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Top Things to Do in Birmingham

Top Things to Do in Birmingham main image

Birmingham is the UK’s second city and the youngest city in Europe, with 40 percent of the population aged under 25. A significant number of these young people are living in the city to attend university, with almost 80,000 students attending four different universities.

All of this makes Birmingham a fantastic place to be a student and the city has lots to offer. The ‘Big City Plan’ to develop the city center is now well underway, providing new transport links, a £188million state-of-the-art library and a brand-new Paradise Forum, complete with shops, restaurants and office spaces – all before the Commonwealth Games are held here in 2022.

There’s an abundance of activities to entertain you during your time as a student, here are some of my personal favorites.

Shop ‘till you drop

Birmingham is, hands down, one of the best places to shop in the UK. The Bullring, Grand Central and the Mailbox all offer excellent, indoor shopping – the perfect activity on a rainy day.

Head down to the bustling High Street and New Street to continue your shopping spree, stopping by the cobbled side streets where you’ll discover amazing independent retailers. If jewelry is on your shopping list, a visit to the historical Jewelry Quarter is a must, with over 150 designers and retailers to tempt you.

Explore Birmingham’s canals

While studying here, you’ll probably hear proud locals repeatedly mention that Birmingham has more canals than Venice. Hard to believe I’m sure, but there’s a 35-mile canal network winding its way around the city.

You can explore it for yourself by joining a luxury narrowboat tour from just outside the International Convention Centre. Learn about Birmingham’s history and its role at the center of the Industrial Revolution as you are taken past the buildings where it all happened.

Eat ALL the food

As one of the most multicultural cities in the UK, there aren’t many cuisines you can’t find in Birmingham. A must-try is the Balti. Birmingham is the birthplace of this dish – a type of curry cooked and served in a steel bowl – and there are over 100 curry houses for you choose from in the ‘Balti Triangle’ around Moseley.

Or, you could head to the Arcadian in Chinatown for incredible East Asian cuisine at the most affordable prices.

To sample everything the city has to offer, a visit to Digbeth Dining Club is a must. Voted Britain’s Best Street Food Event, you won’t be disappointed with the range of food on offer here, mostly at bargain prices. 

Visit the Custard Factory

Built over 100 years ago by the creator of egg-free custard, what was once an actual custard factory is now the hub of Birmingham’s creative industries. The area is just a 10-minute stroll from the city center and is well worth a visit for its unique shops and galleries. It’s also the perfect place to immerse yourself in the city’s thriving, independent music scene. Visit from Thursday-Sunday and you can grab some street food from Digbeth Dining Club after a day of exploring.

Gorge on chocolate at Cadbury World

Explore the birthplace of the world-famous chocolate with a self-guided tour around Cadbury World. Learn about chocolate production right from its Aztec origins to the current day and even try your hand at making your own delicious creation.

Afterwards, stroll around the picturesque suburb of Bourneville to work off all that chocolate and admire the traditional village founded by the Cadbury brothers as a place for their workers to live.

Visit the city’s galleries and museums

Birmingham was the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution and there is a wealth of history for you to discover. For a glimpse into the past lives of Birmingham’s working classes, take a tour of the last surviving back-to-back houses on Hurst Street.

There is also the world class Museum and Art Gallery in Chamberlain Square, where you can take a peek at the Staffordshire Hoard – the largest discovery of Anglo-Saxon gold ever found – before immersing yourself in the history of Victorian Birmingham.

The city’s art gallery is famous for its collection of pre-Raphaelite paintings, the largest in the world. If modern art is more to your taste, then definitely check out the Ikon Gallery. There are also a huge number of museums to visit in Birmingham, from the Thinktank Science Museum to Soho House and Aston Hall.

Unwind in the city’s parks

With more than 600 parks and open spaces, Birmingham is one of the greenest cities in the UK. Cannon Hill Park is under two miles from the city center and is the perfect place to relax. You can take a Swan Pedal Boat out on to the lake and enjoy the view or visit the Midlands Art Centre for the exhibitions and art classes on offer.

Have a look at Birmingham City Council’s website to find the best inner-city oasis near you if you need some time to unwind.

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Kiki W & Chelsea D saved this
Written by Chelsea D.

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