Birmingham: The UK’s Most Underrated Destination?
People tend to plan their trips to the UK with a focus on famous attractions located in London, Manchester, and even Liverpool –– not to mention a few alluring coastal spots. This is fair enough, but as a result people often miss out on some other excellent destinations –– not the least of which is the city of Birmingham. This historical city has some of the best museums, parks, and entertainment venues in the nation, and is a wonderful place to explore and enjoy over the course of a few days.
Let’s take a look at some of the specifics that make this city a perfect combination of tradition and innovation.
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London may be known worldwide for its international cuisine, cozy local offerings, and these days even its vegan scene –– but Birmingham also has some wonderful culinary options for travellers. Indian and Vietnamese restaurants are in strong supply, and for those seeking more traditional British fare, restaurants like Harborne Kitchen (featured in the Michelin guide), and The Old Crown (where food service varies but the old pub atmosphere is delightful) should be high on the list.
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This is another area in which Birmingham may not rival London’s reputation, but still has a ton to offer (and with smaller crowds even if this is a large city). Cannon Hill Park consists of 120 acres where visitors can relax and watch the local wildlife, enjoy weekend fairs, and even take boat rides on the lake during summer. If you are fond of old traditional homes, meanwhile, then Sheldon Country Park has some fully restored old farms where visitors can learn about dairy production, and observe ducks and ponies while taking relaxing walks through history.
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It’s also a wonderful city for museum exhibitions. At the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery visitors can appreciate old Greek, Roman, and Egyptian artifacts, while the Winterbourne House and Gardens offer Edwardian-era documents and furniture, as well as a botanical garden. For more visitors seeking something a little more off the beaten path meanwhile, we recommend the Museum of the Jewellery Quarter, showing jewellery-making techniques as well as old tools and environments used by craftsmen through the years.
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Birmingham visitors also have the opportunity to enjoy the Victorian architecture from the Great Western Arcade while shopping from famous brands and local designers alike (and of course stopping for a snack at some point). At the Jewellery Quarter, travellers can visit some of the oldest jewellery shops in England, some of which have existed for hundreds of years. Indeed, the buildings themselves are considered to be a historical attraction, making them worth the trip whether or not you’re a big shopper.
After walking through museums and parks, some travellers may be looking for less physically intense activities. An excellent choice is to spend the afternoon playing a relaxing game of bingo. While much of the world views the game as old-fashioned, England has plenty of places to play these types of games –– with some of the best located in Birmingham. In particular, BJ’s Bingo Club has been cited by Gala Bingo as one of the best places to play due to its easy-to-follow rules, making it ideal for beginners. Visitors will also have a chance to enjoy different shows and eat excellent food while playing, making this an ideal stop for a few hours of pure fun.
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Concerts and Shows
Birmingham’s Symphony Hall is known as one of the best concert halls in the world because of its advanced acoustic design. The hall frequently hosts prestigious bands and artists from around the world, performing across various genres. And if you are looking for a more casual experience, it’s also known for featuring different comedy shows on occasion. Bottom line: Make it a priority to see this stunning venue.
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It’s hard to picture an English city without its traditional railroads and train stations, and there are few things more beautiful for a fan of these attractions than The Shakespeare Express. This old steam engine allows you to travel around the countryside and enjoy views of old farms and waterways. Passengers will also be able to enjoy an old-fashioned afternoon tea.
All in all, Birmingham has some of the best attractions for travellers interested in English history and culture. Visiting the bulk of them only takes a few days too, which is all the more reason to include an excursion to this oft-overlooked city next time you visit the UK.