Second only to London in population and size, Birmingham is a modern hub of business, culture and commerce. The city was hugely significant during the 18th and 19th-century industrial revolution and quickly became one of the world’s foremost manufacturing towns. You can still find plenty of reminders of this proud heritage throughout the city, whether at the buzzing canal-side bars of Gas Street Basin or the Jewellery Quarter, where almost half of all British jewellery is made to this day.

In short, there are plenty of sights that make Birmingham an absolute gem for business travelers. Here are our top picks:

Birmingham restaurants and bars

Birmingham is famous for its curry, and even if you’re on a flying visit you should sample some of the best the city has to offer. The Viceroy Tandoori on Ickneld Street serves classic Indian cuisine in a modern setting and is great for working lunches or an after-work indulgence.

Whatever your plans for the day, a good coffee gets everything off to a rolling start and you’re spoiled for choice in Birmingham. Try Damascena on Alcester Road for a cup of the strong, traditional Turkish variety.

Gast Street Basin

Gast Street Basin ©Alex Liivet

Gas Street Basin is a great location for a quick lunch. You can find some delicious pub grub at The Pickled Piglet – they even have an express menu, so it’s a good choice if you’re particularly pushed for time.

When it comes to Birmingham bars, head to the trendy Brindleyplace for canal-side cocktails or evening drinks, where the vibrant Pitcher & Piano draws the after-work crowds. If you’re feeling flush, head to Wharf Street, and treat yourself to a glass of Brut at the Laurent-Perrier cocktail bar which overlooks the city from the top of the Cube building.

Hotels in Birmingham

As you might expect, there’s a wide range of hotels in Birmingham, from the basic to the luxurious. It’s hard to beat a really central location, right at the heart of the city, near the main station and the Bullring shopping centre. If you’re in town for meetings, then chances are you’ll be visiting Colmore Business District. As it’s located right by Birmingham Snow Hill station, you’ll find plenty of places to stay nearby. The cathedral and grounds are nearby – ideal for a peaceful walk.

For longer stays, Brindleyplace is a good choice. There are a number of comfortable, business-friendly hotels in the area and you’ll also be moments from some of the city’s best places to eat and drink.

Things to do in Birmingham

Birmingham Library

Birmingham Library © bluezorro

Birmingham is packed full of interesting sights, many related to the city’s unique industrial heritage – such as the network of canals that used to transport goods to and fro. Head out of the city a little and you can visit Ruskin Glass factory, where you can watch the delicate process of glass making.

If you’re in town for a slightly longer stay then take the time to explore a little. When it comes to shopping, the city centre has all the big high street names, but you can find some unique independent shops along the Great Western Arcade. For anything work related, the business resources at the Library of Birmingham are highly recommended.

Cover photo: The Great Western Arcade, © Alex Holyoake

Short trip to Birmingham planned? Here’s how to maximise your limited time in the city

Choice Hotels in Birmingham