Everyone claims that, as the second largest city in the UK, Birmingham is a key spot to visit if you’re travelling around the country. And as a hub for cultural heritage, up-and-coming businesses, and delicious foods, we agree- no tour of the UK is complete without a stop to Brum. So if you’re visiting friends and family, passing through, or planning on exploring the city, here’s some of our recommended sites to see in Birmingham:
The Barber Institute
The Barber Institute offers the opportunity to view a variety of pieces created by some of the most popular names in the Western art world. The permanent collection boasts more than 150 paintings , which includes the likes of Van Gogh, Rossetti and Monet. However, if you want to see specialist exhibitions (like the current Francis Bacon feature) check out the rotating timetable. If you have an artistic flair or want to try something new, the institution also offers specialist art classes and lectures that can be booked online.
If the weather is in your favour during your visit take a trip down to Winterbourne gardens. During the spring and summer nearly every section of the gardens screams ‘photo opportunity’, as the site is alive with an impressive display of flowers and plants, ranging from the classic country rose to the more exotic Venus flytraps. And if that doesn’t convince you then the afternoon tea offered in the café will.
Gas street Basin
Birmingham is famed for its vast system of canals that connect the most remote areas to the city centre. One of the best ways to enjoy the view is at one of the small restaurants along the bank, where you can admire the view while enjoying some of Birmingham’s best food.
For a unique gallery experience in Birmingham’s city centre try the IKON gallery. As there is no permanent collection, the institution is famous for exhibiting a variety of new interesting and creative modern art. With a range of sculptures, installations, videos, painting, and furniture it promises not to disappoint.
The Electric Cinema is famed for being Britain’s oldest working cinema, and is a superb environment to watch the coolest films, its an experience which can’t be missed. You can recline in the fitted sofas, enjoy the specially made dishes, and enjoy a variety of films including cult classics and new releases.
The factory is one good example of the regeneration of Birmingham’s industrial sector, as the old custard factory now houses niche shops and markets. If you want to pick up souvenirs, or find items that reflect an artistic flair, the custard factory is a great place to go. Or if you’re feeling slightly more adventurous- you can also abseil down the side of the factory.
Birmingham Museum and Gallery
The BMAG is a centre of culture in the heart of Birmingham, as it offers access to over 40 small galleries within its walls, ranging from the Pre-Raphaelites to Modern art. The real appeal of this gallery lies in its collection of art from Birmingham and the West Midlands, which shows how rich and varies the culture is.
The Jewellery Quarter
The Quarter has been home to more than 500 jewellery businesses for over 250 years, and has remained one of the most popular locations to visit in Birmingham. Whilst the area is a highlight within Birmingham’s cultural heritage, because it is still a centre of vibrant sophisticated culture within Birmingham, it’s definitely worth a visit for food, drink, museums, art, architecture and of course jewellery.
The Pen Museum
If you are looking to improve your calligraphy skills and brush up on your knowledge of pens then this is the stop for you. The Pen Museum holds a permanent collection of a range of pens that tells the story of the history of how Birmingham became the pen manufacturing centre of the world. Learn about the written word, and how it has evolved over the course of time. However if you want to be involved in creating your own works of written art, sign up to the writing and calligraphy workshops, and try picking up a new skill.
Cadbury factory/ Bournville
For the child in all of us chocolate is the guiltiest pleasure- and if you want to treat yourself the Cadbury factory is the place to go. Learn about the history of Cadbury and the process of chocolate making while you ‘sample’ a few of their most popular products. Suitable for families, groups of friends, or the chocolate enthusiast.
Written by Isabelle Jones for Grapevine Birmingham