Birmingham city is the largest city in England after London. Also known as the ‘City of a Thousand Trades’, the city’s pioneering spirit in manufacturing has left a wealth of heritage in cuisine, music, nightlife, canal networks, and major cultural legacies. Here is our city guide for all the fun things to do in Birmingham area for your memorable student life here.
Birmingham city by Depositphotos
All new visitors are curious about the iconic landmarks that make Birmingham famous. So before finding out about fun things to do in this city, here is our comprised list of 5 must-visit attractions in Birmingham for new students:
Cadbury is the British’s most favourite brand of chocolate. In fact, for Brummies - a loving nickname for people from Birmingham - they would probably claim that this is the most famous thing about their city. Chocolate lovers from all around the world have been flocking over to Birmingham to learn about the production line and have a taste of their beloved treat since the 1990s.
Besides chocolate, Birmingham is also the curry capital of the UK and home to the authentic balti - a curry invented by the city’s Pakistani chefs in the 1970s. The most authentic Balti houses are located between the areas of Sparkbrook, Sparkhill and Balsall Heath with Adill’s among one of the original balti houses.
Did you know that Birmingham has 56km of waterways, which means it has more canals than the famous canal city - Venice itself? It was this extensive network of waterways that gave way to Birmingham’s earlier rise as the world’s first manufacturing city. Brindleyplace and The Mailbox hosts an enviable variety of canalside pubs that once welcomed US former president - Mr Bill Clinton - himself!
Besides being the place for worshipping, the cathedrals in the city centre of Birmingham are the living embodiment of the country’s history and culture.
Located in downtown Birmingham, St Chad's Cathedral is the first Catholic Cathedral erected in Great Britain in 1841. Its rich heritage started from the one who created the cathedral itself - Architecture Augustus Pugin who also designed the famous Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament in London.
Birmingham Cathedral was built in 1715 as a rare and fine example of elegant English Baroque architecture. One of the oldest building in the city, the cathedral still has the beautiful stained glass windows designed by Brummie British master of stained glass - Sir Edward Burne-Jones, manufactured by William Morris & Co. firm.
An artistic and historic landmark itself, the museum hosts the largest collection of pre-Rephaelite artwork in the world. The museum is home to 40 galleries in display art, applied art, social history, archaeology and ethnography.
Contemporary art lovers can also troll over to IKON Gallery in the Brindleyplace to admire more modern works and the beautiful neo-gothic Grade II listed building itself.
These are only the cherry on top of Birmingham’s myriads of places to go. If want to find out more about tourist attractions in Birmingham, a guided tour is offered at Birmingham Heritage Walking Tours. In the next section, we suggest even more places with more fun things to do in Birmingham city of culture!
Birmingham hosts over 50 festivals each year, among them are Moseley Folk Festival, Flat Pack film festival, Fierce art festival and the massive Birmingham International Jazz Festival. Your student life will be full of fun and excitement in this UK’s second-biggest city!
Brum - Birmingham’s adorable nickname - is one of the UK’s greenest cities and Sutton Park is one of the largest urban parks in Europe outside a capital city. The 2,400 acre of National Nature Reserve and Site of Special Scientific Interest offers numerous hiking trails, Boldmere Golf Course and other facilities for a relaxing weekend out jogging, walking, cycling, horse-riding, sailing, fishing and golfing.
Birmingham truly celebrates Christmas like no other with the largest Christmas market in the UK and the largest German Christmas market outside of Germany and Austria! Live up your Christmas with trinkets, jewellery, toys, accessories and all of Christmas homely treats here. Who knows, you may even find it more fun than a Christmas at home?
The ideal destination for animal lovers, Birmingham Wildlife Conservation Park is home to a unique collection of animals worldwide including Red Pandas, lemurs, meerkats, otters, wallabies and many more. Although the entry is not free, it is still pretty affordable for a student’s budget. If your family is visiting, this place is great family fun as well!
The Botanical Gardens is a garden that hosts the result of the British’s global exploration between the 18th and early 19th century. Rare plants from around the world were brought here and nurtured in the four glasshouses with their own climate: tropical, subtropical, Mediterranean and arid. You can attend plays, educational courses, live music or just slide down its water slide during hot summer days.
The top sport in Birmingham is football. There are 3 major teams in and around the city, among them are the famous Aston Villa, Birmingham City and West Bromwich Albion. Nothing can beat the burning pulsation of chanting and singing along with the crowd throughout the Premier League football matches every August to May season. The city has many stadiums for you to follow the intense passion.
Cricket fans can also visit the Edgbaston Cricket Ground to watch the latest Warwickshire County Cricket Club’s games during summer, as well as the occasional Test match when England play there.
The Grand Prix Karting venue is among one of the most famous outdoor go-kart raceways. Not too far from downtown Birmingham, this facility boasts state-of-the-art race karts manufactured by World Championship winning race constructor BIZ. Whether you are only starting or have raced professionally, this place will give you that needed adrenaline pump.
The Bear Grylls Adventure is home to Merlin Entertainments’ newest Adventure Park, full of physically challenging yet thrilling activities for your weekend. You can climb, dive, fly, zip, leap, scramble, shoot, dive and even try flying! Experience the park’s ten epic experiences and test the boundaries of your physical capability!
Bring the best of your team and try to Escape Reality in their uber-realistic rooms. Within 60 minutes, you all will work together to solve puzzles, open doors and hopefully escape together as heroes from their multiple rooms for all kinds of level. Escape Reality is the ideal weekend activity with friends who love intellectual stimulation!
Your group chose Birmingham for a reason. And if that reason is music, this world-famous refined 2262 capacity concert hall for all kinds of musical performance will be your frequent destination. Home to the Birmingham International Concert Season and the City of Birmingham Symphony, your whole-year schedule will be packed with all the auditory pleasing activities this place has to offer.
The National Exhibition Centre (NEC) and International Convention Centre (ICC) host over 850 events per year. While the NEC is the UK’s largest event space, the ICC is an international scale event venue with more than 350,000 visitors from around the world. Stay tuned for their latest event schedule and explore new interests with your besties.
The beginning of an impressive date night should start with one of Birmingham’s five Michelin star restaurants. The city hosts the most amount of world-certified options from contemporary British cuisine for all preferences. Some notable mentions are Purnell’s for ‘Brummie Tapas’ and Opheem for a sophisticated Indian dining experience.
One way to get a “YES!” and score “sophistication points” is to take your date to Bullring - one of the largest shopping centres in Europe. This luxury department store offers it all: strikingly modern and freeform architecture, a wide range of options from the top names in luxury fashion and cosmetic and an excellent global food court area. Even if window-shopping is your best option, discussing Bullring’s history is also a nice way to impress the date.
While some people are into retail therapy, others are into the scent of books and theirs wealth of global knowledge. For the quieter lovebirds, the Library of Birmingham has been the largest in Europe since 2013. You two will lose track of time in the UK’s most important collection of Shakespeare’s works, or simply admire the mesmerising Birmingham skyline from its outdoor viewing platform.
Did you know that Birmingham is the youngest city in Europe with approximately 40% of its population is not older than 25 years old? The population of over 73,000 students from the city’s five universities gives the city endless nightlife options.
Broad Street is the party central of Birmingham, you can find chain clubs, independent clubs and multiple bars all across the street.
If you are into bars, near the cathedral are plenty of excellent cocktail bars from cosy to elegant ones.
And you can even enjoy a more traditional British pub experience with various independent pubs and taste their best local ales. Real ale fans will especially be fascinated with The Wellington’s collection of 30 real ale hand-pulls and two-floors of whiskeys selection here.
Many students in Birmingham mark their youth with countless music festivals from world-famous iconic music venues such as Utilita arena and Resorts World arena to the lesser-known O2 Academy, O2 Institute and Sunflower Lounge. The city also gave birth to some of the music industry’s celebrities and some of the world’s top-selling artists such as Duran Duran, UB40, Electric Light Orchestra, The Moody Blues, The Streets, Dexys Midnight Runners and many more.
Talking about cool artistic neighbourhoods in Birmingham is talking about Digbeth. Home to hipsters, creatives and the city’s Irish community, you will find some of the city’s best nightlife activities here from pop-up street food markets, urban art, eclectic vibe, old boozers to humble cafes. Some highlights of the area are Digbeth Dining Club, Typhoo Tea, Bird’s Custard and The Old Library.
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