Birmingham is the second largest city in England at around 1 million residents, but it’s not usually number two on the typical traveler’s itinerary. This city in the west Midlands is more known as an industrial center than a tourist destination, but there are plenty of things to keep you busy here. Birmingham has more miles of canals than Venice, but they aren’t quite the same thing so don’t come expecting a romantic gondola ride.

What To Do

The city center has undergone a major transformation in the last decade or two. Since it was flattened during World War II it was rebuilt with rather plain buildings, but lately new architecture is spouting up that makes things interesting again. Many roads in the center have been closed down to traffic so now this large pedestrian area is a pleasant place to stroll and enjoy the diverse shopping and dining opportunities. Being a major city, Birmingham has its fair share of museums and galleries. Speaking of which, the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery is highly regarded and contains works by many European masters. The Barber Institute is another highlight for its collection of Renaissance masterpieces as well as modern pieces by Picasso and Schiele.

Getting There

Birmingham can obviously be reached by train, but the rails are not cheap in England. If this is your main destination you can book a flight into Birmingham International Airport (code BHX). Direct flights are available from all over Europe as well as a few from Asia and North America. Of course you should compare prices with flights into London, especially on longer routes. The Birmingham airport is connected to the city center by a cheap and frequent train.

Where To Stay

There are plenty of hostels in Birmingham as well as loads of hotels as well. The center is the most pleasant place for travelers so it might be worth paying a bit extra to be there instead of saving a bit booking a far-out place and spending half your day going back and forth.