Best Things to do in Birmingham UK 

Based in the heart of England lies the UK’s second city: Birmingham (or Brum, as we locals call it). Like London, Birmingham is huge, with diverse communities, an international food scene, and one of the largest shopping malls in Europe and of course home of the Peaky Blinders… and like London, Birmingham can be a bit pricy. 

But a trip to this historic city doesn’t have to break the bank. As a Birmingham local myself, I know the city all too well and as a budget traveler, I know where to find the best cheap eats, best deals, and the top free things to do here.

Things to do in Birmingham the Birmingham water canal network - famous Gas Street Basin. West Midlands, England.

So, I’ve gathered my best tips and hidden gems to help you make the most out of your trip. Birmingham boasts a wide range of free and affordable activities if you know where to look.

From world-class museums and art galleries to quirky cafes and bustling markets, you’ll find plenty to fill your days. And thanks to an efficient public transportation system, getting around is a breeze.

Table Of Contents
  1. Best Things to do in Birmingham UK 

Ultimate list of things to do in Birmingham

As the second largest city in the UK Birmingham is an undiscovered gem for most tourists. Famous for being the home of the Peaky Blinders Birmingham has much more to offer from budget attractions to green spaces and fabulous food and shopping experiences.

How can I experience attractions in Birmingham affordably?

Birmingham, like many cities, offers various attractions and activities that can be enjoyed affordably. Here are some tips to help you experience the best of Birmingham without breaking the bank:

Birmingham Museum

Birmingham is home to some incredible museums and galleries that won’t cost you a penny to enjoy. The Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery in the city center houses a superb collection of international artworks and artifacts. 

 Museum of the Jewellery Quarter

Birmingham, Information board on Ludgate Hill in Jewellery Quarter, UK

And right next door is the Museum of the Jewellery Quarter, which offers a fascinating look inside the workshops of Smith & Pepper – the last remaining jewelry factory in the city. Entry to both museums is completely free.

 Birmingham Science Museum

Just a short walk from the city center, Thinktank Birmingham Science Museum packs four floors full of hands-on exhibits to spark your inner scientist. General admission is free, with additional charges for special exhibits and planetarium shows.

 Sarehole Mill

Sarehole Mill - the childhood inspiration for JRR Tolkien's Middle Earth Lord of the Rings books. Wander through this historic mill and learn about its influence on perhaps the greatest fantasy writer of all time.
©Tanya Dedyukhina, CC BY 3.0

On the southside of the city lies Sarehole Mill – the childhood inspiration for JRR Tolkien’s Middle Earth Lord of the Rings books. Wander through this historic mill and learn about its influence on perhaps the greatest fantasy writer of all time. Entry is affordable at just £4 for adults.

Cadbury World

Best Things to do in Birmingham UK 
©Elliott Brown

Of course, no visit to Birmingham is complete without exploring Cadbury World – one of the hottest attractions in the West Midlands.

Get behind the scenes of one of the world’s most iconic chocolate factories and sample plenty along the way. While standard tickets may be outside a budget traveler’s price range, keep an eye out for discount vouchers and special offers to cut costs. I was able to visit for just £12 by showing my train ticket – an excellent deal!

Bear Grylls Adventure

Climbing frame at the Bear Grylls Adventure park at the Birmingham National Exhibition Centre.

From £10 you and the kids can experience adventures at the Bear Grylls Adventure. Some activities include: Archery, shooting and backstage tours.

Great Western Arcade

Best Things to do in Birmingham UK 
©Elliott Brown, CC BY 2.0

Located in the heart of Birmingham’s shopping district, the elegant Victorian Great Western Arcade is the place for shopping those unique finds. This stunning Grade II listed arcade is full of beautiful boutiques, cafes and restaurants and a unique place to find that special gift to bring home.  The Great Western Arcade has something for everyone.

National Motorcycle Museum

Best Things to do in Birmingham UK 
©Visit Birmingham

The National Motorcycle Museum is recognised as the finest and largest British motorcycle museum in the world and originally opened its doors in October 1984 with a collection of 350 motorcycles on display. The Museum collection now boasts some 1000 plus machines, fully restored to the manufacturers original specifications.

Since opening, this magnificent centre has become the largest motorcycle museum in the world and one of the biggest attractions for many guests is the comprehensive cross-section of British machines, spanning the “60 Glorious Year” of motorcycle manufacturing in this country.  Tickets are £15 for adults and £8 for children.

Black Country Museum

Made In Birmingham' mural outside New Street Station featuring characters from the Peaky Blinders television series

The Peaky Blinders, a notorious urban street gang originating in Birmingham and the West Midlands, operated from the late 19th century to the onset of the First World War. Renowned for their distinctive attire featuring tailored jackets and peaked flat caps, the gang rose to prominence through a combination of social power, robbery, violence, political sway, and gambling, establishing themselves as a highly influential force during that era. You can explore the genuine Peaky Blinders set at the Black Country Living Museum.

Ikon Gallery

The Ikon Gallery is a free contemporary art gallery, housed in the Grade II listed, neo-gothic former Oozells Street Board School. The Ikon Gallery features temporary exhibitions over two floors showcasing works by artists from around the world, representing a variety of media, including sound, film, mixed media, photography, painting, sculpture and installations.

Lapworth Museum of Geology

The free Lapworth Museum of Geology is a geological museum located on the University’s campus and lets visitors explore life over the past 3.5 billion years. The museum displays objects from a fine geological collection, from rocks and fossils to volcanoes, earthquakes and dinosaurs. 

Birmingham’s Back to Backs tours

Best Things to do in Birmingham UK 
©Nessy-Pic, CC BY-SA 4.0

Immerse yourself in the meticulously restored 19th-century courtyard featuring working-class homes, providing a vivid snapshot of the lives led by ordinary individuals who contributed to Birmingham’s extraordinary legacy.

This tour takes you into Birmingham’s sole surviving back-to-back court. These houses, tightly constructed around a communal courtyard, offer a journey through the decades, spanning from the 1840s to the 1970s. Explore the stories of former residents who inhabited these compact homes, living and working in close quarters. Tickets for adults are £8.50.

Winterbourne House and gardens

Best Things to do in Birmingham UK 
©Tony Hisgett from Birmingham, UK, CC BY 2.0

Winterbourne is a rare surviving example of an early 20th century suburban villa and garden. The house was built in 1903 for John and Margaret Nettlefold, of Guest, Keen & Nettlefold. Margaret Nettlefold designed the garden, inspired by the books and garden designs of Gertrude Jekyll. After a period of restoration, the garden was Grade II listed by English Heritage in 2008. Tickets are £8.80.

Thinktank Planetarium 

The free Thinktank Planetarium is the UK’s first purpose-built digital planetarium. It offers a range of shows about astronomy and space, including tours around the night sky, adventures around the solar system, and journeying to the edge of the universe.

Birmingham Botanical Gardens

lush plantings and fower cascade down a small slope to a brick wall in Birmingham's botanical gardens

Tickets for adults are £7.50 discover over 7000 plants in the Victorian Glasshouses, Alpine Gardens, Japanese Garden with the National Bonsai Collection, Pinetum, Adventure Playground, and more. Enjoy a day filled with traditional tearoom delights, seasonal garden walks, greenhouse tours and exciting events throughout the year.

Coffin Works Tours

Industrial machinery and metals in the Stamp Room of the Newman Brothers Coffin Works. Jewellry Quarter, Birmingham

Situated on the outskirts of Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter, The Coffin Works is as a heritage attraction and adult tickets cost £8.50 it may sound bizarre but this is a fascinating glimpse into an over a century old facility. The Factory is located in a Grade II* listed building, and along with its contents, narrates the compelling tale of Newman Brothers.

This was Birmingham’s final coffin-furniture manufactory, in operation at the Fleet Street premises for over a century. They produced some of the world’s finest coffin furniture, including the fittings for the funerals of Joseph Chamberlain, Winston Churchill and the Queen Mother.

Tour Villa Park Football stadium

For football fans, one of the best things to do in Birmingham has to be a tour of Villa Park. You simply cannot be in Birmingham as a football fan and not head to the Aston Villa teams home stadium. You can take guided tours of the stadium starting at £20.00.

What free events and activities are available?

Beyond its impressive lineup of museums and galleries, Birmingham also hosts loads of festivals and events throughout the year that won’t drain your wallet.

 Street Art in Birmingham

Best Things to do in Birmingham UK 

One of my favorite things to do in Birmingham for free is to explore the hidden alleyways and streets of Digbeth and discover the bold, bright, and impressive street art murals that express powerful messages about the social issues affecting the city’s working classes and ethnic minority groups.

Every July and August, Summer in Southside lights up the neighborhood with six weeks of free outdoor performances. You can catch live music, dance, circus shows, and more at this lively street festival.

Best Things to do in Birmingham UK 

 Birmingham Symphony Hall

Statue of Matthew Boulton, James Watt, and William Murdoch by William Bloye with the Symphony Hall to the rear, Broad Street, Birmingham, England, UK, Western Europe.

On summer Sundays, Symphony Hall in the city center puts on free chamber music concerts in its gorgeous foyer. Relax on cushions and enjoy an afternoon of classical compositions and jazz standards. The Birmingham Symphony Hall is one of England’s finest concert halls with world-class acoustics in the stunning architecturally beautiful auditorium.

Birmingham Hippodrome

During the summer months and throughout the year the Hippodrome puts on various festivals and open air events that are free for the family. Keep an eye on their calendar here.

Birmingham’s Christmas Market 

A Bavarian style Christmas Market in Birmingham. The huts are wooden chalets and host both artisans, food and drink

If you’re visiting in late November, bundle up for the excitement of Frankfurt Christmas Market. Birmingham’s Victoria Square is transformed into a traditional German Christmas market, complete with delicious food, hot drinks, handmade gifts, and free festive entertainment. It’s one of my favorite holiday happenings in the city!

Year-round, keep your eye out for film showings, poetry readings, craft fairs, and community gatherings hosted at various venues around town. Local papers, event websites, and community boards are great resources to discover free public events during your stay.

 Gas Street Basin

Narrowboats moored at Gas Street Basin in Birmingham, UK. Birmingham is the 2nd most populous British city. It has rich waterway and boat culture.

Another great free activity is to go walking or cycling along the canals at Gas Street Basin. Did you know that Birmingham has more canals than Venice? You can read more fascinating facts about Birmingham here.

 Free Walking Tours

Birmingham is a down-to-earth city with a friendly bunch of people welcoming to new and old visitors and Free Tours By Foot wants to share it with you! With more canals than Venice, more parks than Paris and an ever-evolving skyline, Birmingham is home to outstanding galleries, concert halls, museums, and 6 Michelin starred restaurants. 

Where can I go for an inexpensive meal?

Fueling up on the cheap is certainly possible in Birmingham’s dynamic food scene. For breakfast or brunch, THE Coffee Bar serves hearty sandwiches and fresh pastries at just a few pounds each. Try the fluffy pancakes or smashed avocado toast to fill up before a day of sightseeing. The casual, cozy atmosphere makes you feel right at home.

 Digbeth Dining Club

For lunch, Digbeth Dining Club hosts street food vendors every weekend under the arches of the Custard Factory. The ever-changing lineup lets you taste dishes from around the world, with most selling for £5 or less. Giant burgers, loaded fries, ramen bowls, jerk chicken wraps – whatever you crave, you’re sure to find it here for a great price.

Best Things to do in Birmingham UK 

 Zindiya Streatery

With authentic, inexpensive Indian eats available at Zindiya Streatery, you can sample Birmingham’s diversity of cuisines without overspending. It’s a budget-friendly way to end an active day exploring the city! Let me know if you need any other cheap dining recommendations as I amend the itinerary.

Best Things to do in Birmingham UK 

 Bullring Markets

Best Things to do in Birmingham UK 

And you can’t visit Birmingham without popping into the historic Bullring Markets. Open daily, this covered market hall is filled with fresh produce, hot food stalls, and specialty shops. Grab ingredients for a picnic lunch or takeaway fish and chips for just a few quid.

What transportation options can keep costs low?

One of the easiest ways to save money getting around Birmingham is by taking advantage of the city’s excellent public transportation system. Bus travel is very affordable, with single journeys costing around £2-4. And if you’ll be hopping on and off buses frequently, day-saver passes allow unlimited travel after an initial purchase.

Birmingham’s single metro line connects the center to Wolverhampton, with stations at each attraction stop. Fares are based on distance, but even the longest trips rarely exceed £5. Look into saver tickets for 1-7 days of unlimited metro rides throughout your stay.

Walking is my top recommendation for short city center trips. Birmingham is very pedestrian-friendly, with attractions clustered close together and interesting architecture lining the routes in between. Pack comfy shoes to avoid public transport costs on sightseeing outings.

When your feet need a break, rent a bike from one of the many docking stations around the city. Registration is quick and easy with a debit/credit card, costing just £1 for 24-hour access. The first 30 minutes of each ride are free, with very minimal fees thereafter. It’s a budget-friendly way to cover more ground while seeing Birmingham from a local perspective.

Where can I stay on a tight budget?

Finding quality budget accommodation is key for keeping trips to Birmingham affordable. Fortunately, the city offers many comfortable, convenient lodging options that won’t wear out your wallet.

 Birmingham Central Backpackers

Best Things to do in Birmingham UK 

My top choice is Birmingham Central Backpackers, located just steps from the Bullring shopping complex. Private and dorm rooms start at £16 per night, including linens, storage lockers, wifi, tea/coffee, and a guest kitchen. The friendly common room creates a social atmosphere, perfect for connecting with fellow travelers.


Easy Hotel is located just a 3-minute walk to Birmingham New Street Station (south exit), easyHotel Birmingham offers budget accommodation is in the heart of Birmingham, within a 5-minute walk to shops, bars and restaurants.  Hippodrome Theatre is 400 metres from easyHotel Birmingham, while Bullring Shopping Centre is 500 metres from the property. Birmingham Airport is 12 miles away.

Best Things to do in Birmingham UK 

Wherever you choose to stay, look out for off-season deals to save even more. Hostel dorm beds can dip below £10 on winter weeknights. And major hotel chains frequently offer discounted rates of £50 or less for budget-conscious visitors.

Sample 3 Day Itinerary

Now here is a sample 3-day Birmingham itinerary with free and affordable recommendations to maximize your budget:

Day 1

Visit the incredible Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery in the morning to marvel at over 40 galleries spanning 5 centuries of international art – the best part is that it’s completely free! Stop at the quirky Cherry Reds Cafe downtown for a £4 lunch platter to fuel up or get in earlier for a full English breakfast.

Best Things to do in Birmingham UK 

Spend your afternoon wandering the fascinating Jewellery Quarter, admiring Victorian workshops and unique architecture. For dinner, head to Zindiya Street Kitchen for flavorful Indian street food with most dishes under £6. Fill up on samosas, curries, biryani bowls and more without draining your wallet.

Daily Cost = £10

Day 2

Start your science-filled day exploring the Thinktank Birmingham Science Museum and all its wicked interactive exhibits. Picnic in the park with market goodies from the Bull Ring Markets for lunch to save funds.

Sign up for a budget bicycle rental to cover ground traveling south. Tour Sarehole Mill to see where JRR Tolkien lived and explored as a child – adult entry is just £4. Enjoy a traditional English fish and chips takeaway from the mill’s on-site cafe.

Daily Cost = £8.50

Day 3

Rise early for the Digbeth Dining Club and taste international street food for under a fiver each. Spend the afternoon wandering the Digbeth creative quarter admiring unique street art, shops, and cafes.

Best Things to do in Birmingham UK 

End your trip enjoying live jazz standards at Symphony Hall’s free Sunday chamber concert series – just lay a blanket and soak in sweet melodies.

Daily Cost = £10

Total Birmingham Trip Cost: £28.50

See that didn’t cost much, did it? By focusing your time on free attractions and events, cheap transportation, meals under £10, and picnicking to supplement cafe visits, you can deeply experience Birmingham’s vibrant art, culture, history, food, and neighborhoods without draining your travel budget!

Insider Tip: Birmingham has a unique local dialect known as “Brummie”, that features words and pronunciations you won’t find anywhere else in the UK.

I recommend visitors take a few minutes to learn common Brummie slang terms like “babby” (baby), “cob” (bread roll), or “wench” (young woman) so you can chat like a local! For more slang words and phrases, read my Brummie Slang Guide for Beginners

Final Tips for Saving in Birmingham

•    Avoid relying on taxis whenever possible. Walking, public transit, and bikes offer huge savings over cabs for inner city transport.

•    Carry a reusable water bottle and fill up for free at drinking fountains around town instead of purchasing bottled water.

•    Choose open-air attractions and parks over paid entries when the weather is nice to avoid admission fees.

•    Look out for free museum entry days and other discounts by checking attraction websites or asking the local tourism board.

•    Consider lunchtime food truck visits or happy hour deals when wanting to try nicer restaurants on a budget.

•    Pack snacks like fresh fruit, sandwiches, and pastries bought at markets to save on additional meals out.


To wrap up, Birmingham appeals to cash-strapped travelers who know where to uncover hidden gem attractions, events, eats, and lodging deals that stretch your budget to its max.

Best Things to do in Birmingham UK 

Focus your time on free museums and markets, pack snacks and comfy shoes, and take advantage of inexpensive transportation options. Doing so allows you to immerse yourself in cultural sights, festivities, and Birmingham city vibes for very minimal expenditure.

 FAQ: Things to Do in Birmingham

There are numerous attractions and activities to enjoy in Birmingham, from exploring the city centre to visiting museums such as the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery. You can also catch a performance at the Birmingham Symphony or take a guided tour of key sites.

Best Things to do in Birmingham UK 

What are the best free museums and galleries in Birmingham?

The Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery houses stunning international collections across two Victorian wings. And the Museum of Jewellery Quarter offers free guided factory tours weekdays.

Where can I find quirky street art and cool neighborhoods to explore?

Head to Digbeth’s creative quarter near the Bullring filled with eye-catching graffiti, indie shops, and cafes perfect for an afternoon wandering.

Made In Birmingham' mural outside New Street Station featuring characters from the Peaky Blinders television series

What markets are best for finding cheap eats and gifts?

The 19th century Bull Ring Markets churn out 200+ food stalls and shops stuffed with fresh eats, vintage finds, flowers, and more all at great prices.

Are there any free events or summer festivals worth checking out?

Symphony Hall’s free Sunday chamber concerts let you soak in sweet tunes with a grassy courtyard picnic in summer. And Moseley Folk Festival brings 50+ acts to eclectic stages each August.

What’s the most affordable way to get around Birmingham?

Single bus tickets cost just £2-4 per ride. And Metrowest tram day savers allow unlimited travel for less than £5 across greater Birmingham.

Where can I find deals on quality lodging and accommodation?

Hostel dorms dip below £15/night at places like Birmingham Central Backpackers and Hatters Hostel, with free amenities and social events.

Where is the Birmingham Museum located?

The Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery is situated in the heart of the city centre, making it easily accessible for visitors wanting to immerse themselves in the rich cultural heritage of the West Midlands.

What are the must-visit attractions in Birmingham?

When in Birmingham, be sure to explore the iconic Jewellery Quarter, catch a show at the Birmingham Hippodrome, and visit Villa Park or the National Sea Life Centre, among other world-class attractions.

What unique experiences does Birmingham offer?

Birmingham boasts world’s first and one of the country’s experiences, such as the Birmingham Back to Backs and the UK’s only Coffin Works, ensuring visitors are amazed by the diversity of attractions.

Where can I enjoy nature in Birmingham?

For a change of pace, explore the lush Birmingham Botanical Gardens or head to Sheldon Country Park, offering serene landscapes away from the city centre.

he river fountain in front of the Victoria square in Birmingham, England

What are the top cultural experiences in Birmingham?

Immerse yourself in the rich cultural scene by catching a performance by the Birmingham Royal Ballet, visiting the Ikon for cutting-edge exhibitions, and exploring the diverse art at city

Are there any other budget tips worth knowing before my trip?

Carry snacks, walk when possible, and hydrate for free using public drinking fountains to save pounds on additional costs.

You might also like to read about other major cities to visit in England:

37 Fabulous things to do in Oxford

Best things to do in Cambridge a Cambridge walking tour

The Best Things to do in Brighton, England

37 Fabulous things to do in York England

Things to do in Lincoln, England

Things to do in Liverpool

Salisbury to Stonehenge: visit Salisbury and tour Stonehenge

29 Most Beautiful Cities in the UK


  • Billy is a deaf travel blogger from Birmingham, UK. Through his blog BRB Gone Somewhere Epic, Billy dismantles the myth that travel is too expensive, and that you can still enjoy hidden gems even in the most popular tourist destinations.

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