As the UK’s second largest city, Birmingham has a lot to offer whether you are visiting for just one day or longer. If you only have one day at your disposal, then read on to find out how to make the most of your short stay in the city. Many of the places mentioned are just a short walk or taxi ride away from one another, so you won’t need to waste hours travelling between locations.
Visit Major Tourist Attractions
With only a day at your disposal, you probably won’t have time to take in more than one or two of the major tourist attractions Birmingham has to offer, but we have picked out some of the very best to choose from here. If your visit is mostly confined to the city centre and nearby areas, then any one or more of the following is well worth a visit.
The Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery in Chamberlain Square opened in 1885 and houses displays in more than 40 galleries. The museum’s collections include fine art, history and ethnography, and archaeological displays which date back to the Stone Age. Its art collections include Pre-Raphaelite paintings and sculptures by Rodin and James Tower.
The Museum of the Jewellery Quarter in Vyse Street gives visitors a fascinating insight into the city’s historic jewellery trade. The Jewellery Quarter is a district of Birmingham which houses more than 200 jewellers’ and silversmiths’ workshops.
Also situated in the Jewellery Quarter is the Pen Museum in Frederick Street. Situated within the city’s old pen factory (now part of The Argent Centre), visitors can learn about the history of the pen, and can even make a steel nib using some of the original machinery and techniques from the 19th century.
The award-winning Birmingham Science Museum situated at Millennium Point in Curzon Street is packed with an impressive array of exhibits, including steam-powered machines, WWII aircraft, a human-sized hamster wheel, a planetarium, and much more.
The National Sea Life Centre at Brindleyplace is home to a huge range of marine species, and its gigantic million-litre ocean tank gives visitors an uninterrupted view from an underwater tunnel.
A little further afield, but only a 25 minute taxi ride away from the city centre, is another of Birmingham’s top tourist attractions. Cadbury World is situated near the village-like suburb of Bournville, built by the Cadbury family in the 1800s to house its growing workforce. Attracting more than half a million visitors each year, visitors learn about the chocolate manufacturing process, and the history of the Cadbury brand.
Once you have taken in the tourist attractions of your choice, you may feel ready for a little retail therapy. Here too, Birmingham has much to offer.
From large indoor shopping malls and all the global brands you can think of, to traditional outdoor markets and independent boutiques, Birmingham has it all, and the major city centre shopping centres are all within easy reach.
The Bullring and Grand Central, with its famous outdoor and indoor markets, also boasts over 160 shops and around 30 eateries. The complex also incorporates Selfridges, which can be found inside one of the most iconic modern buildings in Birmingham.
The Mailbox shopping centre in Commercial Street is close to the city centre’s canal network, and contains a variety of well-known department stores and chain stores, many of which sell luxury brands. The centre also offers a number of exclusive bars and restaurants if you’re ready for some lunch at this point.
Martineau Place in Corporation Street offers a mix of retail and food outlets, incorporating many of the high street’s well-known brands such as Poundland, Boots, Argos, Sainsbury’s, KFC and Burger King.
The Burlington Arcade just off New Street houses an elegant range of designer clothing and shoes, accessories stores, and an award-winning hair salon.
Birmingham city centre is also home to more than 100 thriving independent retailers offering a range of eateries, coffee shops, gift shops, jewellery, clothing, vegan food, craft beer and much more. Many of these can be found at Great Western Arcade and North Western Arcade, both on Colmore Row, as well as Piccadilly Arcade opposite New Street Station, and City Arcade in Union Street.
Take Time Out
Once you’re done shopping, you may feel in need of some fresh air and a leisurely stroll in beautiful surroundings. In this case, you should take a taxi and head for the iconic Cannon Hill Park in Edgbaston.
Complete with mature trees and hedges, the park offers many activities and opportunities to relax, including tennis courts, lakes, running, walking and cycling trails, a mini amusement park, The Garden Tea Room, and the MAC Birmingham arts centre where you can do everything from watching a film, drama or comedy show to visiting a gallery or joining an art class.
While you’re there, be sure to sample a delicious ice cream from the Verrecchia Ice Cream van, a family business that is over 80 years old. The famous Edgbaston Cricket Ground and Birmingham Wildlife Conservation Park are also both nearby.
Eat & Drink
After a full day spent working up an appetite, enjoy a hearty, homemade meal and a drink or two at The Tap & Spile, one of the oldest pubs in Birmingham. When the weather is fine, be sure to head for the pub’s canalside seating area overlooking the famous Gas Street Basin which dates back to the late 1700s. Here you will find an array of traditional colourful narrowboats, either moored or passing through.
If you fancy something a little more spicy, you’re in luck as Birmingham is the home of the Balti, and the city is proud to have some of the best Indian restaurants in the UK. Check out the highly-rated Asha’s in Newhall Street, which offers homely, well-crafted dishes in a luxurious environment.
Paint The Town Red!
Once you have digested your food, you might want to sample some of Birmingham’s eclectic nightlife. Whether dancing, live music, theatre or comedy is your preferred option, there are no shortage of venues to choose from in the city centre.
If you’re in the mood to take in a large-scale touring theatre production, then head to Birmingham Hippodrome in Hurst Street or The Alexandra on Suffolk Street Queensway. For innovative, home-produced shows head for Birmingham Repertory Theatre in Broad Street or The Old Rep in Station Street – the UK’s first purpose-built repertory theatre, constructed in 1913.
If it’s a more intimate theatre experience you are looking for, then you will love The Old Joint Stock in Temple Row, the Blue Orange Theatre in Great Hampton Street, or The Crescent in Sheepcote Street.
If an evening of laughter is your preference, then try some live comedy at The Glee Club in Hurst Street, The Comedy Loft in Broad Street, or the Jewellery Quarter Comedy Club at the Rose Villa Tavern in Warstone Lane.
For live music, head to the Digbeth district of the city centre, where you will find venues such as Dares Bar, The Spotted Dog, Mama Roux’s and The Old Crown. Or head back towards the Jewellery Quarter and visit The Actress & Bishop, The Asylum or The Jam House.
If you have enough energy left after all that and you fancy a dance, then you may want to finish off the night with a bit of clubbing. If it’s loud and wild you’re after, then you’ll want to head to Broad Street where you will find a plethora of lively bars and clubs, many of them open until 2am or later.
Alternatively, check out The Arcadian situated in the popular Chinese Quarter, where you’ll find plenty of smaller bars and clubs spinning soulful house, funky beats and cheesy R&B. A district which is popular with university students, you will also discover buzzing al fresco coffee shops, drag show cabaret bars, and nightclubs housed in former factories nearby.
Lay Down Your Head
And so, by now it’s well past bedtime and you will need to find somewhere guaranteed to provide a good night’s rest. We recommend you take a taxi back to the 4-star Staybridge Suites Hotel, situated within the Martineau Place shopping centre in Corporation Street or, if you’re on a tight budget, head to the Premier Inn at the recently redeveloped New Street Station.
So, there you have it. One day and one night in Birmingham, sampling some of the very best treats the city has to offer. Fitting it all in will be a challenge, but a challenge well worth taking up!