The Old Workshop of the World

As Britain’s second-largest city and the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution, Birmingham is one of the UK’s liveliest destinations, with a confident and creative spirit all of its own. The world’s most futuristic-looking shopping centre, a chocolate extravaganza even Willy Wonka would envy, and a restaurant scene bubbling with innovation are just some of the many things to see in Birmingham.

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Birmingham's Original Attractions

The array of attractions in Birmingham – also known by locals just as ‘Brum’ – run from fascinating historical remains to spectacular shopping and at least one delicious destination for the whole family.

As a key industrial hub, much of the historical city was destroyed by bombing in the ‘Birmingham Blitz’ of World War II. This makes Birmingham Cathedral all the more amazing and one of the best architectural things to see in Birmingham. The lush and colourful stained glass windows by pre-Raphaelite artist Edward Burne-Jones are just one striking feature of this small but beautiful place of worship.

Another jewel from Birmingham’s influential past, Soho House is thronged with stories. In this 18th century mansion, industrialist owner Henry Boulton and his fellow members of the so-called Lunar Society met to discuss the radical ideas that made up the ‘Midlands Enlightenment’. You can imagine these iconoclastic ‘Lunaticks’ – as they called themselves – debating by candlelight in the grand restored dining room. A visit here makes for one of the most memorable things to do in Birmingham.

Visionary as they were, Boulton and the Lunaticks couldn’t have imagined what Birmingham would look like in the 21st century, with space-age architectural statements like the ‘bubble-wrapped’ metallic facade of the local department store. This upscale shop forms part of the famous Bullring shopping centre, built on the site of a 12th century market and now an attraction to shoppers from around the world. If that’s not enough, the stylish, red-liveried Mailbox is another key Birmingham retail destination to seek out, home to high-end department stores.

Thinking about what to do in Birmingham with the kids? Cadbury World celebrates the legacy of the eponymous Quaker family who founded the now global chocolate dynasty. Located four miles south of central Birmingham (a short train ride from New Street Station), the attraction leavens lessons on chocolate’s Aztec history with ‘beanmobile’ rides, chocolate-making demos and tastings galore.

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