Same scenario as my trip to Edinburgh: I was there Saturday morning until Sunday evening, and had about 13 hours total (excluding travel time and sleeping) to explore a UK city. This time it was Birmingham! These are my picks for spending your time wisely…
I feel like Birmingham is different to Edinburgh mainly in that it is definitely a shopping city. The Bullring is HUGE, and made an excellent place to shelter for a couple of hours while there was an unexpected monsoon. If you’re a hardcore shopper then head here. Just outside The Bullring there is one of the loveliest Waterstones stores I’ve ever visited, their poetry section was amazing as far as poetry sections go (they’re usually very small).
The City Library & The Secret Garden
Go here if only to see the fairy-lights they’ve hung up all around the inside. The “Secret” Garden is a roof garden on top of the library. If you do one thing other than shopping, make it this. It looks like Birmingham are doing some serious renovations around the area of the library, but when they’re finished the view from this point is going to be phenomenal.
Find the bears
At the moment there are a lot of bears scattered around the city, each one decorated differently. I saw kids running around with some kind of checklist for them, and very worn-out looking parents. I couldn’t find a checklist anywhere, but I did find several arty looking bears on my walks.
Walk the canals & Stop at a bar
Apparently Birmingham is dubbed the “Venice of the North”, due to its canal network. I took a walk along some of the canal network of Birmingham on the Sunday morning, because I had time to kill before the coffee shops opened. On a sunny, quiet Sunday morning a walk (or run- be prepared to dodge some joggers) along the canals is a beautiful start to the day. More of an evening person? Head to one of the numerous restaurants or bars along the side of the canal, and have a drink!
Selfridge & Co. Food Hall
I mentioned The Bullring, but a big part of this place is the Selfridge & Co department store. They had a replica of the bull statue made from what looked like cake sprinkles. They sell vegan doughnuts. They have several restaurants hidden inside here, and a tonne of fancy cakes.
Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery
Possibly one of my favourite places- any place I can look at art is generally one of my favourite places. At the moment there’s a diversion to get into the art gallery, because of the city’s renovations, so be sure to follow the diversion signs.
The Edwardian Tearoom
This is inside of the art gallery. I really recommend you take a good book, and grab a coffee here. They make awesome cakes, and it makes a good spot to take a break from your intense on-foot exploring.
The Sealife Centre
I unfortunately didn’t get chance to go here, because I wasn’t going to spend £20 to get in on the door. If you are wanting to go here (I love the Sealife Centre) then book online the night before, and it costs around £12. Visiting here would be ideal to tie into a walk along the canal network, as its located on the canal-side, near Brindley Place.
Jamaican Street Festival (Market & Music)
This was present when I was visiting (August 5th and 6th 2017), and it was AMAZING. The music was great, the dancing was great, the smells…oh my god, the smell of barbeques and spices. If you’re visiting this month, then I hope this is still there when you visit!
Any Birmingham locals, or anyone else who has visited Birmingham, did I miss anything I could’ve done in a day or two? Anything I should do next time I visit?