City Guide

Things to Do in Birmingham

Ben Maples  · Jul 12th 2024
Birmingham city. Cityscape, buildings, lights and cars at dusk.

Birmingham is one of the biggest cities in the UK and is arguably one of the most popular destinations for students looking for a university education.

In this guide, we will show you the best things to do in Birmingham.

Things to do in Birmingham


Birmingham is a city in the West Midlands. Birmingham is the second largest city in the UK. Birmingham is exactly 100 miles away from London. The city also has a number of rivers that flow through it, such as the River Tame, River Rea, River Severn and the River Cole.

Things to do in Birmingham

There are a number of places to visit in Birmingham, such as: PRYZM nightclub which has a VIP section, and a dancefloor and regular performances from a variety of DJs. Another bar to visit is Island Bar which serves cocktails and mojitos, as well as a small selection of food. The Lost & Found Bar & Grill is another place that has long been a favourite of locals for its chilled atmosphere and fantastic food!

Birmingham plays host to some interesting festivals too! There’s the Moseley Folk Festival, the Oxjam Birmingham; there is also the annual BritAsiaTV Awards. Many bands play a number of high-profile gigs as well, as the 02 Academy is so popular in Birmingham, which has seen bands like Black Sabbath, JAY-Z and Gorillaz perform there.

There are plenty of museums to see in Birmingham with everything from the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, the Thinktank Birmingham Science Museum. For those that are studying a Geology degree, you may want to check out the Lapworth Museum of Geology, which has an extensive collection of fossils, minerals and rocks in the Midlands.

If you’re looking to see the latest film releases, we recommend going to Birmingham Cineworld or even the Odeon. For those looking for more independent features, we recommend joining the local film club and seeing what is offered there!


Birmingham has one of the best and largest transportation routes in the UK.

There is an airport in the city, which is Birmingham Airport and runs national, international and European flights and is also the third busiest airport in the UK, after Manchester and Edinburgh.

Birmingham also has a railway system, with Birmingham New Street, being the busiest railway station in the UK outside of London and also the most extensive long-distance train network in the UK. Plans are also still in place for the opening of High Speed Rail 2 which will work between Birmingham and London and is due to open in 2026.

The city also has a wide selection of buses to choose from as well. The buses are run by National Express West Midlands, which covers 80% of the bus routes in the city, with smaller companies covering the remaining 20% of the other bus journeys.

However, unlike London, Birmingham is yet to have its own underground system. Though there have been plans for a fully integrated underground line, no such work has commenced.

Things to do with kids in Birmingham

Universities in the City

There are five universities in Birmingham, which are:

Aston University, is a university that has been around since 1895, though it was granted university status in 1966.

The university has a 60-acre campus, which is located at Costa Green, in the city’s centre. The university has sports centres, a gym, café, restaurant, swimming pool, shops, hairdresser, dentist, a bank, an opticians and many places of worship for different religions. Which has led many to refer to the university as it’s own city!

The university also takes part in the British Universities and College Sports (BUSCS) Leagues. The university also has a dance studio and 35 different sports clubs.

The university also has its own business school, Aston Business School (ABS), which was founded in 1947, which is very highly regarded across a variety of industries and is very well ranked for it’s business courses.

The Aston Student’s Union is a charity (non-profit) that represents the student body. The union operates the Advice & Representation Centre (ARC), the Aston Societies Federation, the Aston Athletic Union and a bar. The union is no longer affiliated with the National Union of Students (NUS).

The University of Birmingham has stood since 1825, when it was Birmingham School of Medicine and Surgery, although it was given university status in 1900. The university also has the Barber Institute of Fine Arts, which houses works by Vincent van Gogh, Pablo Picasso and Claude Monet, which is pretty useful if you plan on doing a Fine Arts degree.

The main campus is three miles from the city centre. The university has it’s own student union, which is the University of Birmingham Guild of Students. The union is a little different from traditional student unions, as it is a Guild of Students, rather than a Union of Students.

The guild supports a number of different societies and volunteer projects. The guild also offers a Student Advice society and Nightline which is a welfare support service. The university’s on-campus newspaper Redbrick is financed by the guild as well.

The University of Birmingham also competes in the BUCS League, same as Aston and usually ranks in the top four of the league. The university offers a number of sports, such as Gaelic football, cricket, rugby union, ice hockey, American football and rowing.

Birmingham City University has been around since 1843, although it gained university status in 1992 and is the second largest city in the city.

The university’s main campus is close to the city centre. The student’s union is called Birmingham City University Student’s Union (BCUSU) and is on the main campus. Unlike the University of Birmingham, BCU is a member of the NUS and therefore, so too are it’s students.

The union also produces Polygon, a student magazine. They also house Scratch TV, the student television society and Scratch Radio, which is a student radio station.

University College Birmingham was established in 1957, although it became a university in 2012.

UCB is also located in the centre of Birmingham and has its own Student Services Unit. Much like the University of Birmingham, it doesn't operate a traditional student union, it does however, have a Student Guild, which is run by eight people.

The Student Guild offers a lot of different sport, such as cricket, football, rugby union and Jitsu. UCB takes part regularly in the British Universities Sports Association (BUSA) Leagues and also organises the Summer Ball, Christmas party and the New Year’s Eve celebrations.

And finally Newman University, which was founded in 1968, thought it gained university status in 2013.

The university has a good level of graduates who go onto find further employment, with a staggeringly high rate of 95% for students. The university offers undergraduate and postgraduate courses, such as the PGCE degree and also awards postgraduate research degrees, in collaboration with Liverpool Hope University.

The university mainly works with students in the UK, as it is still working on regaining the license for to offer students with a Tier 4 Visa a degree.

Things to do with family in Birmingham

History & Culture

Birmingham has a history of being one of the main industrial cities in the UK. In the medieval times, the city was a bustling market town and quickly became the third largest town in Warwickshire by 1327.

During the industrial revolution, the city was at the very heart of bustling industry. Birmingham ran a little differently than other cities and had a number of highly paid workforces, divisions of labour and was a breeding ground for a number of entrepreneurs (which will be very inspiring to any budding student entrepreneurs).

Birmingham was also the site of the world’s very first cotton mill in the city’s Upper Priory, in 1741. Birmingham also played a pivotal part in the development of the industrial steam engine in James Watt and Matthew Boulton in 1776.

During World War II, the city was targeted regularly by the Lufftwafe. Despite this, the city was also the place that cavity magnetron, a key component of radar, was invented in the city, and was also the place that the first discussions surrounding nuclear weapons were discussed as well, and was part of the Frisch–Peierls memorandum (a collaboration between Otto Frisch and Rudolf Peirels), which is still commemorated by the University of Birmingham.


Sport is a huge part of the city of Birmingham.

There are two main football clubs in the city; Aston Villa and Birmingham City. The two share a fierce rivalry and is one of the oldest football rivalries in recorded football history. West Bromwich Albion is not technically from the city, but still pulls in a large fanbase from the city.

Edgbaston Cricket Ground is also a big attraction in the city and has regularly hosted a number of international matches. Edgbaston was also the site of the highest ever score by a batsman in first-class cricket, in 1994, when Brian Lara scored 501, not out.

The city also has a ruby union club, Moseley RFC who play at Billesley Common. There are also a number of golf courses throughout the city, with The Belfry, the main headquarters of the Professional Golfer’s Association, the most famous, as it has also hosted the Ryder Cup on numerous occasions.

The city will also play host to the 2022 Commonwealth Games.

Who’s from Birmingham?

There are a number of people from Birmingham, such as: Ozzy Osbourne, Lee Hendrie, Gabriel Agbonglahor, John Oliver, Martin Shaw, Alan Smith & Neville Chamberlain.

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