Birmingham, the UK’s second city, may not immediately spring to mind as a destination for the romantic soul. But there’s more than Spaghetti Junction, a thousand trades and that cheerful friendliness here to put a twinkle in your eye and a spring in your step. No matter what your wooing style may be, we’ve got plenty of suggestions to make your heart beat faster in Brum. Want to feel that fuzzy-kneed sensation? Here’s our choice of ridiculously romantic things to do in Birmingham for couples or couples-to-be.
Birmingham: An Introduction To Her Charms
If you’ve not been to Birmingham for a long time, be prepared to be surprised. This is a city prone to being bashful about its charms, which are copious and diverse. In recent years there has been significant investment in the city centre. It’s a compact, walkable space, with plenty of options for shopping, dining and entertainment, all located within just a few minutes of the three central stations.
Planning a couples trip to Birmingham? Pin this for later!
How To Get To And Around Birmingham
You can fly direct to Birmingham Airport from over 300 destinations. From there, it’s less than 15 minutes to New Street Station. The M6 and M5 motorways intersect just north of the city, while the M40 and M42 offer traffic from the south east a different route into central Birmingham. Mainline train services call at Birmingham New Street, and alternative train routes will deliver you to Moor Street and Snow Hill stations, also within the central area. There’s a bus station near the Bullring for long distance bus services.
The city centre is easy to get around. If you need to move further afield, you’ll find trains covering main destinations via the north to south and east to west lines. There are also trams covering the Jewellery Quarter through to Wolverhampton and a collection of frequent city buses.
Enjoy Birmingham Moor Street Station
It’s not often that I’d recommend a station as a place to make your heart beat faster. Special mention is needed for the historically gorgeous London St Pancras, with its beautiful statue of The Meeting Place to do exactly as described. Then there’s Carnforth, filming location for the classic film Brief Encounter, and now with a micropub on site to stop off for a drink. Or Antwerp in Belgium, the architectural splendour of which blows my mind every time. But the renovation of Birmingham Moor Street station puts it up there with the best.
Half close your eyes here, and you can imagine porters with pillbox hats pushing those big upright trolleys. You can smell the leather of well-worn luggage along with the aroma of freshly brewed coffee. There might just be a crisply laundered handkerchief being dabbed at someone’s eyes. Even if you’re awaiting the 1321 to Dorridge, this is a fine and atmospheric station in which to create your own memories. Marvel at the traditional signs and station architecture, or stop off for a snack and a coffee before setting forth on your adventure.
Birmingham For Geek Chic
The Library of Birmingham
This is no ordinary library. Recently built between the Town Hall and Symphony Hall, the Library of Birmingham is an architectural marvel. Caged in gilded flowers, the structure has been likened to a wedding cake, with layer upon layer. There are all kinds of wonderful things to explore here. Head up to the top for stunning views over Birmingham. Here you’ll also find the paneled Shakespeare Room: atmospheric and Elizabethan in this very modern building.
The lifts will serenade you with quotes as you move around the building. Don’t forget to stop off at the secret garden. It’s got seats to snuggle into amidst the sound of plants whispering while you enjoy great views across the city.
The Electric Cinema
The UK’s oldest working cinema? Tick. Sofas and waiter service? Of course. An interesting selection of screenings? Sorted. If a night at the cinema sounds good, you’d struggle to do better than the Electric. Located in what is now called Southside (via the John Lewis exit of Grand Central), you’ll find the Electric a great spot for a cocktail, Absinthe, craft beers and snacks. Avoid those early date nerves by finding something to talk about in this great venue.
If gaming’s your thing, then a great time can be had at Geek Retreat. Described as a combination comic book store and coffee shop, Geek Retreat has a wide selection of games, retro arcade tables and game nights. This space for pop-culture enthusiasts gives you a spot to enjoy all things retro and there’s always good company to be had.
Birmingham For Foodies
There’s no doubt that Birmingham now offers food to tempt all palates and pockets. From fine Michelin-starred dining to a range of cultures and cuisines, you won’t go hungry here. If the way to your partner’s heart can be found via their stomach, here are some suggestions for places to eat.
Inexpensive Fine Dining At Gingers
Interested in great cuisine, but saving your pennies for another day? Then you will find impressive food at great prices at Gingers. Home to chef Glynn Purnell, Gingers has classic cocktails and an excellent value three course lunch menu. Feel like a plate to share? The baked Camembert with focaccia and quince jelly with a bottle of wine will see you happy.
The Edwardian Tearooms
Early date? Try the Edwardian Tearooms situated in the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery. In these splendid airy surroundings, you can enjoy all kinds of treats. Why not try a meal with a difference by opting for brunch here? Or investigate the patisserie table later in the day. You’ll find gluten free and vegan choices here too.
Canalside Dining At The Mailbox
Not sure of your date’s dining preferences? The Mailbox has you covered. With more than twenty options for eating and drinking, covering snacks to tapas to meals, you’re sure to find something that will work for you both here. There’s also the chance to dine canalside and watch the narrowboat traffic while you eat, then take a walk afterwards to enjoy the canal basin.
Afternoon Tea At Harvey Nichols
For a sense of celebration, I can highly recommend afternoon tea at Harvey Nichols. Afternoon tea is always great fun, and Harvey Nics does it to perfection, from the elegant treats in store to the warm and personable service. Even the most tricky of food allergies is beautifully managed here; my gluten and milk free tower of delights was incredible.
Getting Into Your Groove at Cherry Reds
Like your dining vintage and relaxed, and your vibe chilled? Cherry Reds is a great choice. In a beautifully ecclectic building, Cherry Reds is staffed by real, warm and helpful people, delivering a great menu in happy surroundings. It’s a charming place to unwind over snacks or something more substantial, and has a wide choice of craft beer at its bar. I’m pleased to report that it’s also very allergen friendly.
Birmingham For Culture
The BBC at The Mailbox
You can get under the skin of broadcasting at BBC Birmingham, situated in The Mailbox. There are behind the scenes tours covering news production, radio and well-loved programmes. Tours run on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays. The Public Space is open everyday, and offers you a chance to try your hand at presenting, investigate costumes and take a selfie with the Tardis.
The Symphony Hall And The Town Hall
The Symphony Hall and Town Hall are situated in the city centre and provide both music and spoken word performances. From gigs to tours, and classical concerts to free recitals and comedy, there’s much to recommend for potential date nights and afternoons.
Birmingham Museum And Art Gallery
Don’t overlook the potential of Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery for a great date. In addition to the chance for arty types to see the Pre-Raphaelite collection in all its glory, or historians to enjoy the Staffordshire Hoard, there are plenty of unexpected events here. Worried that conversation won’t flow? Try the silent disco. Like something different? Explore the museum at night by torchlight. Want to upcycle? There’s a workshop for that.
Birmingham For Comedy
We’ve already mentioned big comedy gigs at the Town Hall. For smaller, more intimate venues…plus of course the chance to be picked on at the front…try these places too.
The Hexagon At Midland Arts Centre (MAC)
The MAC’s a wonderfully chilled place. You can meander around Cannon Hill Park for a while before investigating the cafe, bar or shop. Then there’s a chance to catch a show at the Hexagon, whether drama or comedy.
Comedy Night At The Rose Villa Tavern
Juice Comedy hosts a night on the first Tuesday of each month at the Rose Villa Tavern. With a professional headliner plus three other acts, there’s a good chance to check out your date’s sense of humour.
Birmingham For Shoppers
Following the months if not years when the middle of Birmingham appeared as a rather muddy hole, the newly designed centre has emerged resplendent. Now you have a linking collection of shopping areas, most involving no more than a brief dash outside to get from one to the next in inclement weather. First off, you have the Bullring. No longer a large piece of concrete surrounding the market, the Bullring now starts next to Moor Street Station with the magnificent Selfridges building. All aglitter with big silver discs in a design said to be modelled on a tight sweater, Selfridges is just as interesting inside. If you want to meet the Bull himself, walk up from St Martins Church (halfway along the Bullring) and you’ll find him waiting outside between Waterstones and Hollister. He’ll normally have a crowd making his acquaintance.
Next up is Grand Central. Part of the redevelopment of New Street Station, Grand Central is a spacious airy edifice. It picks up on all those stores that you visit in London but can’t always find elsewhere: John Lewis, Kiehls, Jo Malone, Cath Kidston, Hema and the like. You’ll also find plenty of restaurant offerings, and even a champagne bar.
Behind New Street Station, you’ll find the Mailbox. Painted in bright red, as befits its status as the former mail sorting office, it’s home to Malmaison, a range of shops including Harvey Nichols, and more canalside dining than you can shake a napkin towards.
If you’re a fan of vintage, then turn left from Moor Street station for the five minute walk to the Custard Factory. Formerly the home of Mr Bird’s finest yellow concoction, now it’s a space for arts, bars and vintage shopping. You’ll often find events and vintage sales there too. Between Moor Street and the Custard Factory, there are more opportunities to shop well. You’ll find The Clean Kilo here, dedicated to zero waste food shopping.
Birmingham For Historians
Explore the Jewellery Quarter
Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter is not just a haven for shoppers and makers. Here you’ll also find out about some of the many trades that shaped Birmingham. You can take a three mile walk around this designated conservation area. It includes a stop at the Coffin Works, home to Birmingham’s last coffin furniture factory and the Argent Centre for the Pen Museum. You’ll find details and maps for the Jewellery Quarter walk here.
Follow The Victorians
Free walking tours are a great way to see any city, and Birmingham is no exception. For the price of a tip, you can join a social enterprise showing off the best of the city in two hours and around one and a half miles of walking. Tours run on most Saturdays with Real Birmingham Free Walking Tours.
Birmingham Gigs And Clubs
If you want to see a big name, then Birmingham’s not short of big venues to accommodate the largest crowd. From Arena Birmingham its sister venue the Genting Arena to the O2 Academy, there’s a lot of choice.
Smaller, Intimate Venues
Take your pick of lots of smaller venues too. From the versatile spaces of the Custard Factory to the Jam House, the Hare and Hounds, or acoustic at the Kitchen Garden Cafe, there’s something to suit any kind of date night.
Birmingham For Outdoor Lovers
You might be thinking that a city of a million people would struggle to offer you some outdoor spaces. But that’s definitely not the case. Whether you like your outdoors manicured or wild, Birmingham’s got choices to get the air into your lungs, and leaves crunching under your feet.
Fancy a walk in 2,400 acres of national nature reserve? Sutton Park, 6 miles north of the city centre, is a great choice. Here you’ll find heathland, marshland, woodlands, wetlands, and seven lakes. The park is packed with wildlife to spot. There’s a visitor centre here with a shop, map and toilets. The park is open from 9am to dusk daily.
Sarehole Mill and the Tolkien Trail
A scant four miles from the city centre and close to Edgbaston Cricket Ground, you’ll find a hidden Birmingham. Near the former residence of writer J.R.R. Tolkien, you’ll find the lands that inspired The Shire and the homes of hobbits. Both Moseley Bog and The Shire Country Park are full of beautiful walks, lined with trees and sweetened by birdsong. To visit the Tolkien Trail here is to step aside from the million inhabitants of Birmingham to a completely different world. The Shire Country Park is opposite Sarehole Mill, a working watermill that was also an inspiration to the writer. I can think of few places more magical for a meander.
From the Lord Mayor’s Parade to Birmingham Pride, there’s always something happening in the city. Whether you’re interested in sport, culture, heritage, arts or a good time at something you haven’t yet considered, you’ll find a month by month list of what’s happening at Visit Birmingham.
Frankfurt Christmas Market
A special mention needs to go out to the romantic potential of the Birmingham Frankfurt Christmas Market. Yes, you read that correctly. It’s a Christmas Market from Frankfurt. In Birmingham.
Now a Birmingham tradition, this magnificent extravaganza of a Christmas spectacle takes over the central hub of New Street every November and December. Filled with carousels, food, drinks and stalls selling beautiful treasures, it’s where the locals arrange to meet for a fun time. Wrap up warm, grab a bag of hot chestnuts and a hot chocolate (or hot toddy) and enjoy the spectacle, the sights and the wonderful smells.
More To Do In Birmingham and Nearby Places
I hope you’ve found plenty of places to generate a little romance in your soul. There are so many great times to be had here, and I hope you’re going to enjoy them all. It worked for me, after all; I came to Birmingham for work but – as the quote states – reader, I married him. If you’ve enjoyed these suggestions for romantic things to do in Birmingham, why not take yourselves across to the Forest of Arden and Shakespeare Country, where the Bard has some more romantic inspiration for you.
Ready for romance in Birmingham? Pin this for later!