham for couples then a symphony hall is a perfect place.
We recommend to check the website before your visit to Birmingham and plan ahead as tickets to lots of concerts sell out very fast.
2) Explore Marine Life at Sea Life Centre Birmingham
Sea Life Centre is included as a number one place in a list of Things to do in Birmingham with kids.
Sea Life Centre Birmingham has more than 2000 sea creatures and the UK’s only 360 degrees tunnel. You can walk through the tunnel and see sharks, rays and giant sea turtle swimming just above or next to you.
There are lots of things to do in the Sea Life Centre such as feeding marine creatures, touching starfishes and various shells, and watching a 4D cinema.
The centre is famous for its sea turtles, octopus, Gentoo penguins, jellyfishes, sharks and piranhas. You can easily spend all day there with or without kids.
We recommend getting your tickets in advance. Also, if you are travelling by train, check for special promotions on the National Rail website. There is a possibility that you will be able to get 2FOR1 Sea Life Centre passes with your train tickets.
3) Dive into the Chocolate at Cadbury World
Looking for more Things to do in Birmingham for kids? We have a really great suggestion for you! Take a short train ride from Birmingham to Bournville and explore Cadbury World – a chocolate factory!
Cadbury World gives you an opportunity to watch how the chocolate is made, experience making chocolate and get to know how Cadbury became famous for its chocolate. Yes, everything is about chocolate and you will be able to taste it!
After finishing with various factory activities, head to the biggest Cadbury chocolate shop in the UK. Also, there is a really great Cadbury café that serves excellent cakes, the finest hot chocolate, and coffee.
We recommend checking the Cadbury World website for special activities and other promotions.
Related Article: Things to do in the UK
4) Relax at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens and Glasshouses
Birmingham Botanical Gardens are the best place to relax and enjoy nature within an industrial city. The gardens are located not too far from the city centre. You can reach it by walking or taking public transport.
The botanical gardens have four glasshouses that are filled with exotic plants. There is an incredible collection of tropical rainforest plants that will take your breath away. Also, you can enjoy a great collection of desert plants. Beyond, there are beautifully landscaped gardens full of roses, rare trees and sunny lawns that are ideal for picnics.
Don’t forget to visit the Japanese Gardens as they have a massive collection of bonsai. Also, a little pond and red bridge make it a very popular location for photos.
Depending on the season, there are all sorts of different activities such as concerts, late openings, and activities for kids. You might need to book for those gigs separately on the website.
5) Grab a drink at Jekyll & Hyde Pub
Jekyll & Hyde Pub is our number one place from the Things to do in Birmingham for adults list. It’s probably the most iconic and quirkiest pub in Birmingham.
The pub is made to look like as two different pubs (yes, that’s why it was named after Jekyll & Hyde). Downstairs you will find a ‘Mr Hyde’ that looks like an old Victorian pub and has a good retro feeling. There are jars filled with sweets and melting candles everywhere.
If you are looking for something edgier, go upstairs where you will enter to ‘Dr Jekyll’ side. This side is the most famous for its never-ending gin (the pub has 90 different kinds of gin!). We guarantee that you would want to try every single one.
If you are travelling on Sunday and looking for Things to do in Birmingham on a Sunday, pop in the pub for the afternoon tea. You will be able to get a various selection of cakes, sandwiches, teas, and, of course, cocktails.
Related Article: Things to do in London
6) Go wild shopping at the Bullring
The Bullring is two huge shopping centres resting in the city centre of Birmingham. It is well-known for its weird and eye-catching architecture.
The area where now shopping centres stand was very popular marketplace during the Middle Ages. Due to this reason, Birmingham kept the area as a ‘shopping area’ with new shopping centres and various small market stalls.
The Bullring is the most famous for its giant Selfridges store that is a paradise of every shopaholic. If you don’t fancy on splurging, visit Bullring Rag Market that is filled with hundreds of temporary stalls selling from fruits to clothing.
Travelling around Christmas time? Looking for Things to do in Birmingham at Christmas? Then the Bullring is your solution. During Christmas, the shopping centre has various activities for kids, great deals for shopping and majestic Christmas market.
If you aren’t thinking of shopping, come to get a great lunch at the Bullring. We recommend going to the Viceroy Tandoori restaurant that serves the best curry in Birmingham.
7) Wander Around Famous Jewellery Quarter
Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter is an industry hub. It has more than 100 retailers specializing in jewellery, diamond dealers, jewellery workshops and some museums. It is Europe’s largest concentration of jewellery business. Most of UK’s jewellery is made in the Jewellery Quarter.
The quarter is also the oldest district in Birmingham filled with Georgian buildings that make you feel like you had travelled back in time.
You can grab great deals for the high-quality jewellery there as it’s usually cheaper than buying somewhere else. Also, visit the Museum of Jewellery that tells a story about the quarter and lets you experience an original jewellery workshop. After the museum takes a look at St. Pauls Church that is located in a famous Georgian Square. If you want some great photos, the square is a perfect place for it.
After a long wandering around we recommend having a meal at one of the local eateries. Most of them serve traditional English meals and has a retro vibe. However, if you don’t feel like you want a heavy English meal, you can find modern Italian eateries and have something more exotic.
Whether it is jewellery shopping, visiting museums, sightseeing or eating, the Jewellery Quarter is a perfect place to visit.
8) Perfect Night at the Electric Cinema Birmingham
The Electric Cinema had made in top Things to do in Birmingham at night list because of its cosiness and authentic feeling.
The Electric is the oldest working cinema theatre in the UK (don’t confuse with The Electric Cinema in Notting Hill, London). It first opened its doors in 1909 showing silent films. Gradually it became a famous spot for dating.
The cinema theatre went through various name changes, was closed during the war and put on a sale. However, it was reopened in 2004 and restored to its 1930s Art Deco look. The Electric Cinema’s walls are filled with old photographs from golden years of films that perfectly fits the atmosphere.
It has a wide selection of old, independent and Hollywood films so everyone can select something to watch. The cosy sofas will let you relax and feel like at home. Don’t forget to order a great drink from the bar to go with your film.
We recommend checking their website for film selection and book tickets in advance especially if you are visiting Birmingham during the weekend. Believe us, tickets do sell out very quickly.
9) Visit the Wonder of Baroque – St. Phillips Cathedral
St. Phillips Cathedral is one of Birmingham’s iconic buildings. It was built in 1715 and became a cathedral in 1905. It was built in the baroque architectural style and is the third smallest cathedral in England. The cathedral is considered to be an architectural wonder of English Baroque.
St. Phillips Cathedral is located just a couple minutes walk from the Jewellery Quarter so you can include it in the Jewellery Quarter sightseeing list. It is free to enter, however, it is closed for tourists visits during the service so you might want to check the times before going in.
We highly recommend going inside as the inside décor is majestic and will take your breath away. The most famous décor details are 2000 soul boats hanging from the ceiling. Lots of people from various parts of the UK come to Birmingham just to see those boats. So don’t forget to bring your camera too.
Another thing that we recommend to do while visiting the cathedral is to attend a service. You don’t have to be very religious to attend service as you can consider it as watching a play. St. Phillips Cathedral’s service is country-wide known for being majestic and breathtaking. We guarantee that you will fall in love with it.
Related Article: Things to do in England
10) Explore City‘s History and Art at The Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery
The Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery is a museum and art gallery in the same building. The museum and art gallery was first opened in 1885. The museum houses 40 galleries that display art, social history, archaeology and ethnography.
This museum holds fascinating galleries of Birmingham art history that cover almost all third floor. If you are interested in art, there are more galleries to visit that you will definitely enjoy. The museum is famous for its Ancient Egypt, Greek and Roman galleries that are always crowded. Also, you can visit the incredible collection of dinosaurs that make big and small ones amazed.
If you are lucky enough, you might have a chance to visit a special exhibition. The museum usually has at least one special exhibition that you can visit for free.
There are many activities for kids, especially for toddlers, such as learning labs and interactive trails. So if you are searching for things to do in Birmingham for toddlers, you should definitely visit the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery.
11) Spend a Perfect Evening at the Gas Street Basin
The Gas Street Basin was once a famous canal port that was considered as the main port of central England. These days only canals and some colourful boats are left. The area is a popular spot for evening walks and drinks at the boat restaurants.
The Gas Street Basin is nicely connected to the city centre via the canal walk, so you can take a relaxing stroll from the centre to the main hub of canals. There are tons of beautiful cafes, great bars and sociable pubs around canals. All the restaurants around the Gas Street Basin are famous for great food and atmosphere so you can select any of them for a nice evening meal.
The Gas Street Basin is becoming more and more popular between tourists as it delivers a different side of Birmingham – less industrial side.
Usually, Friday nights are packed with locals and tourists as the majority of pubs have a live music evening. So if you are visiting Birmingham on that day of the week and looking for Things to do in Birmingham Friday night, we highly recommend checking it out.
12) Take a Ride in the Shakespeare Express
Fancy something vintage? No worries, Birmingham has another thing to offer for vintage lovers. It is a Shakespeare Express steam train that operates between Birmingham and Stratford upon Avon.
There aren’t many functional steam trains left in the UK as they are out of date. However, lots of tourists love to experience taking a ride in one of these trains.
The Shakespeare Express lets you experience the vintage train journey. The train is designed to look like an old train offering various traditional English meals and a cup of tea. The journey time is around 30 minutes and you will be able to see gorgeous views of Warwickshire countryside.
Just relax, enjoy your journey and delicious meal.
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It is true that Birmingham is a very industrial city that barely attracts foreign tourists due to its gloomy atmosphere. However, in the past decade, Birmingham has grown and is becoming a more modern and attractive place to visit.
The city offers unique experiences that can’t be experienced anywhere else in the UK. Also, it offers great cultural places such as various museums, concert halls and theatres. Birmingham was, is and will be the heart of England.
We believe that you had enjoyed our 12 top things to do in Birmingham. We hope that it will help you while planning a trip to the city. Have you visited Birmingham before? Or do you have a favorite thing from the list that you would like to do? Comment below and share it with us!