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Birmingham Travel Tips

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With more miles of canal than Venice, and the proud birthplace of the Balti curry, England’s second city is a down to earth place, with plenty of surprises up its sleeve. Built on a bedrock of hard-work and industrialisation, modern Birmingham has evolved into a stylish and varied destination, with iconic buildings like the dimpled Bullring Shopping Centre and the glassy Beetham Tower making it enjoyable to look at as well as explore.

 

Best Time to Travel

 

The canals that run across this city were the veins that fuelled the Industrial Revolution. Now, the same glass-smooth waters represent blissful relaxation, letting you enjoy warm summer days cruising between homely pub dinners, and wrestling leisurely with picturesque canal locks. It’s hard to beat Birmingham at Christmas time, however, when you’ll want to wrap up warm to visit the Frankfurt Christmas Market - which spreads across the city centre. Bite into fat German bratwursts, smell chestnuts roasting in the air, and clink glasses as you toast in the festive season with steins of beer, or steaming mugs of mulled wine.

 

Not to Miss

 

If you’ve got a sweet tooth, you’ll be in confectionary heaven at Cadbury World. Peek behind the scenes of the chocolate manufacturer’s factory, and feel your mouth watering as you watch pools of thick, liquid chocolate, churning slowly. Don’t indulge too heavily in the free samples before viewing the 4D movie, however, as the twists and turns of the chocolate roller-coaster adventure will test your stomach. There’s nothing sugary-sweet about the sleek sharks that grin crookedly at you at Birmingham’s Sea Life Centre. The curious Gentoo penguins are sure to win your heart, however, as they wander over to take a closer look, and gurgle contentedly in their arctic enclosure.

 

Getting around

 

Birmingham is perfectly placed at the centre of England, and city is home to a large airport, which connects it with destinations across Europe and beyond. Trains can whip you from the terminal straight to London in just over an hour, or up to Manchester and the gorgeous Lake District, if you’re looking to explore a little further afield. A modern tram system links Birmingham with neighbours Wolverhampton and West Bromwich, while an extensive bus service covers every corner of the city.

 

Cuisine

 

Ready your tastebuds for an explosion of spice, as you take your pick from Birmingham’s famous Balti Triangle. Flames rise high in the kitchens of the many curry houses in Sparkhill, as the restaurants there flash sauces that are sizzling with hot chilies, and made to secret family recipes. This multicultural city offers flavours from right across the world, and if you’re looking for top quality, there are also Michelin-starred restaurants where you can crack into lobster claws, or taste delicacies like hazelnut-encrusted rabbit.

 

Customs and etiquette

 

Birmingham is one of the UK’s great melting pots of cultures and influences, and everyone’s welcomed with a smile here. The unmistakable local accent, and slang like "bab" (friend) and "fizzog" (face) may leave you feeling a little lost, but the friendly locals will be delighted to verse you in their colourful local dialect. Tipping is something of a grey area – you should generally leave around 10-12%, and a bit more if the service was really exceptional.

Fast Facts

 

Population: 1.09 million

Spoken languages: English

Electrical: The UK runs on 230V, 50 Hz current

Phone Calling Code: +44 121999