3 Days in Birmingham: Everything You Should Know
As one of the largest cities in the UK, Birmingham has plenty to offer visitors. Whether it's the incredible multicultural food scene, the rich industrial heritage, the fabulous museums, or the fun family activities, the UK's second city has something to offer just about everyone. Birmingham city centre has been completely revitalized since the decline of industry in the city, and now places like the Jewellery Quarter, the Bullring, and the Gas Street Basin are some of the most interesting and photogenic in the country.
Many people are surprised to learn that Birmingham is also one of the greenest cities in the UK. Parks like Cannon Hill Park allow you to have an encounter with nature even in this huge city. Then there are family-friendly attractions like Cadbury World, the famous chocolate factory that's bound to be a hit with kids. And fans of culture will find Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery just a short walk from Birmingham New Street Station, making it easy to learn more about the history of the city.
And that's all without mentioning any of the great day trips you can take from Birmingham to explore more of the West Midlands. With nearby attractions like Stratford-upon-Avon, the beautifully preserved birthplace of William Shakespeare, and the impressive medieval monument of Warwick Castle, there's so much to see and do in the region that you're going to have to be strategic about what you visit.
Just 3 days in Birmingham certainly isn't enough to see everything. However, if you drop your bags off at a Birmingham luggage storage and take advantage of the city's excellent public transport infrastructure, this Birmingham itinerary can help you see some of the top attractions in the city centre. If nothing else, it should give you some ideas of where to explore on your next trip to the city.
After you've stored your bags, take the Midland Metro to Snow Hill station. From there it's only a short walk to one of Birmingham's most iconic buildings, the Grade I listed Birmingham Council House. The council house was completed in 1879 and has been the seat of local government in Birmingham ever since. If you're interested in architecture, it's definitely worth taking a look inside.
Once you've had your fill of culture, walk over to St. Philip's Cathedral. This beautiful Gothic Revival cathedral was consecrated in 1715 and is one of the oldest buildings in Birmingham. If you want to learn more about the history of the city, there are guided tours available from Monday to Saturday.
Birmingham isn't an old town by British standards, and so much of its surviving historic architecture only goes back to the Industrial Revolution. Plus, many of the city's historic buildings were damaged during bombing raids in the Second World War, so don't expect to see beautifully preserved medieval streets or Baroque architecture. However, some of the remaining relics of Birmingham's industrial past are fascinating to visit, and a good walking tour can take you to some of the most interesting neighborhoods in this sprawling city.
If you're interested in learning more about Birmingham's industrial heritage, a good place to start is the Birmingham Back-to-Backs. These are restored houses that were built for workers in the early 1800s and provide a fascinating insight into what life was like in the city during the Industrial Revolution. You can even see how families lived in these tiny houses, which are now furnished to look as they would have when they were first occupied.
The Back-to-Backs are located in the Jewellery Quarter, which is also worth exploring further. This was once the center of Birmingham's jewellery industry, and there are still many working jewellers in the area, making it one of the most important manufacturing areas for British jewellery. You can even buy some locally made jewellery if you find something you like.
While you're in the Jewellery Quarter, you could also check out the Coffin Works. This former casket factory is now a fascinating museum devoted to telling the story of the rise and fall of Birmingham's industries through the tale of one niche business.
After a busy day of sightseeing, you'll no doubt be ready for a meal. Fortunately, Birmingham has no shortage of excellent places to eat. For something traditional, head to The Plough in Harborne. This charming country pub serves up hearty British food like steak and ale pie and fish and chips.
If you're looking for something a little more exotic, Birmingham has plenty of options for that as well. The city is home to a large population of British Asians, and as such there are many excellent Indian restaurants to choose from. One of the best is Lasan, which serves modern Indian cuisine using locally sourced ingredients.
No matter what kind of food you're in the mood for, you'll be able to find it in Birmingham.
Start your day with a visit to the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery. This superb museum has an excellent collection of art, as well as exhibits on the history of Birmingham and the surrounding area. Best of all, admission is free, so you can spend as long as you like exploring the galleries at one of Birmingham's best museums.
After you've had your fill of art, walk over to the Bullring shopping center. This massive shopping complex is one of the largest shopping centres in the UK and has over 160 shops to explore. Even if you're not looking to buy anything, it's worth seeing just for the architecture and scale of the place.
If you're tired of walking around by this point, jump on the Midland Metro and ride it for a few stops. This light rail system is a great way to see more of the city, and it's especially convenient if you're planning to visit some of the hidden gems in the outskirts.
In the afternoon, head out to one of Birmingham's many parks. Cannon Hill Park is a good option, as it's centrally located and has plenty of amenities like a lake, tennis courts, and a putting green. If you're feeling energetic, you can even hire a bike and cycle around the park.
If you'd prefer to spend your time indoors, visit one of Birmingham's many museums. The Thinktank Science Museum is perfect for families with kids, as it has interactive exhibits on topics like space exploration and the human body. For something a little different, the Birmingham Museum of the Historic Environment is well worth a visit. This small museum is devoted to preserving and displaying artifacts from the city's past, and it's a great place to learn about Birmingham's history.
In the evening, enjoy a meal at one of Birmingham's many excellent restaurants. If you're in the mood for Indian food, head to Pushkar for some of the best curry in town. Or, for something more traditional, try The Highfield in Edgbaston. This pub serves up classic British dishes like shepherd's pie and steak and kidney pudding.
After dinner, catch a show at the Birmingham Repertory Theatre. This world-renowned theatre is one of the best places in the city to see a play, and there's sure to be something on that you'll enjoy.
On your final day in Birmingham, make sure to visit the Birmingham Botanical Gardens. This 15-acre garden is home to over 10,000 different species of plants, as well as a cafe and a gift shop. It's the perfect place to spend a few hours relaxing before your journey home.
After you've explored the gardens, walk over to St Chad's Cathedral. This beautiful Gothic building is one of the city's most iconic landmarks, and it's definitely worth a visit. Once you're done admiring the exterior, step inside to see the stunning stained glass windows and soaring ceilings.
If you have time before your train departs, make sure to visit The Mailbox, one of Birmingham's great shopping destinations. This large shopping complex is home to designer stores, high-end restaurants, and a cinema. It's the perfect place to do some last-minute shopping or just grab a bite to eat before you head home.
By this point, if you haven't already, you may be forced to take the kids to Cadbury World. But let's face it: kids aren't the only ones who love chocolate. This huge attraction is devoted to all things Cadbury, and it's a great place to learn about the history of the company and see how chocolate is made. Best of all, you get to sample some of the finished products at the end!
Alternatively, you could spend your last afternoon in Birmingham visiting one of the city's other great attractions. The National Sealife Centre is a great option if you're traveling with kids, as it has over 60 different species of fish, as well as seals, turtles, and penguins. Or, for something a bit more hands-on, head to the Thinktank Planetarium. Here, you can learn about the night sky and even take a virtual tour of the solar system.
In the evening, enjoy one last meal in Birmingham before heading home. For something special, treat yourself to dinner at Purnell's. This Michelin-starred restaurant serves modern British cuisine, and it's sure to be a meal you'll remember for years to come.
After dinner, take a leisurely stroll around the city centre before heading to the train station. The Gas Street Basin is the ideal place to walk off a delicious dinner and enjoy the lights of the city sparkling on the water of the canals.
Hopefully, this Birmingham itinerary has given you some inspiration for how to spend three days in the city. The truth is, a few days is not nearly enough to see everything there is to see and do in Birmingham. But it is enough to give you a taste of what the largest city in the West Midlands has to offer and hopefully inspire future trips.
Birmingham is a city that seems to be forever changing, so every time you visit you may encounter something new. From the historic charm of the Jewellery Quarter to the vibrant buzz of the Bullring, you can see many different sides of Birmingham without even leaving the city center. And once you've enjoyed some of the top attractions in Birmingham itself, you can always see more of the West Midlands with a trip to Stratford-upon-Avon or a walk in the Malvern Hills.
The beauty of a big city like Birmingham is that it has something to appeal to just about everyone. So drop off your bags at a Birmingham suitcase storage and get ready to explore one of the most dynamic cities in the UK. Birmingham is the perfect introduction to the West Midlands region, and a city you should definitely take the time to explore at least once in your life.