As the second largest city in the UK, Birmingham has a lot on offer to help fill your free time between lectures and revision schedules. Whether you’re considering Birmingham for your undergraduate degree, or you’re already a student in the city, we’re sure you’ll discover something new in our guide below.
By Grant Longstaff. Published 11 July 2023.
Located just a couple of minutes from Birmingham New Street station, Otherworld is a virtual reality experience like no other. At Otherworld you’ll not only see a VR world, but feel it too, with wind, heat and rumble effects built into your individual ‘immersion pod’. There are a range of experiences to choose from, from a calming journey through the seasons to an intense battle with the undead in a zombie apocalypse. There’s also a self-serve bar, where you can debrief afterwards.
The Botanical Gardens offer a glorious escape from the city with Victorian glasshouses, alpine gardens, and a Japanese garden. You can explore the collection of over 7000 plants or simply find a quiet spot and read for an afternoon. There’s also a tearoom, a bandstand and the gardens often host live events such as theatre shows and music.
The Bear Grylls Adventure
If you’re looking for something to get the blood pumping then The Bear Grylls Adventure could be for you. There’s a range of activities to choose from. You can tackle Europe’s tallest ‘High Ropes’ experience, a rope obstacle course suspended 65ft in the air, endure free falling in the wind tunnel, and encounter sharks and tropical fish whilst snorkelling. There’s also axe throwing, archery, and indoor climbing walls – plenty to keep you occupied.
There are hundreds of miles of canals in and around Birmingham, with bars and eateries, shops, walking trails, and activities along various stretches of the waterways. You could park yourself by the water and plan your next presentation with some pub grub, take a boat trip along the canal, or even hire a boat and explore for yourself. You can find information about the best spots along the canal on the Canal and River Trust website.
Ghetto Golf offers a crazy golf experience surrounded by neon lights and contemporary art, alongside live DJs, and a menu of exclusive cocktails to try. The course features 18 unique holes and Ghetto Golf offers a range of packages (including student deals), so you can start your night out with a round of drinks and friendly competition.
Digbeth Dining Club
Digbeth Dining Club was founded in 2012, focusing on pop-up food festivals to showcase the best cuisine the Midlands has to offer. In 2021 they opened their first permanent home, Hockley Social Club. Once a factory, the venue now also has a bar, café and hosts live music and comedy. Their second permanent venue, Herbert’s Yard, was opened in Longbridge soon after. Grab some mates and experience the best local food from vendors across the region.
National Sea Life Centre
The National Sea Life Centre in Birmingham brings the ocean to you. The centre is home to the UK’s only 360-degree ocean tunnel, which allows you to walk among the plants and animals which occupy our seas, including sharks and green turtles. There are also sea otters and an Antarctic zone where you can meet penguins. The attraction also boasts excellent midweek discounts, offering an excellent underwater escape for your downtime.
Museums and galleries
The city of Birmingham is home to several museums and galleries. There’s the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, Thinktank, the city’s science museum, and Sarehole Mill, which, along with its surroundings, influenced J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle Earth. If contemporary art is more your bag, you can explore the Eastside Projects and Ikon Gallery.
Nightlife and entertainment
Birmingham has a fantastic nightlife, and with more bars, restaurants, and nightclubs than you can imagine you’ll find somewhere to suit whatever vibe your night demands. The city is also teeming with opportunities to see live music, comedy, and theatre, from world-renowned artists to local talent, so make sure to explore the local listings and catch a show or two. We highlight some of our favourite venues in our ‘Top 5 reasons to study in Birmingham’ to get you started. Check it out for even more things to do in Birmingham.