Second in size to London, the English city of Birmingham is about 120 miles (193 kilometers) from the UK capital and is one of the country's best destinations for shopping. It's easy to travel between the two cities via train, but it's also possible to drive if you'd rather take your own car. Or you can hop on a bus if you're looking to save some money.
|Train||1 hour, 30 minutes||from $21||The shortest trip|
|Bus||3 hours, 30 minutes||from $6||Budget travel|
|Car||2 hours, 30 minutes||120 miles (193 kilometers)||Leaving on your own schedule|
What Is the Cheapest Way to Get From London to Birmingham?
Being that London and Birmingham are two of the UK's largest population centers and because they're not that far away from each other, the route between them is well serviced and each day there are multiple National Express buses leaving hourly from Victoria Coach Station for as little as $6 for a one-way ticket. It's also possible to find a cheap fare using BlaBlaBus, but this company only offers one departure per day. Although some buses can make the trip in 2 hours, 45 minutes when traffic conditions are good, you should count on spending on average 3 hours, 30 minutes on the bus.
What Is the Fastest Way to Get From London to Birmingham?
The quickest way to get from London to Birmingham is to take the train, which at its fastest will only take about 1 hour, 30 minutes. However, some trains can take as long as 2 hours. Tickets typically cost between $21 and $75 but can sometimes be found for as little as $8—if you get lucky.
If you want to keep costs down, it is usually cheaper to buy two one-way tickets than to buy one round-trip ticket. You should also buy your tickets in advance and book for a specific time if you can. A one-way anytime ticket bought on the day of travel for this trip will cost much more than a ticket booked a few weeks in advance on the National Rail Enquiries website.
Trains leave from Central London at Marylebone and Euston Stations, which are both located near Regent's Park, and arrive in Birmingham either at New Street, Snow Hill, or Moor Street Stations, which are all located near the city center. If you book a ticket to the Birmingham International Station, know that this station is not in the city center and is closer to the Birmingham International Airport and National Exhibition Center.
How Long Does It Take to Drive?
Birmingham is 120 miles (193 kilometers) northwest of London via the M1 and M6 motorways. It takes at least 2 hours, 30 minutes to drive when there is no traffic. Driving gives you the freedom to leave on your own schedule, but it may not be worth it.
If you are new to driving in the UK, think twice before hopping in a car to drive to Birmingham. The city's position at the hub of a number of important motorway routes, as well as the pattern of development of its downtown area in the 1960s and 1970s, make it a difficult place to drive—even for UK drivers who are used to driving on the left. Trains or buses are a better option for visitors and, once you arrive, the city's public transportation is excellent. Plus, you won't have to pay for gas and parking.
When Is the Best Time to Travel to Birmingham?
Like in neighboring London and the rest of the UK, the weather in Birmingham is temperate and rainy year-round. However, it's generally more pleasant to visit during the summer when temperatures are at their warmest.
As far as events go, there's always something going on in Birmingham, from the world-famous Crufts Dog Show in early-March to food events like the Foodies Festival in June and the Colmore Food Festival in July. For car enthusiasts, there's also the Classic Motor Show in November.
What Is There to Do in Birmingham?
With humble beginnings as a market town during England's medieval period, Birmingham grew into an industrial epicenter in the late 18th century and eventually became the main hub of the British motor industry. Today, you can visit the National Motorcycle Museum or the British Motor Museum to get a better sense of this history, but most people who visit Birmingham come for the shops.
The city is home to many shopping centers, but the most iconic, because of its futuristic design, is the Selfridges department store. As the UK's second-largest city, Birmingham is a cultural melting pot and is reputed to have the best Punjabi cuisine in all of the UK and also hosts the Indian Film Festival every year in July.
If you want to take a day trip out to explore the Midlands, it's easy to get to Warwick Castle, a medieval castle built about 1,000 years ago, the Cotswolds, a region best known for its charming ivy-covered villages, or the Peak District, the UK's oldest national park.