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Birmingham Travel Guide

Birmingham Travel Guide

If you want to visit a place that is a symbol of Britain’s working class past and a multicultural future, there is no better option than Birmingham. This travel guide to the city involves some of the leading reasons why you might choose to visit the city and the places you might want to see and things you might want to do when you’re there.

Why Birmingham?

Lying at the heart of England is the city that has become a symbol of industriousness, inventiveness, and plain old-fashioned hard work. Birmingham, the second largest city in Britain, has had a special place in history. Known as the city of a thousand trades and the workshop of the world, it was one of the birthplaces of the industrial revolution. From the light bulb to the steam engine, without Birmingham’s contributions, the world would never have been the same.

Over the years, though, the city transformed. It became a melting pot of global cultures, beliefs, and lifestyles. In the 21st Century, Birmingham emerged on the tourist map as one of Britain’s leading shopping and cultural destinations. It now attracts more than 33 million tourists each year. And, over the last six years alone, the number has seen a 10 percent increase. There’s something about the city that attracts global visitors and keeps them coming back.
Apart from its cultural, historic, and scientific significance, the city is also known for its gastronomic delights. The last few years have witnessed an explosion of local restaurants offering a wide range of food options to the tourists.
From Indian restaurants to Japanese Sushi bars, the city is famous for its state of the art cuisine options. Whether it’s the four Michelin-star restaurants at the top of the food chain or the affordable diners round the street corners, Birmingham has something for everyone. It even has a chocolate factory that attracts around half a million visitors a year.

Things to see

Birmingham is still going through a reinvention of sorts when it comes to some of the leading places to see in the city. The New Street Station which was, once, in dire conditions has had a huge makeover and the gleaming stainless steel structure of the Station exterior is now one of the most impressive examples of post-modern architecture in the city.

Birmingham also has a wealth of museums and monuments representing the city’s cultural and historical significance. The restored Victorian buildings are also a face of the rich historical legacy of the city. A shining example of this is Birmingham’s Museum and Art Gallery. It is a place where art and history meet in a stunning display of brilliance. It has the world’s biggest collection of Pre-Raphaelite paintings as well as the Staffordshire Hoard which is the biggest reservoir of Anglo-Saxon silver and gold metalwork existing today.

If you’re looking for something more contemporary and post-modern, be prepared to be mesmerized by the bubble-wrap facade of Selfridges Building, one of Birmingham’s most iconic architectural landmarks. A part of the Bullring Shopping Centre, the Selfridges Building hosts the Selfridges Departmental Store.

Apart from all that, the city also has a labyrinthine network of canals. In fact, it is also said that the city has even more canals than Venice. A trip downstream would introduce you to many of Birmingham’s landmarks and monuments. For animal lovers, there’s a choice between the Dudley Zoological Gardens, which hosts some of the world’s rarest animal breeds, and the National Sea Life Centre. With a million-liter water tank, the Sea Life Centre dazzles its visitors with a glass tunnel that exhibits a variety of sharks, turtles, and fish overhead as the visitors walk underneath.

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Things to do

One of the first things you should do in Birmingham is to explore the city’s rich cultural and industrial legacy. And if you want to that, start with the Thinktank Birmingham Science Museum. It is one of the world’s leading and innovative museums when it comes to displaying the ingenuity of and the development in the field of scientists. Full of interactive and hands-on displays, the Science Museum offers its visitors a tour of locomotives and aircrafts. The visitors can even explore human anatomy and learn from the working models of various body parts.

A jump from science to culture would involve a trip to the Ikon gallery for the city’s contemporary art collection. If you’re interested in performing arts, you would want to be spell-bound by a performance of the Birmingham Royal Ballet or mesmerized by the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. The Symphony Hall, itself, is one of Birmingham’s landmark’s buildings which looks stunning and is the perfect venue for musical performances.

If you want to take a trip down the memory lane, you can visit the city’s Back to Back housing project. It’s a living breathing proof of the lifestyles of the 19th Century working class that made Britain what it is today. If you’re further interested in what life was like back then, you can also visit the Black Country Living Museum.

Apart from its cultural, historic, and scientific significance, the city is also known for its gastronomic delights. The last few years have witnessed an explosion of local restaurants offering a wide range of food options to the tourists. From Indian restaurants to Japanese Sushi bars, the city is famous for its state of the art cuisine options. Whether it’s the four Michelin-star restaurants at the top of the food chain or the affordable diners round the street corners, Birmingham has something for everyone. It even has a chocolate factory that attracts around half a million visitors a year.

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Things to see

Birmingham is still going through a reinvention of sorts when it comes to some of the leading places to see in the city. The New Street Station which was, once, in dire conditions has had a huge makeover and the gleaming stainless steel structure of the Station exterior is now one of the most impressive examples of post-modern architecture in the city.

Birmingham also has a wealth of museums and monuments representing the city’s cultural and historical significance. The restored Victorian buildings are also a face of the rich historical legacy of the city. A shining example of this is Birmingham’s Museum and Art Gallery. It is a place where art and history meet in a stunning display of brilliance. It has the world’s biggest collection of Pre-Raphaelite paintings as well as the Staffordshire Hoard which is the biggest reservoir of Anglo-Saxon silver and gold metalwork existing today.

If you’re looking for something more contemporary and post-modern, be prepared to be mesmerized by the bubble-wrap facade of Selfridges Building, one of Birmingham’s most iconic architectural landmarks. A part of the Bullring Shopping Centre, the Selfridges Building hosts the Selfridges Departmental Store.

Birmingham is also host to an array of art events and cultural festivals throughout the year. If you’re planning to visit the city, don’t forget to check out the schedule for any events you may find interesting.

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When to visit

Birmingham does not experience a lot of weather extremes. So that shouldn’t be a matter of concern when you’re chalking out the travel plans. Even in winters, the temperatures rarely reach below zero. However, be prepared to experience a lot of showers in the monsoon season.

The best time to visit Birmingham is spring and early autumn. It’s better to stay away during midsummer as the hot weather might be a cause of concern for some. Another reason to avoid midsummer is the wealth of tourists that swarm the city in the season. If you want to travel on a budget and avoid the huge number of tourists, you can also choose to visit the city in the winter season.

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