Five things an Australian tourist loved best about his holiday in Birmingham

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Nick Bond has given an outsider’s view into what it’s like to visit Birmingham from abroad, and he picked out some of his favourite things about the city following his visit

Birmingham is set to be one of the key destinations for travellers in 2023.

According to Booking.com Brum has been named in its top 5 trending destinations in the UK for next year. This is certainly no surprise to us, as there’s plenty to enjoy in the city.

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From live music, theatre, history and culture, to Peaky Blinders, great restaurants and, of course, Cadbury World, it’s no wonder Birmingham attracts visitors from all over. And one tourist who recently travelled to Birmingham following the city’s hugely successful Commonwealth Games is Nick Bond from Australia. The news.com.au reporter has given an outsider’s view into what it’s like to visit Birmingham from afar.

Here are five things an Australian tourist loved best about Birmingham:

yarchyk - stock.adobe.com

Brummie history and architecture

Nick loved to walk around Birmingham and got to really appreciate just how special Birmingham is by joining some walking tours. He praised his guide Pete for offering some fascinating insights into the city’s vast history - including how the Jewellery Quarter still makes 40% of the jewellery sold in the UK, the infamous facts about how we have more canals than Venice and more parks than Paris.

He also seems in favour of our Clean Air Zone, stating: “A congestion charge on cars means pedestrians rule in Birmingham – the CBD is filled with expansive, car-free shopping plazas.”

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Nick also praises Birmingham architecture noting how it compares with the British tradition of “borrowing” Styles from Europe, such as the Town Hall which he says “looks like the Pantheon in Rome”.

Birmingham Botanical GardensBirmingham Botanical Gardens
Birmingham Botanical Gardens | Shutterstock

Botanical Gardens

Nick took a visit to Birmingham’s Botanical Gardens during his three day trip which he described as “perfect for an afternoon of peace and tranquillity, including tropical greenhouses and the national bonsai collection in the serene Japanese garden.”

Lasan restaurant in St Paul’s Square, Jewellery Quarter, BirminghamLasan restaurant in St Paul’s Square, Jewellery Quarter, Birmingham
Lasan restaurant in St Paul’s Square, Jewellery Quarter, Birmingham | Google Maps

Better restaurants than London

Nick’s favourite part of his trip to London appears to be our restaurants. He identifies Birmingham as a “foodie city” and find it much more exciting than London.

He said: “Anyone who’s been to London in recent years will have seen just how monotonous the food offerings can feel (I counted seven Pret A Manger sandwich shops within a 300m radius of my London hotel during a recent stay), but Birmingham’s multicultural mix is reflected in its high quality restaurant offerings.”

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During his visit he enjoyed lunch at Lasan in St Paul’s Square in the Jewellery Quarter which has been a popular haunt for many over the two decades it has been serving its delicious Indian fine dining - and not forgetting its winning appearance on the 2010 season of Gordon Ramsay’s TheF Word.

Nick also picked out Rudy’s Pizza on Bennetts Hill, Lulu Wild in Brindleyplace and Albert’s Schloss as some of his other favourites.

The Grand Hotel, BirminghamThe Grand Hotel, Birmingham
The Grand Hotel, Birmingham | The Grand Hotel

Luxurious hotels

Nick was lucky enough to stay stay at the Grand Hotel - the same residence that has hosted Hollywood royality, Tom Cruise and Johnny Depp in recent times.

He praised its location, opposite Cathedral Square (also known as Pigeon Park to us Brummies), and admired the views out onto it from his window, which he said abolished his preconceived assumptions that Birmingham would be a “less-than-pretty industrial hub”.

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He also admired the stylish interiors at The Grand and the service, which apparently include a yoga mat in each room, a brand-new onsite gym and daily hearty cooked breakfast served in Isaacs restaurant downstairs.

Black Country Living Museum (Photo from Black Country Living Museum)Black Country Living Museum (Photo from Black Country Living Museum)
Black Country Living Museum (Photo from Black Country Living Museum) | Black Country Living Museum (Photo from Black Country Living Museum)

Black Country Museum

OK, it’s not in Birmingham, but it is such a popular West Midlands attraction - and the location for many key scenes in the Birmingham inspired Peaky Blinders TV series - so its not surprising that Nick also heaped praised on the Black Country Living Museum. He said it was “a fascinating way to spend half a day”. If you haven’t been lately the open museum lets visitors wander around and interact with more than 50 character actors on site as you discover what life was like here tens and hundreds of years ago.

Nick highlighted the museum’s silent cinema, old-time sweet shop and pub which he said were “all impossibly quaint”. He also admired the horse and carriages and retro double decker buses. And, he did not shy away from the darker side of Birmingham history saying, “Dig a little deeper and you get more of a sense of the darkness of so much of human history: The chain maker, welding in his workshop, explains that children would start this gruelling job at seven years old. Leading cause of death in the profession? Literally having your internal organs cooked over time as you worked next to that red-hot fire.”

With so much to see in Birmingham it’s no wonder our Australian visitor was so impressed. And if the research from Booking.com proves accurate, there will be many more delighted tourists coming to see us next year too. You can read Nick’s story in full here

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