A Day Out Guide | What to see and do in Birmingham

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It’s my 8th year living in Birmingham, but some people still think that London is the only place to stay when visiting the UK. Seriously, this country is way more than just its capital, mates. You would be surprised with what the second largest city in the UK has to offer.

Besides, it’s a quite straight forward place to reach us by bus, car, train or plane and find the best accommodation and Hotels in Birmingham in every part of the city you fancy staying. No excuses, huh?

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I’m nearly a decade living here, and I’m still amazed by Brum’s numerous attractions and landmarks. We’re quite spoilt for choices – from free museums and historical sites to art galleries and outstanding restaurants and bars. There is always a different attraction to all kinds of budgets and tastes.

Thinking about it, I headed to the Birmingham’s city centre for a typical day out with my husband last weekend to show you what can be done and seen in less than 24 hours in the city. Believe me, you can fit quite a lot in a single visit.

Visiting the biggest department store in Europe

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I’m not a shopaholic, but I do appreciate the fact Birmingham is a retailer’s hub as well. If you arrive in Birmingham by train, it’s easy to spot the mecca of shopping centres – Bullring and Grand Central or visit some inquisitive second hand stores in Digbeth, and popular high street flag shops.

However, my choice for the day was visiting the biggest store in Europe. If you’re familiar to Primark – you know it’s a quite affordable shop. Oh well, Birmingham has the world’s biggest one now. It’s huge!

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This 5-store building has even a Disney-themed cafe, a beauty salon, barber shop and plenty of resting points too – well needed, considering the time you spend to browse all store.

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What I like about Primark? It’s really affordable. Students will understand it. It’s a quite good shop to find nice children’s clothes too.

As I am off to Brazil to see my twin nieces and family, it was the best time to visit this store and get some bits and bobs for them. Despite being packed, I didn’t spend too much time queuing. Something that made the visit to a retail rather pleasant.

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Chasing quirky art at Ikon Gallery

Birmingham is the birthplace of Industrial Revolution and also home of the best museums and art galleries in West Midlands. And guess what? Most of them are free admission and walking distance from the city centre too.

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I could stop at the beautiful Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, but we headed to Brindley Place to visit my favourite one in town – the Ikon Gallery.

This renowned and internationally art venue has also one of the most famous “Singing Lifts” in the world. Check it out here in this post. It’s an experience.

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We checked the British artist Hew Lockers’ exhibition- Here’s the Thing; which involves painting, drawing, photography, sculptures and a beautiful installations filled with perfect replicas of ships and boats. Wow!

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Ikon is a free admission gallery and a must visit site.

Where to eat? Good question!

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Birmingham’s food culture is not for beginners. You may already know that Birmingham has five (5) Michelin starred restaurants and  the famous Balti Triangle. You’re welcome!

But what you also need to know is that we have worldwide gastronomic scene and choosing a perfect place to eat can be also challenging. Of course, the multicultural Birmingham caters for all nationalities.

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We could enjoy the gorgeous bars and restaurants at Brindley Place, but I just wanted to escape the hustles and bustles of a busy city centre, joining a pleasant canal walk in the direction of Jewerly Quarter.

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Did I mention that Birmingham has more canals than Venice? Oh yeah. It needs to be said! We love our canals, and you should make the most of it. Especially if the weather is staring to warm up!

If it was open, we could visit the The Museum of Jewerly Quarter – another gem of the city, but it’s also in JQ that we can also find outstanding pubs, bars and restaurants.

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Our pick for the day was the Pig & Tail, a funky and friendly pub that serves cocktails, craft beer and British style tapas.

I loved its vibrant atmosphere. It’a modern pub with nice music, what makes it a perfect hidden spot to have lunch.

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Not to mention that food means value for the money in this place, considering the generous sizes of some tapas. There were plenty of food, but no space for desserts. I’m afraid. The cocktails were also a success.

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Best Bars in Birmingham, anyone?

Talking about drinks – here’s another difficult question for you. Where to drink in  Birmingham? Wherever you want. Just avoid the chain pubs. There is no need to drink bog standard beer here.

Birmingham has one of world’s most famous gin’s bar, a passion for craft beer, a bar specialised in mead, and a lot of quirky independent bars to go for a drink or two. Shall we?

We didn’t need to move away from Jewerly Quarter to find some of them. I have started with a glass of prosecco at 1000 Trades, while the hubby chosen one of the up to 12 different beers on tap served that day.Not only the name of this bar but also atmosphere there says a lot of about Birmingham. It’s also highly recommended asking for their natural wines.

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Nest stop – The Wolf, a fairly new add to the city and a born and bred Brummie business that cater for the craft beer aficionados like my husband. I love the fact they serve some beers in cans and bottles to keep it the way it’s!

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Placed on the busy Constitution Hill – it’s a great spot for people watching and nice chit-chat after work.

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To finish our drink’s excursion, we visited the Indian Brewery – already my favourite bar in the area. Only in Birmingham, you can find a place like this, where you can have Indian street food to be a perfect company to a pint of crafted beer.

As a micro brewery itself, it’s a business that praises for the quality, aroma and taste of its beers.

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You can’t go wrong with a bar located under the famous Snowhill arches, with Bollywood posters and friendly staff. I love everything about it. I have asked for a pint of Thrones and I also heard that the Bombay Breakfast is one of the best brekkies in Birmingham. I will go back for this beauty!

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The pint of Thrones

After our busy day out in Birmingham, I could go with a nice film session at The Electric Cinema – the oldest film venue still in activity in the UK. But we missed the session to watch Tolkien – another Brummie gem, as you know- we called it a night and took the train back home.

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“The spending money was gifted by Hotels.com, but all views are my own.”

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Simone Ribeiro
I'm a Brazilian journalist based in West Midlands. In Brazil, I have worked with International Trade and Logistics publications.

Now in the UK, I keep writing and I dedicate myself to a new project : Midlands Trade - a blog focused on business in Europe and Brazil. It's also supporting small businesses throughout the #MeetTheBusiness.

I'm a Brazilian journalist based in West Midlands. In Brazil, I have worked with International Trade and Logistics publications. Now in the UK, I keep writing and I dedicate myself to a new project : Midlands Trade - a blog focused on business in Europe and Brazil. It's also supporting small businesses throughout the #MeetTheBusiness.

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