With an area of 80 square miles and a population of over one million people, Birmingham is England 's second city and one of the largest cities in Europe. Significant investment in recent years have transformed the cityscape into a blossoming major business and tourist location.
The redeveloped Bullring shopping centre coupled with the award-winning Water's Edge development at Brindle place, the Mailbox and Millennium Point, have conspired to create a vibrant, modern and dynamic city centre that gives London a run for its money.
Like many cities, Birmingham has embraced modern and cosmopolitan living in a big way with a number of city centre developments around the network of canals and in the traditional Jewellery Quarter. Elsewhere, luxury residential developments are springing up in New Street and Hill Street , and the Rotunda building, next to the Bullring, is also being redeveloped as upmarket living accommodation. Despite still being a city on the up, people looking to buy in Birmingham will find that prices are still relatively competitive.
Families who prefer a more suburban lifestyle may consider the likes of Sutton Coldfield on the outskirts of the city. Or for something a bit pricier and up market, Edgbaston is home to affluent and well-educated professional people employed in senior managerial positions.
Getting around Birmingham
Travelling into the city centre is not always the most pleasurable experiences. The main ring-road around Birmingham – aka Spaghetti Junction - is frequently congested but, once you have negotiated the traffic you will be relieved to know that there are over 70 car parks and space for over 24,000 vehicles in the city centre. Unsuprisingly, the best way of travelling to work in the morning is via public transport.
All areas of the centre are well-served by bus routes, operated almost exclusively by National Express West Midlands. There is no central station for local services, buses depart from various locations in the city centre - principally Bull Street , Colmore Row, Corporation Street and Stephenson Street with Digbeth Road used primarily for long distance services. Luckily, a 24-hour service operates throughout the city which is always useful to know on a Friday night after work!
New Street station, right in the heart of the city, is where all local, regional and national rail services go through, whereas Snow Hill just ten minutes away and Moor Street stations run routes on the Malvern, Worcester and Stratford lines via the Metro Network. Plans are afoot to extend the service out to Five Ways , via the City Centre and along Broad Street .
Eating, drinking and shopping
Being the second largest city in the country, you can expect to find a thriving shopping sector. And Birmingham doesn't disappoint. The new Bullring shopping centre which replaced its 1960s predecessor, houses all the familiar high street stores that you would expect to find in any city. But its biggest coup is that fact that almost half of the building is dedicated to Selfridges.
Birmingham has one of the liveliest club scenes in the country as well as bars, music venues and restaurants, including over 50 different restaurants within the famous ‘Balti Triangle' alone. Elsewhere, The Mailbox area is home to a growing number of quality restaurants with a wider selection of reasonably-priced eateries and café bars concentrated around the Chinese Quarter – conveniently located within walking distance to New Street station.
For pubs, Broad Street and the Convention Centre locale offer the best choice for both the usual weekend drinkers and delegates enjoying some wind-down time after a long conference. And once the lights go out in the pubs, the clubs come to the fore.
Birmingham has one of the best club scenes catering for lovers of all musical genres. But for something a little less hectic, don't overlook the city's cultural aspect. Birmingham Royal Ballet is based at the Hippodrome, whilst Symphony Hall is the home of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra.
There are numerous theatres and galleries including Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery , with its collection of Pre-Raphaelite works. The Waterhall Gallery of Modern Art is Birmingham 's newest venue for contemporary art, with the stylish Ikon Gallery displaying the best of international and British art.
Sports-wise, the city is home to two football teams – Birmingham City and Aston Villa – and Test and County cricket is played at Edgbaston. The National Indoor Arena hosts many national sporting events and there are a number of health and fitness clubs, including David Lloyd, Banatyne, and Fitness First. Ten-pin bowling, golf, go-karting, ice-skating, squash, tennis and swimming are all on offer.