Things to do in the Second City

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The holiday season is upon us, and every student in Brum is talking about the German Christmas Markets, that 5 million people flock to from all over the country. Experiencing the bratwurst, glühwein and craft stalls of the market for the first time is basically a rite of passage, and it’s often students’ first glimpse of what the UK’s ‘Second City’ has to offer.

In my three-ish years of student life I’ve gotten to know some of the city’s best spots, and with this year’s market ending soon, I’d like to tell you about some of them. Keep reading below for my best picks for an evening out, a spot of lunch or a lovely day out with your Nan:


A day out at one of Birmingham’s museums and attractions is a fab place to start. The Black Country Living Museum in Dudley or the Sea Life Centre near Broad Street are both well worth a visit, but every student’s top pick has got to be Cadbury World in Bourneville. With student tickets available for just £9 and potential free chocolate, it’s just as fun as that time you went with your Year 6 school trip.


Once you’ve worked up an appetite on your day out, try a bite to eat in one of the many cafés dotted around. If you’re near campus, Arco Lounge in Harbourne is a unique, cosy spot for a cheeky brunch (with gluten-free and vegan options!) Or if you’re willing to venture a little further, The Kitchen Garden Café in Kings Heath is a 2-in-1 café/garden shop with amazing food – and both have free WiFi!

Outdoor Places

Don’t be put off by the word “city”, Birmingham has no shortage of green spaces. Whenever I need some time out from city life I take the 30 minute walk from campus to Cannon Hill, a huge open park with a lake at its centre, great in summer for chilling out with mates. If you don’t want to walk that far then Winterbourne Gardens is right next to campus, or if you’re after something more adventurous then the Lickey Hills near Longbridge make for some beautiful walks.

Dining & Drinking

When you’ve got the hang of the Christmas markets, the next thing you need to try is Digbeth Dining Club. This weekly street food festival has every cuisine you can imagine on offer from the area’s best street food vendors; you’ll have to go more than once because it’s so difficult to choose! Follow it up with a drink in one of central Birmingham’s many pubs – my favourite is the Old Joint Stock on Temple Row.

Evenings Out

For a night out that isn’t all about clubbing, the Hare & Hounds in Kings Heath is a brilliant music venue with acts from a range of genres, and is instantly popular with anyone who’s visited. Or if, like myself, you want to get competitive with your mates, Ghetto Golf in Digbeth is a super unique indoor mini golf course, with cocktails available throughout if that’s your thing.

 Those are my top picks, but there’s plenty more great things to do that I haven’t mentioned, and yet more that I’ve not encountered myself! Rest assured, whatever your interests, you will find something you love to do here. We’re called the Second City for reason: after all, don’t they say second the best?

The Old Joint Stock, a pub which used to be a bank!