Visiting a city in the UK is a great way to spend a weekend, but if you don’t know the place well you can end up feeling limited to the obvious activities and the price can rack up. As part of Thinkmoney’s UK Blogger Travel Guide, I’ve been given the challenge to showcase a less obvious day out in Birmingham, whilst keeping the budget for two people under £40. So if Birmingham to you means the Sea Life Centre, Cadbury World and the Bullring, read on to find out what else the city has to offer, whilst keeping your bank account happy too!
For starters, it doesn’t get much cheaper than free, so a trip to the Library is a must. You might not think going to a library is something to do on a weekend away, but Birmingham Library is so much more than books. From having a game of table tennis, to enjoying the views from the ‘secret’ garden right at the top, simply exploring the library is a great way to kill an hour in the city centre.
After a little trip to the library, very nearby is Brindley place, which is one of the nicest areas of Birmingham, with it’s canals and buzzing atmosphere. It is also the home of the Ikon Gallery, a free contemporary art gallery in a beautiful old school building. The gallery offers exhibitions of brand new modern art from around the world, in a range of different mediums. Even if you’re not a huge art buff, the Ikon gallery is engaging and accessible to anyone and is a calm break from the bustle of the city centre.
Inside Ikon is Cafe Opus, a funky and relaxed cafe that fits the style of the gallery. Cafe Opus also do a very reasonable and totally lush afternoon tea for £10 per person. The tea comes in artsy tea cups and the cake-stand is filled with finger sandwiches, scones with jam and clotted cream and miniature cakes. The spread finds the balance between traditional and quirky and the staff on our visit were really friendly and helpful. On a nice day you can enjoy your afternoon tea outside in Oozell’s square and watch the world go by.
Finally, to end your day out in Birmingham, why not visit the UK’s oldest working cinema, The Electric? Instead of the standardised experience of an Odeon or Cineworld, The Electric offers a unique outing, and often shows lesser-known or independent films. Though the screen is somewhat small, the atmosphere created is cosy and personal. A front row sofa seat is £10.20 per person, so you can sit back, put your feet up and enjoy the film in complete comfort. Perhaps the best thing about The Electric is the selection of drinks and snacks on offer, including film-themed cocktails and home-made cake (though this is not included in the £40 budget!).
We had a great time trying out a budget day in Birmingham, and even if those of you visiting the city don’t replicate this day, I hope it has inspired you to consider exploring the hidden gems that aren’t on the traditional tourism agenda. This full day out came to £40.40 for two people – but for an even cheaper trip standard seating in The Electric is available. Happy travelling!
*The lovely folks at Thinkmoney provided me with the budget to create this day out.