The 10 Best Things to See and Do in Birmingham

The Library of Birmingham
The Library of Birmingham | © Martin Pettitt/Flickr

Freelance Travel & Music Writer

Birmingham is one of the most visited cities in the UK and with good reason too. Whether you’re a chocolate lover, fascinated by history or looking for a family day out, here are 10 of the best things you could possibly see or do while in the city.

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Go to Cadbury World

Bournville is home to the wonderfully historic Cadbury factory and its visitor attraction Cadbury World. On a factory tour you get to discover the roots of Cadbury’s Chocolate, the heritage of Bournville village, the Cadbury family and you can even taste chocolate as you go around. It’s about as close as you’re going to get to Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory, so lap it up!

Cadbury’s in Bournville Village, Birmingham

Walk along the city centre canals

Birmingham has more miles of canal than Venice and is fortunate enough to be at the heart of the country’s canal network, making for some picturesque walks in the sun. Head towards Brindleyplace for the best of the city centre route, where you’ll find pub pit stops aplenty.

Calm water by the Malt House

Visit the Birmingham Back to Backs

Nestled away just off Hurst Street is the Birmingham Back to Backs, a wonderfully preserved courtyard of back to back houses – the only remaining in the city. On a tour, you’ll be led through the houses and learn how people lived in these houses from as early as the 1840s, right through to the 1970s. Don’t forget to visit the 1930s sweet shop!

Birmingham Back To Backs, Hurst Street

Check out the city skyline from the Library

Proudly the largest regional library in Europe, the Library of Birmingham boasts beautiful views of the city’s skyline from its ‘secret’ garden. Head up the escalator on a sunny day and admire the UK’s second largest city, from its historical buildings right through to its contemporary architecture and works-in-progress.

The Library of Birmingham

Stroll around one of the city’s many parks

With more trees than Paris, Birmingham is doing something right. There are plentiful green spaces in the city, from the wonderfully picturesque Sutton Park in the north of the city to Cannon Hill Park in the south, which is flanked by the Edgbaston Cricket Ground.

Cannon Hill Park

Visit Aston Hall

Aston Hall is a beautiful Grade I listed Jacobean mansion, situated opposite Aston Villa’s football stadium, Villa Park. With an illustrious past which dates back to the 17th century, take a guided tour and discover the history and heritage of the proud house, which was once home to Sir Thomas Holts and James Watt Jr., the son of the world-renowned industrial engineer.

Aston Hall and Gardens

Go to a sporting event

Speaking of Villa Park, why not check out a football match there? Okay, so the state of football in Birmingham on the whole may not be the best at the minute, but with several teams in the vicinity like Birmingham City, West Bromwich Albion and Walsall, it’s well worth checking out a match on a weekend.

Villa Park, Birmingham

Shop independently

Most visitors to Birmingham are instantly drawn to the Bullring, but the city is full of incredible independent shops just waiting for you to check out. Take Great Western Arcade for example, this stunning corridor is full of independent outlets with anything from clothes and hats, to key cutting and shoes on offer. Don’t forget to pick up an Independent Birmingham card to support local independent businesses and to take advantage of discounts.

Liquor Store, Birmingham

Eat extravagantly

Brum is a foodie paradise, there’s no doubt about it. With more Michelin stars than any UK city outside of London, it’s safe to say that food is taken seriously here.

Edmunds Bistro de Luxe, Birmingham

Go to Snobs

You can’t come to Birmingham without visiting the holy grail of clubs that is Snobs. Okay, so they might have reluctantly moved from their famous original location to Smallbrook Queensway a few years back, but the same Snobs ethos is there – banging indie tunes. Gone are the sticky floors but the wall of faces still remains.

Snobs wall of faces
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