The second largest city in Great Britain (behind you-know-who), you'd suspect that Birmingham would have a cultural heritage to match. It'd be pretty rude for us to start a summary this way if it wasn't the case. Sure, we at embark can get get a little... snooty, sometimes, but rude? Not little old us! Anyway, with its proximity to industrial ports like Gloucester and Bristol, a commitment to the arts that is quite commendable, and a love of sports that is hard to beat anywhere in the world, Birmingham serves as an eventful cultural destination.
The best thing Birmingham has going for it on the cultural end is its affluence of good museums. Whether you want to explore the period architecture and decoration of 400 year old Aston Hall or the high-end exhibits had for free at the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery and the Barber Institute of Fine Arts. Then again, the best experiences may be had just strolling along the many canals, areas that have been pedestrianized and are among the more attractive parts of the city, particularly in the neighborhoods around Brindleyplace.
Birmingham also gets a lot of love for the people who've grown up in the area. Ozzy Osbourne fans will want a picture of his childhood home (residential, so don't just barge in); Tolkien fans will want to visit Sarehole Mill, one of the remaining water mills in the area and one which inspired his hobbit world; and fans of Shakespeare will want to head the half an hour or so south to Stratford-upon-Avon. Also, if you are looking to further explore England's history of ships and canals, then look to travel for a day to Bristol or Gloucester. Bristol has an extensive maritime history, most notable in its Great Western Dockyard, where the first iron steamer, the ss Great Britain is proudly displayed. Gloucester, on the other hand, is known as Britain's most inland port. The docks here are quite a sight, with old Victorian merchant houses overlooking the popular pubs and restaurants along the water. The Gloucester Waterways Museum is also important in summing up the country's canal history.
The final piece of the cultural puzzle has to be Birmingham's love for football. Aston Villa and Birmingham City both have strong fan bases and are much cheaper alternatives to London or Manchester when it comes to catching a live match. Otherwise, there are plenty of bars and pubs in the area where the excitement will be just as high (or low, depending on how the teams are faring in league play this year).
If you're interested in making a trip to Birmingham, start building yourself an itinerary or peruse our dedicated activity pages.