The Top 10 Things to Do in Birmingham, England

Birmingham Canal Roundabout
mhforephotography / Getty Images

Birmingham is one of England's most up-and-coming cities. Located in the West Midlands region, the city was formerly an 18th-century manufacturing center, with many traces of its industrialization still seen today. It's found midway between London and Manchester, making it a great destination on a longer England trip, or Birmingham is great as a long weekend stay. From its museums, like the expansive Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, to its culture, like the renowned Birmingham Symphony Hall, Birmingham has a lot to offer its visitors. Here are ten of the best things to do in Birmingham.

01 of 10

Explore Cadbury World

Cadbury World in Birmingham

Courtesy of Cadbury World

Cadbury World, 69 Linden Road, Bournville, Birmingham B30 1JR, UK
Phone +44 121 393 6004

England's most famous (and most beloved) chocolate comes from Cadbury, which American visitors will know for their Cadbury Cream Eggs. Birmingham is home to Cadbury World, a popular visitor attraction that details the history, making of and legacy of Cadbury. It features a self-guided tour through several whimsical exhibitions, and you can even visit the world's biggest Cadbury shop. It's best to book tickets in advance online, especially if you prefer to visit on a specific date, and don't miss Cadbury World's afternoon tea, which includes several chocolate treats. Kids will also enjoy the character dining opportunities with Cadbury mascots, like character breakfast or character afternoon tea.

02 of 10

Visit the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery

Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery

Courtesy of Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery

Chamberlain Square, Birmingham B3 3DH, UK
Phone +44 121 348 8000

The Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery houses a vast collection of international objects, from fine art and ceramics to natural history and archaeology displays to exhibitions on local and industrial history. The museum, which opened in 1885, is housed in Grade II listed landmark building, an experience in itself. Explore more than 40 galleries, or enjoy a treat in the museum's Edwardian tea rooms. It's great for kids and adults alike, and it's best to give yourself a few hours to see everything in the building. Best of all: The museum is free for all visitors.

03 of 10

Go Back in History at the Black Country Living Museum

Tipton Road, Dudley DY1 4SQ, UK
Phone +44 121 557 9643

Black Country Living Museum, found about 10 miles west of Birmingham, is an open-air living museum that details the area's history. It features 40 carefully reconstructed shops, houses, and industrial areas that represent the Black Country's story, and visitors get a tangible experience with the smoke, smells, and noises of the time. Opt for the audio tour to better understand how Black Country was developed and scour the buildings for over 80,000 authentic items. The museum will be of particular interest to fans of "Peaky Blinders" as you can book tickets to its special Peaky Blinders Nights, which tell the tales of Birmingham's famous street gangs. Drive to the museum or take a train from central Birmingham to Tipton, a quick mile walk away.

04 of 10

Stroll Around the Birmingham Botanical Gardens

Birmingham Botanical Gardens
Karl Newton / Getty Images
Westbourne Road, Birmingham B15 3TR, UK
Phone +44 121 454 1860

Located in Edgbaston, on the edge of Birmingham's city center, the Birmingham Botanical Gardens make for a great day out, especially during the spring and summer. The 15-acre botanical garden features four large glasshouses, which contain several types of climates: tropical, subtropical, Mediterranean, and arid. There is also a playground, gift shop, and tea room, as well as a garden center, in case you get inspired to do some gardening of your own. The gardens also host family-specific activities, like annual events and special children's trails through the plants. Tickets can be booked online in advance, but you can also show up the day of.

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05 of 10

Tour Aston Hall

Aston Hall

Courtesy of Birmingham Museums

Trinity Road, Birmingham B6 6JD, UK
Phone +44 121 348 8100

Immerse yourself in the 17th century at Aston Hall, a historic manor house with over 30 rooms to explore. The surrounding gardens are particularly picturesque, and it's a great place to learn more about Jacobean England. Aston Hall, which is supposedly one of the most haunted places in England, often hosts special events, augmenting a visit to the house. Look for family-friendly offerings, as well as literary-themed events throughout the year. The estate can be accessed by car, but visitors can also take public transport from central Birmingham. Walk from Witton Station or Aston Station, or hop on the number 65 bus from the city center.

06 of 10

See a Show at Birmingham Symphony Hall

Giorgio Moroder Performs At Symphony Hall Birmingham
Redferns / Getty Images
Broad Street, Birmingham B1 2EA, UK
Phone +44 121 780 3333

Birmingham Symphony Hall, home to the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, is a renowned concert hall, ideal for visitors interested in seeing live music during their stay in town. The hall is relatively new, opened in 1991, and it hosts all genres, from classical to kids music to country. There are also recurring live poetry events, comedy, dance and theater performances, and more. Check the calendar for what's on during your visit. The venue is also located centrally, with lots of restaurants and bars nearby to enjoy before or after a show.

07 of 10

Go Underwater at the National Sea Life Centre

The Water's Edge, Eleven Brindley Place, Birmingham B1 2HL, UK
Phone +44 121 794 2386

Head to the center of town to discover the National Sea Life Centre, an immersive aquarium that boasts the U.K.'s only 360-degree underwater tunnel. Inside, there are sharks, giant turtles, sea otters, penguins, and dozens of colorful fish. There are numerous types of tickets available for the family-friendly attraction, including general admission, multi-attraction tickets that include Sea Life and LEGOLAND Discovery Centre Birmingham, and a parent and toddler ticket. Be sure to check the aquarium's website for any current promotions or discounts before booking.

08 of 10

Hike Through Sheldon Country Park

Limestone walls near Sheldon, Derbyshire, England
Photos by R A Kearton / Getty Images
Ragley Drive, Church Road, Birmingham B26 3TU, UK

Take a quick drive out of town to Sheldon, home of Sheldon Country Park, for some nature and fresh air. Spanning 300 acres, the park consists of open grassland, wetlands, and woodland and also boasts the Old Rectory Farm, which is open to visitors year-round. There is a scenic nature trail that threads through the park, an ideal hike for travelers of all abilities, and regular ranger events for kids. Old Rectory Farm is a working farm that showcases traditional farming, so you can get up close and personal with Jersey cattle, pigs, goats, and ponies with free admission. Follow the Sheldon Country Park's walking route for a laidback stroll.

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09 of 10

Ride the Shakespeare Express

All aboard the Shakespeare Express, part of Vintage Trains. The historic steam train takes guests between Stratford upon Avon, Shakespeare's birthplace, and Birmingham, with a dining car onboard that offers breakfast, lunch, and afternoon tea. Tickets are available on select dates only, so be sure to plan well ahead of your desired journey. If the train isn't available, Stratford upon Avon is less than an hour's drive south from Birmingham, making it an easy day trip for those who want to learn more about the Bard's life.

10 of 10

Visit Gas Street Basin

A river view of red brick buildings in Birmingham

tupungato/Getty Images

Gas Street Basin, Birmingham, UK

The vibrant Gas Street Basin neighborhood of Birmingham is perfect for a night out or a shopping spree. Located in the city center, where the Worcester and Birmingham Canal meets the BCN Main Line, the area is filled with local pubs, cocktail bars, restaurants, and shops. It has a cool industrial feel, and boats still use the canal today. Look for the Canal House, a vibrant pub, and Mediterranean eatery Noel’s Bar and Restaurant. Because Gas Street Basin is so central, there are also many hotels in the neighborhood, including the Hyatt Regency Birmingham, which overlooks the basin.

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The Top 10 Things to Do in Birmingham, England