Experience a taste of Birmingham | Millennium Hotels and Resorts

Feb 08,2013

Birmingham may be the second largest city in the UK, however it perhaps loses out in the London-centric media when it comes to coverage of the many varied reasons to visit the city. Perhaps the post-war history of Birmingham has something to do with this, as before an extensive regeneration programme began in the 1990s, parts of the city did not live up to their full potential. Fast forward twenty years and the picture has changed quite dramatically.

One of the many surprises for those yet to explore the city, is that Birmingham actually has the largest canal system of any European city - including Amsterdam and Venice. The Birmingham Canal Navigation, as it is properly called, was developed in response to the demands of industry, in the city that pioneered the Industrial Revolution - and thanks to the major clean-up campaign, the city now boasts an extensive network of attractive walkways.

Pedal power is a great way to explore the canal network, and is a popular choice for families looking for an active activity, while still enjoying the benefits of easy access to everything that a large modern city has to offer - and here are just a few of the many highlights.

Birmingham is home to some excellent museums and art galleries. The Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery offers a good introduction to the history of the city, as well as holding a comprehensive collection of pre-Raphaelite paintings - and if you are a fan of this period of art, the beautiful art deco building that is Barber Institute of Fine Arts also holds many fine works from this era. Fans of contemporary art will also want to visit the Custard Factory and The IKON Gallery (which offers free entry on the first Saturday of every month).

Chocolate lovers of all ages will want to pay a visit to the well realised Cadbury World, which, through 14 different zones explains the history of this local, Quaker-founded company, explores the Aztec origins of the cocoa bean, and how chocolate is made - and also offers the chance to play in chocolate rain, and create your own dairy milk covered confection!

The Thinktank Birmingham Science Museum is another immensely popular attraction, offering hands-on, interactive exhibits in each of the ten themed galleries - including an excellent planetarium that utilises state-of-the-art technology to project 3D images onto the domed ceiling.

Birmingham, with its compact and largely pedestrianised centre, is also widely regarded as being the best shopping city outside of London, particularly if you are looking for jewellery. Over 40 percent of all UK jewellery is made in the Birmingham Jewellery Quarter, which has over 100 specialist retailers - and as home to over 200 listed buildings, it is also one of the most picturesque parts of the city to explore.

Lord of the Rings and Hobbit fans will find it hard to resist the pull of Sarehole Mill, a childhood stomping ground of JRR Tolkien that quite obviously had a huge influence on his vision of the Shire.

There is not space here to cover the multitude of other activities to be enjoyed when you stay at Birmingham hotels, from the renowned Hollywood scenery of the National Paintball fields, to enjoying one of the most recent of the long list of important local creations - the Balti curry! Enjoy a taste of Birmingham!

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