The Birmingham City Break Guide

Post Thumbnail

Birmingham might not be the most obvious choice when it comes to planning a staycation, however as Britain’s second-largest city, it has a great deal to offer visitors. In Peaky Blinders, Birmingham appears smoggy and moody, however its successes during the industrial revolution have shaped it as the diverse and intriguing destination it is today. From its intricate Victorian architecture and converted factories to its vast web of canals, you could happily spend a weekend exploring this hub. It’s also the host of this year’s Commonwealth Games, so what better time to book in a trip?

Where to stay


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Malmaison Hotels (@malmaisonhotels)

There’s a plethora of accommodation to suit a range of budgets in Birmingham, from your reliable Travelodges and Premier Inns to the more premium Marriott and Radisson Blu. For an extra special stay, there’s also Hotel du Vin, which is located in a former eye hospital and is an exquisite example of Victorian architecture. It features atmospheric vaulted ceilings, an open-air courtyard with a retractable roof, and a snug bistro and bar – just the spot for a cosy nightcap. Meanwhile, Birmingham’s Malmaison boasts a brilliantly central location and is actually a renovated Royal Mail building. Its decor is far from subtle, making for a truly one-of-a-kind stay… Even if you don’t stay in these high-end spots, you could always pop in for a cocktail!


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Saint Pauls House (@saintpaulshouse)

If you’re looking for something completely individual, then you could bed down at one of Birmingham’s boutique offerings. Over in the buzzy Jewellery Quarter, the Frederick Street Townhouse boasts stylish yet cosy surrounds and a prime location next to the hip hangout The Button Factory. Nearby on St Paul’s Square, you’ll find the charming Saint Paul Townhouse. The jazz music venue The Jam House is just a minute’s walk around the square, so you could catch some live music and then fall straight into bed!

What to see

There are plenty of no-brainer family attractions in Birmingham that are especially handy for rainy afternoons! Highlights include: the real-life chocolate factory, Cadbury World; the National Sea Life Centre, which is home to penguins, turtles, sea otters and sharks; and the Thinktank Birmingham Science Museum, where you’ll find a Spitfire gallery, a planetarium, and the interactive gallery MiniBrum.

If you find yourself craving some culture, then the Barber Institute of Fine Arts and the Ikon Gallery can cater to your needs. The Barber Institute is located within the University of Birmingham and houses works by Claude Monet and Francis Bacon. The Ikon Gallery is a contemporary gallery within a Grade II listed neo-gothic school building. For a more diverse selection of exhibits, don’t miss the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery. You’ll be able to marvel at ancient gold coins and then learn about the history of the city. There’s also a charming Edwardian tearoom where you can refresh with a cup of tea. All three of these institutions are free to enter!


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Winterbourne Hg (@winterbournehg)

Birmingham is one of the UK’s best shopping cities. From major hubs like the Bullring & Grand Central and Selfridges, to the picturesque arcades where you can browse charming independent and high-end brands, you’re sure to discover some treasures. The city is also home to some peaceful green spaces and actually boasts 17 Green Flag awards. Some of the finest include Cannon Hill Park, which boasts a swan lake with pedal boats, mini golf, a nature centre, a train, and a tearoom – of course. Winterbourne House and Garden, another gem, features an Edwardian Arts and Crafts style walled garden, which is Grade II listed and is home to a gorgeous glasshouse and a Japanese bridge.

Where to eat and drink


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Zindiya Moseley (@zindiyamoseley)

Dining out in Birmingham is an adventure. The city is the birthplace of the Balti – an Indian dish that uses vegetable oil instead of ghee – so at least one trip to the Balti triangle is required of those who like their spices. There are plenty of other curry houses dotted all around the city too, some of the most revered include Zindiya, Varanasi and the Michelin-starred Opheem.

Birmingham is actually home to five Michelin-starred restaurants and another ten are recommended by the guide, including the experimental 670 Grams, which is located in the artsy Custard Factory in the vibrant area of Digbeth. The former home of Bird’s Custard is now filled with unusual places to eat, drink, shop and dance. Digbeth is also frequented by fans of the Digbeth Dining Club – a multi-site street food hub – and Dead Wax, a live music venue and vinyl bar.

Other legendary local haunts include cafe bar Cherry Red, as well as the curiously decorated – and ancient – Bacchus Bar. One of the city’s recent additions is Paradise: a huge development that will comprise of office spaces, residential buildings, and retail and leisure spots. Dishoom, Rosa’s Thai Cafe and Albert’s Schloss have already opened their doors within the complex.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Custard Factory (@custardfactory)