A walking tour of places to visit in Birmingham, UK
Birmingham Broad Street, The Ikon Gallery
Places to visit in Birmingham; where to start!
Birmingham often gets a bad press, when in fact it is a modern, vibrant and beautiful city. Why not take a walking tour of the city and hit my suggested places to visit in Birmingham along the way; I guarantee a surprise around every corner and something for everyone!
Begin your walking tour of Birmingham on Broad Street; the party street! At night it is a hub of activity for the cities clubbers, but by day, this road leads to all others on the walking tour. Just 100m off busy Broad Street; the Ikon Gallery is the first stop on the places to visit in Birmingham. Set in a quiet and peaceful square, the gallery itself is the first example of Birminghams plethora of interesting architecture. The gallery is also ultra modern and has a variety of off beat exhibitions. To put the icing on the cake, the downstairs hosts a fabulous tapas bar that is renowned for it's use of spanish ingredients.
Brindley Place, Birmingham
Brindley Place; Walking Tour stop 2
Leave the Ikon Gallery and enter the business area known as Brindley Place. This area hosts many an expensive restaurant, gym or high flying business. The area is yet again an example of excellent design in Birmingham and the atmosphere is very much like a continental holiday. Stroll through the central square past gardens, coffee shops and beautiful fountains. From here you can also access the Sea Life Centre and the National Indoor Arena.
Brindley Place bars and restaurants
Birmingham History & Hospitality
On leaving the tranquility of the central square you quickly hit the popular bars and restaurants of Brindley Place perched on the edge of Birmingham's historic canals. Birmingham has more canals than Venice, therefore they play a central role in the navigation of the city. This area of Brindley Place has a variety of food and drink establishments that are a great stopping off place night or day. The atmosphere is always friendly and many live music events happen here that are free to enjoy. This will also be your first glimpse of many colourful canal boats chugging their way around the canal system of the UK. Therefore this is the boarding point for many canal boat tours that offer a view of Birmingham by water.
From historic to the truly modern
If you prefer to stay on dry land, from Brindley Place take the canal path to the next point of interest and place to visit in Birmingham. 10 mins of walking along sections of cobbled paths and through a few short tunnels leads to the newest building Birmingham. Within the Mailbox development, 'The Cube' is yet to be fully completed, but even in it's current state is a true spectacle. With it's unique cladding design and rooftop glass structure, 'The Cube' has transformed Birmingham's skyline. Alongside 'The Cube' lies a fantastic array of canal side restaurants and bars. The continental atmosphere continues here and is a 'must see'. Sit with a hot coffee overlooking the canal in the modern cafe, or perch on a high stool in a sophisticated cocktail bar; the choice is yours.
The Mailbox; a different shopping experience
From the canal side enter the Mailbox shopping centre. The centre is another recent addition to Birmingham that provides a shopping experience for the true shopping connoisseur. Visit the Mailbox for contemporary art galleries, south american coffee bars, boutique craft and fashion stores and the huge Harvey Nichols, with it's awe inspiring window displays. On leaving the Mailbox you will also notice the boutique hotel and turn back to the see the iconic red structure.
An icon of Birmingham
From the Mailbox a short walk leads to Birmingham's main shopping street ' New Street'. New Street hosts all the popular high street stores as well as a number of unique boutiques and vintage stores. An icon of Birmingham, the 'floozy in the jacuzzi' also lives on New Street. The beautiful curvaceous lady sits in a pool of water surrounded by cascading fountains. The water feature that has become a symbol of the city and a meeting place for city dwellers, particularly in the summer months. From November to Christmas, this area also hosts the infamous German Christmas market. From this part of the city there are also many other places to visit; The Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery and the Town Hall being just two examples.
At the opposite end of New Street; further shopping opportunities. A more recent addition to the city is the Bullring Shopping Centre, an indoor mall containing every store a huge shopping spree would require. The shopping centre has been built around the traditional outdoor and indoor food and textiles markets; a vibrant trading area that reflects the cultural diversity of the city. The Bullring area is a real juxtaposition of old and new, but here it works! The Bullring is an excellent place to visit in Birmingham.
The Bullring has also made a name for itself because of it's use of contemporary architecture that has created many a debate amongst the locals. Birmingham's 'Selfridges' is a tanker of a building that rises in all it's sinuous curves to four storeys high. It's seamless outer skin is decorated with 15,000 spun aluminium discs painted blue. Almost like a blob-like alien, The Selfridges building can be seen from almost any viewpoint in Birmingham, whether you like it or not, it is definitely a place to visit in Birmingham!
Birmingham may not have the weather of a european city, but it has many charms that should not be dismissed. Take my walking tour of places to visit in Birmingham and you will be pleasantly surprised!
If you are looking for some more exotic travel advice, check out my other Hubs on South America, Belize and South East Asia.