A Guide to Birmingham
Birmingham was once known only for its heavy industrialism and countless examples of concrete architecture, including the infamous Bullring shopping centre as well as the dilapidated Digbeth coach station, but thankfully not any more. Birmingham has firmly re-established itself as England’s second city, and has flourished to be a modern, buzzing cosmopolitan centre. With vibrant nightlife, fantastic hotels, great shopping and unique tourist attractions, Birmingham is definitely the heart of England.
Getting There and Away
Birmingham International Airport is located 8 miles/13 km east of central Birmingham.
To and From Birmingham International Airport:
- Departs every 2 minutes from the passenger terminals to Birmingham International Rail Station.
- Operates from 05:15 to 02:00
- Journey time: 2 minutes
- Cost: FREE
- Departs every 10 to 30 minutes Monday to Saturday between 06:16 and 23:20 (from 08:48 on Sundays).
- Journey time: 10-20 minutes
- Cost: Adult single £2.80
- Bus no. 900 (sometimes 58A for early buses) departs from the station outside terminal 2, stand K.
- Operates from 04:35 (06:59 on Sundays) to 00:35
- Journey time: 35 minutes
- Cost: Adult single £1.10 (exact fare only, as change will not be given by the driver).
- Ranks are located outside each terminal
- Journey time: 25-30 minutes
- Cost: £16.00
Birmingham has 3 stations located centrally, and one station located by the NEC and the airport:
- New Street Station Birmingham’s main station, seeing arrivals from the North and Scotland, and also from London.
- Snow Hill Station Located in the business district and runs mainly local services.
- Moor Street Station Located opposite the Bullring shopping centre, just a short distance from New Street.
- Birmingham International Station Located by the airport and NEC, which are both within walking distance. Connections to central Birmingham are available at regular intervals.
- The main coach station is Digbeth, which is operated by National Express.
- The station is currently being extensively regenerated, with completion estimated to be late 2009. Until then, coaches will run from a temporary site on the opposite side of Digbeth High Street, in Oxford Road.
- Digbeth is located 10 minutes from the centre, with buses and taxis readily available.
Back to the top
Getting around Birmingham city centre on foot is relatively easy, however, for anything outside of the immediate centre you will need to use the public transport system.
- The main form of public transport in Birmingham is the bus.
- As with most UK bus services, there are a range of operators. The main operator is National Express West Midlands.
Single: from £1.20 to £1.70
Daysaver: £3.30, valid for 1 day on National Express West Midlands.
n-bus Adult One-Day Ticket: £3.60, valid for 1 day on most bus operators in the West Midlands.
- Exact fare is required when boarding the bus (National Express West Midlands) as the drivers will not give change.
- Night buses are available but cost slightly more than day services.
- Runs between Wolverhampton City Centre and Birmingham City Centre.
- Operates: Monday to Saturday 06:30-23:30 and Sunday 08:00-23:00.
- At peak times trams operate every 8 minutes. These are less frequent at off-peak times.
Single tickets cost between £1.50 and £2.70
Return tickets cost between £2.00 and £4.00
Tickets can be purchased from the conductor onboard the tram.
Metro/Bus Day tickets
- Valid on all Metro services and Travel West Midlands buses for 1 day.
- Cost: Adult £4.90, Child £3.25
Centro Day Tripper
- Valid on all bus, train and Metro services within the Centro area after 09:30, weekends and bank holidays.
- Cost: Adult £4.20, Child £3.20, Family (2 adults and 4 children, must include at least 1 child) £8.50
- Valid for 1 day on all bus, train and Metro services within the Centro area.
- Includes peak times.
- Cost: £6.50.
Back to the top
Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery
Chamberlain Square, Birmingham, B3 3DH
- Houses the largest collection of Pre-Raphaelite paintings in the world.
- As well as many works of art, the museum contains spectacular Egyptian collections, a 2.3 metre Sultanganj Buddha and a 1970s space hopper.
Monday to Thursday and Saturday 10:00-17:00
FREE (some temporary exhibitions may be charged).
Barber Institute of Fine Arts
The University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham, B15 2TS
- This small gallery houses many works by famous artists including Gainsborough, Renoir, and Monet.
Monday to Saturday 10:00-17:00
1 Oozells Square, Brindleyplace, Birmingham, B1 2HS
- This gallery houses constantly changing temporary exhibitions of modern art, over two massive floor spaces.
- The collections normally revolve around British artists, and there is a strong emphasis on education and art in the community.
Tuesday to Saturday 11:00-18:00 (open bank holiday Mondays)
Trinity Road, Aston, Birmingham, B6 6JD
- Built between 1618 and 1635, the Hall is one of Birmingham’s finest attractions.
- Famous for housing James I on his way to battle.
8th April to 29th October, Tuesday to Sunday 11:30-16:00 (open bank holiday Mondays)
Museum of the Jewellery Quarter
75-79 Vyse Street, Hockley, Birmingham, B18 6HA
- Factory of the Smith and Pepper jewellery manufacturers which has been preserved to show how jewellery was traditionally made.
- Take a guided tour of the factory and watch live demonstrations.
- There is also a shop selling hand made products.
Tuesday to Saturday 10:30-16:00 (open bank holiday Mondays)
Back to the top
Where to Stay
LateRooms has a wide variety of Birmingham hotels, apartments and guesthouses right across Birmingham, the NEC, and the surrounding area. Whether you are travelling for business or leisure, you are sure to find something to suit your needs.
- When there are large events on at the NEC and other conference centres, Birmingham can get very busy and accommodation may be limited. Why not consider staying at a hotel situated in Wolverhampton, Dudley or Solihull?
Back to the top
Where to Eat
Birmingham has over 500 restaurants, with flavours from all across the world, not forgetting the world famous ‘Balti’, Birmingham’s signature dish.
Jonathans Hotel and Restaurant
16-26 Wolverhampton Road, Birmingham, B68 0LH
- Has two excellent restaurants within its grounds; the Victorian Restaurant and the Secret Garden.
- A 3 course a la carte menu will cost £16.90 in the Secret Garden Restaurant and is available on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings.
A meal in the Victorian menu can cost anything from £28.00 to £40.00.
7 Oozells Square, Brindley Place, Birmingham, B1 2HL, +44 (0)121 643 3993
- Contemporary Thai restaurant with over 100 dishes.
- Main courses average between £6.00 and £12.00.
Al Frash Balti
186 Ladypool Road, Sparkbrook, Birmingham, B12 8JS, +44 (0)121 753 3120
- At the heart of the ‘Balti Triangle’, amidst a massive range of other Balti restaurants.
- A Balti dish from the menu costs between £4.45 and £6.00 with rice/naan as extra.
1 Montague Road, Edgbaston, Birmingham, B16 9HN, +44 (0)121-455-0999
- Winner of The AA’s Restaurant of the Year, combining a French-inspired menu with classic British cuisine.
- Open for Lunch Tuesday to Friday, and for Dinner Tuesday to Saturday.
- Lunch is priced at £23.95 for 3 courses, and dinner costs £32.95 for 3 courses.
Don Salvo Ristorante
156 - 158 Wharfside Street, The Mailbox, Birmingham, B1 1RG, +44 (0)121 643 4000
- This family run Italian restaurant offers over 100 freshly made dishes.
- Starters are available from £4.45 while main courses are available from £7.95, with the grill menu being more expensive.
Back to the top
Birmingham’s nightlife has developed immeasurably over recent years. Broad Street is a lively place with a high concentration of bars, including a lot of the main chains. Brindley Place is a newly developed area by Birmingham’s canal side with lots of bars and restaurants.
Fifty Two Degrees North
Arcadian, Hurst Street, Birmingham, B5 4TD
- Stylish bar overlooking the Arcadian piazza complete with a bar over 50ft long.
- Doesn’t sell draught beers, but attracts a chic, trendy crowd and has a dance and VIP area.
61 Newhall Street, Birmingham, B3 3RB
- A bar with a Jacuzzi incorporated. The V.I.P area comes complete with a bed big enough for 60 people.
The Custard Factory, Lakeside Gibb St, Birmingham, B9 4AA
- Located at Digbeth’s famous Custard Factory, this bar is a popular destination for live bands and top DJs.
171 Wharfside Street, The Mailbox, Birmingham, B1 1RL
- Champagne & piano bar aimed at those with cash to splash.
- A rotating grand piano and the exuberant décor gives this venue a cozy feel.
The Jam House
3 St Paul’s Square, Birmingham, B3 1QU
- Live music venue with a restaurant upstairs.
- Backed by Jools Holland, there is a good line-up on a regular basis.
Back to the top
Theatre & Entertainment
National Exhibition Centre (NEC)
Birmingham, B40 1NT
- As well as being a conference and exhibition centre, the NEC also hosts many concerts including ‘big’ names.
National Indoor Arena (NIA)
King Edwards Road, Birmingham, B1 2AA
- Has slightly less capacity than the NEC, but still hosts some major concert events.
O2 Academy Birmingham
52-54 Dale End, Birmingham, B4 7LS
- Hosts a range of concerts, from well-loved artists to up-and-coming acts.
Broad Street, Birmingham, B1 2EA
- Home to the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra.
- Presents a range of genre from folk to classical and rock to jazz.
Hurst Street, Birmingham, B5 4TB
- Stages a range of performances: musicals, opera, drama, and comedy, including numerous West End productions.
Birmingham Repertory Theatre
Broad Street, Birmingham B1 2EP
- One of Birmingham’s few producing theatres, dedicated to nurturing new talent.
Midlands Arts Centre (MAC)
Cannon Hill Park, Birmingham, B12 9QH
- From dance and drama, to cinema and poetry, the MAC provides a range of things for all the family to do, and is also a highly popular arts centre.
144 Potters Lane, Aston, Birmingham, B6 4UU
- The national centre for black British arts and culture.
- Presents a range of arts and entertainment across the fields of music, dance, drama, comedy and much more.
Back to the top
For the Kids
Curzon Street, Birmingham, B4 7XG
- An interactive museum and science centre, based around the history and development of science and technology.
- There is also an IMAX cinema alongside the four exciting floors of interesting things to discover.
7 days a week 10:00-17:00
Adult £6.95, Child £4.95, Family £20.00
Thinktank and IMAX: Adult £11.00, Child £8.00, Family £35.00
Linden Road, Bourneville, Birmingham, B30 2LU
- A hands-on attraction which presents the history of Cadbury and chocolate production.
- Great fun for adults and children alike.
Closed January and Mondays and Fridays in November and December.
Open from 09:00 in August and from 09:30/10:00 outside these times.
Closes at 17:00 in August and 15:00/16:00 at other times.
National Sea Life Centre
The Waters Edge, Brindleyplace, Birmingham, B1 2HL
- Full of exciting sea creatures, such as sharks and piranhas, from all different parts of the world.
- There is also a touch pool for the children to interact with the wildlife.
Monday to Friday 10:00-16:00
Saturday and Sunday 10:00-17:00
Family (2 adults and 2 children £38.00)
Back to the top
Shopping in Birmingham has developed significantly over the years, and is now home to stores such as Harvey Nichols and Selfridges, as well as the world famous Jewellery Quarter. From large department stores to independent boutiques, you will be spoilt for choice.
Birmingham, B5 4BU
- The Bullring is at the forefront of Birmingham’s regeneration, and houses many shops inside its cutting-edge building. These include the new Debenhams store, and Selfridges with its distinctive domed roof containing 15,000 aluminium discs.
- Has over 160 shops and 25 restaurants.
- Open Monday to Friday 09:30-20:00, Saturday from 09:00 and Sunday 11:00-17:00.
Wharfside Street, Birmingham, B1 1XL
- For designer fashion, the Mailbox is the place to shop.
- Located here are Harvey Nichols, Emporio Armani, and DKNY amongst other stores.
- There are also many bars, restaurants and hotels in this massive complex.
38 High Street, Birmingham, B4 7SL
- Located adjacent to the Bullring, Pavilions houses many high street stores and restaurants.
44-80 Corporation Street, Birmingham, B2 4UW
- In close proximity to the Bullring, there are many high street stores and food places.
- Open 09:00-18:00 Monday to Saturday, and 11:00-17:00 Sunday.
- This historic part of the city is famous for its jewellery shops.
- The Quarter is now a conservation area, and is a great place to stop for a bite to eat, and to peruse the assortment of jewellery on offer.
Birmingham also has many unique shops and individual retailers, located all across the city centre. From retro shops to art galleries, rare record shops to furniture emporiums, there is a plethora of hidden gems to be discovered.
Back to the top
Gay & Lesbian
Birmingham’s gay scene is constantly developing, and its prominence is definitely increasing. The hub of Birmingham’s gay scene is concentrated on and around Hurst Street, while there are lots of other gay-friendly bars across the city.
17 Lower Essex Street, Birmingham, B5 6SN
- Birmingham’s only lesbian bar.
- Hosts a range of events to promote gay and lesbian awareness, including an annual walk for pride and breast cancer care.
Kent Street, Birmingham, B5 6RD
- Birmingham’s largest club spanning 3 floors.
- Open Tuesday to Sunday, with late night opening on Friday until 04:00 and Saturday until 06:00.
- Serves food in its restaurant, as well as having a separate bar area.
Glamorous Show Bar
27-35 Hurst Street, Birmingham, B5 4BD
- Cabaret bar with live entertainment every night of the week, including vocalists and drag queens.
- Open until 04:00 from Tuesday to Saturday, while the bar closes at 02:00 on Monday and 03:00 on Sunday.
16 Lower Essex Street, Birmingham, B5 6RD
- -The official pre-club bar to DV8.
- This trendy bar serves food, and features the occasional cabaret act.
The Green Room
Arcadian Centre, Hurst Street, Birmingham, B5 4TD
- Popular café bar serving good food from 11:00 (Sunday from 12:00).
- Attracts a diverse crowd, and has seen many celebrities cross its threshold.
As well as an abundance of bars and clubs, the major event for Birmingham’s gay/lesbian community is Gay Pride. This usually takes places during the second bank holiday in May, beginning on the Saturday and running through until Monday.
Back to the top