While most tourists head straight for London, little do they know that the UK’s sleeping giant, Birmingham, is just 90 minutes away by train. This is not just any old town, it’s the UK’s second largest city and is well worth visiting if you don’t fancy queuing for everything and paying £1 for a can of pop.
Birmingham remains the top destination for Londoners
Thanks to the city’s proximity to the capital, redevelopment and costs, Birmingham is at the top of the list for those relocating from London. It’s one of Europe’s youngest cities and it’s also one of the most creative, so it’s no surprise that creatives are moving to one of the most developing cities in the country. If Londoners are moving here, they can’t be wrong.
Destinations Unlocked:Let our travel expert Stefano help you find your perfect Culture trip
Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
2. EgyptFrom Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
It’s a lot quieter
If you hate crowds, hate queuing or just hate people in general, New Street Station is still a lot quieter on Saturday afternoon than Victoria Station, despite the city’s modest 1.1 million population. We’re not saying the city is immune from crowds, but trust us when we say you’ll be surprised at how much more personal space you have in the city centre.
Birmingham may not have a tube, but public transport is cheaper
If you’re looking to move to Birmingham or visit for a prolonged period, a monthly travel pass in Birmingham will cost you around £60, while a similar pass in London costs around £140. Think of all of those sweet pennies you’d save.
You can forget about those awkward glances on the tube, too
Arghhhhh, where do you look?! You won’t have to worry about that here, as people on the train actually smile at you and may even strike up a conversation. No, really. Honestly. We’re serious.
And if you can’t be bothered with the bus, use the many miles of canal
Birmingham boasts more miles of canal than Venice, all of which are regularly used by narrow boats and people on foot or bike via the maintained footpaths. The canals tend to follow the train line, so if you fancy a summer evening stroll without getting lost, Birmingham is perfect for that.
You don’t have to sell your soul for a pint
£7 for a beer? Nope. Of course, there are expensive places in Birmingham, but you’re looking at one of the cheapest cities in the UK for a pint here. The average cost of a pint is around £2.90, which sounds pretty good to us.
Forget Oxford Street. In Birmingham you have personal space when shopping
No more elbow barging your way through those horribly packed London streets. Just like any major city, Birmingham is still busy at peak times, but you very rarely have to queue for an age to try something on. You definitely don’t end up stuck behind legions of slow walkers, as there’s actual space to walk around them.
It’s a lot cheaper to live and stay
Hey, Harry. Ditch that £1,200 a month cupboard under the stairs and rent a full house for £650 in Birmingham instead. House prices in Birmingham are growing so you’ll need to be quick, but you could buy a 3 bed house in the trendy south Birmingham suburb of Moseley for less than the price of a 1 bed flat in Croydon. Hotel prices are considerably less than the capital too.
You can visit the areas J.R.R. Tolkien drew inspiration from in Lord of the Rings
Avid LOTR fans may already know that J.R.R. Tolkien is from the city and grew up around the area of Moseley. It’s said that certain areas of the suburb (Moseley Bog, Sarehole Mill) were key in the author’s inspiration when writing the books, the latter even hosts a Lord of the Rings-themed weekend each year!
Birmingham has more Michelin stars than any other city outside of London
Brum is serious about its food and with more Michelin stars than any UK city outside of London, it’s not hard to understand why. Whether you’re after a quick bite at one of the city’s independent street food markets, or you’re after more of a fine dining experience, no stone is left unturned here.
Regeneration is rife in Brum, so chances are there will be something new each time you visit
New buildings are popping up all of the time, so if you visit once, you’re likely to end up seeing something new on your next visit. The bank HSBC has even decided to move from London to Birmingham, with brand new headquarters being built on Broad Street in the city centre.
You’ll get to love the accent. Honest…
The Brummie accent is known to be mocked, but really it’s friendly, endearing and humorous. Even if you don’t understand them at first, we’re sure you’ll get used to it and grow to love it, bab.
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meet our Local Insider
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I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
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Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
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