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What To Do in Birmingham in the UK

Updated on April 14, 2013

Famous People Who Come From Birmingham

  • Alfred Bird (inventor of custard powder)
  • John Cadbury (founder of the Cadbury chocolate company)
  • Tony Hancock (comedian)
  • Jeff Lynne (musician, co-founder of the Electric Light Orchestra)
  • Ozzy Osbourne (singer with Black Sabbath)

Although it's the second largest city in the UK, Birmingham is not really a tourist destination. Located in the West Midlands of England, with a population of over two million, the city had its biggest period of growth during the Industrial Revolution. Today it is important as a transport, retail, events and conference hub.

Birmingham has three universities and two university colleges. Its cultural institutions include the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, the Birmingham Royal Ballet and the Barber Institute of Fine Arts. The National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham is the UK's largest exhibition centre, and one of Europe's busiest.

Where is the Jewellery Quarter in Birmingham

Dating back over 250 years, the Jewellery Quarter is an area of the city which is known for the jewellery trade.

Based in an old jewellery factory, the Museum of the Jewellery Quarter provides local history, as well as factory tours and demonstrations of jewellery making techniques.

There are now over 100 jewellery retailers in the area. If bright, shiny things are what you like and your credit card can stand a shopping extravaganza, this is the place to go.

Apparently in the 19th century, this part of the city also had a reputation as the world's centre for pen production. The Pen Museum is the place to go to find out more about that.

Selfridges Store at the Bullring shopping centre
Selfridges Store at the Bullring shopping centre
Bullring Shopping Centre
Bullring Shopping Centre

Where To Go Shopping in Birmingham

Birmingham's major shopping centre, The Bullring, has all the shops you would expect to find in a UK shopping centre.

The Selfridges there is one of the cities most distinctive landmarks. Covered in 15,000 shiny aluminium discs, the design of the building was apparently inspired by a Paco Rabanne sequinned dress.

Outside of the shopping centre are indoor and outdoor markets. Between the Bullring shopping centre and the markets is a church, the church of St Martin in the Bullring - just in case you need some spiritual nourishment midway through your shopping experience.

ChinaTown
ChinaTown

Where to Eat in Birmingham

Birmingham is the curry capital of the UK. A Balti is a type of curry served in a thin, pressed steel wok-like bowl. Balti houses began appearing in Birmingham in the 1970s. There are now more than 50 Balti restaurants in the area of Birmingham known as the Balti Triangle.

If Indian curries are not your thing, you can enjoy the cuisines of the world in the many, many restaurants in the city centre. Close to the Bullring shopping centre is Birmingham's Chinatown, where you can find a range of restaurants, cafes, bars and bakeries.

canalside
canalside

Explore the Canals of Birmingham

A pleasant place to eat is beside a canal. Birmingham is said to have more canals than Venice. It is one of the most intricate canal networks in the world. Gas Street Basin is the heart of Britain's canal network. For canalside bars and restaurants, head to Brindley Place, The Mailbox or The Cube. I took a stroll alongside the canal, starting off at The Mailbox, home to BBC Birmingham, where visitors can take tours of the studios.

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