Home to the peaky blinders, spaghetti junction and soccer heart-throb Jack Grealish, the city of Birmingham is experiencing a huge spike in tourism.
As the UK’s second-largest city, it has always been well-regarded by domestic visitors. But now, Birmingham is fast becoming one of the UK’s top destinations for international tourists too. With tons of things to do in Birmingham, it’s not hard to see why sightseers are flocking in their thousands.
Previously overlooked for the likes of London and Manchester, Birmingham is nicknamed the ‘city of a thousand trades’. With roots in the industrial era, much of the architecture in the city still reflects this today. And mild winters mean that the things to do in Birmingham (Christmas time edition) are just as good as during the warmer summer months.
Many digital nomads are feeling the attraction of the city as a hub for cafes and coworking spaces with reliable internet connections. Moreover, its established background as one of the UK’s major hubs means it’s hard to run out of activities, even during a longer stay.
So, let’s dive into all of the sights and activities to add to a Birmingham itinerary during a trip to the UK this year.
Before getting into all the Birmingham things to do, it’s useful to get a good idea of exactly where Birmingham is and how to get there. With the UK’s brilliant public transport system, it’s much less awkward than most would imagine.
In terms of the wider UK, Birmingham is located in the West Midlands. It is situated around 110 miles North West of the capital, London, and takes approximately two and a half hours to drive between the cities.
Being in such a central location, Birmingham is also reachable from Manchester and Liverpool- taking just under two hours to reach either city. This makes Birmingham a great stopover city on a UK road trip, alongside a destination in its own right.
According to the council, there are seven main areas inside the city. These are:
The map of Birmingham highlights the city’s size- which is something to be noted before a visit. Those wanting to explore different parts of the city will be heavily reliant on public transport if they do not have access to a car, since only the city centre is considered walkable for most people.
Where to stay in Birmingham?
Between all the various city districts, those who know Birmingham will have clear favorites. Due to the number of accommodation options, ease of access and pricing, we recommend staying in either the city centre, Jewellery Quarter or Digbeth.
It makes sense that staying right in the city centre of Birmingham is a good choice for those looking to explore the city. Of course, this will be the most expensive option for travellers, since it offers convenience for many restaurants, bars and attractions.
However, many of the city centre streets are pedestrian-only, which means that visitors may struggle to find parking for a hired vehicle. While this is not necessary for city centre attractions, it is recommended for many of the top things to do that happen to be located just outside of the city centre.
However, you don’t have to stay in the centre of the city to experience the best things to do in Birmingham. To stay in the most stylish part of the city, the Jewellery Quarter is the preferred choice.
In this section of the city, Selina Birmingham can be found. With its location on the fringe between Jewellery Quarter and the City Centre, we think this offers the best of both worlds. This building is a renovated Victorian textiles factory with over 150 different shops in its close vicinity. Moreover, it’s a simple walk to the serene Dudley Canal, an outside space guaranteed to charm international visitors with its beauty.
For an edgier vibe, Digbeth is the preferred location. Here, visitors will find independent cafes, wacky stores and unique bars. There’s certainly never a dull moment in Digbeth.
Fans of London’s Camden Market are likely to find similarities here, in the district of Digbeth. Hip people line the streets and the bohemian atmosphere makes for a great time.
13 things to do Birmingham
Here’s the list of things to do in Birmingham helping visitors plan their trip:
In this guide, we'll take a look at:
Cadbury world of chocolate
Black country living museum
Cricket at Edgebaston
National Sea Life centre
Aston Villa football
West Midland Safari Park
Day trip to Wales
Cadbury World of Chocolate
Got a sweet tooth?
Cadbury is the UK’s leading chocolate brand and has been going since it was founded in Birmingham in 1824. The World of Chocolate is a self-guided exhibition where visitors can tour around to learn more about the company, the chocolate making process and perhaps try a few samples, too.
It’s highly regarded among fun things to do in Birmingham, and is less than twenty minutes away from the city centre by car.
Note that tickets must be purchased in advance for this attraction, and that the team does not accept walk-ins. Budget approximately £21 (equivalent to approximately $25 USD) per person.
Black Country Living Museum
Fans of TikTok have probably seen the Black Country Living Museum on their for you page at some point or another. The open-air museum guides visitors through live demonstrations with real-life characters, and has gone viral many times for its exciting interactivity.
It’s not just one of the many things to do with kids in Birmingham– with a vintage cinema on site, many adults enjoy a visit to the museum too.
The Black Country refers to an area in the West Midlands that was historically covered in smoke during the industrial era. Tickets cost just less than £20, which is equivalent to approximately $24.50.
Music fans have plenty of options to see live gigs and concerts in the city of Birmingham. The largest location to watch your favorite artists is the O2 Birmingham, situated right next to Birmingham New Street station.
In 2022, the venue has seen the likes of Sigrid, the Sugababes, Kehlani and Phoebe Bridgers perform. At a capacity of approximately 600, it’s a great place for solo travelers to meet new friends with like-minded interests.
Moreover, the onsite comedy club offers what is easily one of the most laughter-filled things to do in Birmingham city centre. Of course, ticket prices vary based on who is performing, but most gigs take place in the evening. Ending by around 11 pm, that leaves plenty of time to explore the local nightlife with newfound friends.
Cricket at Edgbaston
To really become intertwined in British culture during your trip to Birmingham, watching the cricket is a must. Edgbaston stadium hosts home games for Warwickshire county cricket club across multiple days, and shorter T20 matches for single-day affairs.
The game of cricket consists of a batting and fielding team, and is somewhat comparable to baseball. Every six balls forms one ‘over’, and the batting players run back and forth between the two sets of wickets (comparable to goal posts) in order to score runs. They can be caught out or, if the ball hits the wickets, they can get out that way too.
It’s an exciting day out and the crowds at cricket matches are great at getting involved, with Mexican waves in no short supply. Simply include Edgbaston in your search for things to do in Birmingham this weekend to check if there is a game on.
Previously, we mentioned needing a car for some of the excursions and activities in Birmingham. This is one of those activities- taking approximately 50 minutes by car to reach from the city centre.
Warwick Castle is an immersive historic experience, offering live entertainment shows alongside self-guided tours around the castle grounds. Built by William the Conqueror in 1068, it was turned into a tourist attraction back in the 1970s, and is still considered one of the top things to do in Birmingham today.
With on-site staff performing reenactment shows every single day, guests can purchase a one-day pass for £24 (approximately $30). With onsite restaurants and cafes, it’s easy to spend an entire day here.
Birmingham’s gay village is a buzzing and vibrant quarter of the city. In particular, the nightlife here is second to no other in the city. Therefore, those looking for things to do in Birmingham for adults will be overjoyed to find huge numbers of bars and clubs lining the streets.
Originally named for the large population of LGBTQ+ people living in this area, Birmingham Pride celebrations are held in this area of the city every June. But at all other times in the year, there are plenty of things to do in Birmingham at night in the Gay Village.
It’s located fairly centrally, only twenty minutes walk away from Selina Birmingham. With outdoor spaces at the Loft and drag shows at Nightingales, the strip offers plenty of LGBTQ+ friendly areas to dance the night away.
For a totally different experience altogether, the National Sea Life Centre contains a 360 degree underwater wildlife tunnel guaranteed to open your eyes. With millions of different animals present, visitors can explore the grounds for hours on end.
It was initially opened in 1996, but has been recently remodeled to improve the public experience. And even though plenty of children are present every day at this attraction, it’s also a fun thing to do in Birmingham for adults.
Entry to the National Sea Life Centre costs £20.65 (equal to approximately $25), although there are a number of upgrades and VIP excursions for those interested. It is located less than twenty minutes walk away from Selina Birmingham.
Have you noticed the recent rise in popularity of trainspotting across the world? Well, we’re here to give the people what they want.
The Shakespeare Express is a steam train that has been in service since 1999, transporting passengers between Birmingham and Stratford. Named after William Shakespeare due to his birthplace in Stratford-upon-Avon, this is one of the highest rated things to do in Birmingham, UK. It costs from £35 or approximately $42 for a standard ticket (which must be booked in advance).
Those who opt to enjoy this journey on a Sunday can also experience the famed British Sunday Roast- a national dish consisting of roasted meats, potatoes, vegetables, yorkshire puddings and gravy. Talk about hitting two birds with one stone.
Watch Aston Villa football
Soccer, or football as it is better known here, is a great British classic. With local Birmingham team Aston Villa in the top tier of the Premier league, attending a match wins the competition of fun things to do in Birmingham this weekend for sports lovers.
Aston Villa’s stadium is called Villa Park, and is located just 15-minutes drive from the city centre. But those who have never attended a UK football match before, beware: this is not for the weak of heart. Games last 90 minutes plus breaks, but the crowd can create an atmosphere which carries the night away.
Last minute tickets are usually available on game days for those who don’t get the chance to book in advance. Expect to pay between £15 and £45 for a ticket, which equates to between $18 and $55 USD.
For a totally opposite experience to the bustling football crowds, Sutton Park offers serenity and peacefulness, especially on a sunny day. Moreover, it’s one of only a few free things to do in Birmingham that ranks highly with visitors.
Sutton Park is located around half an hour North of the city, but has good public transport links for those who don’t rent a car during their stay. Protected as a National Nature Reserve, the park is 2,400 acres large.
Those attending the park can bring food for picnics, and are often found playing with frisbees or tennis balls on a hot summer day. There are many different terrains here, with lakes and marshes as well as woodland. This is a great place to spend a full day out, since there are public toilets on site.
As the city’s premier performing arts centre, the Birmingham Hippodrome focuses around plays, musicals and shows. In fact, those looking for Christmas things to do in Birmingham, the pantomimes at the Hippodrome are a class act year after year.
In 2022, the venue is showing ‘We Will Rock You’, ‘The Cher Show’, as well as performances from the Royal Ballet. Popular Strictly Come Dancing professional dancer, Oti Mabuse, is also performing her own dance show at the venue.
Tickets for shows at the Birmingham Hippodrome vary based on what tourists are wanting to watch. But since it is located in the city center, it won’t take much time or money to reach from Selina Birmingham.
West Midland Safari Park
Bet you never thought you’d be able to see African safari animals in England! This interactive animal experience highlights the lives of some of the world’s most exciting animals like Cheetahs, Lions and Tigers. Alongside that, their daily shows go deeper into the lives of penguins, reptiles, lemurs and more.
Some say this is a romantic activity, so it has been firmly added to the list for things to do in Birmingham for couples. Of course, it does require a car hire since the safari is a drive-through experience. Tickets cost approximately £25 per person, which is the equivalent to $30USD.
Day trip to Wales
We couldn’t end this post without throwing in a curve ball. Did you know that it takes less than two hours to drive into a whole new country?
Wales offers lots of outdoor space in contrast to the city lights of Birmingham, and is a great location for a camping weekend away. Of course, this is one of the possible things to do near Birmingham, rather than being situated in the city centre. Still, taking a trip into Wales means that adventurers can tick off another country on their list.
Ready to jump into life in Birmingham? Simply book with us at Selina Birmingham to stay in the heart of one of the most historic neighborhoods, and explore the best local recommendations that Birmingham has to offer.
How can I spend a day in Birmingham?
If you only had one day in Birmingham, we’d suggest sticking to places like the Hippodrome or exploring Gay Village which are both things to do Birmingham city centre locations. Other ideas include the O2 Birmingham and a visit to the national sea life centre.
Is Birmingham boring?
Not at all! There are loads of cool things to do in Birmingham if you know where to look. It might not have the reputation of Brighton or Liverpool, but the city of Birmingham is definitely worth a visit.
What is Birmingham famous for?
Originally, Birmingham grew in popularity during industrial times when there were many working class people working in the factories and providing materials for the UK. It’s what gave the city of Birmingham its “Black Country” name, after all.
When you think about it, it probably makes sense as to why there are so many free or cheap things to do in Birmingham– the council still honours those working class roots today and its people are inclusive to those from all walks of life.
Where else should I visit in the UK?
Since it is centrally located, Birmingham travel to other UK cities is really easy. It’s only about two hours on the train to most major hubs. Assuming you’ve already explored London’s main attractions like Camden, why not enjoy a weekend in Brighton, on the East coast of the UK?