Birmingham (the h is silent, and, in the local dialect, the g is hard, as in Birming-gum) was at the heart of the UK's industrial revolution, and its wealth was built upon the multitude of trades that were spawned. This led to a massive canal network, with more miles of canals than Venice (though they're very different types of canal).
Much of the city centre was destroyed during the Second World War, and the replacement buildings added little to the city. However, since the 1990s, Birmingham has been undergoing a radical change and many of the post war buildings have been replaced. The majority of the city centre is now pedestrianized, and the canals cleaned up to make for attractive walkways. Locals credit the City Council for the recent transformation, as the city retains its industrial heritage while now appearing modern and forward looking.
The city's notable associations are as diverse as HP Sauce, Tony Hancock, Cadbury's chocolate, The Lunar Society (whose members included James Watt and Matthew Boulton), Black Sabbath, the Spitfire and the Mini (car, not skirt).
Birmingham has many literary associations - not only JRR Tolkien, but also Washington Irving, who wrote Rip Van Winkle while lodging here with his sister's family, and Conan Doyle, who bought a violin in Sherlock Street while a medical student in Birmingham. The authors Jim Crace, Judith Cutler and David Lodge are also residents.
The nearby locations of Shropshire, Warwick, and Stratford-Upon-Avon provide more of the stereotypical images of "olde" England. However, Birmingham has many of its own tourist attractions, has an extremely lively night life, and the shopping is arguably one of the best outside of London.
City centre map
Birmingham International Airport (IATA: BHX) (ICAO: EGBB),  is a major airport situated just outside the city, in Solihull, about 8 miles east of central Birmingham, serving the city and the rest of the West Midlands region with frequent domestic and international flights. There are several direct arrivals a day from all major UK and European destinations, and one or two from more far-flung places such as Delhi, Dubai (twice daily), Islamabad, Luxor, New York and Toronto.
A free Air-Rail Link connects the airport Passenger Terminals with Birmingham International Rail Station between 05:15 and 02:00; it runs every two minutes and the journey time is less than two minutes. From the Birmingham International Rail Station trains run to New Street Station every 5-15 minutes from around 6:15 (Su 8:45) to 23:15. The journey takes 10-20 minutes depending on whether you get an express or local (stopping) service and costs £3 one way (local service) or £7 (express service).
Bus service 900 runs every 20-30 minutes between Birmingham and Coventry via the airport from around 6:10 (Sa 6:30, Su 7:00) to midnight, takes around 25 minutes and costs £1.70 one way.
A taxi from the airport to central Birmingham will take around 20-30 minutes and will cost around £22.00.
National Express coaches serve the airport every half hour during the early hours of the morning which is very handy for morning flights, as the trains don't usually start until later in the morning. The fare as of September 2009 is £3.60 each way. 
The National Exhibition Centre is adjacent to the airport and can be accessed by the Air-Rail Link in Terminal 1 via Birmingham International Station.
Birmingham is a major hub of Britain's rail network. The main station is New Street, with Snow Hill and Moor Street carrying significantly fewer services, but include superior service from London Marylebone station. New Street also has faster, but more expensive, services to London Euston. New Street and Moor Street are a 5 minute walk apart, and Snow Hill is around 10 minutes walk from each.
Allow plenty of time to find your train at New Street station as it is huge and very confusing, and as it is currently undergoing modernisation the layout is constantly changing. Most platforms (tracks) are divided into sections (e.g. Platform 4A, 4B and 4C) and it's not uncommon for two trains bound for different destinations to depart from the same track, so make sure you wait in the right area and board the right train! New Street Station is notorious for last-minute platform changes so it's advisable to wait close to the stairs and keep close attention to the information screens and PA announcements as you may need to make a quick dash to the opposite side of the station with only 3 minutes until departure!
All areas of Britain are well-served, with half-hourly services (M-Sa daytime) from Bristol, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Glasgow, London, Manchester, Oxford, Sheffield and stations in between. Timetables can be checked at National Rail Enquiries  (+44 8457 48 49 50) and booked on-line or over the phone through the train operator.
Intercity buses, unless clearly stated otherwise, will terminate at the temporary Birmingham Central Coach Station located on Oxford Street in Digbeth, whilst Digbeth Coach Station itself is rebuilt nearby. The City Centre is around a 5 minute walk from the station along the slightly tatty Digbeth High Street, but people need not be alarmed as the Selfridges Building and skyline are clearly visible to guide you in the correct direction. If you arrive at night (or have large amounts of luggage), consider getting a bus or taxi as the Digbeth area is not a very pleasant part of the city and is home to many pubs and other nightlife, which may intimidate strangers.
The main station has a booking office, café, shop and other basic facilitates, but currently Digbeth station is closed for redevelopment, and temporary facilities are provided across the road. There are currently toilets (20 pence), vending machines (available 24 hours), a shop, a booking office, and an information desk at the temporary coach station in Oxford Street.
If taking the coach to an airport (such as for your journey home), leave at least two, preferably three hours early, as coach trips have been known to face significant delays if mechanical or personnel problems are encountered. National Expressonly promises only to get you to the destination within the same day and will take no responsibility if the service runs late (the optional National Express insurance covers only your personal safety and your possessions).
Megabus, +44 900 160 0900, . Serves London only (premium rates).
Birmingham is well sign-posted and surrounded by motorways; the M42, the M5, and the M6 which includes the infamous Spaghetti Junction (Gravelly Hill Interchange). Once in the West Midlands:
From the north, Birmingham is served by A-roads.
From the north-east, use the M1, M42 and M6.
From the east, use the M6.
From the south-east, use the M40 and M42.
From the south, Birmingham is served by A-roads.
From the south-west, use the M5 and M42.
From the west, Birmingham is served by A-roads.
From the north-west, use the M6.
Birmingham City Council operated car parks are available throughout the city, a list is accessible online .
Due to its industrial heritage, Birmingham has an extensive canal network and is on both the "Worcester & Birmingham" and "Grand Union" canals. Visitors travelling by narrowboat can choose from several tourist moorings, managed privately or by British Waterways. Although the moorings are very busy in spring and summer, call ahead for availability.
Birmingham Canal Navigations provides a highly detailed 1:30,000-scale colour map of the network.
By Public Transport
Bus, Train and Metro all come under the authority of Network West Midlands (Part of Centro, the PTE of Birmingham and surrounding area), their website is the best source for all information required on public transport in the region .
Birmingham City Council has public transportation information available online  as well.
Birmingham is not a particularly cycle-friendly city (especially compared to the rest of Europe), but it is possible to get around without too much trouble. There are plenty of places to lock a bike up in the city centre, but few cycle lanes and lots of pedestrians. Unless you're touring the UK on pedal power, the best use for a bike is to do one of the following: explore the extensive canal network, enjoy the country parks, travel to out-of-town attractions, or experience more distant places such as Warwick, Leamington Spa and Stratford-upon-Avon.
Birmingham City Council produces an excellent cycling and walking map of the area. You can pick one up from any local library, tourist information office, leisure centre or bike shop.
Road and cycle path maintenance in the area is far from perfect, and it is not uncommon for trees and parked cars to obstruct the right-of-way. The standard of driving is similar to other cities, so exercise extreme caution on main roads and at night. The canal network can be accessed in the city centre from the Broad Street/Gas Street area, or at most road crossings elsewhere. The towpath is generally well-maintained to within a few miles of the city, and after that tends to be packed earth with plenty of mud and embedded bricks. A permit from British Waterways (free) is needed for towpath cycling.
The Sustrans National Cycle Network  Route 5 (Oxford to Derby) passes through Birmingham from the south to the north-west. The local stretch is known as the Rea Valley Route, there is also the Cole Valley Route to the east.
On Your Bike, 33-40 Bradford St, Birmingham +44 121 666 6933, (firstname.lastname@example.org, fax: +44 121 666 6388), . M,W,F,Sa 10AM-6PM, Th 10AM-7PM, Tu,Su closed.
All areas of Birmingham are well-served by bus routes, operated almost exclusively by National Express West Midlands (NEWM) with some competition from smaller providers such as Pete's Travel and the Birmingham Coach Company.
There is no central bus station for local services, buses depart instead from various locations in the city centre (principally Bull Street, Colmore Row, Corporation Street and Stephenson Street). Bus stop maps are available from libraries, tourist information offices and the Network West Midlands (NWM) office at New Street Station.
Route maps and timetables are available from the outlets mentioned above, and there are extensive online versions on the National Express West Midlands and NWM  websites. If you do not have a lot of time to spare tracking down which buses serve which areas, you can use the Traveline Midlands Journey Planner (+44 870 608 2 608).
Single fares are currently £1.70 for on NEWM services, and transfers are not allowed. There are no return tickets, but you can buy an all-day pass, or 'Daysaver' for £3.30 or an evening (after 6PM) pass for £2.20. NEWM buses do not give change, so make sure you have the exact amount required for the fare (in coins) ready when you board the bus. Birmingham no longer has any night bus services.
Birmingham's bus system is roughly radial, with frequent services in and out of the city centre from most locations. There are also two orbital (#8 and #11) routes and several linking services. This can be inconvenient, as you may find that you have to go into the city centre and back out again to travel between two places that are relatively close as the crow flies. Buses are also sometimes very unreliable. Waits of up to an hour on services that are scheduled as being every ten minutes are not unheard of.
Birmingham's city centre is partially pedestrianised and has several unintuitive one-way systems. A car is a viable way of getting around the city and other areas, but a good map or sat-nav is essential.
Birmingham City Council produces a map of city centre car parks (available from tourist information offices). Expect to pay £1-£1.50 per hour in Pay & Display areas and more on street meters. Parking attendants patrol popular areas regularly, so expect a fine if you return late or a clamp if you're parked illegally.
Car hire is possible both in the city centre and at the airport.
Motorcycles and mopeds are becoming increasingly popular in Birmingham as a way of avoiding rush hour traffic jams, and usually enjoy free parking in city centre car parks. Although not a lot of car parks have bike areas, there are a number of bays around the centre but none of them have any rails to lock your bike to.
Birmingham has an abundance of taxi ranks all over the city, the best-served being New Street Station. Both hackney carriages and private hire vehicles are easy to find, but you should exercise caution and not get into an unmarked car or one you haven't booked.
Friday and Saturday nights are the busiest times due to clubbers going home in masses, and there can be waits of over an hour if you're somewhere busy like Broad Street.
There is an extensive overland rail network serving most of Birmingham and the West Midlands area, operated mainly by London Midland.
Route maps and timetables are available from libraries, tourist information offices, railway stations and the Traveline Midlands Journey Planner  (+44 870 608 2 608). You can take bicycles, pushchairs and wheelchairs on board without prior reservation, and there is usually a designated carriage.
Fares vary with distance, but you can expect to pay between £2 and £5 for a day return to a local destination. Fare-dodging is rife, and there has been a crackdown recently with ticket barriers at stations (cross-city line and Snow Hill) and on-board checking. The penalty for not having a valid ticket is a £20 on-the-spot fine (which can be contested in court, but is rarely worth the hassle).
From New Street station, the cross-city line runs between Lichfield Trent Valley in the north and Redditch in the south, stopping notably at Sutton Coldfield (for Sutton Park), Aston (for Aston Hall), University (for the University of Birmingham), Bournville (for Cadbury World) and Barnt Green (for Lickey Hills). Local services also run to Hereford (via Worcester and Malvern), Leamington Spa, Northampton (via Birmingham International Airport, Coventry and Rugby), Nuneaton, Shrewsbury (via Wolverhampton), Stafford (via Walsall), Stratford-upon-Avon, Tamworth and Warwick. Additional services to these areas run from Snow Hill and Moor Street stations (they are on the same line), and you may not be able to catch a specific train from New Street.
Birmingham has a single metro line, running between Snow Hill Station and Wolverhampton, via the Jewellery Quarter, West Bromwich, Wednesbury and Bilston. Plans are afoot to extend the service out to Five Ways, via the City Centre and along Broad Street.
The Metro runs from roughly 6:30AM-11:30PM M-Sa, and 8AM-11PM Su and bank holidays. Fares vary with distance, but expect to pay around £2 for a single, £3.50 for a return and £4.50 for a day pass (combined bus/train/Metro passes are also available). Full route, timetable and fare information is listed on the Midland Metro website , and there is additional information on the Centro website .
By water bus
Water buses and taxis operate out of the canal offices in Gas Street Basin (underneath Broad Street). They also provide tours of the area. Obviously, they are limited to the local canals and are significantly slower than other forms of transport.
On foot in the City Centre
Birmingham's City Centre is partially pedestrianised, and most things to see and do can be reached on foot. Birmingham walking directions can be planned online with the walkit.com  walking route planner.
Visitors would enjoy the delightful walk from the International Convention Centre (ICC) and the Symphony Hall on the top of Broad Street to the Bull Ring shopping complex (the longest distance likely to be covered on foot), which would take around twenty minutes (not counting stops along the way) and may involve only one easy surface road-crossing. From the ICC, you walk east by the Repertory Theatre in Centenary Square; then literally through the Central Library to Chamberlain Square; with the Museum and Art Gallery to your left and the Class I listed building, the Town Hall, on your right, you make your way to the spacious Victoria Square. At Victoria Square, you will find the Town Hall to the west, the Council Offices to the north, and the Post Office to the South; the path you want to the Bull Ring is east, down New Street, which is a pedestrianized street lined with shops, stores, and kiosks. About five blocks down New Street, you will come to a signal at Corporation Street, the only road crossing you need to make on this walk. A few blocks later, New Street will turn into Rotunda Square. Bearing south towards St. Martin's Church, you will find the 21st-century Bull Ring Shopping Complex to your left and right.
Birmingham has a large canal network. In the city centre, extensive development has enhanced the environment and level of amenities around these canals, making them excellent pedestrian routes in their own right. Visitors would enjoy the peaceful ten-minute car-free canal stroll from Brindleyplace, National Sea Life Centre, and Sherborne Wharf, all next to the ICC, eastward under Broad Street, through the Gas Street Basin, to The Mailbox (the former Royal Mailbox turned into shops and restaurants).
Other walks in the City Centre include the wheelchair accessible summer Floral trail from The Mailbox to St Paul's Square, which in turn is the beginning point of another walk, the Jewellery Quarter in Bloom trail.
Birmingham doesn't have a reputation for being especially picturesque, but there is a lot of interesting architecture in the city centre that the shops and crowds sometimes obscure. For such a (relatively) large population centre, the countryside (in the form of country parks) is surprisingly close.
Museums and art galleries
For a place with a strong industrial heritage, Birmingham does not have the large range of historical attractions you may expect, however, this is offset by the arts being extremely well-represented.
Aston Hall, Trinity Rd, Aston (Train to Aston or Witton or #7 bus), ☎ +44 121 327 0062 (email@example.com), . closed until summer 2009 for a £10 million makeover, though the exterior can still be viewed. Restored Jacobean mansion built between 1618 and 1635, containing period rooms and artwork. Cannon damage from the English Civil War is still visible. The Hall was visited by Arthur Conan Doyle and Washington Irving, inspiring the latter's 'Bracebridge Hall'. Aston Hall by Candlelight is a popular Christmas event that takes place every two years (even numbers) where the whole grounds are lit by candles for 17th-century festivities (fee charged).Free entrance. (52.5066,1.8836)
While you're in the area make your way down to 14 Lodge Road, birthplace of Ozzy Osbourne. This is a private house (so please respect the occupants' privacy) but a popular photo-spot for heavy metal fans. Lodge Road is about 1/2 a mile from Aston Hall and runs between Witton Road and Trinity Road. Most crime in Aston occurs after dark so you should be fairly safe during the day. You'll also experience the inspiration behind Black Sabbath's grim early lyrics!
Barber Institute of Fine Arts, University of Birmingham, Edgbaston B15 2TS (on the University of Birmingham campus, off Edgbaston Park Rd, train to University or #61, #62 or #63 bus), ☎ +44 121 414 7333 (firstname.lastname@example.org, fax: +44 121 414 3370), . M-Sa 10AM-5PM, Su noon-5PM. Small gallery with an excellent permanent collection, including many pre-Raphaelites. Good Britain Guide gallery of the year 2004.Free (donations welcome). (52.449,-1.927)
Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, Chamberlain Square B3 3DH (Central), ☎ +121 303 2834 (email@example.com), . M-Th Sa 10AM-5PM, F 10:30AM-5PM, Su 12:30PM-5PM.. Large museum with some local history, several temporary exhibitions and large permanent collection. Includes the Gas Hall and Waterhall Gallery of Modern Art.Free (donations welcome). (52.479,-1.903)
Cadbury World, Linden Rd, Bournville B30 2LU (train to Bournville), ☎ +44 845 450 3599, . Opening times vary enormously but tend to be daily 10AM-4PM in the spring, summer and autumn. Huge chocolate factory south of the city centre. Tour includes the history of chocolate and the Cadbury company, plus a brief look at some of the factory floor. Some free chocolate, plus relatively cheap mis-shapes in the shop.£12.50 (concessions £9.95, children £9.50. Combined train and entry tickets available). (52.428,-1.934)
IKON Gallery, 1 Oozells Square, Brindleyplace B1 2HS (off Broad St), ☎ +44 121 248 0708 (firstname.lastname@example.org, fax: +121 248 0709), . Tu-Su 11AM-6PM. Small gallery with two or three temporary modern and conceptual art installations. Excellent cafe (see below).Free (donations welcome). (52.477,-1.912)
Sarehole Mill, Cole Bank Rd, Hall Green B13 OBD (#4, #5, #6 #11 buses), ☎ +44 121 777 6612 (email@example.com, fax: +44 121 236 1766), . Apr-Oct, T-Su 11:30AM-4PM (closed Mondays except Bank Holidays). Built in 1765, Sarehole Mill is a fine example of one of more than fifty water mills that existed in Birmingham at one time. Matthew Boulton used the Mill for making buttons and for metal rolling until he moved his operations to Soho in 1761. In the late 1890s Sarehole was the childhood haunt of Hobbit author J.R.R. Tolkien, and famously influenced 'The Shire' in The Lord of the Rings.Free entrance. (52.4344,-1.8561)
Soho House, Soho Ave, Handsworth, B18 5LB (Located off Soho Rd, Buses: 74, 78 and 79, Metro: Benson Road (there is a steep uphill walk to the house)), ☎ +44 121 554 9122 (firstname.lastname@example.org), . 8 Apr-29 Oct, Tu-Su 11:30AM-4PM (closed Mondays except Bank Holidays). The elegant home of industrial pioneer Matthew Boulton, who lived at the house from 1766 to 1809. Here, he met with some of the most important scientists, engineers and thinkers of his time - the Lunar Society.Free entrance. (52.5000,-1.9225)
Thinktank, Millennium Point, Curzon St (directions), ☎ +44 121 202 2222 (email@example.com), . Daily 10AM-5PM (last admission 4PM). Science museum with lots of hands-on activities, vehicles and industrial machines, however it must be noted that the activities all smell of their popularity. IMAX cinema (see Cinema section) in the same building.£6.95 (concessions £5, children £4.95. Family and IMAX combination tickets available). (52.482,-1.88)
Parks and nature
There are small parks and green spaces all over the city and suburbs, and the countryside is only about thirty minutes away in any direction. The country parks and nature reserves usually contain a wealth of information about local flora, fauna and conservation efforts.
Birmingham Botanical Gardens & Glasshouses, Westbourne Rd, Edgbaston (#21, #22, #23, #29 or #103 bus), +44 121 454 1860 (firstname.lastname@example.org), . M-Sa 9AM-7PM, Su 10AM-7PM (Closes at 5PM or dusk Oct-Mar). Large botanical gardens with a huge range of plants and workshops throughout the year. £6.10 (concessions £3.60, family tickets available).
Birmingham Nature Centre, Pershore Rd, B5 7RL (#45 or #47 bus, adjacent to Cannon Hill Park), ☎ +44 121 472 7775 (email@example.com, fax: +44 121 471 4997), . Daily 10AM-5PM Apr-Oct, Sa Su 10AM-4PM Nov-Mar. Six-acre centre with lots of animals and birds, including deer, otters, owls and two rare Red Pandas.£1.70 (concessions £1.10, children free). (52.4505,-1.9104)
Cannon Hill Park, Pershore Rd (#45 or #47 bus), +44 121 442 4226 (firstname.lastname@example.org), . Well-maintained park with flowerbeds, tennis, bowling and water features. Contains tea rooms and the Midlands Arts Centre. Free.
Lickey Hills Country Park, Rednal (train to Barnt Green or #62 bus), +44 121 447 7106 (email@example.com), . Popular park (heathland, coniferous forest and deciduous forest) covering over 200 hectares with a visitor centre, pub and golf course. Best visited in the spring (for bluebells) or autumn (for bilberries and turning leaves). Free.
National Sea Life Centre, Brindleyplace, +44 121 643 6777 (24 hour information line +44 121 633 4700), . Daily 10AM-6PM (last admission 4PM M-F, 5PM Sa Su). Large sea life centre with a multitude of aquatic animals, including piranhas, turtles, sea horses, rays and otters. Feeding demonstrations throughout the day. £9.95 (concessions £6.95, family tickets available).
RSPB Sandwell Valley, 20 Tanhouse Ave, Great Barr, B43 5AG (Train to Hamstead; No 16 bus; or signposted from local roads), ☎ +44 121 357 7395 (mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org), . Tu-F 9AM-5PM, Sa Su 10AM-5PM (closes at dusk in winter). A bird reserve on the border with Sandwell which organises regular guided walks, talks and family activities.free entrance. (52.5259,-1.9719)
Sutton Park, Sutton Coldfield (train to Sutton Coldfield or #66A bus), +44 121 355 6370 (email@example.com), . Enormous (over 900 hectare) park including heathland, wetland, marshes, woodland and lakes. Designated an English Nature National Nature Reserve in 1997. Lots of activities on offer including golf, angling, cycling and bird watching. Free.
Woodgate Valley Country Park, Bartley Green (#23 or #103 bus), +44 121 421 7575 (firstname.lastname@example.org), . 450-acre meadow, hedgerow and woodland park containing Woodgate Valley Urban Farm and Hole Farm Trekking Centre. Best visited in spring and summer when there are hundred of wild flowers and butterflies. Free.
Birmingham's population is very diverse, and communities from just about any country in the world can be found somewhere. This is turn has led to numerous centres for all the world's major religions.
Birmingham Cathedral (a.k.a. St Philip's Cathedral), Colmore Row, +44 121 262 1840 (email@example.com), . M-F 7:30AM-6:30PM (5PM from late Jul to early Sep), Sa Su 8:30AM-5PM. Church of England cathedral, built between 1709 and 1715 and the centre of the Diocese of Birmingham. Grade 1 listed building in the UK, designed as a parish church in the Baroque style by Thomas Archer. Contains four spectacular pre-Raphaelite stained glass windows.
Birmingham Central Mosque, 180 Belgrave Middleway, Highgate (#35 bus), +44 121 440 5355, . Daily noon-30 minutes after Isha (exact time of Isha varies with the seasons). Built in 1969, Birmingham was the second purpose-built mosque in the UK (the first was Woking). The working capacity is 2500, though this is expanded during special events such as Eid. Tour groups should book at least two weeks in advance.
Birmingham Central Synagogue, 133 Pershore Rd, +44 121 440 4044 (firstname.lastname@example.org), . M Th from 7:15AM, Tu W F from 7:30AM, Sa from 9:30AM, Su from 8:30AM. Large modern orthodox synagogue, popular with students.
Birmingham Peace Pagoda, Osler St, Ladywood, +44 121 455-0650, . The pagoda is designed as symbol of peace, compassion and the noble exemplary qualities of the Buddha.
Ramgarhia Sikh Temple, Graham St, +44 121 235 5435.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints Harborne Ward, Lordswood Road +44 121 427-9291. Typical meetinghouse, with services at 10:00AM on Sundays.
St Chad's Cathedral, St Chad's Queensway, +44 121 236 2251, . M-F 8AM-5PM, Sa 9AM-5PM, Su 9AM-1PM. Catholic cathedral built in 1841 and designated a Minor Basilica in 1941. Contains the Shrine of St. Chad.
St Martin in the Bull Ring, between the Bull Ring shopping complex and the Bull Ring markets. 10AM-5PM. St. Martin is the parish church of Birmingham, or "The Cathedral of the Bull Ring", as some would say. The first church was probably Norman, but was rebuilt in the 13th century. As it stands today, most of the church dates from 1875, though inside you can see the 1325 effigy of the Lord of the Manor Sir William de Bermingham. The church is a Grade II* listed building in the UK.
Shree Geeta Bhawan, 107-117 Heathfield Rd, Lozells (#46 bus), +44 121 523 7797, . M-Sa 9AM-1PM and 5PM-8PM (Tu 9PM), Su 9AM-8PM. Hindu temple, opened in 1967.
The city hosts some of Britain's most popular clubs and events. Student nights are especially fun, with cheap drink and entry offers and busy clubs. Do not miss out on visiting at least one of these brilliant events:
Ramshackle, giving visitors a brilliant experience of the UK and International indie scene combined with fantastic prices. Held at the 2000+ capacity Carling Academy, Dale End.
Snobs, very similar to Ramshackle; with DJs offering more focus on up and coming music, also with a 60's room. "Big Wednesday"'s are big with the large student population Birmingham has, with shots at just £1 each all night.
Oceana, the new super club boasts 5+ bars, 2 huge dance floors, and a roof top seating area, all new within the last 2 years. An amazing experience, if a little expensive on popular nights. A good night to go is a Wednesday.
Risa, located on Broad Street, is one of the most popular clubs among students in Birmingham. However it is being gradually taken over by clubs like Oceana. Still it is good fun on Monday and Wednesday night.
Gatecrasher, now the biggest club in Birmingham, is on Broad Street.
Concerts, theatre shows and other events are comprehensively listed and reviewed on Birmingham Alive! .
The Custard Factory, Gibb Street. Hosts a range of shops during the day, this ecclectic venue is the home of various club nights on weekends and some weekdays. On bigger nights the large pool at the centre of the venue is drained and turned into a dancefloor with a heated marquee over it. If you want a true feel of what Birmingham's nightlife has to offer, this is not to be overlooked.
Birmingham's cinemas are quite reasonably priced due to stiff competition for the student market. Don't expect a huge range of "alternative" films, as even the independent places screen mainstream blockbusters to keep their revenues up.
The Electric Cinema, 47-49 Station St, +44 121 643 7879 (email@example.com), . Daily, doors open 30 minutes before the film starts. The oldest still-operating cinema building in the UK (opening in 1909), famous for its Art Deco interiors, home baking and cocktail bar. The cinema now features sofa seating, waiter service and the best in intelligent mainstream and independent films. £6 (concessions £4, sofa seat £10).
Midlands Arts Centre (MAC), Cannon Hill Park, Edgbaston/Moseley (#1, #45 or #47 bus), +44 121 440 3838 (firstname.lastname@example.org), . M-Sa 9AM-11PM (Su 10:30PM). The Midlands Arts Centre closed on 6th April 2008 so that a 14.8 million pound redevelopment could begin. It is expected to remain closed for the duration of the redevelopment, until late 2009.
IMAX, Millennium Point, Curzon St, +44 121 202 2222, (email@example.com), . Daily 10AM-5PM. Part of the Thinktank science museum. 2D and 3D films shown on an enormous (five story) screen. Some mainstream films, mainly documentaries. £6.50 (concessions £5, children under 16 £4.50, family and joint Thinktank tickets available).
AMC, 220 Ladywood Middleway, Broadway Plaza, +44 870 755 5657, . Daily 10AM-1AM. A large modern multiplex showing recent mainstream films. £5 (£3.50 concessions and before 6:30PM).
Cineworld, 181 Broad St, +44 871 200 2000, . Daily 10AM-1AM. A large modern multiplex showing recent mainstream films. £5.50 (£3.50 concessions and before 6:30PM, family tickets available).
Odeon, New Street, +44 871 224 4007, . Cinema showing mainstream films, near to Bullring shopping centre and New Street station. You can't really call it much of a multiplex. It is a 1930s building with very few screens and the seats are so close together your legs hurt after the advertisements! £5.20 (£4 before 5PM M-F).
Vue, 29 Star City, +44 871 224 0240, . Multiplex within the Star City entertainment complex north east of the town center (which also boasts restaurants, bars, nightclubs, bowling and a large casino). The cinema offers 24 screens, including 3 gold class screens with larger, more comfortable seats, at-seat service, free popcorn and a bar. £5.70-£6.60 (£8-£15 for gold class).
Birmingham hosts some of the largest events, exhibitions and conferences in the country, which may or may not be of interest to a visitor.
National Exhibition Centre (NEC), Marston Green, Solihull (train to Birmingham International or #900 bus), +44 870 909 4133 (firstname.lastname@example.org), . A huge exhibition centre, staging more than 180 exhibitions each year in 21 halls totalling 200,000 square metres. Free-£40 (price varies with event).
NEC Arena, Marston Green (located within the NEC. Train to Birmingham International or #900 bus), +44 870 909 4133 (email@example.com), . A 12,000-seat arena hosting national and international sporting and entertainment events. £6-£50 (price varies with event and seating).
National Indoor Arena (NIA), King Edwards Rd, +44 870 909 4133 (firstname.lastname@example.org), . A fairly large, modern arena hosting many national and international sporting and entertainment events. £6-£50 (price varies with event and seating).
International Convention Centre (ICC), Broad St, +44 121 200 2000 (email@example.com), . A modern convention centre sharing a building with Symphony Hall.
Birmingham has seen a rapid proliferation of lap dancing clubs in recent years, to the extent that they are now touted as a typical night out for businesspeople. Around a dozen clubs are scattered over the city centre, including Legs Eleven (a favourite haunt of Premiership football players) and two Spearmint Rhinos.
The live music scene in Birmingham is vibrant and varied, and something can be experienced just about any night of the week. Libraries, tourist information offices and music-related bars and shops will stock copies of The Fly, a free fortnightly publication with exhaustive listings of every music event going on in the city and surrounding area.
Barfly, 78 High St, Digbeth, +44 121 633 8311 (ticket line +44 870 907 0999, firstname.lastname@example.org), . Alternative indie and rock music, usually every day. £6-£15 (price varies with band fame).
Carling Academy, 52-54 Dale End, +44 121 262 3000 (info line +44 905 020 3999, email@example.com), . Large club playing alternative rock and indie, usually every day. Next door is the Bar Academy, a pre-club bar and gig venue in its own right. Gig tickets usually allow entry to the club night going on afterwords. £6-£20 (price varies with band fame).
CBSO Centre, Berkley St (off Broad St), +44 121 616 6500 (ticket line +44 121 780 3333, firstname.lastname@example.org), . Modern rehearsal facilities for the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (CBSO). Concerts usually once a week, including Centre Stage intimate chamber music. £5-£12.
Flapper and Firkin, Cambrian Wharf, Kingston Row (near the National Indoor Arena), +44 121 236 2421, . M-Th noon-11PM, F Sa noon-midnight, Su noon-10:30PM. Friendly pub, popular with students. Live music Th-Sa from 8:30PM, usually underground rock, punk and indie. £4 (£3 with promotional flyer).
Symphony Hall, Broad St, +44 121 200 2000 (box office +44 121 780 3333, email@example.com), . Internationally renowned concert venue with two to four classical concerts per week. Also offers Sounds Interesting free pre-concert talks. £7.50-£40 (price varies with seating. Some £5 tickets available 1 month in advance. Student standbys £3.50 from 10AM / 1PM on performance day)
In addition to the main venues mentioned below, there are several small theatres scattered around the city and the suburbs; pick up a What's On guide from a library or tourist information office for full listings.
Alexandra Theatre, Station St, +44 870 607 7533, . Edwardian theatre showing pre- and post-West End plays and musicals. £6-£50 (price varies with seating).
Birmingham Hippodrome, Hurst St, +44 121 870 730 1234 (firstname.lastname@example.org), . Large, recently refurbished theatre showing varied performing arts. Home of the Patrick Centre for the Performing Arts and the Birmingham Royal Ballet. Preferred venue for the Welsh National Opera. £6-£50 (price varies with seating. Concessions £3-£5 off or £10 student standby 24 hours in advance. 3%-6% transaction fee if not paying by cash.).
Crescent Theatre, 20 Sheepcote St (off Broad St), +44 121 643 5858, . Box office M-F 4:30PM-7PM, Sa noon-7PM. Independent local theatre company performing both old and modern plays. £7-£12 (concessions £1-£1.50 off).
Midlands Arts Centre (MAC). See Cinema. £5-£20.
Old Rep Theatre, Station St, +44 121 303 2323 (email@example.com), . Home of the Birmingham Stage Company, puts on both professional and amateur productions. £5-£15.
Repertory Theatre, Centenary Square, Broad St, +44 121 236 4455 (firstname.lastname@example.org), . Well-established theatre putting on classical and modern plays. Supports new work through The Door. £5-£15.
Council-run leisure centres  are liberally scattered throughout Birmingham, typically offering swimming pools, sports courts, fields and exercise equipment, all available at much lower prices than you'd expect to pay at privately-run gyms. There's also plenty of golf courses, both municipal and private, across the city including the world famous Belfry complex.
Villa Park, B6 6HE, +44 871 423 8100 (). Home of Aston Villa F.C. . Birmingham's most successful football club having won 7 FA Cups, 7 league titles, and one European Cup. £25-35, capacity 42,553. Accessed with the Number 7 bus from the City Centre, or a train to Witton (don't be fooled, this is next door to the stadium) or Aston, a fairly long walk from the stadium, just follow the crowd, from New Street station.
St Andrews, B9 4NH, +44 871 226 1875 (). Home of Birmingham City F.C. . Birmingham's other main football club. Less successful than Aston Villa, with only 1 League Cup to their name, City have nonetheless maintained a strong fan base throughout the years. £15-30, capacity 30,016. Accessed from Bordesley train station, catch a train from Birmingham Moor Street, opposite the Bullring.
Edgbaston Cricket Ground, B5 7QU, +44 870 062 1902 (), . Home of Warwickshire County Cricket Club . Edgbaston hosts both county cricket matches and international test matches throughout the summer months. £6-£10, capacity 21,000. This is walkable from the City Centre, however, for a warwickshire Mid-week Day game, don't be at all surprised if you're the only one there.
Alexander Stadium, Stadium Way, Perry Barr, B42 2LR, +44 121 344 4858 (). The Alexander Stadium, situated in Perry Barr, is Birmingham's only large athletics stadium and plays host to international meets and trials to decide the English/British teams for major events as well as being the base for the Birchfield Harriers  athletics club. The stadium's various sporting facilities are also open to public use. £1-2, capacity 7,000.
Edgbaston Priory, Sir Harrys Rd, Edgbaston, B15 2UZ, +44 121 440 2492 (), . Edgbaston Priory is the main tennis club in Birmingham, with 29 tennis courts, 10 squash courts, 2 swimming pools and a gym available to the public. Every June the club also hosts the DFS Classic , a woman's tennis tournament that acts as a warm-up for Wimbledon. DFS Classic tickets £8-£20.
The Belfry, Lichfield Rd, Sutton Coldfield, B76 9PR, +44 8709 00 00 66 (), . The Belfry Golf Club runs three courses just to the north east of Birmingham, including the world famous Brabazon course which has been used for the Ryder Cup and continues to play host to tournaments on the PGA European Tour . Green fees £25-£140, tournament spectator tickets £7.50-£20.
Grand Prix Karting, Adderley Rd South, B8 1AD, +44 121 327 7700, . Large go-karting centre just east of the city centre. £10-£50.
The Ackers, Golden Hillock Rd, Small Heath, B11 2PY, +44 121 772 5111 (), . The Ackers is an outdoor activity centre offering a range of activities, ranging from kayaking and archery to rock climbing and dry slope skiing. Prices vary depending on activity. Skiing/snowboarding sessions £11 for one hour.
Birmingham Speedway, Aldridge Rd, Perry Barr B42 2ET (Perry Barr Stadium), 0870 840 7410, . Open W 7:45PM. Come and see Premier League speedway racing at it's very best every Wednesday at Perry Barr, the place of pace! 4 riders, 4 laps, and no brakes. Come once and you'll be hooked for life! That's right the brummies are back.
Drayton Manor, B78 3TW, +44 8708 725252 (), . Drayton Manor, located just outside Tamworth in Staffordshire, is the fourth most popular theme park in the UK, with 35 rides set in 280 acres of land as well as a 15 acre zoo. To get to the park during school holidays simply catch the special E22 bus in the mornings (typically just before 9 and 10) from Carrs Lane stop DK (near the Pavillions Shopping Centre). A return ticket should cost £10. Outside of school holidays you'll need to catch bus 110, which runs every half hour from Bull Street stop BF (near Snow Hill station) and get off at Fazeley. The return fare is £4. If you're unsure of where exactly the stop is (and it's easy to miss) ask the driver to signal you when you need to get off. Admission £18.95-£20.95.
There are fifteen further education colleges dotted around the city, and community adult education centres in most suburbs. Most offer evening classes in a variety of academic and vocational subjects. There are also regular workshops at places such as the Midlands Arts Centre (see Cinema) and the Country Parks (see Parks and nature).
Brasshouse Language Centre, 50 Sheepcote St (off Broad St), +44 121 303 0114, . M-F 9:15AM-8:30PM, Sa 9:15AM-1PM (holidays M-F 9:15AM-4PM). Specialist language centre offering courses in over 30 languages, from beginners up to degree level. Also offers TEFL, residential courses and distance learning.
Birmingham is home to three universities, who enjoy a mostly-friendly rivalry (mainly fought out in the student press). Aston and Birmingham are campus institutions, with Birmingham City University spread out over several buildings and campuses around the city.
Aston University, Aston, +44 121 204 3000, . Formerly the Birmingham College of Advanced Technology, became a university in 1966. Offers undergraduate and postgraduate courses in many subjects, but specialises in business and engineering. Aston Business School is widely regarded as an extremely prestigious MBA business school.
University of Birmingham, Edgbaston (train to University or #21, #46, #61, #62 or #63 bus), +44 121 414 3344, . Large redbrick university, founded in 1900 and a member of the Russell Group of research-driven institutions. Offers a huge range of undergraduate and postgraduate degree courses. The picturesque campus is worth a visit, it contains the Barber Institure of Fine Arts, Lapworth Museum of Geology, Winterbourne Botanic Gardens and several art installations.
Birmingham City University (Formerly: University of Central England (UCE)), main campus at Perry Barr (train to Perry Barr or #28A bus), +44 121 331 5000, . Formed from several colleges in the 1970's and adopted the University title in 1992. Offers undergraduate and postgraduate courses, specialising mainly in arts (BIAD at Gosta Green, Aston) and vocational subjects.
Birmingham Conservatoire part of Birmingham City University. This high class institution specialises in refined music performance based degrees ranging from undergraduate to Advanced Postgraduate Diplomas and PhDs, and recently scored 3rd in student course satisfaction surveys across the UK's 9 music colleges as of September 2009. An ever growing number of well known names are stemming from the Conservatoire, such names have included Di Xiao, Christopher Orton and Rhydian Roberts.
Bullring shopping centre
The vast number of shops, bars and restaurants in the city centre means that there is rarely a shortage of menial job vacancies. You will often see positions for minimum wage service or retail positions advertised in windows. There are also a lot of temping agencies able to find temporary office, driving and other jobs for travellers packing suits and CVs.
During the last few years Birmingham has developed enormously as a regional shopping centre, with the old Bull Ring complex (once a notorious 1960's eyesore) being demolished to make way for a large shopping centre that includes Selfridges. There are also a number of lesser known shopping centres located near to the Bull Ring complex  such as the Pavillions, The Mailbox  and the Pallasades (The Mall), which is located directly above New Street Station. The principal shopping streets are New Street, High Street and Corporation Street. All include the usual assortment of high street chain-stores and discount outlets.
The Pavillions is home to the largest Waterstones, Virgin Megastores, Marks & Spencer and HMV stores in the region.
The Mall at the Pallasades has become run down as of late, containing only two known shops to speak of, Woolworths and HMV, however, it provides a fast link from the Debenhams side of the Bull Ring, directly into New Street Station, with relatively little pedestrian traffic.
Martineau Place is a small, recently developed shopping centre, which holds a Gap, H&M, O'Neill Store and Freespirit, as well as an obligitary Starbucks Coffee House.
Birmingham's High Street has become run down as of late, holding mainly discount stores, due to the attraction of the Bull Ring to larger name stores. However, New Street, going towards Victoria Square has many upmarket stores. As does the Mailbox, home to the region's only Harvey Nichols, as well as many other Designer Boutiques.
The Jewellery Quarter , to the north of the city centre, specialises in jewellery and contains many small workshops and retailers.
Some of the more useful, unusual or independent shops include:
Bull Ring Markets, The Bull Ring, +44 121 303 0300 (email@example.com), . Indoor market M-Sa 9AM-5:30PM, Rag market Tu Th-Sa 9AM-5PM, Open market Tu-Sa 9AM-5PM. The markets comprise the original trading centre that Birmingham was built upon. There are hundreds of stalls, and you'll be able to get everything from food to underwear to gaffa tape relatively cheaply.
Nostalgia & Comics, 14-16 Smallbrook Queensway, +44 121 643 0143. M-W 9:30AM-5:30PM, Th-Sa 9AM-6PM, Su noon-4PM. Comics, graphic novels, manga and the usual alternative oddities. Ideal if you want to catch up on your favourite series while on the road.
Oasis, 112-114 Corporation St, +44 121 233 4488, . M-Sa 10AM-5PM. A large and intertwining collection of several small retailers over four floors, specialising in goth and alternative clothing and accessories.
Shared Earth, 87 New St, +44 121 633 0151, . M-Sa 10AM-6PM, Su 11AM-4PM. A fair trade company supplying hand-crafted stationery (brilliant for travel journals), clothing and oddities.
New Street Farmers' Market, New Street (in the City Centre) . The market is held on the first and third Wednesday of every month, plus the second Wednesday in December. Other such markets are held in the suburbs of Moseley and Sutton Coldfield.
The Frankfurt Christmas Market, . Every Nov/Dec, the city centre hosts this unique Christmas market which is the largest such market outside of Germany and Austria.
Birmingham is the balti capital of England, as the balti was invented here in 1977. The much-promoted "balti triangle" covers around 50 restaurants on Ladypool Road and Stratford Road in Sparkbrook, about 2 miles south of the city centre. Travel West Midlands has a deal with eight of the larger eateries whereby you can get a 15% discount for travelling by bus, pick up a Balti Triangle by Bus leaflet for full details. A taxi to the area will take around 10 minutes and cost £5. Although the area looks a bit run-down, there is little crime as the abundance of restaurants ensure that the streets are always busy.
Birmingham has a large student population, and the usual cottage industries have sprung up in campus areas to cater for their lack of cash. There are around a dozen cheap eateries in the Selly Oak area of Bristol Road, mainly Indian but also Chinese, Italian and English.
The usual fast food chains, kebab shops and burger vans are also scattered around the city and surrounding areas.
Simply Baguette, Opposite Wetherspoons, Corporation Street, you simply cannot miss out on this gem if you are travelling on a budget. A variety (and a big one at that) of baguettes ranging from 50-75p. An absolute bargain.
Cafe Face, 519 Bristol Rd, Selly Oak, +44 121 415 4651. M-Su 8AM-6PM. Absolutely excellent cafes, big helpings not shy on the cheese, garlic mayonnaise and chilli sauce if you were to order them. Excellent reputation for their roasted vegetables or jacket potatoes. £3-£7.
Cafe One, Auchinleck Square, Five Ways (off Broad St), +44 121 245 0000. Daily 9AM-4PM. Fairtrade cafe with some organic food and regular live music events. £2-£8 (lunchtime buffet £3.95)
Canalside Cafe, 35 Worcester Bar, Gas St, +44 121 248 7979. Daily 9AM-4PM. Fairly small cafe with a good range of organic and vegetarian foods. Excellent in the summer, as it's (unsurprisingly) right on the canalside. £3-£12.
Edwardian Tea Rooms, Chamberlain Square (inside Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery), +44 121 303 2834. M-Th Sa 10AM-5PM, F 10:30AM-5PM, Su 12:30PM-5PM. Authentic Edwardian cafe in the heart of the museum. The food is a lot better than the price suggests. £3-£12.
Mr Egg, 22 Hurst St, +44 121 622 4344. M-Th 8AM-6PM, F Sa 8AM-4AM. Dozens of low-priced dishes, all including egg! Popular with the student and after-club crowds. £1-£5.
The mid-range chain eateries are much the same as the ones you'd find in any British city, and you'll rarely be more than a few hundred yards away from one.
Big Wok, 5 Wrottesley St, +44 121 666 6800 (firstname.lastname@example.org), . Daily noon-11:30PM. All-you-can-eat fixed price Chinese buffet restaurant. Expensive drinks. Very popular with students and locals. Lunch £5, dinner (after 5PM) £9.
Cafe IKON, 1 Oozells Square, Brindleyplace, +44 121 248 3226, . M noon-11PM, Tu-Sa 11AM-11PM, Su 11AM-6PM. Modern cafe attached to the art gallery with efficient and friendly staff. Excellent muffins. £6-£20.
Cafe Soya, Unit 2, Upper Dean St, +44 121 622 3888. Popular Chinese and Vietnamese place and not exclusively vegetarian, despite the name. £6-£20.
Celebrity Balti Restaurant, 44 Broad St (above the Brasshouse pub), +44 121 643 8969. Decent Indian dishes. £12-£35.
Chung Ying Garden, 17 Thorp St (off Hurst St), +44 121 666 6622 (email@example.com), . Large, well-known Cantonese place. Also offers private rooms for groups, karaoke and disco. £10-£40.
Hudson's, 122-124 Colmore Row, +44 121 236 9009 (firstname.lastname@example.org), . Independent cafe with tailcoated waiters, also a luxury gourmet food retailer. Bookcrossing venue. £5-£20.
Pasta Di Piazza, 11 Brook St, St. Paul's Square, +44 121 236 5858, . Daily noon-midnight. Upmarket Italian place, can be a bit crowded. £12-£30.
Thai Edge, 7 Oozells Square, Brindleyplace, +44 121 643 3993 (email@example.com), . Daily noon-2:30PM and 5:30PM-11PM. Contemporary Oriental surroundings. Wide range of Thai dishes. £12-£40.
The Green Room, Arcadian Centre, Hurst St, +44 121 605 4343 (firstname.lastname@example.org), . M-W 11AM-11PM, Th 11AM-midnight, F Sa 11AM-2AM, Su noon-12:30AM. Varied contemporary menu, chilled-out atmosphere. Popular with the theatre crowd. £10-£30.
V2, 73-75 Pershore St, +44 121 666 6683. Home-style Chinese cooking, popular with the local Chinese community. Clean and bright inside with trendy decor.
Wagamama, Bullring plaza, (under Borders), B5 4QL, +44 121 633 6033. . M-Sa Noon-11PM, Su12:30PM-10PM. Birmingham's restaurant of the Wagamama chain, tidy and minimal inside with a good, varied noodle menu. Specials change frequently and there are a few good vegetarian dishes. Can get busy, especially with shoppers at peak times.
The Kitchen Garden Cafe, 17 York Road, Kings Heath. . Picturesque area in the middle of a busy and bustling part of Birmingham, where you feel right at home the minute you walk in. Quality vegetarian options and excellent service. This is one of those places that, in time, will only get better.
Woktastic, Paradise Place Birmingham B3 3HJ (Located just outside Paradise forum on the same side as the theatres and ICC), ☎ 0121 236 3130 (email@example.com), . M-Sa 12PM-11PM Su 12PM-10PM. Japanese, surprisingly given the name. Fluorescent, authentic, accommodating, great£7-10.
Birmingham has quite a few upmarket places, mainly due to the number of high-rolling businesspeople that drift in for conferences and other dealings.
Aria Restaurant, 2 Bridge St (In Hyatt lobby), +44 121 643 1234, . Daily 6:30AM-10:30PM. 3-course pre-concert table d'hôte menu.
Metro Bar & Grill, 73 Cornwall St, +44 121 200 1911, . Seasonal seafood, pasta, salads and cocktails. £15-£40.
The Jam House, 1 St. Paul's Square, +44 121 200 3030 (firstname.lastname@example.org), . Varied menu and live music most nights. £20-£50.
Vegetarian & Vegan
Considering its size, Birmingham does not have a wide range of vegetarian-specific places to eat. All the eateries mentioned above will have vegetarian options, but the Indian and Chinese places tend to have better variety.
Jyoti, 569-571 Stratford Rd, Sparkhill (part of the balti triangle, 4 miles south of the city. #5 or #6 bus), +44 121 766 7199. Tu-F 6PM-9:15PM (last orders), Th F noon-2:30PM, Sa Su 1PM-9:15PM (last orders), closed M. Excellent Indian food, but relatively small portions. Extremely popular, so book ahead. £5-£20.
Rooty Frooty, The Custard Factory, Gib St south of Lower Trinity, Digbeth, +44 121 224 8458. Trendy organic food and recycled packaging. Unbelievable range of juices, smoothies and hot drinks. £5-£20.
Sibila's, Canal Square, Browning St (part of the Body & Being building, off Sheepcote St), +44 121 456 7634, . Su-M 11AM-5PM, Tu-Th 11AM-9PM (last orders 8:30PM), F Sa 11AM-10PM (last orders 9PM). Eclectic dishes from around the world prepared with organic ingredients. Excellent vegan and gluten free range, good wines and beers. £7-£25.
The Warehouse Cafe, 54 Allison St, Digbeth, +44 121 633 0261. Tu-F noon-12:30PM, Sa noon-3PM, F Sa 6PM-9PM. Wholesome organic vegetarian and vegan fare. Closely linked with Friends of the Earth. £5-£20.
The city and suburbs have the usual assortment of supermarkets, newsagents and corner shops. The city centre is especially well-served, with three Tesco, two Sainsbury's and one Somerfield outlets.
A great place to pick up cheap food (including fresh fruit and veg) is the Bull Ring Market (see Buy).
Day In, The Arcadian Centre, +44 121 622 6182. Chinese supermarket with a wide range of Asian foods.
One Earth Shop, 54 Allinson St, Digbeth, +44 121 632 6909. M-Sa 10AM-5PM. Specialty vegan wholefoods and other ethical essentials.
Selly Oak is in South Birmingham and has its own train station with frequent services from Birmingham New Street. It can also be reached by buses, which stop along the Bristol Road. The University of Birmingham is located close by, and hence the majority of residents in Selly Oak are students, who live in terraced houses mainly in a rather poor state.
The shops and services on Bristol Road cater for the student population. There are many take-aways / junk food places, letting agents, off-licenses, cheap restaurants and pubs.
The Soak A bar / pub that pretends to be a bit more posh than it is. Food is shocking.
The Goose Excellent old pub. Cheap food and drink of mediocre quality. Chips are not bad. Efficient service.
Gun Barrels Very studenty pub with pool tables and the like. Quite big. Cheap drinks. Very popular with students, gets very crowded on some nights. Has a large beer garden. Part of the Scream chain.
The Bristol Pear Again part of the Scream chain but much smaller than the Gun Barrels. Cheap drinks. Very slow chef.
Khanum Indian restaurant. Very good. Cheap. You can bring your own wine.
Chamon Indian restaurant. Pretty good. Cheap. You can bring your own wine.
Sheratton Indian restaurant, pretty good you can bring your own wine. They give you big discount
Cafe Eastern Delight Pretty Indian restaurant. You will have about 5 waiters behind your back if you eat there.
Sundarbon Indian restaurant that tries to appear famous. The windows display many magnified newspaper cuttings about the restaurant selling its curries to famous celebrities. They are forgetting to include an article from the local student newspaper where a disabled student complained that the waiter was making fun of her disability. Scandal!
Noodle Bar (cannot remember name) Food too oily. Cheap.
Rimini Italian restaurant. Prices higher than usual in the area, but quality of food and presentation is usually better than most local restaurants. You can bring your own wine.
Pizza Land / Mama Wia / Luciano's All little shops that serve very cheap (but good) pizza cooked by people who probably get paid less than the national minimum wage.
Dolphin Chip shop situated on Raddlebarn Road. Do not even think of venturing in there. They served me chicken that tasted of fish, as they clearly cannot be asked to change the oil.
Selly Sausage Popular cheap student restaurant. Good for paninis, pancakes, omelettes and the like. Host of "the campus mate" - a dating section by the local student newspaper.
Kebab Land Name says it all.
Rooster Hut closed down as bigger, better and cheaper Rooster House opened across the road. Good chicken at low prices.
Adam's Place Usual range of junk food at low prices.
Big John's Usual range of junk food at low prices. Has been refurbished and now looks slightly more fancy.
Woodstock Formerly a nice place with great atmosphere. Since the shop changed owner in early 2009 it has got much less cozy and the food is not as tasty as before. Still very high reputation.
Dress code restrictions are rather common in Birmingham clubs, so be careful to check out each club's policy. Many clubs refuse to admit large groups of males in case of trouble, so go individually or in small groups. The usual excuse that door-staff give is that someone in the party is wearing the wrong type of shoes/coat/trousers etc. The general rule of thumb is no effort, no entry. This usually means shoes, not trainers, and a shirt, not a T-shirt. At the same time being dressed like that can be a hindrance, if you go to one of the cooler bars. It's best to check with someone who's been to the particular bar before. There are a number of areas in the city centre, which are defined below, but other areas to look for a night out are Moseley, Harborne and Selly Oak.
When either of the cities two professional football teams (Aston Villa and Birmingham City) are playing at home it is advisable to stay away from pubs becuase football supporters generally congregate in the city centres pubs before and after football matches, and chanting, aggressive football supporters may be an indimidating discovery for tourists. When Aston Villa and Birmingham City play each other, it is common sense to stay away from all pubs in the city centre, and, as violent clashes between rival supporters are common on match days, it would be wise to stay away from the city centre altogether.
If you are looking for the average drink, virtually any pub or bar will do. If you are a real ale aficionado, there are several excellent pubs to visit, where dress restrictions do not usually apply.
Bull, 1 Price St, B4 6JU. +44 121 333 6757. Quiet and comfortable pub, in the Gun quarter.
Figure of Eight, 236 Broad St, B1 2HG. +44 121 633 0917. Large city centre pub belonging to the Wetherspoon chain.
Old Fox, 54 Hurst St, B5 4TD. +44 121 622 5080.
Old Joint Stock, 4 Temple Row West, B2 5NY (Faces St. Philips cathedral), ☎ +44 121 200 1892. Superbly decorated pub in a former bank, Grade II listed. Multi-award winning establishment. Sells mainly Fullers' brand.(52.480,-1.899)
Old Royal, 53 Church St, B3 2DP. +44 121 200 3841. Single bar with large-screen TV. The pub is popular with office workers.
The Wellington, Bennets Hill (Just of Colmore Row), ☎ +44 121 200 3115, . An outstanding and frequently-changing selection of well-kept real ales, lagers, ciders and perry (the current list can be viewed on-line), run by knowledgeable CAMRA members. No food served, but condiments, cutlery and crockery are available to people bringing their own.(52.48072,-1.90067)
Wetherspoon's, Unit 31, Paradise Place, B3 3HJ (Under Central Library, between Chamberlain Square and Centenary Square), ☎ +44 121 214 8970. Part of the eponymous Wetherspoon chain. Also handy for International Convention Centre, art gallery and museum.(52.4796,-1.9055)
Those looking for a cheap student night could do worse than check out Snobs which plays a mix of indie music.
Every two weeks an indie night called Resurrection  is held at Subway City.
The Malthouse, 74 King Edwards Road, B1 2NX (Sandwiched between the ICC and the NIA along the canal), ☎ +44 121 633 4171. 12am-11pm. Make no mistake this is a chain pub serving standard food and drinks. However, when the sun is shining it is difficult to find a nicer place to drink along Birmingham's canals as there is a plethora of outdoor seating. Visited by Bill Clinton during his Birmingham visit.
In the middle of Birmingham's rather small Chinatown, this is an open at the centre shopping arcade which is mostly used by Chinese super markets and restaurants. Right in the middle though, its all bars. It tends to be a bit quieter and less rowdy that broad street and has some of the better clubs in the city. The dress code around here is extremely strict in regard to logos on clothes, they are a definite no! Most of the bars are interchangeable, but recommended are:
Sobar — Supposedly a noodle bar, as evidence by a small noodle based menu. Really this is just a pretty decent bar. It stocks the standard beers and drinks as well as a number of rarer Asian beers. Has a number of extremely comfortable sofas.
Bamboo — One of the best, but also one of the most pretentious clubs in Birmingham. Its not cheap but is still the place to be seen. The dress code here is very hard to define, they want "cool".
The Birmingham Canal Navigations between the International Convention Centre (left) and Brindleyplace (right)
Broad Street, the No 1 party street of Birmingham, has a large range of clubs, bars and pubs. This is a good location for a decent English Friday night. However, at the same time it is one of the more rowdy areas, and if trouble happens it will normally be on this road. The chances of this affecting you are slim. Just of to the side of this road is Brindleyplace , a classier and better area of bars, clubs and restaurants. Recommended bars are:
Revolution — Chain vodka bar. A cut above the normal broad street crowd, though it does get crowded. Great range of Vodka's.
The Works — Big 3 room club, with a variety of music. Great for kids. Over 23's will feel ancient in here.
The Pitcher and Piano — Canal side bar with a decent range of beers. Perfect for a nice lunch time drink in the summer months, sitting outside by the canal.
The Prince Of Wales, King Edward St (behind the I.C.C. 2 minutes from Broad St). Victorian pub with decent menu & many types of fine ales, worth a visit for the beer!
Birmingham has a large Irish community and many Irish pubs. Most of the city centre ones are spread along Digbeth High Street beginning with The Bullring Tavern near the Bull Ring and finishing with The Rainbow near Camp Hill.
Some recommendations in Digbeth are:
Anchor, 308 Bradford St, B5 6ET. +44 121 622 4516. Victorian pub near Digbeth Coach Station. Grade II listed.
Woodman, 106 Albert St, B5 5LG. Phone: +44 121 643 1959. Grade II listed. Opposite the Thinktank at the Millennium Point.
Every two weeks an indie night called Panic! is held at the Sanctuary in Dibgeth.
For a more eclectic mix of music and people take a look at the Medicine Bar in the Custard Factory just off the A34 in Digbeth (it's the big blue building).
Just around the corner is a club called Air, host to nationally recognised nights such as Godskitchen .
The Custard Factory, Gibb Street, Hosts a range of nights, from Drum n Bass to Electro, not to be missed.
The Rainbow Pub, An ecclectic pub that hosts a variety of nights, one of the best places in Birmingham and is soon to be shut down. Also visit the Rainbow Warehouse, around the corner which is big on the rave scene and often joins with the Rainbow pub to host street parties such as S.L.A.G.
Birmingham has a vibrant and visible gay scene centered around Hurst Street . Every Spring Bank Holiday this area, often referred to by locals as the Gay Village, hosts a free gay-pride festival while its bars and clubs attract people from across the Midlands all year round. Hurst Street is well policed and homophobic attacks are rare, though the local Christians may try to 'save your soul'. Instances of homophobic abuse on public transport happen and at train and bus stations in the city. Birmingham is as gay friendly as Manchester, Brighton, and Blackpool. Birmingham has a large number of gay venues, the best being the Village, Eden, Equator, The Loft Lounge and the Queens Arms. The Fountain and Bolts are men only bars.
St. Paul's Square
Many of the more up-market bars and restaurants are located on St. Paul's Square in the Jewellery Quarter. This is also home to the Jam House, Birmingham's premier jazz club.
Harborne was once a separate village, is now a mainly residential area a bit North of Birmingham University. The old village center, along Harborne High Street, now has a lot of pubs with a mixed crowd; students, faculty and others. There's a tradition among the crazier students; try to have a half pint in every pub in Harborne in one evening. With over 20 pubs and several km of walking involved, and the limited opening hours of British pubs, this takes some doing.
Bell Inn, 11 Old Church Rd, B17 0BB. +44 121 427 0931. Next to St Peter's Church, this cosy and quiet pub gets busy because of its attraction.
The Plough, near the East end of the high street, cosy, moderately priced, popular with medical and nursing students.
The Bartons Arms, 144 High St, Newtown, B6 4UP (On A34 north of City Centre, and on many bus routes, including #8, inner circle), ☎ +44 121 333 5988, . Birmingham Pub Of The Year in 2004, and CAMRA-supported venue. Comprehensive Thai menu and bar snacks. Recently refurbished after previously lying derelict. Noted for its near-original and highly elaborate Victorian interior, and for being one of Ozzy Osbourne's old haunts.(52.49956,-1.89559)
Cheap hotels are now being found in the city centre, one of the best is The Etap Hotel, £35 per night for a double bed and single bed. There are also Ibis aplenty starting from £49 per night.
But if you want a more social feel to your stay in Birmingham why not try one of the two very good hostels the city has to offer.
Birmingham Central Backpackers, 58 Coventry St, Digbeth, B5 5NH, +44 121 643 0033, . Birmingham's only independent hostel features a central location only streets from The Bull Ring, and next to the famous nightclubs of Digbeth. Beds in a shared dorm can be found for as little as £9.00 if you've got a sharp eye out and both breakfast and various foods in the evening are included, making it the West Midlands only half-board hostel. It is in the oldest part of the city, Digbeth, right near where the original manor house once stood. The area can look a little uninviting (this is what you will find outside the very centre of this industrial city), but the hostel makes up for it by being socially inviting (films/football can be watched and they have a Wii, playstation and xbox) and, as mentioned, still being close to The Bull Ring. They offer nightly events such as quiz night, beer tasting, movie nights and disco, and the common room is probably the best around.
Hatters Birmingham, 92-95 Livery Street, Jewellery Quarter, B3 1RJ, +44 121 236 4031, . Located in the vibrant Jewellery Quarter, less than a 10 minute walk to the centre, Hatters Birmingham have upped the norm in hostel accommodation boasting all ensuite rooms and, finally, after eight long months of waiting (yet advertising that it was there) they've got a common room. Beds start from £14.50 and includes bed linen & a free light breakfast which is served all day
Bilberry Hill Residential Centre,  — Ideal for groups looking for accommodation in the scenic Lickey Hills, but with easy access to Birmingham City Centre.
Awentsbury Hotel, 15 Serpentine Rd, Selly Park (close to the university), . Offers mid-range B&B in a quiet environment within 10 minutes walk from the university.
Travelodge Birmingham Central, city centre, . Affordable hotel in the very heart of the city.
Dave Hotel Birmingham New Street, Birmingham. Rooms from £20 a night.
Holiday Inn Express Birmingham, 1200 Chester Road,Birmingham B35 7AF, ☎ 0121 694 6700 (email@example.com, fax: 0121 694 6701), . checkin: 2pm (early check-in by arrangement); checkout: 11am (late check-out by arrangement). Holiday Inn Express with 110 non-smoking rooms and 100 parking spaces. Each room includes power shower, work desk, 28” flat screen TV, complimentary broadband and continental breakfasts. Some rooms have been adapted to allow for easier access. Small dogs welcome for an extra charge.£49.95 Mon-Thur, £39.95 Fri-Sun.
Swallow Plough & Harrow Hotel, 135 Hagley Rd, Edgbaston, B16 8LS, ☎ +44 121 454 4111 (firstname.lastname@example.org), . Located near the International Convention Centre, National Indoor Arena and the Bull Ring Shopping Centre.
Britannia Hotel, City centre(close to the university), . Offers mid-range accommodation for business and travelling guests.
City Inn Birmingham, 1 Brunswick Square, ☎ +44 121 643 1002, . A central boutique hotel in Birmingham. Offers a restaurant, bar, meeting venue and event offers.
Hyatt Regency Birmingham, 2 Bridge St, B1 2JZ (in the city centre), +44 121 643 1234 . Linked directly to the International Convention Centre (ICC) and is 5 minutes from the National Indoor Arena (NIA).
Crowne Plaza Birmingham, Holliday St, B1 1HH (in the city centre), +44 020 79 37 93, .
Birmingham Marriott Hotel, 12 Hagley Rd, B16 8SJ (in the city centre), +44 870 400 7280, .
The national dialling code for the city is 0121, followed by a three digit area code, followed by a four digit number. A fully specified Birmingham number will be in the format 0121 000 0000. The minimum requirement is 000 0000 within the national dialling code area.
BT payphones are dotted around the city, and most will take both cash and credit/debit cards. International calls are by no means cheap. There are no telephone centres, so if you're going to be making lots of calls home a pre-paid phone card may be a good option.
All GSM mobile networks have excellent coverage in all areas of the city.
All public libraries provide free internet access, though the connection can be slow and you may have to queue for a terminal.
It is also possible to get online from some BT payphones in the city centre (look for the ones with light blue broadband signs on them).
Wi-Fi is available in a number of cafes and other places (from early 2007, a square mile of the city centre will be fully Wi-Fi enabled, with free access to a number of sites, and paid service for unrestricted access).
Dot Comm Cafe, Broad St, +44 121 643 6999. M-Sa 10AM-2:30AM, Su 10AM-4PM. Noisy cafe surrounded by clubs. £2 (free access with food costing £4 or more).
Truly Everything, The Pavilions, 38 High St, +44 121 632 6156. Standard internet lounge.
Express Internet, 181 Brighton Road, Moseley, B12 8QN, +44 121 449 1599. internet lounge part of Express Mini Mart. Mon-Sat 8AM-9PM, Sun 9AM-6PM. ONLY £1 per hour.
As with the rest of the UK, in any emergency call 999 or 112 (from a land-line if you can) and ask for Ambulance, Fire or Police when connected.
In general, Birmingham is a safe city. However, like most large cities, there are some good and bad areas. Certain suburbs (see below) have had their share of gun crime problems, but these are extremely unlikely to affect you unless you make yourself part of the larger drug gang problem. Avoid any offers of cheap drugs, you'll probably be lured into a secluded place and robbed. Muggers in Birmingham tend to operate in groups of two or three, typically one will ask you a question (to judge whether you're local or likely to hit back) while the others move in behind you so they can force you to the ground. If you find this happening to you then move to the side, that way you've got a clear escape path and can't be grabbed from the rear.
The city centre is well-policed. The only trouble you might witness is a small scuffle on the Broad Street nightlife quarter as the nightclubs turn out in the early hours of the morning. However, take care at either end of Broad Street where the traffic flow speeds up.
It is advisable to stay away from the city centre when football matches between the cities two professional teams, Aston Villa and Birmingham City, who have a violent and raw hatred for each other, occur becuase violent clashes between supporters of both teams are a common occurence on match days, on other days when the teams are playing at home against other teams, it is a little less unlikely for major violence to occur in the city centre, however, you may encounter pubs full of chanting football supporters, and this may be intimidating for tourists.
As usual, common sense will keep you safe, avoid walking alone in deserted or poorly-lit areas, especially at night, keep your wits about you at cash machines and do not get into unmarked taxis. The only higher crime-rate areas that tourists might want to visit are Aston and Sparkbrook, even these are fairly safe during daylight. Canal towpaths at night, if relatively near a road-access point, can also be hazardous.
Every Friday and Saturday night unofficial motor-races take place around the city centre ring-road (Queensway). Although it's unlikely that you should want to participate in this illegal activity you should be aware of the danger that it presents to other road users.
Birmingham, like many large cities, has relatively high incidences of STDs compared to the rest of the UK. Having unprotected sex is asking for trouble.
The people in New Street, near the junction with Ethel Street, who offer you a free "stress test" are trying to recruit you into the Church of Scientology.
City Hospital (A&E), Dudley Rd (#80, #82 or #87 bus), +44 121 554 3801. Daily 24 hours.
Selly Oak Hospital (A&E), Raddlebarn Rd, Selly Oak (train to Selly Oak or #61, #62 or #63 bus), +44 121 627 1627. Daily 24 hours.
Virgin Trains is the main operator of trains between London and Birmingham with trains every 20 minutes and a journey time for around 1 hour 20 minutes. They are operated by fast (up to 125mph) and modern Pendolino trains. These can be cheap if you get an Advance fare from £5 single, but if you are buying tickets on the day or there are no cheap tickets left, it may be worth using one of the two other operators listed below. Chiltern Railways and London Midland run frequent half-hourly/hourly services between Birmingham and London. These take noticeably longer than Virgin Trains, 2 hours - 2 hours 20 minutes, but cheap flexible tickets at around 1/2 of the Virgin Trains price can be bought at any time. For example an Off-Peak adult day return ticket from London to Birmingham costs £15 (Super Off-Peak) with London Midland, £19.50 (Super Off-Peak) with Chiltern Railways, but £40.40 with any operator, including Virgin Trains.
Both Megabus and National Express run several services an hour to London, and competition has lowered the cheapest fares to £1 or less.
Exploring by car.
The M5 will take you to the south-west, either the M42 then M40 or the M6 then M1 will take you to London and the south-east. In the other direction the M1 will take you to Leeds and the north-east. The M6 will also take you towards the north-west, Manchester and Scotland, or, via the M54, to north Wales.
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