Birmingham & UK

Birmingham, UK

Birmingham is a metropolitan borough in the West Midlands, England and is the second most populous British city outside London with 1,092,330 residents. 

Birmingham is a major international commercial centre and is an important transport, retail, events and conference hub. As a major international commercial centre, the city offers vibrant and influential grassroots art, music, literary and culinary scenes.

The city offers three Michelin starred restaurants and Britain’s biggest and most extensive food event called the BBC Good Food Show takes place at the National Exhibition Centre.

Getting Around

By Public Transit

Network West Midlands provides city transit for tourists and residents seven days a week via Bus, Train and Metro.

By Bicycle

There are plenty of places to lock a bike up in the city centre, but few cycle lanes and lots of pedestrians. Unless you’re touring the UK on pedal power, the best use for a bike is to do one of the following: explore the extensive canal network, enjoy the country parks, travel to out-of-town attractions, or experience more distant places such as, Leamington Spa and Stratford-upon-Avon.

By Bus

There is no central bus station for local services, buses depart instead from various locations in the city centre (principally Bull Street, Colmore Row, Moor Street and Priory Queensway). Bus stop maps are available from libraries, tourist information offices and the Network West Midlands office at New Street Station.

Single fares are currently £2.10, valid on only 1 trip. However, for £4.00, you can get a day pass valid until the end of service that day. Buses do not give change, so make sure you have the exact amount required for the fare (in coins) ready when you board the bus. Buses end around midnight.

By Car

Birmingham’s city centre is partially pedestrianised and has several unintuitive one-way systems.

Expect to pay £1-£1.50 per hour in Pay & Display areas and more on street meters. Parking attendants patrol popular areas regularly, so expect a fine if you return late or a clamp if you’re parked illegally.

By Motorcycle

Motorcycles and mopeds are becoming increasingly popular in Birmingham as a way of avoiding rush hour traffic jams.

By Taxi

Birmingham has an abundance of taxi ranks all over the city, the best-served being New Street Station. Both hackney carriages and private hire vehicles are easy to find, but you should exercise caution and not get into an unmarked car or one you haven’t booked.

By Train

There is an extensive overland rail network serving most of Birmingham and the West Midlands area.

Route maps and timetables are available from libraries, tourist information offices, railway stations and the Traveline Midlands Journey Planner.

Fares vary with distance, but you can expect to pay between £2 and £5 for a day return to a local destination.

By Tram

Birmingham has a single metro line, running between Snow Hill Station and Wolverhampton, via the Jewellery Quarter, West Bromwich, Wednesbury and Bilston.

The Metro runs from roughly 6:30AM-11:30PM M-Sa, and 8AM-11PM Su and bank holidays. Fares vary with distance, but expect to pay around £2 for a single, £3.50 for a return and £4.50 for a day pass.

By Water Bus

Water buses and taxis operate out of the canal offices in Gas Street Basin (underneath Broad Street). They also provide tours of the area.

By Foot

Birmingham’s City Centre is partially pedestrianised, and most things to see and do can be reached on foot.

Time Zone

Birmingham is located in the Greenwich Mean Time Zone (UTC+00:00).

Weather

Birmingham has a marine west coast climate that is mild with no dry season and warm summers. July is the hottest month in Birmingham with an average temperature of 62°F(17°C) and the coldest is February at 37°F (3°C).

Electricity and Power

AC

The standard United Kingdom AC power supply comes at 230V (50Hz) and utilizes the BS 1363 13 A plugs, socket-outlets, adaptors and connection units. Please bring a travel adapter and/or transformer for your electronic devices (such as laptops and smartphones) and small appliances (such as electric razors, hair dryers, and irons) if you require them.

Currency

The currency used in Birmingham is the British Pound (GBP). If you happen to come across a Scottish note, they are legal tender in England although some places may refuse high-value bills. Euros are accepted at many large shops, restaurants and hotels in Birmingham.

Visa and MasterCard are the most widely accepted credit cards in the UK while American Express and Diners Club are also recognized at larger stores and hotels.

You can exchange money for sterling at Birmingham International Airport, where there are banks and exchange bureaus, and at banks in the city and at some hotels.

ATMs are available in many parts of Birmingham – ensure you inform your bank before travelling abroad, and be aware you may be charged for cash withdrawals. It is advisable to exchange some cash before arriving in Birmingham.

Shopping

Birmingham offers spectacular range of shopping centres. The world famous Bullring shopping centre is in the heart of the city centre and Solihull is the home of designer-brand shopping, idyllic rural villages, fine dining, fabulous hotels and spectacular live events.

Tipping

Tipping is not always expected in the UK in the way it is in the United States or Canada. In restaurants where you place your order with your waiter/waitress and receive food, and your bill, at your table, it is usual to tip around 10%.

The expectation does vary from place to place – in fine dining restaurants where you receive personal service, a tip would always be expected, whereas in the most casual of restaurants tipping is not universal.

Emergency and Safety

Birmingham remains one of the safest cities in the United Kindgom, as the city centre is well lit and well policed at all hours. However, it is always advisable to know about local safety services in the unlikely event of an emergency.

In the event of a health, safety, or criminal emergency, dial 9-9-9.

It is also advised to know the location and contact number of your country’s embassy in the event that your travel documents are lost.

Language

English is the main language used in Birmingham. Birmingham is second only to London as a multicultural society, however, and you are likely to hear many languages being spoken around the city, particularly Hindi (Indian), Urdu (Pakistani), and Mandarin (Chinese).