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Birmingham is a melting pot of culture, history and lively atmosphere. Delve into 18th-century history in its many museums by day, and soak up the buzz in the fusion restaurants and bars by night. A major player during Britain's Industrial Revolution, this city is more than just a hub for exploring the West Midlands. Recent rejuvenation has given the city an offbeat nightlife scene – whether you want to drink pints in a 650-year-old pub or get competitive over an 18-hole game of mini-golf.
Most hostels in Birmingham have free Wi-Fi, and offer a free light breakfast of toast and cereal. The buildings themselves are wonderfully varied – stay in a classic Victorian red brick building, a heritage-listed former silversmiths or a traditional inn on the outskirts of the city. Some Birmingham hostels have outdoor spaces for friendly barbecues, cosy common rooms for relaxing with a book or film, and many organise pub crawls – great for solo travellers.
Birmingham city centre is home to historic attractions like the Town Hall as well as high street shops and lively bars. Head north-east to the Jewellery Quarter to discover one of the city's most vibrant neighbourhoods. It's known for independent restaurants, live music venues and bars serving craft beer. For an artistic vibe, head south-east to Digbeth. Just a 10-minute walk from the Bullring shopping centre, it's Birmingham's creative hub. The biggest attraction is The Custard Factory – a studio space with independent shops, restaurants and quirky places to party.
One popular thing to do in Birmingham is to stroll along the network of canals, which have been revived with trendy bars, restaurants and cafés. Lots of people visit just to shop – there are more than 200 high street names in the Bullring shopping centre. Outside of the city, the Black Country Living Museum in Dudley makes a fascinating day trip. It's about 40 minutes away by train from Birmingham New Street station. Complete with costumed characters, it recreates the feel of a centuries-old local village.
There's a free monorail service from Birmingham Airport to Birmingham International Railway Station, which only takes two minutes. Trains also run regularly to Birmingham New Street, the main rail travel hub from other cities. The station is right between Birmingham city centre and the Chinese Quarter. Within the city itself, there's a good network of buses, trams and there are two other smaller train stations for getting from A to B if you don't fancy walking.