Birmingham city guide: How to spend a weekend in the UK’s second city

Why go now?

Hurtling along at top speed on a hamster wheel of regeneration, Birmingham is constantly pulling out new attractions that make it a worthy weekend destination. Long regarded as a drab place and teased relentlessly for producing a singsong accent, today’s fast-evolving Brum will surprise you with its innovative, eye-popping modern architecture and new attractions that infuse contemporary flair into the city’s industrial character. And you won’t go hungry, either: from diverse street food and proper curries to beautiful Michelin-starred nosh, Brum’s gastronomic offerings are sure to give you eyes bigger than your belly. 

Get your bearings

Many of the top attractions, new developments and shopping hotspots in Birmingham are clustered within easy walking distance of each other and the central transport hub, New Street Station (1). The historic Jewellery Quarter (2) in the northeast portion of the centre is replete with architectural gems (pun intended) from Birmingham’s industrial past, and the area is thought to produce 40 per cent of all British jewellery. To the west, canals find a sophisticated neighbour in the Brindleyplace (3) development. For a more creative, arty vibe, head to Digbeth (4) and its Custard Factory where arts, street food and live music collide. South of the centre, you’ll find impressive green spaces to relax in like Cannon Hill Park (5) and the Botanical Gardens (6).   

Day one

Take a hike

Start at the ultra square, love-it-or-hate building called The Cube (7). Cross over the bridge to Gas Street Basin (8), and keep along the towpath to stroll past moored narrowboats. Nip under the arch of Broad Street Tunnel, and continue on to Birmingham City Centre Path (9). Turn left when you hit the Pitcher & Piano (10) to explore the streets and squares of the masterfully redeveloped Brindleyplace (3), where relaxed eateries sit alongside the award-winning Ikon Gallery (11), and rows of blossom trees that shroud the Japanese-inspired Oozells Square (12) in pink during springtime.  

Return to the canalside path, then cross the canal via the suspension bridge (13). Walk straight through the ICC (14) into Centenary Square, where you’ll be confronted by the Library of Birmingham (15) – a bold and blocky modern affair with yellow tiers and a lacy metal shell. Cross Paradise Circus Queensway via the walkway, bearing right and then left onto Fletchers Walk (16). Spot the neoclassical columns of…

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