Birmingham City Guide
The history of Birmingham in England spans 1400 years of growth, during which time it has evolved from a small 7th century Anglo Saxon hamlet on the edge of the Forest of Arden at the fringe of early Mercia to become a major city through a combination of immigration, innovation and civic pride that helped to bring about major social and economic reforms and to create the Industrial Revolution, inspiring the growth of similar cities across the world.
By the 20th century Birmingham had become the metropolitan hub of the United Kingdom's manufacturing and automotive industries, having earned itself a reputation first as a city of canals, then of cars, and most recently as a major European convention and shopping destination.
(Or for something a little different, Cadbury World opened on 14th August 1990 and remains the only purpose built visitor centre in the UK devoted entirely to chocolate...which is in our opinion therfore, an absolute must-see!)
With a proud industrial past still evident in much of the city's urban architecture, Birmingham is a destination that will have history buffs keen to visit the Old Square and the Victorian Botanical Gardens while keen shoppers will be compulsively drawn to the massively impressive Bullring Centre. Nearby Premier apartments are also within walking distance of New Street Train Station and offer serviced apartments ideal for your stay in Birmingham.
This vibrant city is packed with special annual events, including the Birmingham Tattoo, the Heritage Festival and the Birmingham international Carnival. Burne Jones House was the birthplace of the pre-Raphaelite painter Edward Burne Jones and provides ideal serviced apartments in the vibrant city centre from which to begin your journey of discovery.
There is however, plenty to enjoy in and around Birmingham all year round, including the National Sea Life Centre and with fantastic venues like the Symphony Hall and O2 Academy catering to music fans everone will be made welcome! The serviced apartments at The Spires Birmingham with its stylish surroundings might just be a great place to start!
One of Britain's main tourist attractions, Alton Towers has beautiful landscaped gardens and is a massive and exciting adventure park that is easy to get to from Birmingham.
Ironbridge Gorge Museums have museums and monuments celebrating the Industrial Revolution which had its heart in the Midland, whilst the National Motorcycle Museum houses a huge collection of over 700 British made motorcycles from 1898 onwards. These are just some of the many attractions to be explored in ther Birmingham area.
Birmingham Top 5 eats
Looking for a tasty slice of South American in and amongst Birmingham's bustling city centre? Then look no further than Bitters 'N' Twisted restaurant bar, Bodega.
It's all about the enviroment in Bodega, where quirky traits have come in handy. Cactus murals, vibrant colours and trendy iron cast furniture are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to this bar brimming with Birmingham's cool, young and hungry. The same has to be said for downstairs Birmingham party bar, Sugarloaf, that follows the same South American theme, adopting Mexico's 'Day of The Dead' as their choice for vibrant decor.
Elegant tapas bar that branches out from the standard Spanish findings, with offerings such as chicken souvlaki. The varied wine list is also worth sampling. Head to the lively suburb of Kings Heath and you’ll find what’s probably Birmingham’s best tapas restaurant.
Expect more exotic treats such as zaalouk, a delicious aubergine and tomato dip flavoured with cumin and coriander, or chicken souvlaki, skewers of grilled chicken with Mediterranean vegetables and tzatziki. The varied wine list is also worth a mention, romping as it does across Europe, with Portuguese and Romanian options to try.
Highly regarded restaurant with a focus on seasonal, British ingredients. Set menus are an affordable option for lunch or dinner. Birmingham's most recent addition to the Michelin Guide, Carters is an intimate and elegant neighbourhood restaurant with ambition. The buzzword here is British, and the menu features some wonderful dishes such as the fantastic Cornish duck (with kale and salted plum sauce) and red mullet (with black beans and leek).
Established in 1981, Chung Ying is one of Birmingham’s oldest and most valued Cantonese restaurants, winning several prestigious awards and making it to the final 3 of “Britain’s Best Chinese Restaurant”. Surrounded by exclusive bars, nightclubs and entertainment, Chung Ying is constantly inundated with atmosphere; whether you’re looking to feast with family and friends or enjoy the company of a loved one over award winning Cantonese food.
Authentic Moroccan restaurant with a menu that goes beyond the obvious and includes plenty for vegetariansThe bohemian suburb of Moseley is the setting for this North African restaurant. Its location – just around the corner from the high street’s many bars and pubs – makes up for the lack of alcoholic drinks on the menu.
The interior is beautifully decorated in authentic Moroccan style, with traditional hanging lanterns, intricately patterned tiles and comfortable cushioned seating. The menu is broad and offers the opportunity to go beyond the quintessential couscous and lamb tagine. Poulet Casablanca, for example, is a brilliant and unusual dish of stuffed chicken breast with prawns, capers and smoked salmon.
Birmingham Transport Tips
The nearest aiport is Birmingham Airport where you can fly to other cities in Europe as well as Dubai and Delhi.
Main train station in Birmingham is Birmingham New Street where you can catch trains to Leicester, Liverpool, Nottingham as well as London Euston.
Midland Metro is Birmingham's local tram service operating between Birmingham and Wolverhampton.
If you are travelling to Birmingham by car we can recommend you to have a look at Birmingham's City Council's page about parking where you can get information about both On-street parking and council car parks.
for cycle routes in and around Birmingham we recommend MapMyRide. Birmingham City Council has also started a 'Cycle Revolution' aiming for an increase in trips into the city centre to be made by bike and to create a greener Birmingham.
For bus services to and from Birmingham as well as in the city centre please have a look at Network West Midlands to plan your journey.
What to do in Birmingham
Listed below are some of the great places to visit in Birmingham. Click a heading to find out more.
- Cadbury World
Find out all about Chocolate at this shrine to the sweet stuff.
There are 14 zones to visit including Aztec Jungle to find out where it all started, Journey to Europe, The Cadbury Story and the Bourneville Story, Making Chocolate where you will discover how it's made, Manufacturing shows you how all the different bars are made, Packaging gives you the chance to peek inside the factory, Cadabara beanmobile rides, interactive Purple Planet and finish in the worlds largest Cadbury shop where you can buy a momento of your visit.
For more information visit: www.cadburyworld.co.uk
We've been here! Read all about our visit on our Blog and check out the photos on Pinterest!
- Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery
Birmingham's brilliant Museum and Art Gallery is situated right at the heart of the city on Chamberlain Square. The big draw here is undoubtedly the unrivalled collection of Pre-Raphaelite art. There are over 2000 paintings and objects from Pre-Raphaelite artists including the big hitters of the genre, John Everett Millais, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Ford Madox Brown & Edward Burne-Jones.
Don't forget however, that this is a museum as well, and therefore houses many archaeological collections, including a permanent display of the treasures of the Staffordshire Hoard - the largest hoard of Anglo Saxon Gold ever found!
For more information visit: www.bmag.org.uk
We've been here! Read all about our visit on our Blog and check out the photos on Pinterest!
- Motorcycle Museum Birmingham
The National Motorcycle Museum is recognised as the finest and largest motorcycle museum in the world. Important and famous machines are forever being added to our collection.
It is a place where 'Legends Live On' and it is a tribute to and a living record of this once great British industry that dominated world markets for some sixty years.
It is a place where an older generation can once again view with nostalgia the machines they rode in days gone by, and younger generations can study the development of the motorcycle from its earlier days to the golden years of the 1930s-60s, when British motorcycles 'ruled the world'.
For more information visit: www.nationalmotorcyclemuseum.co.uk
- Ironbridge Gorge Museums
There are ten award-winning Museums spread along the valley beside the wild River Severn - still spanned by the world's first Iron Bridge.
See the products that set industry on its path and the machines that made them. Watch and talk to the Museums' craftsmen and costumed demonstrators as they work iron, fashion china and glass, and bring alive the people who lived and worked here.
For more information visit: www.ironbridge.org.uk
- Birmingham Botanical Gardens
The Birmingham Botanical Gardens & Glasshouses, situated in Edgbaston, Birmingham, UK, are a 15 acre oasis of delight. Designed by J. C. Loudon, a leading garden planner, horticultural journalist and publisher, they opened to subscribers in 1832.
Today, you will find beauty, peace and also tranquillity combined with excellent visitor facilities for all the family. The gardens and glasshouses are places where you can enjoy nature at its best and discover the importance of plants to people.
For more information visit: www.birminghambotanicalgardens.org.uk
- National Sealife Centre, Birmingham
There are plenty of things to do at the Sealife centre including:
- Seeing the UK's first Hammerhead Sharks
- The interactive rockpool: Hold the crabs & touch the starfish
- 4D Cinema... now included in your entrance fee
- Dive with the sharks! Walk through the million-litre underwater tank
- There are feeding demonstrations all day
- 1,000+ creatures including Sharks, Turtles, Seahorses, Otters and Rays
- 60+ displays including Nemo's Kingdom, turtle breeding and tropical tanks
- Join the campaign to Help Stop Whaling
- Children's soft play area
For more information visit: www.visitsealife.com/Birmingham