Students’ guide to Birmingham

Birmingham city guide

By Yashi Banymadhub,

Famous for the Bullring shopping Centre, St Philip’s Cathedral and its canals, Birmingham has a lot to offer undergraduate students. As the second biggest city in England there’s always plenty to do, with a newly built library as well as more restaurants, shops and cinemas then you could ever need.

Entertainment and nightlife

Star City

Think dodgem cars, indoor rock climbing, mini golf, movies and bowling all in one place. Star City offers a variety of activities at low cost prices for a night of fun and games with your friends. Adventure Island Mini Golf have a special offer 4 days a week, with student nights every Tuesday with an offer of playing a full round for half price. Also take a break from cooking with a £10 meal and ten pin bowling deal on Thursdays.

Cadbury World

Have you ever dreamt of visiting the Willy Wonka factory? Well now you can! This day trip to Bourneville is the perfect chance for Cadbury lovers to revel in a cocoa heaven and feed their chocolate passion. Take part in this fun-filled tour and learn about the history of Cadbury. They give out free chocolate!

The Hippodrome Theatre

The Hippodrome is one of Birmingham’s favourite theatres, showing a range of performances including musicals, ballet, pantomimes and opera. Classic performances include Wicked and Singin’ in the Rain. Enjoy great discounts with group bookings:
Read our guide to nightlife in Birmingham for more.


Del Villagio

A classic Italian that gives you just what you expect: a good selection of pizza and pasta options as well as good service and a pleasant atmosphere. Found in the heart of the Bullring Shopping Centre the great location and tasty Italian menu make the Del Villagio a must try Bella Italia.

Located on new street, the Bella Italia (or nice Italian) does just what its name would suggest; good quality food and a cosy atmosphere make this restaurant perfect for a romantic date or a quiet meal with family or friends.

Handmade Burgers

Not just for burger fanatics, Handmade Burgers co gives a classy side to the classic Angus with more styles of gourmet burgers then you thought possible, including a pineapple and mango salsa filled Hawaiian, a slightly wacky brie and bacon burger and a great selection of tasty vegetarian options. There are two of these restaurants in Birmingham which can be found in the Bullring or by the canal side in Brindley Place.

Jamie’s Italian

The perfect restaurant if you’re looking for something a bit different. Good quality food mixed with inventive recipes and friendly service creates a homely atmosphere and although not the cheapest restaurant for a student, certainly worth a go if you want to try something new. Why not expand your horizons by tasting truffle tagliatelle or pumpkin panzerotti?


A lively and bustling atmosphere coupled with hot and tasty food, packed with flavour, make Nando’s the place to go if you want a lively experience with friends or family. Pick from different Mexican style dishes before choosing how hot you want your sauce, from the relatively tame mango and lime to the Nando’s peri peri extra hot sauce.


Edgbaston Cricket Ground

Also known as Edgbaston stadium or Couny Ground, the Edgbaston Cricket ground is the second largest cricketing stadium in the UK. With a capacity limit of 25, 000 spectators, it is home to the Warwickshire County Cricket Club and used for test and one-day matches.

Art and Culture

Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery

Situated next to the beautiful fountains of Chamberlain Square, the Birmingham Museum and Art gallery displays a collection of fine arts, archaeological artefacts and jewellery, perfect for an educational day out.


The NIA (National Indoor Arena) is one of the largest and most popular venues in Europe for sports and entertainment. Distinguished for its great variety in music and sports, there is something for every taste.


The Bullring

Girls and guys sporting the latest fashion on campus is proof that Birmingham is one of the best cities for shopping. A great example of innovative and modern architecture, the Bullring has over 160 shops, with a number of them offering a 10% student discount, making it one of the most popular shopping centres in Birmingham

The Mailbox

The Mailbox is a more stylish and sophisticated location with exclusive shops, restaurants, bars and hotels. A pamper day with your friends-possibly as an end-of-exam treat- at one of Birmingham’s best salons and spas, all situated in the Mailbox, is a must. This one is more for the ladies (and for any of the guys out there that take great pride in their appearance), so why not spoil yourself?

What’s On

Get out of the city


Warwick is a place steeped in history and is only a 20 minute journey away from Birmingham by train. Have a day out at the Warwick Castle and immerse yourself in the medieval tales of knights and princesses.


A half hour journey from Birmingham, Coventry promises an exciting day trip. A couple of recommended places to visit include the Herbert Art Museum and Gallery, Coventry Cathedral and the Midland Air Museum.


If you book in advance, it is easy to find cheap deals to travel to London by train and reach it in 1 hour 30. However, the best last minute deals are offered by National Express where you can travel from the Digbeth Coach station (a 5 minute walk from the Bullring to London Victoria for double the time but also at half the price.


Buses, trains and taxis are the most common form of transport for students in Birmingham. A day saver on the bus costs £4.10 and can be used on any bus at no extra charge throughout the day. Trains from Selly Oak, Five Ways and the University station to New Street are £2.10 and if you are in a big group, you can enjoy the luxury of travelling by cab for only £1.50-£2-50 per person to the city centre (prices may vary according to location).

Student accommodation

Campus accommodation

There are a variety of student halls and villages dotted around Birmingham including The Vale Village, Tennis Courts, Pritchat’s Park, Hunter Court, Victoria Halls, Oscott Gardens, Jennens Court and Lakeside. There is often a high correlation between proximity and price range so if you are not an early bird and think that you are at the risk of being late every morning, be ready to splash out a little more on accommodation and do it quickly as halls that are located by the university gates are often the first to go. The time taken to get to university in the mornings can range from 5 to 30 minutes, depending on where your halls are situated.

Off campus accommodation

Contrary to what the estate agents will tell you, there are student houses available throughout the year and you should take the time to look at as many houses as possible instead of being pressured into settling for the first house you visit. Be sure to check the house for draughts, leaks, mould and anything that may be broken or damaged and asked to have them sorted out before you move in- the landlord is required by law to provide you with a decent, habitable home so don’t let the estate agent or the landlord use your ignorance to their advantage. For more information, check out this link:


University of Birmingham

Voted University of the Year 2013-14, the University of Birmingham is a red brick university, well known for its famous clock tower in memory of Joseph Chamberlain. With around 26,000 students, it is the 11th largest university in the UK with outstanding national sport achievements that have ranked in the top 3 over the last 15 years.

Aston University

Renowned for its highest graduate employment record that ranks among the top 10 in the country and 51st in the world according to the QS World University Rankings, Aston University offers innovative research and quality teaching, especially in the fields of industry, government and commerce.

Birmingham City University

Birmingham City University offers courses in a variety of fields such as art and design, business, engineering, social sciences and technology and its range of part-time courses is amongst the biggest in the UK.