things to do in birmingham
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Top 10 Things to Do in Birmingham, UK (by a Local) [2023 edition]

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Looking for the top things to do in Birmingham UK?

Based in the heart of England, Birmingham is the UK’s second largest city (after London). With a population of 1.1 million, and a history dating back 1400 years, it’s one of the oldest inhabited places in the country.

The West Midlands city draws a large number of tourists from around the world due to a wealth of attractions including museums, parks, a growing street art scene and expanding tech and creative hub. But also, most especially due to it’s rich heritage and global importance as the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution – making Birmingham the first city on earth to enter the modern era.

Planning your trip? Use my favorite resources!

🏨 Accommodation: I recommend
✈️ Flights: for the cheapest flights, I use Skyscanner
🚗 Rental Car: I recommend Discover Cars
🛡️ Travel Insurance: for the best deals I rely on SafetyWing

Birmingham Essentials Checklist:

Birmingham Attractions Map


Birmingham is currently seeing an influx in tourism thanks to the hit TV drama Peaky Blinders, based on the real-life gangsters that dominated the Gas Street Basin region in the early 20th Century.

🌆 Do you like Peaky Blinders? Then this offer is for you!

The tour gives you an opportunity to learn about the history of gangs in Birmingham and other cultural and historical interesting facts about this city. Moreover, a distant cousin of the real-life Birmingham Gang will show you around the city and teach you the ropes of being a Peaky Blinder. Don’t miss such a unique opportunity!

Being a Brummie myself (the term for a Birmingham local), means I know the city like the back of my hand, so I can recommend all the best spots to visit and top things to do here.

Scroll on to read The Top 10 Things to Do in Birmingham, UK (by a Local):

Top 10 Things to Do in Birmingham, UK (by a local)

The ultimate local’s guide to all the most fun things to do in Birmingham for adults, kids, families, and couples.

1. The Custard Factory & Street Art Scene

The Custard Factory is home to a range of independent shops, cafes and bars as well as a variety of creative and digital businesses.

custard factory

The site was originally a large factory complex built by Alfred Bird, the 19th century inventor of egg-free custard.

One of the best things you can do in the city is explore Digbeth – home to Birmingham’s growing street art scene – there are countless murals and wall art of all sizes all over the district: on old factory buildings, in the hidden alleyways, on the bridges and archways.

The beauty of this place is that new murals and artwork are being spray-painted all the time, often replacing/overlapping existing murals, which means the region is constantly visually changing on a weekly basis.

Personally, this is one of my favorite Birmingham sightseeing activities as there is always something new and different to see every time I’m there. Digbeth is truly one of the hidden gems in Birmingham for tourists.

If you’re a fan of vibrant, impressive and politically-charged graffiti art like myself, this is a place well worth checking out. You can book tickets for a guided city tour of Birmingham here:

📍 The Custard Factory (Google Maps location)
Admission: Free
Opening times: Mon – Fri: 8am til 5pm
How to get there: from Grand Central: 12-minute walk down to Digbeth. By bus – numbers 2, 3, 4A, 5, 6, 17, 60 and 97 stop in Digbeth (10 mins journey)

Digbeth street art
Digbeth street art 2

Digbeth, Birmingham: Graffiti Street Art

Check out this incredible video footage of the amazing street art in Digbeth:

2. Cadbury World

One of the UK’s most popular family attractions, Cadbury World the UK’s favorite chocolatier, is perfect for kids of all ages, and a must for anyone visiting the city.

cadbury world

Situated in the city’s southern district of Bournville, Cadbury World is one of the major tourist places in Birmingham, featuring an exciting self-guided exhibition tour of the origins of chocolate and the history of Cadbury, the world’s second-largest chocolate brand, which was the UK’s first established chocolate manufacturer when it was originally named Bournville.

You’ll discover the origins of the cocoa bean amidst the trees and waterfalls of the Aztec jungles, add to that magical Cadabra rides, a 4D Chocolate Adventure zone, and free chocolate for all, its easy to see why Cadbury World is one of the most sought-after tourist attractions in Birmingham.

📍 Cadbury World (Google Maps location)
Admission: Adult £18, child £13.25. Open year-round.
Opening Times: Mon – Fri: 10am til 3pm | Sat & Sun: 9:30am til 4pm
How to get there: from Grand Central, the train to Redditch stops at Bournville station. Bus numbers 61, 63, 11A and 48 take 35 minutes and stop at Chapel Lane. By car – it’s 25 minutes.

3. The National SEA LIFE Centre

Head over to this underwater world of magical discoveries that holds over 2000 beautiful, fun and cheeky, sea animals.

national sea life centre

One of the most fun things to do Birmingham city center is take a trip to one of the UK’s best Aquariums: the SEA LIFE Centre. Includes a 4D cinema and the UK’s only 360-degree ocean tunnel – home to sharks, rays, and giant sea turtles. A perfect day out for all, the SEA LIFE Centre is one of the most popular family-friendly activities in Birmingham and one of the must-see attractions of Birmingham.

📍 National SEA LIFE Centre (Google Maps location)
Admission: £13.95 (Order your tickets here:)
Opening times: Mon – Fri: 10am til 4pm | Sat: 10am til 6pm | Sun: 10am til 5pm
How to get there: from Grand Central, the metro takes you to Library in 14 minutes. On foot it’s 19 minutes, and by car is 11 minutes.

4. The Jewellery Quarter

One of the best things you can do in Birmingham is discover it’s rich past: The Jewellery Quarter – a former industrial district that’s home to over 100 retailers, diamond dealers, and workshops, as well as the Museum of the Jewellery Quarter, and the Coffin Works.

An 18th Century church sits in the centre of St. Paul’s Square, and the surrounding area is rejuvenated with Indie stores, trendy bars, chic cafes and art galleries, along with modern Indian, Spanish and Italian eateries.

The Museum of the Jewellery Quarter

Muesum Of The Jewellery Quarter

A perfectly preserved 18th century jewellery workshop that offers a unique glimpse into working life in the Jewellery Quarter. It’s an excellent place to get yourself a beautifully personalised, hand-crafted jewellery gift on request. You can book a Jewellery Quarter guided tour here:

📍 Jewellery Quarter (Google Maps location)
Admission: Museum (Factory and the galleries) – adult £7, child £3
Opening times: Tue – Fri 10:30am til 5pm

The Coffin Works

A fully restored, Victorian coffin fittings workshop that’s also home to the Newman Brothers Museum. Costumed guides lead you around the factory where you will experience the sights, sounds and smells of factory life and hear the stories of workers, owners and trade.

📍 Coffin Works (Google Maps location)
Admission: Adult £7.50, child £4.50 (under 5s FREE), family (1 adult, 3 children) £12.50
Opening times: Wed – Sun 10:45am til 3:15pm (closed Mon – Tue)
How to get there: From Grand Central, the metro stops at Jewellery Quarter (9 minutes). Bus 101 takes 12 minutes from Newhall Street. By car: 11 minutes.

Situated in the heart of the city next to the Town Hall, Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery is a large Victorian building with a domed, Round Room.

birmingham museum and art gallery

Seeking the best galleries and museums in Birmingham? Look no further. The Art Gallery has an extensive collection of Pre-Raphaelites paintings from the 14th Century onwards, and the Museum hosts huge exhibits of antiquities and artifacts from Ancient Egypt, Ancient India and Central Asia, the Roman Empire and the Middle Ages, as well as the largest collection of Anglo-Saxon gold ever found, making this one of best museums in Birmingham for art lovers.

📍 Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery (Google Maps location)
Admission: Free (except some exhibitions)
Opening times: Mon – Sun: 10am til 5pm
How to get there: from Grand Central, the metro takes you to Town Hall in 6 minutes. Its 8 minutes walk up Stephenson Street and then Pinfold Street.

🚶🏽‍♂️ Birmingham day trips & excursions:
Check out this Guided Walking tour of Birmingham:

6. Canal Boat Trip

There’s no better way to experience Birmingham than by cruising the city’s canals and discovering the rich heritage of the city that sparked the Industrial Revolution more than 200 years ago.

birminhgam canals

Without a doubt one of the more unique Birmingham activities, starting from Sherborne Wharf, take a trip on one of three luxury passenger narrowboats as it winds its way around the bustling heart of Birmingham.

Fans of the Peaky Blinders will get a chance to witness the old coal factories and cobbled streets around Gas Street Basin, that once brought the city alive with blazing fires, smoke and noise as seen in the hit TV series.

Alternatively, you can take the Victorian Canals to Today’s City Walking Tour for a guided walk where you’ll learn the importance of the canals to the Industrial Revolution, or if you like, you can even go paddleboarding on canals in Birmingham and the West Midlands.

📍 Sherborne Wharf (Google Maps location)
Admission: Adult £8, senior £7, child £6. Family ticket (2 adults, 2 children): £22
Times: Canal Boat trips depart from the International Convention Centre Quayside at 11:30am, 1pm, 2:30pm, and 4pm daily, from Easter to end of October. Trips run at weekends only throughout November, January, February and March.
How to get there: from Grand Central, bus numbers 9, 12, 13, 13A, 23, 24, 126, X8 and X10 stop at Crescent Theatre (15 mins)

7. Bullring Shopping Centre

Situated right in the heart of town, the Bullring is the UK’s largest city-based shopping center and one of the best malls in the country.

bullring birmingham

It has a host of well-known high-street fashion stores and household shops, as well as popular restaurants and cafes. Its convenient location makes it easy to drop by lunch or a quick coffee break while on your day tour, and there’s free wifi too.

The Bullring and surrounding area are also well-known for international food outlets, and you can discover some of the best Italian restaurants here.

📍 The Bullring (Google Maps location)
Admission: Free
Opening times: Mon – Fri 10am til 8pm, Sat 9am til 8pm, Sun 11am til 5pm
How to get there: from Grand Central, it’s right across the road, 2 minute’s walk.

🛶 Did you know: There are more canals in Birmingham than in Venice! For more fun facts, head over to 38 Interesting Facts about Birmingham

8. The Birmingham Botanical Gardens

One of the city’s most popular attractions, the Birmingham Botanical Gardens features four unique glasshouses as well as sprawling stunning gardens.

birmingham botanical gardens

Each glasshouse is either a tropical rainforest, a sub-tropics jungle, a Mediterranean zone, and an arid desert. There’s even a butterfly house.

And with a playground, a tearoom and gift shop, and some of the most beautiful gardens in the UK, there’s something for everyone here.

📍 Botanical Gardens (Google Maps location)
Admission: Adult £7.40, concession (children, seniors, students, disabled & helpers): £5.25
Opening times: Mon – Sun 10am til 5pm
How to get there: from Grand Central, buses 23 and 24 stop at the Botanical Gardens (23 mins). By car it takes 9 minutes.
➤ Book your tickets to Winterbourne House and the Botanical Gardens here:

9. The Electric Cinema

Why not catch a movie at the UK’s oldest working cinema?

Electric Cinema

Built in 1909, the historic Electric Cinema offers movie listings of all the latest releases including 3D showings. There’s optional upgrades to sofa seating at the front or right at the back, and there’s even a waiter text service during the film.

📍 The Electric Cinema (Google Maps location)
Admission: £11.50 (standard), £8.50 (concession), £12.80 per person (front row sofa), £15.20 per person (back sofa, minimum 2 persons)
Opening times: Mondays: 5:30pm til late, Tue-Sun: late morning til late evening
How to get there: from Grand Central, it’s just across the road (on Station Street).

🗺️ Want free printable PDF maps and guides for traveling around Birmingham? Head over to Birmingham Tourism & Travel Guide (Free PDF Maps)

10. Chinatown

As one of the most diverse cities in the UK, Birmingham’s Chinatown is a sprawling melting pot of cultures and cuisines.


With everything from food markets, restaurants and cafes to bars, clubs, hotels, a casino, and entertainment venues, the Chinese Quarter is a gem in the heart of the city and boasts some of the top restaurants in Birmingham for foodies.

Theaters like the The Alexandra, The Victoria, and the Hippodrome host world-class musicals, operas, dance shows, stand-up comedy, and Birmingham’s favorite pantomime. Also in Chinatown is Birmingham Royal Ballet – the UK’s premier touring ballet company.

The food in Chinatown is naturally, the tastiest food you’ll eat in Birmingham.

Aside from sprawling indoor food markets, there’s Chinese hand-made noodle bars and sizzling Korean hotpot restaurants, Cantonese all-you-can-eat buffets and many more – Indian, Japanese, Vietnamese, Malaysian, Thai, Indonesian, you’ll be spoilt for choice. Plus there’s several cute Taiwanese Bubble Milk Tea cafes that are well worth checking out.

My current favorite eatery is Dezhou Style Braised Chicken which serves delicious authentic homemade Szechuan style noodles, I always go for the cumin and coriander beef stir fry. Check out their rave reviews here:

📍 Chinatown (Google Maps location)
Admission: Free (charges apply for events at the Hippodrome and Alexandra theaters.
Opening times: All hoursHow to get there: Chinatown is located just 5 minutes walk from Grand Central and is adjacent to the Bullring.

Top 10 Budget Restaurants and Independent Cafes in Birmingham

Other Things to See & Do in Birmingham:

  • The National Motorcycle Museum – for the motorbike fans, this museum holds the world’s biggest and most impressive collection of antique and modern British motorcycles. Buy your admission tickets in advance HERE.
  • Birmingham Symphony Hall – enjoy live music at one of the world’s best and magnificent concert halls.
  • Sutton Park – this sprawling national park sits in the north of Birmingham and is one of the biggest parks in Europe.
  • Alton Towers – outdoor activities in Birmingham for adventure seekers doesn’t get any bigger than Alton Towers – considered the UK’s #1 theme park. Perfect for kids, families and young couples alike.

Related post: 20 Best Family-Friendly Things to Do in Derby

Whats on in Birmingham this weekend?

For all the top cultural events in Birmingham this weekend, click here to view a calendar of the latest and most up-to-date events and festivals happening in and around Birmingham this weekend.

You can also head down to Broad Street to experience the liveliest nightlife in Birmingham for partygoers.

Places to visit near Birmingham

For more days out West Midlands and the Black Country area offers a broad range of activities, for those looking for things to do further out from Birmingham. Here’s some of the best things to see and do:

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General Information about Birmingham

  • Area: 267.8km squared
  • Weather: 8C (winter), 24C (summer)
  • Population: 1.1 million (2nd in UK)
  • Founded: 600AD
  • International Airport: Birmingham (BHX)
  • Famous Residents: Ozzy Osbourne, Led Zeppelin, UB40, David Edgar (poet), Benjamin Zephaniah (writer)

Birmingham Interactive Map

Have a look at the interactive map below to see all the highlights of what to do Birmingham, in red markers.

Birmingham FAQs:

Below are some commonly-asked questions about Birmingham, UK.

What’s on Birmingham for free?

Explore the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, stroll through the beautiful Birmingham Botanical Gardens, wander around Digbeth and the Custard Factory, enjoy live music at Symphony Hall’s free lunchtime concerts, or take a peaceful walk along the canals. There are plenty of free attractions and activities to enjoy in Birmingham.

Is Birmingham a good place to go?

Birmingham is often overlooked by most tourists visiting the UK, who head straight to London. Yet, the UK’s second-largest city is just 90 minutes away from London on the train. Birmingham is an underrated city, with its own wealth of history, melting pot of cultures, and packed plenty of exciting activities for couples, families, and solo travelers alike.

What can couples do in Birmingham?

Couples can enjoy a romantic walk in the picturesque Cannon Hill Park, experience a memorable date night at the Birmingham Hippodrome for a theater performance, indulge in a fine dining experience at one of Birmingham’s top restaurants, or explore the vibrant nightlife scene together.

Why is Birmingham so special?

Birmingham is famous for being the ‘first manufacturing town in the world’ and was hailed as the ‘City of a Thousand Trades’ after it achieved city status in 1889. This is due to the vast number of businesses from around the country and abroad, that chose to base themselves in the area, larger due to its vast water network.

What is Birmingham best known for?

Birmingham is famous for its rich industrial history, being known as the “City of a Thousand Trades.” It is also renowned for its diverse cultural scene, including the iconic Symphony Hall, Cadbury chocolate, the Bullring shopping center, and the historic Jewellery Quarter.

What can you do in Birmingham an hour?

In an hour in Birmingham, you can visit the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery for a quick glimpse of its impressive collections, take a stroll along the vibrant canals, grab a bite to eat at one of the city’s delicious street food markets, or explore the historic Jewellery Quarter.

What is the best street to go out in Birmingham?

Broad Street is the top destination for a night out in Birmingham. With its vibrant atmosphere, it offers a range of entertainment options, including bars, clubs, restaurants, and live music venues. Whether you’re looking for a fun night out or a place to enjoy a delicious meal, Broad Street has something to offer.

Birmingham tourist information

How to get there

Air: The main airport is Birmingham International (BHX), 14 miles away from Birmingham. Click here for airport transfers to Birmingham.

Getting around Birmingham

There are a number of excellent public transport options around the city, as well as an extensive road network with the M5 and M6 being the main motorways passing through the region.

Cycling: There are new and updated networks of cycle routes in the city center.

Bus: Buses are easy to use and run regularly from numerous stops. An adult trip costs £2 (cards are accepted).

Train: The main station is Birmingham Grand Central (New Street) right in the heart of the city and has great transport links to the rest of the UK. You can get a train from London to Birmingham in just 1.5 hours!

Car: Birmingham’s roads are very easy and convenient to navigate. You can hire a rental car here.

Tram: there is an excellent tram network that connects Birmingham to the Black Country region (Wolverhampton, Dudley, West Bromwich).

Best time to visit Birmingham

Early May to late September is the best time to visit, with July-August the warmest months. Rain falls throughout the year, with the wettest month being November, and the driest month being July.

🏨 Where to Stay in Birmingham?

Below are my top recommendations on where to stay in Birmingham:

📍$ Budget option: Wray and Whyte House (double & twin room, family-friendly) – Fabulous 8.6

📍$$$ Luxury option: The Class Place (Apartment with Terrace) – Good 7.9

Conclusion: 10 best things to do in Birmingham, UK

Birmingham is a superb city to visit for anyone traveling to the UK and I would recommend an itinerary of at least three days.
It’s such a flexible and ideally located city being in the heart of England, and close by to London (1.5 hours by train or car), as well as being in the heart of the Midlands region, and close to other major cities like Bath, Bristol, Cardiff, Manchester, Liverpool – all 2 hours away!