Welcome to Birmingham!
A vibrant and multicultural metropolis, Birmingham, England, appears a shade different from its industrial past. The country’s second largest city and an important part of the industrial revolution, Birmingham has undergone a renaissance and has moved itself forward as one of the UK’s best cities to visit. With a youthful nightlife and an old traditional vibe, the city has a multitude of things to see, from the Birmingham Zoo to its network of industrial canals. Set in the heart of the Midlands, Birmingham is a city filled with rugged charm, packed with hidden gems for worldwide locals to uncover. This is an inside look into the best ways to explore Birmingham through a local’s eyes.
Just like Venice
As you fly into Birmingham airport, you’ll be able to see that the city is filled with charming networks of canals that diverge towards the far reaches of the country. The canals served as an industrial highway, transporting local heavy goods, such as coal and iron, with more than 100 miles of waterways in the Birmingham Canal Navigations. Now, it’s being used by rustic passenger barges and long riverboats. Slowly moving across the calm canal, wandering through the series of quaint water avenues, gives you a glimpse of the hardworking history of the city. Finish your leisurely stroll at the bustling Brindleyplace and see its wide range of Birmingham restaurants, bars, and even a Sea Life center.
Worldwide Local Tip: Birmingham is a thriving shopping city, with the Bull Ring possessing a myriad of well-known brands and high street names. For an alternative shopping experience, head to the Jewellery Quarter, a neighborhood with a unique bohemian vibe, where the streets are filled with independent shops. As the name suggests, it is also crammed with small jewelry shops that sell trinkets and ornaments for decent prices.
The Industrial Revolution
Birmingham has a rich industrial heritage, which can be seen at the historical site of Birmingham Back to Backs. The final remnants of the industrial revolution are perfectly preserved here for visitors to marvel at, depicting life during the boom of local coal mining and steelworks. Its name is derived from the back-to-back houses that were the common houses of the city dwellers. Make sure you book a tour before you go, as only groups with a guide are allowed in--the managers at most of the hotels in Birmingham can help you plan this.
Worldwide Local Tip: Custard Factory is a little alleyway perched deep within the city streets. It is a disused factory site that has been transformed into a trendy spot where the locals like to hang out. Brimming with hipster boutique stores that host quirky events, such as a gin festival, Custard Factory is the contemporary creative hub of the city, and visiting it is one of the best things to do in Birmingham.
Middle Earth in Birmingham
Away from the urban jungle of the main city, you can get in touch with nature at the enchanting Moseley Bog. Even more beautiful than the Birmingham Botanical Gardens, this is a spot so beautiful that it was used as inspiration by the author J.R.R. Tolkien, contributing a bit of Birmingham magic to his best selling novels. Walking through its series of pathways will transport you into a different world, with brooks and marshes hidden under the overgrowth of greenery. You can greet the locals on your way, as you see them fishing in the lakes or taking a gentle stroll around the park, enjoying the Birmingham weather.
Worldwide Local Tip: Lickey Hills County Park offers a tranquil getaway and an unrivaled panoramic view of the city center. Located on the outskirts of the city, it has expansive green spaces looking over the city. See the busy city while gazing at the views of the Bullring and the BT Tower.
Enjoy Your Stay!
What the city lacks in a world-famous cultural icon, as seen in some of its European peers, Birmingham makes up for with a gritty post-industrial elegance that it fully embraces and a proud community that has been successful in modernizing its city. In Birmingham, worldwide locals can experience a dynamic city, beautifully placed between its industrious past and a promising future.