48 Hours in Birmingham, England: The Ultimate Itinerary

The cube behind brick buildings alongside a water channel in the central Birmingham, England
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The West Midlands destination of Birmingham is often known as England's second city. Located north of London, the city is known for its industrial history and thriving food and drink scene. It has several great museums, lots of shopping and a Premier League football team, which means there's a lot to experience when visiting. If you only have a few days to explore the best of Birmingham, it's important to hit the highlights, including the historic Jewellery Quarter and the beloved Cadbury chocolate factory. To make the most of a few days in the city, here is a complete 48-hour itinerary featuring Birminghams's best museums, shopping, pubs and restaurants.

01 of 06

Day 1: Morning

Hyatt Regency Birmingham

Courtesy of Hyatt Regency Birmingham

9 a.m. You can arrive to Birmingham via plane or train, with most travelers heading into the city via London. Drop off your bags at the Hyatt Regency Birmingham and get settled before starting your weekend, opting for public transport from the airport or from one of the city's train stations. This centrally-located hotel overlooks Birmingham's picturesque canals and has a fitness center, restaurant and spa, although you may be too busy exploring the local area to want to stay in. Opt for a room with a canal view to take full advantage of the location.

10 a.m. Grab a coffee at the nearby Floating Coffee Company, found inside a canal boat, before walking over to Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery. The museum, known as one of Birmingham's best, features extensive displays of both British and international art, as well as historical objects and sculptures. It can take a while to fully explore, so give yourself at least two hours to see every room. When you're done, pop in to The Library of Birmingham, a contemporary public library that is worth a visit for its architecture alone.

12:30 p.m. Book a table for lunch at Dishoom, one of England's most popular Indian restaurants. It has outposts in several cities, including London and Manchester, and the Birmingham location is a quick stroll around the corner from the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery. Reservations are recommended, especially on weekends, although you can always chance it last minute.

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02 of 06

Day 1: Afternoon

The Bullring Indoor Market
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2 p.m. After lunch, head to the Jewellery Quarter, a historic area just outside central Birmingham. There you'll discover several museums, including Museum of the Jewellery Quarter, Newman Brothers Coffin Works and The Pen Museum. The area also has tons of art galleries and boutique shops. Look for the music-driven St. Pauls Gallery and Artfull Expression, a boutique that sells jewelry from over 60 local designers. There are, of course, plenty of traditional jewelry stores to peruse, as well.

4 p.m. Keep the shopping spree going at the Bullring, a retail hub in the center of town. It hosts brands like Michael Kors, Whistles, Zara and Kurt Geiger, as well as beloved British department store Selfridges. Next door, the Bullring Open Market sells fruit, vegetables and other food six days a week, while the Bullring Rag Market is filled with vendors selling clothes and homeware. If you need a pick me up, pop by the Gran Cafe Selfridges for a coffee or a sweet treat. Afterwards, head back to the hotel to get ready for your first night out in Birmingham.

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03 of 06

Day 1: Evening

Isaac's Restaurant in Birmingham

Isaac's Restaurant Birmingham

6 p.m. Start the evening off right with a cocktail (or two) at The Botanist, a hip spot with upscale drinks and a well-designed atmosphere. The bar, which also serves food, has an expansive cocktail and drinks menu with something for everyone. While England is known for its classic pints of beer, the country also enjoys a well-made cocktail, making it a must-do on your itinerary.

7:30 p.m. For dinner, score a table at Isaac's, a New York-inspired brasserie that offers lunch and dinner, as well as bar snacks. The menu will suit any eater, with upscale dishes like a massive seafood platter included alongside more casual fare like roast chicken. The restaurant has plenty of vegetarian options for those who don't eat meat. Be sure to order one of the local draft beers, like Attic Intuition, to go with your dinner, although there are also non-alcoholic drinks available for those who prefer it.

9:30 p.m. If you're not ready to call it a night following your meal, The Cuban Embassy is the place to go. Part restaurant, part bar and part live music venue, this venue is always bustling late through the night. The bar boasts over 120 rums from around the world, as well as Cuban-inspired cocktails. Live music is on six nights a week, with resident musicians playing Latin tunes at the downstairs bar during the week and the house band, Rhythms Del Toro, performing on Fridays and Saturdays.

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04 of 06

Day 2: Morning

Cadbury World in Birmingham

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10 a.m. Get in the swing of things with brunch at Gas Street Social, which is famous for its bottomless brunch. It includes unlimited bellinis, mimosas, Bloody Marys and beers, and the restaurant's menu caters to vegetarians and vegans. Gas Street Social's location is blessedly close to your hotel, which means you don't have to get up too early. Bottomless brunch kicks off at 10 a.m. on the weekends, but the restaurant also serves up an all-day menu.

11 a.m. After breakfast, hop on a train at Birmingham New Street station to Cadbury World, home of the famed Cadbury chocolate. It's a quick journey from the center of town, and once there visitors will get to tour the factory, learn about the process of making the sweets and even try your hand at creating your own. The attraction is tailored to families and kids, but adults will love the behind the scenes look. There's also a cafe and the world's largest Cadbury shop, which means souvenirs for all your friends back home. When you've had your fill, take a train back to central Birmingham.

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05 of 06

Day 2: Afternoon

Aston Villa stadium in Birmingham

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2 p.m. After a classic pub lunch at The Bartons Arms, a historic Victorian pub, head to Aston Villa, home of Premier League soccer team Aston Villa F.C. If there's not a game on, sports fans can tour the stadium, which is one of England's most historic pitches. Visitors can see the locker rooms, dugouts and more, and even get exclusive photo opportunities. Tours, held on both weekends and weekdays, should be booked online in advance.

4 p.m. Finish your second afternoon in Birmingham off with a bang: on a walking tour of Birmingham. Look for one with Brum Tours, which offers Peaky Blinders-themed tours, as well as pub tours and historic treks. If you prefer to plan your own exploration of Birmingham's history, head to a few of the city's oldest pubs: The Old Crown, The Great Stone Inn and Lad In The Lane. Grab a pint or a snack at one (or all) of the locals before returning to the hotel to get ready for the evening.

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06 of 06

Day 2: Evening

A view of Birmingham's Symphony Hall and theater

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7:30 p.m. Book tickets for a show at the Birmingham Hippodrome. The venue hosts live music, comedy, theater and more, with an ever-evolving calendar of events. Other great Birmingham theaters include The Alexandra and the Birmingham Repertory Theatre, both of which are a good option for visitors looking for some live entertainment. Another favorite is Symphony Hall, home to the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. Some of the theaters may have last minute tickets available, so try your luck at the box office if you didn't book in advance.

9:30 p.m. Grab a post-show bite to eat at Bacchus Bar, found in the center of town near most of the theaters. It has an eclectic feel and an expansive menu of food and drink. Closer to your hotel, The Canal House is a hip bar and restaurant that stays open until 11 p.m. on weekdays and 1 a.m. on weekends. It's a great place to toast a successful 48 hours in Birmingham.

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