Spending 24 Hours in Birmingham *

AD | Even though I only live an hour away from Birmingham (on a good journey), it’s not somewhere I’ve explored much of, besides its music venues and shopping streets. And of course their well known Christmas markets. So I was interested to see what other tourist attractions the city had to offer, but with only 24 hours in Birmingham, I knew we had to use our time wisely.

We decided to travel to Birmingham by coach but it’s also easily accessible by car or other means of public transportation. Birmingham Airport is directly connected to the rail station by a free ‘Air-Rail Link’ monorail system, making it ideal for international visitors. So, if you’re looking to stay in the city, then a Birmingham airport hotel * may be the perfect option for you.

Spending 24 hours in Birmingham

We arrived at Birmingham coach station mid-afternoon, our first stop? The Bullring shopping centre, which is one of the largest in the UK. So, if you love shopping, it’s the place to be. With everything from high street shops and restaurants to events and live displays.

We were lucky enough to see two Chinese New Year performances in the Bullring shopping centre, a dragon dance, and geishas, which were both very impressive. The bull outside of The Bullring was also decorated in Chinese colours of red and yellow which I thought was a great touch.

https://www.instagram.com/p/B7ygUgIBISt/?igshid=t0ertqcdther%2F

Although The Bullring may be the largest shopping area in Birmingham, there are many other shopping streets to consider, like the High Steet which is home to the world’s largest Primark store, or Birmingham’s jewellery quarter.

There is also a walkway from the Bullring to Grand Central Station, where you’ll find yet more high street shops and a large food court. As well as the train station itself, of course.

Holy Moly Macaroni

Instead of going to one of our old favourites (like Zizzi or Five Guys) we wanted to see what other bars and restaurants Birmingham had to offer. Which is when we stumbled upon a quirky restaurant, Holy Moly, in Grand Central Station. We had a quick look at their menu outside and went in as soon as I read vegan mac n cheese!

Holy Moly describes itself as the ‘home of soul food’ and had a very urban vibe to it. Everyone was seated close together which gave it a cosy atmosphere and made it feel busier than it was. There were many different seating options available from benches to booths and high tables. We (or rather our waitress) choose a high table for us which was a little difficult for me to hop up too! Aaron laughed as I crawled on to my chair.

Aaron tucked into the ‘Not so holy burger’, which was a chicken burger served with fries. With the option of either a bagel or brioche bun (he chose the bagel) and said it was delicious. I, on the other hand, tucked into ‘The Real MacCoy’, a vegan “Mac No Cheese” dish which I had with sweet potato fries. The dish itself was served with a tomato-based sauce instead of cheese which I very much enjoyed. I’d certainly come here again the next time I’m in Birmingham.

Pinball at Tilt

A short walk from the train station we stumbled upon signs for ‘Tilt’, a bar showcasing craft beers and offering pinball machines!… We had concert tickets booked that evening but couldn’t resist going in to enjoy a few games beforehand.

The venue was smaller than we expected and could have done with an upgrade. There was paint peeling off the walls and the same-sex toilets didn’t feel clean. But the pinball machines more than made up for it!

We had a lot of fun playing on the machines they had there and I was shocked at how many different varieties there were. It was an easy distraction from the look of the place, to be honest. Craft beer, coffee, and pinball machines? What’s not to love? It would make a great date night idea, although I’d recommend using the loos somewhere else!

Live music

Boasting three large music venues, Arena Birmingham and the 02 Academy in the city centre and the NEC nearby, Birmingham is one of the best cities to take in some live music. And I’ve been lucky enough to see a few of my favourite artists here in the past, including Busted, McBusted and Fall Out Boy.

As I mentioned earlier in this post, Aaron and I had tickets booked for a concert that evening, a Slipknot concert to be exact; and with Birmingham being the birthplace of heavy metal music, it seemed fitting we saw a metal band here. For those that aren’t aware the metal genre was largely pioneered by Birmingham’s own ‘Black Sabbath’ in the 70s. The band even has one of the canal bridges named after them.

Slipknot

The concert was perfect. Slipknot played all of our favourite songs bar one and we’re both very happy we got to see one of our favourite bands live.

It was Aaron’s first large gig and although he loved every minute of it, he decided that the drinks are expensive and not worth having. You either end up wanting to use the toilet a lot (for a number one) or your 2-pint cup of beer will end up flat by the time you get to the bottom of it. He couldn’t resist getting a tour t-shirt though.

Drinks at Coyote Ugly

While we were walking back to our hotel we stumbled upon part of Birmingham’s nightlife areas. But there was one red neon sign that caught my up – Coyote Ugly – which is based on one of my favourite movies. I had to pop in for a drink and to see how it lived up to the movie; it didn’t disappoint.

The bar had American themed decor and encouraged its female guests to have a dance on the bar, in true Coyote Ugly style. They even played ‘Can’t Fight the Moonlight’ which is the theme song. Honestly, if we had longer than 24 hours in Birmingham I may well have stayed all night!

Sea Life Centre

The following morning we decided to visit the Sea Life Centre which is home to over 60 displays including jellyfish, sharks, a giant octopus and Gentoo penguins. We had a 2 for 1 ticket which I’ve saved from a packet of cereal but you can also look at discounted tickets online.

Although it was smaller than I expected, we had a lovely morning exploring the Sea Life Centre. My favourite displays were Gentoo penguins and glass walkthrough. Which included a glass bridge so you could see the marine creatures all around you. We looked out for the sea turtle but couldn’t find it.

As we were leaving, the staff informed us the sea turtle was in their quarantine area (but didn’t say why) and offered us 2 free return tickets to make up for it. Which was a nice touch, and gives us another excuse to return to Birmingham.

Canal Path Walk

Birmingham was the hub of the canal network in the industrial age and there are still over 100 miles of canal in the area. Which is more than Venice! You can even use the canal network to travel to Birmingham yourself if you choose to.

We walked the canal path from Broad Street to the Mailbox shopping unit, which is home to BBC Birmingham. Tours of the BBC centre are available daily and include a photo opportunity with Birmingham’s own ‘Peaky Blinders’.

Along our canal walk, we saw a variety of cafes and bars, pretty narrowboats, and boat tours. The canals are some of the prettiest areas in Birmingham, I just wish we had more than 24 hours to explore.


There are a few other sights and attractions we would love to have explored, but time ran out on us. We quickly discovered that a day is simply not enough time to explore everything Birmingham has to offer.

Here are some of the attractions on our agenda for our next visit;

  • The Tolkien Trail.
  • Birmingham Botanical Gardens.
  • ThinkTank – Birmingham Science Museum.
  • Library of Birmingham.
  • BBC Birmingham tour

What about you? How would you spend 24 hours in Birmingham?


* This post is in collaboration with Hotels.com. I was gifted, spending money for my trip, all views are my own.

18 Comments

  1. Lisa

    February 10, 2020 at 13:09

    I don’t know Birmingham at all but I hadn’t realised they had a Sea Life centre, that would be right up Flora’s street. And that’s very cool that you can get to Birmingham by canal, what a way to travel! Thank you for sharing – glad you had such a good time x

  2. bournemouthgirl

    February 9, 2020 at 20:38

    Sounds like you had a great time! I love a sea life centre and a concert! Thank you for sharing your experience and your photos x

  3. Fizz

    February 9, 2020 at 10:48

    Love this post! I’ve only been once recently and it was to visit some friends at uni so we didn’t see loads of the city. They took us to their favourite pub in the evening and the next day we went round the bullring and also ate lunch in a Chinese restaurant. I loved it enough to make me want to go back though! All the places you went to seem awesome.

  4. Britt Kascjak

    February 7, 2020 at 19:21

    That mac and cheese looks INCREDIBLE! I’m pretty sure I would have had to stop if I came across a restaurant promising vegan mac and cheese too.

    1. Kim

      February 9, 2020 at 11:02

      Thanks! It really was delicious. I’d definitely go back there.

  5. Kim Leatherwood

    February 7, 2020 at 15:00

    Looks like an awesome time!! The mac & cheese looks delish!!

  6. Cora @ Tea Party Princess

    February 7, 2020 at 11:13

    It sounds like you had great fun, and you squeezed so much in!
    The food at Holy Moly looks delicious.
    Cora | http://teapartyprincess.co.uk/

  7. Meaghan

    February 6, 2020 at 22:34

    We’re off to Birmingham for our next day trip, and a Holy Moly/Pinball date night sounds like it’s on the cards! I’m hugely intrigued by the Tolkien Trail too… think you’ve introduced me to a few things there!

  8. Jenny in Neverland

    February 6, 2020 at 18:10

    Wow! I didn’t realise there was so many cool things to do in Birmingham! I’ve never been but my boyfriend was born and grew up there – I’ve only ever drove past it. I bet Slipknot were immense! x

  9. Finlay

    February 6, 2020 at 17:47

    What a lovely blog post to journey through! I was born in Birmingham so l am somewhat biased! Though we moved when l was young because back then, it was a bit of a state. In recent years its had a revamp and itsnt it a fab city now! Your post has reminded me ld like to visit again. Thanks for a great post!

  10. Jessica & James

    February 6, 2020 at 17:41

    We’ve not truly explored Birmingham as we’d like to but this post have convinced me to take a trip there soon because your list looks like a lot of fun!

    Jessica & James | http://www.foodandbaker.co.uk

  11. Jess

    February 6, 2020 at 17:32

    I’ve never been to Birmingham but it sounds like there’s loads to do! Holy Moly’s vegan mac & cheese sounds amaze!

  12. Sophie Naylor

    February 5, 2020 at 19:20

    That food looks AMAZING. If I ever visit Birmingham (I’d absolutely love to!) I’ll 100% be ordering that food 🙂 x

  13. Aimsy

    February 3, 2020 at 19:26

    I think I have only been to Birmingham once to see Maroon 5 in concert. We had a great time, and went to the Bullring the next day…what a great shopping place! I also accidentally drove in a bus lane, so had a lovely fine a few weeks later…oops!🙈
    Thanks for sharing, makes me want to have another visit!

    Aimsy xoxo
    Aimsy’s Antics

  14. Sarah Mark

    January 31, 2020 at 22:44

    I have only been to Birmingham once I had to drive down from Scotland and it was evening when we arrived then we had a concert and then came home the next morning. I would love to visit again and spend more time there. It sounds like you have had a great time and the Sea Life Centre sounds like so much fun.

  15. Caz / InvisiblyMe

    January 31, 2020 at 15:34

    I went back to Brum last year having not been for years and years.. there’s definitely a lot to do there. I couldn’t hack the Primark though, toooooo big for me. Wish I had seen Tilt, I would have loved a go at the machines! Great write-up with lots of fab suggestions for a memorable trip.xx

  16. Charlesfwh

    January 31, 2020 at 14:54

    I love visiting B’Ham when I get a chance. First stop is ALWAYS bourneville. I know other outlet parks do Cadbury shops now but it was always the first and when you get off the train at bourneville station and smell the chocolate in the air….😁

    The red brick uni is also fun to have a potter around as a pretty interesting building including the massive clock tower. My recommendations.

  17. Nic | Nic's Adventures & Bakes

    January 31, 2020 at 10:52

    I have not really explored Birmingham in ages, only been to the train station the Think Tank & Art Museum.

    Great places to visit, I do hope to plan a trip to explore more of Birimgham at some point 🙂

    Nic | Nic’s Adventures & Bakes

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