Hotels

There are hundreds of excellent hotels across Birmingham, in the city centre and on the outskirts of the city. Prices are good for a city with a large population of more than one million people.

A study in 2019 showed the hotel sector in Birmingham was growing in preparation for the Commonwealth Games.

In early 2019 there was an average room rate of £70.38, which is cheaper than a number of smaller cities in the UK including Brighton and Bristol. There was also an occupancy rate increase of two per cent from December 2017 to December 2018.

A variety of premium hotel chains are present in the city including Marriott, Radisson, Crowne Plaza and Hilton. There are also cheaper options through chains such as Premier Inn, Ibis, Travelodge and Holiday Inn.

A variety of boutique and modern hotels can also be found throughout the city, contributing to its vibrant nightlife.

Bed and breakfasts can be found across the area, particularly outside of the city centre. 

These are often found in traditional houses and offer a warm, local welcome.

Top-quality hotels will await those visiting Birmingham for the 2022 Commonwealth Games ©Birmingham City Council
Top-quality hotels will await those visiting Birmingham for the 2022 Commonwealth Games ©Birmingham City Council


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Tourist attractions and shopping

London is not the only English city with vibrant tourism and world class shopping. Birmingham's sightseeing is less to do with politics and palaces and more to do with beautiful canals and its fascinating industrial past.

Once you are done with the sights, there is a shopping experience which will leave nobody disappointed.

Birmingham’s canal system makes it a perfect place to take a relaxed boat trip. With 35 miles of canals, the city has a bigger canal network than the famed waterways of Venice. The most picturesque are in the heart of the city centre which features an array of outdoor bars, bridges and public spaces with a lovely backdrop of traditional red brick architecture.

Just 30 miles south of Birmingham is one of the most important towns in English cultural history - Stratford-upon-Avon. It was home to the renowned playwright and poet, William Shakespeare, and is a huge tourist destination.

The West Midlands has a long industrial history, and to this day you can see Jaguar cars being manufactured in the flesh at Castle Bromwich.

Birmingham also boasts the Bullring, the largest city centre-based shopping centre in the UK. Along with the adjoining Grand Central, there are more than 200 shops including numerous major chains and there is something for every shopper.

Birmingham is a world class destination for shopping and tourism ©Birmingham City Council
Birmingham is a world class destination for shopping and tourism ©Birmingham City Council

World famous high-class department store Selfridges only has four stores in Britain and one is at the Bullring. It is also home to major fashion brands like Michael Kors, Ted Baker, Victoria's Secret and Tommy Hilfiger.

Global names such as Disney and Lego can also be found, with the vibrant shopping experience continuing both in and outside of the Bullring's main building.

There are dozens of outdoor shops in a convenient pedestrian area, and these are complemented by top restaurants and coffee shops which are perfect for a well-earned break.

The name "Bullring" comes from the bull markets which have been held in Birmingham over centuries, and could date back as far as 1166. Today, the city's heritage is celebrated by the bronze bull statue which sits outside the shopping centre.

Nearby, The Mailbox is a smaller shopping centre which has the unique feature of opening out onto the main canal. Luxury department store Harvey Nichols is a major tenant here.

Elsewhere, the city’s Jewellery Quarter is a hotspot for diamonds and gems, while three of the finest theatres in the UK are in Birmingham - The Alexandra, the Birmingham Hippodrome and the Birmingham Repertory Theatre.

The Alexandra and the Hippodrome are "Touring Houses" which do not have a resident theatre company of players, with different shows coming in. The Repertory, which opened in 1913, is the longest-established building-based theatre company in the UK and produces its own work with a company of players.

You can enter the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery for free, which attracted 644,100 visitors in 2019 and has more than 800,000 items on display.

The famous Bullring is a landmark in Birmingham and home to excellent shops and restaurants ©WMGC
The famous Bullring is a landmark in Birmingham and home to excellent shops and restaurants ©WMGC

Film fans may want to visit The Electric - the oldest cinema still in use in the UK after its opening in 1909 - while Birmingham Opera Company has performed at intriguing and unconventional locations such as factories and abandoned buildings.

Warwick Castle, which is just over half-an-hour’s drive from Birmingham, was originally built in 1068 by William the Conqueror.

Just south of Birmingham lies chocolate factory Cadbury World, an attraction which is less wacky than the world of Willy Wonka but just as tasty.

Cadbury has been part of the city's history for almost two centuries having been founded in 1824 and is the second largest confectionery manufacturer in the world.

A tourist attraction at its factory was opened in 1990, allowing chocolate fans to see the process of making the confectionery behind the scenes. 

The Cadbury family created the village of Bournville for factory workers to live in. 

As the family were Quakers, strict rules were in place such as a ban on alcohol. Bournville gives its name to Cadbury's famous dark chocolate bar and is now home to more than 25,000 people.

Of all cities of an equal size in Europe, Birmingham has the most public open space, with a total of 571 parks. 

The largest of them all is the mammoth Sutton Park, which is one of the biggest urban parks in Europe at five square miles.

Birmingham's famous canal network is bigger than that of Venice ©Birmingham City Council
Birmingham's famous canal network is bigger than that of Venice ©Birmingham City Council


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Transport

Air

The world class Birmingham Airport is one of the busiest in the United Kingdom.

You can currently fly directly to more than 150 destinations around the world. Commonwealth countries and territories with non-stop services include lndia, Pakistan, Northern Ireland, Jersey, Scotland and Isle of Man. 

The airport also provides a direct route to major international hubs including New York and Dubai. In 2019, 12 million passengers passed through Birmingham Airport.

The transport links to the airport are impressive, with the train from Birmingham New Street, the main transport hub in the city, taking just nine minutes.


Rail

Birmingham has three major railway stations which provide a direct link to numerous key cities across the UK and neighbouring towns in the West Midlands. 

New Street is the sixth busiest railway station in the country and the busiest outside London, while the city also boasts Birmingham Moor Street and Birmingham Snow Hill stations.

Passengers can reach London and Manchester in only one-and-a-half hours, with Welsh capital Cardiff and Leeds just under two hours away.

In Scotland, Edinburgh and Glasgow can be reached directly in five and six hours respectively.

A direct train to Liverpool takes just one hour and 40 minutes while reaching Sheffield will take only one hour and 15 minutes


Road

Birmingham's motorway network forks off in all directions to conveniently connect the city with large parts of the rest of the country.

The M40 links the city to London via Oxford in just over two hours, while the M6 heads north as part of the route to Manchester, Liverpool and Scotland.

Drivers can use the M5 to reach Bristol, Exeter and the south-west of England, while the M42 travels east through the Midlands.

Birmingham's famous Spaghetti Junction, where a number of roads entwine together, is at junction six of the M6.


Tram

The West Midlands Metro tram service operates in Birmingham City Centre and stretches as far as Wolverhampton, providing a convenient way to get around.

There are currently 28 stations but major expansion plans are under way - with the award of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games playing a key role in accelerating the work.

More than 80 stations and 20 transport interchanges are planned as well as 50 extra trams, as the network triples in size across the West Midlands to take in stops such as Birmingham Airport and the NEC.

Upgraded passenger services and information systems are also planned.

Birmingham's impressive transport connections can get you around the city and country quickly ©WMGC
Birmingham's impressive transport connections can get you around the city and country quickly ©WMGC


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Food

There is a huge range of diverse food to be found in Birmingham. It is believed there are 187 nationalities in the city and with those people comes their culture and cuisine. 

There are a variety of restaurants found across the city for anyone’s taste. The famous Chinese Quarter is a must visit but Asian food in Birmingham also includes dishes from Pakistan, Bangladesh and India. 

In 1945, a Bangladeshi immigrant opened a cafe that served curry and rice - the first of its kind in the city. From there, curry became more common in the 1950s and 1960s, before the “balti boom” started in the 1970s. 

Balti is a fusion curry dish that is believed to have been born in Birmingham by Indian and Pakistani immigrants, and has now become one of the area’s signature dishes. 

Its popularity means there are more than 100 balti houses in the city, mostly in the “Balti Triangle” in the southeast of Birmingham.

African and Caribbean cuisine is also found throughout the city centre. Jamaican food is the most popular from the Caribbean, while African cuisines hail from Egypt, Morocco, Ethiopia, Somalia and South Africa.

The West Midlands has 10 Michelin-starred restaurants, including six in Greater Birmingham.


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Huge potential for future sporting events

Birmingham and the West Midlands is doing its part to create a legacy for sport following the hosting of the 2022 Commonwealth Games.

It means the city will be in a great position to host major sporting competitions for years to come after the Games have taken place.

Birmingham’s Alexander Stadium is undergoing a revamp for the Games, while the Sandwell Aquatics Centre is a brand new venue. Both will benefit the community and the city by staging big competitions in the future.

Following the Commonwealth Games, the Alexander Stadium will be able to host around 18,000 people. This will make it the largest dedicated facility capable of hosting major athletics events in the United Kingdom.

Prior to its regeneration, the Alexander Stadium hosted a number of Diamond League meetings, and it will continue to attract top elite athletes from across the world.

Alexander Stadium is part of the Perry Barr neighbourhood of the city which by 2040 will be completely regenerated, benefitting from a variety of new infrastructure. 

This will include 1,400 new homes, while transport links will be further improved with segregated cycle lanes to the city centre. There will also be a refurbished railway station and bus interchange, and improved access for pedestrians.

The stadium is set to become a focal point of health, wellbeing, sport, academic and community activity.

Birmingham City University is set to relocate its sports science faculty to the stadium, after signing on as a legacy tenant. They will join UK Athletics and England Athletics in being based at the stadium.

The Sandwell Aquatics Centre is a new world class venue that will host swimming and diving at the Games.

It is located in one of the most disadvantaged areas in the region and Sandwell Council has agreed a 10-year partnership with the University of Wolverhampton for students to study and train there. 

Going forward, major swimming and diving competitions are tipped to take place in Birmingham.

Local people will also be able to use the Centre from 2023, meaning they will have access to a world class facility. 

It will include a 50 metre competition pool, a 25m community pool, a diving pool, a dry dive area, a 108 station gym and 25 station women's gym, three studios and 1,000 permanent spectator seats.

Venues such as Alexander Stadium will be well placed to hold top class sport once Birmingham 2022 has finished ©Birmingham City Council
Venues such as Alexander Stadium will be well placed to hold top class sport once Birmingham 2022 has finished ©Birmingham City Council


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Birmingham 2022 legacy

A headline legacy of Birmingham 2022 will be the work to host the first carbon-neutral Games.

This will be achieved by tree planting, with a new forest planned for an area which is already well known for its green space. 

Furthermore, Birmingham 2022’s sustainability pledge will look to improve air quality by investing in cleaner transport methods including electric buses, which were first introduced in the city in 2020.

Birmingham 2022 has accelerated the implementation of key transport projects, including the expansion of the West Midlands Metro tram service and railway station upgrades at University, Perry Barr and Coventry.

The regeneration of Perry Barr will be a key legacy from Birmingham 2022 ©Birmingham City Council
The regeneration of Perry Barr will be a key legacy from Birmingham 2022 ©Birmingham City Council

Major improvements to the city's road network are due before the Games, with the Perry Barr flyover, near to Alexander Stadium, brought down in February 2020. 

It will be replaced by a dual carriageway as transport links are "future-proofed" in preparation for new homes which will be built after Birmingham 2022.

There is also a pledge to improve accessibility for disabled people, which will help better position Birmingham as an attractive location for Para sport events, by complementing the city’s world class facilities. 

More than 12,000 people are expected to be volunteers for the Games, with their skills then transferable for future sporting competitions in the West Midlands. 

Sport England is also providing a £4 million fund which will use the Games to encourage people to become more active and engage more in sport.

Birmingham 2022’s Business and Tourism Programme will be implemented to improve the profile of the city following the Games.

It will look to drive long-term economic benefits across the region, with the Games expected to create around 35,000 new jobs and skills opportunities. 

Local people will be trained and priority groups such as the young, unemployed and disabled will be supported.

Following the Games, companies across the region will have trained individuals who will have gained experience at a major event. 

Roles will vary from security and stewarding to venue management, catering and construction.

For more information about Birmingham 2022's legacy, click here.

Birmingham 2022 will leave a lasting legacy in the city ©Getty Images
Birmingham 2022 will leave a lasting legacy in the city ©Getty Images