Home to just over one million citizens, Birmingham is a city with a history as an important global industrial hub. Today, it’s now a major retail and cultural destination, famous for its large network of canals (it has more miles of canal than both Amsterdam and Venice), while major sporting events regularly take place here.
In the past two decades, Birmingham has been transformed by the creation of major new retail facilities, office buildings, boutique hotels and canalside apartments. Many authors and musicians started out here, while the city is known for being very well-connected by road and rail, as the famous Spaghetti Junction proves!
On the motorways, a family car is fine, but when driving in the centre of the city, a small car is best for driving along the one-way roads and through the suburbs.
Aston Hall on Trinity Road is a lovingly-restored stately home in the Aston area of Birmingham. First built in the early 1600’s, it’s home to many period rooms and artwork from the Jacobean era. This building was used as inspiration by legendary author Arthur Conan Doyle in some of his work.
For the chocoholics among you, a visit to Cadbury World in the ‘ideal village’ of Bournville is a must. As well as seeing how Cadbury make their chocolate, you’ll also learn about the history of chocolate and how the company came to be such a big part of the Birmingham fabric.
Football is very popular in Birmingham. The city’s biggest football team, Aston Villa, play at Villa Park in the Premier League. Bitter rivals Birmingham City play in the division below, but if either team plays, the Birmingham derby is one of football’s most entertaining fixtures.
If you like to shop, then you should visit the Bull Ring Shopping Centre. Rebuilt back in 2003, the most notable sight is the amazing façade of the Selfridges department stores. Today, there are well over 100 shops to visit.
A stretch of the M6 motorway just north of Birmingham is a toll road. To cross for a week, you need to pay £5.50 at the booth.
In the centre of Birmingham, there are many one-way streets which aren’t signposted that clearly. You should make sure your satnav, if you have one, is accurate before driving.
The city’s main tourist information offices are at Birmingham Airport, in Birmingham Central Library and at the junction of New Street and Corporation Street.
Just over six miles east-southeast of Birmingham city centre, Birmingham Airport is one of the main hubs for air travel in the UK. It has two terminals and has flights to domestic and international destinations as far afield as Eastern Europe and India. To get to the airport by car, you can easily get from there to the nearest junction of the M42. The A45 goes directly from the airport westwards to the city centre.