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Hidden Gems & Secret Spots in Birmingham You Should Visit

Last Updated on 30th September 2021 by Sophie Nadeau

From a beautiful foodie scene to a fantastic selection of bizarre, and downright weird museums on offer, even the most discerning of travellers are sure to find something they enjoy during their stay in The City of a Thousand Trades. Here’s your ultimate guide to the most unusual things to do, as well as hidden gems and secret spots in Birmingham you won’t want to miss on any visit to the city!

Once home to HP sauce and as one of the largest cities in the UK (second only to London!), it’s clear that Birmingham is a big bright city with plenty to offer every visitor. And, if you look hard enough, then there are plenty of secret places in Birmingham to discover too…

In search of the best of secret Birmingham, England? Here's your ultimate guide to Birmingham hidden gems and secret spots in Birmingham you must visit on your next UK trip
In search of the best of secret Birmingham, England? Here's your ultimate guide to Birmingham hidden gems and secret spots in Birmingham you must visit on your next UK trip
Here's your ultimate guide to the best of hidden gems, quirky attractions, unusual things to do, and secret spots in Birmingham, a city in the Midlands, England, UK

Needless Alley

Though this side street offers little by way of attractions, the name of the tiny Needless Alley alone provides plenty of amusement for passersby. After all, the little lane is located just off New Street, i.e. one of the main shopping streets which cuts its way through the city centre and offers all of the chain stores you’d expect to find along such a road.

You’ll know when you’re in the right place along New Street when you spy the vintage looking sign proclaiming ‘Needless Alley’. And if you’re wondering just how the name came to be, then there are actually a few theories as to why that is! The most prominent is that the street was once called ‘Needlers Alley’ thanks to needle makers in the area and that the name was confused over time!

Needless Alley, Birmingham, UK

Piccadilly Arcade

You may well not know this, but Birmingham is home to a number of covered shopping streets dating back several centuries. Reminiscent of the covered passages of Paris, these arcades are home to a variety of businesses, and many of the passages are beautiful architecturally in of themselves!

One of the most underrated of the Birmingham arcades is that of Piccadilly. Located close to Tim Horton’s, as well as the beautifully appointed Apple Building (seriously, the shop’s ceiling is complete with a stunning 20th-century stained glass skylight!), the covered arcade’s ceiling is adorned with, while the shops themselves are predominantly independent and well worth a wander through.

Piccadilly Arcade, Birmingham, England

Great Western Arcade

Truth be told, one of the most beautiful places to visit in Birmingham is that of Great Western Arcade. So-called thanks to its former ties to the Great Western Railway company, today the covered shopping arcade is a hotspot for independent shops and eateries.

Among the tiny stores, you’ll soon discover a Whisky Shop, a traditional sweet vendor, and even a macaron seller whose sweets have appeared in countless magazines and online publications. Otherwise, for the best photos of the place, be sure to head to the passage earlier in the day and mid-week if possible, so as to avoid the rest of the crowds!

Great Western Arcade, Birmingham, England

Old Square Plaque

In times gone by, Old Square would have been one of the focal points of bustling and busy Birmingham city life. Now a junction of sorts where several major roads crossing through the city meet, the Plaque in the small pedestrian central square stretches for several metres and depicts the story of the city. All stone carving, the Plaque features several prominent city figures, as well as some of the most famous buildings in Birmingham.

Old Square Plaque, Birmingham, England

Edward Burne-Jones Glass, Birmingham Cathedral

Fans of Pre-Raphaelite artwork will be delighted to discover that there are several examples of the Victorian Burne-Jones stained glass windows are to be found within Birmingham Cathedral.

All muted tones and focused on the beauty of the design, you can also see a number of Burne-Jones drawings and designs for free within the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery. Of all the secret Birmingham locations listed here, the Edward Burne-Jones stained windows are some of the most beautiful.

Edward Burne-Jones Glass, Birmingham Cathedral

Flight Club

Birmingham has no shortage of brilliant bars serving a plethora of quirky cocktails and unusual beverages. Many of the best drinking establishments in the city are focused around the historic city centre, close by to Birmingham Cathedral (and for those who love plants, we particularly loved our drinks at The Botanist).

And so if you’re looking to head out with friends, or even on a romantic date night, then you’ll probably want to head to this district of the city! Hands down, one of the more unique places to spend an evening is at the Flight Club, where games of all kinds can be found in abundance (electronic games, dart boards with a twist, etc).

Flight Club Birmingham England

46 Gas Street 

One of the more picturesque spots of modern-day Birmingham is alongside the Birmingham Canals close to the ICC, where the water reflects the canal boats slowly making their way along the gently flowing water.

On the opposite side of The Canal House bar and restaurant, there’s a tiny brick building which was once the company head offices of Worcester and Birmingham Canal Company.

46 Gas Street, Birmingham Canals, England

The Floating Coffee Company

One of the most unusual things to in Birmingham is to actually enjoy your coffee while sitting inside a canal boat! If you’re in a rush, there’s even a takeout window where you can order your hot beverage or snack to go!

Otherwise, head inside the well-reviewed floating café to enjoy a selection of foodstuffs (including a fantastic breakfast) and drinks! Nearby, wandering along the canals of the city is one of the most secluded and quiet things to do in Birmingham.

The Floating Coffee Company, Birmingham, England

De Bermingham Coat of Arms, Birmingham Museum

Of course, the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery is one of the top attractions in the city and is by no means a ‘Birmingham hidden gem’ by any stretch of the imagination. After all, it’s here where you’ll find treasures such as the Staffordshire Hoard (the largest discovery of Anglo-Saxon gold ever discovered) and the Pre-Raphaelite galleries.

However, step inside the building during opening hours and you’ll soon discover that the architecture of the Museum itself is well worth a closer inspection. For example, on the floor directly below where the Staffordshire Hoard collections are displayed, there’s some stunning stained glass windows depicting the early 15th-century City of Birmingham Coat of Arms.

The Coat of Arms is said to date back to the 1400s when the de Bermingham family were one of the most influential families in town. Meanwhile, the story goes that the Victorian window displaying the Arms were boarded up during WWII, only to be forgotten. It wasn’t until the 1990s when the windows were rediscovered and unveiled to the public to be admired!

De Bermingham Coat of Arms, Birmingham Museum

Shop in a former Custard Factory!

Once upon a time, Birmingham was the biggest producer and exporter of custard in the entire world. Though the city no longer holds this title, one of the most unusual things to do in Birmingham now is to head to a former Custard Factory on the edges of town and go shopping for quirky and vintage wares!

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In search of the best of secret Birmingham, England? Here's your ultimate guide to Birmingham hidden gems and secret spots in Birmingham you must visit on your next UK trip

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