How to experience the best Birmingham city trip

Topics covered in this article (table of contents)

    Birmingham isn’t a city you would immediately think of when planning a UK city trip. Or is it just me? But why? It is the second-most populated city in the UK. There should be heaps to do and see. My recent Birmingham city trip was a real eyeopener for me.

    Birmingham has indeed lots to offer, especially for travelling geeks looking for a more alternative city trip. The city has changed from a typical industrial city to a more modern & a hipper city.

    What to do in Birmingham?

    The first thing to do when arriving in a city is checking into your innercity hotel or hostel. On a city trip I prefer inner-city accommodation to be close to where the actions is. Birmingham has lots of affordable hotels to choose from.

    The next step I look for is getting answers to the following questions:

    • Is there a craft beer brewery or taproom to check out?
    • Are there any arcade games or retro games to play? (like recently at the Dutch Computer Museum)
    • Any rock gigs going on… Or is there a music (vinyl) store to be found to get my music kick?

    In Birmingham, everything was rolled into one once I discovered Tilt. Tilt is heaven… They serve amazing craft beer. They play great classic and modern rock. There are pinball machines. Oh and there’s wifi, good coffee, plenty of space to sit or hang out and friendly & knowledgeable staff. What more could a craft beer geek wish for?

    Craft beer tasting in Birmingham

    Like any good bar, Tilt is a bit hidden… It’s located in the city centre, in an arcade in a side street of the big shopping street. Their address is 2 City Arcade (on the corner of Warwick Passage and Union Passage) in Birmingham.

    What makes Tilt such a great craft beer bar? Quality. They have about 8 taps (and a fridge stocked with craft beer to go) but the beers on tap are really something special. I haven’t had a mediocre craft beer yet at Tilt. The ones I tried all resulted in raving score on my Untappd profile. Take for example:

    • Number of the Yeast (Triple IPA) by Manchester-based Cloudwater Brew Co
    • Imperial Wedding Cake Break (Imperial Porter) by Evil Twin Brewing (USA)
    • Michael’s (a Weisse with Melon), a collab by Garage Beer co and Laugar Brewery (both from Spain)

    Tilt doesn’t serve any food, but you are allowed to bring in your own. Easy as.

    Experience great music on your Birmingham city trip

    Not a big fan of visiting a museum? Good news, the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery is different. Yes, they have a regular collection of paintings, sculptures and knickknacks that cater to the travelling culture vultures.

    But they also have exhibits that will please a wide range of travellers going for a Birmingham city trip. Especially for rock and heavy metal fans visiting the city between 26 June 2019 and 29 September 2019 as the Exhibition 50 Years Black Sabbath is on then.

    Perhaps you didn’t know, Birmingham is the birthplace of heavy metal as bands like Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, and Led Zeppelin (well, half of the members of the band) came from Birmingham. And with an exhibition like the Black Sabbath one you can really experience the city’s musical heritage on your Birmingham city trip.

    50 years of Black Sabbath is an awesome exhibition in Birmingham. City trip fans that love the heavy riffs of Sabbath won’t be disappointed. Although, I have to admit there was one thing that lead to some disappointment with me.

    The exhibition focusses solely on the founding members of Black Sabbath: Ozzy Osbourne, Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler and Bill Ward. Fair enough, they’re the ones that started this great band. However, in these 50 years of Black Sabbath, there have been several awesome artists that carried the Sabbath torch and helped to keep the flame alight: Ronnie James Dio, Tony Martin, Cozy Powell, Vinny Appice, Glenn Hughes, Neil Murray to name a few. It would have been nice to have a section dedicated to these artists as well.

    (click the images below to see a larger version)

    Shop (or eat) till you drop

    New Street Station is the place where you Birmingham city trip will start. Even if you’re flying into Birmingham, the city centre is just a short train ride away. New Street is also the area for shopping and a bit to eat. Grand Central (New Street) has lots of small street food-like vendors, the second floor is like a good food court, and gives you easy access to the Bullring shopping centre across the street or the outside shopping areas around.

    Birmingham New Street station
    Welcome to Birmingham: city of great music, craft beer and lots of shopping opportunities

    Birmingham has everything a shop-a-holic is looking for. Big brands, alternative brand, discount stores… You name it, the city has it. For me, an area like that is just a place to restock some toiletries and clothing items that got lost or ripped during the travelling days before, but that’s it. Shopping isn’t the reason I went on a city trip to Birmingham.

    What’s next?

    There’s more. Every city worldwide has more to offer than the items listed in my blog post. Birmingham has that rough industrial feeling any by just walking around you can understand why it’s the birthplace of heavy metal. But there’s also a big modern part right in the middle of that older industrial part of town. Birmingham should definitely on your city trip list (or road trip list). Make sure to check out the other blog post about Birmingham as well.

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    Martijn

    He is the digital geek that started it all. First as DIY-OE, then as Travel.Geek.NZ. Dutch roots, Kiwi heart. His favourite countries to travel in can be found in Australasia, Europe & USA.

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