Birmingham is a busy and vibrant city in the centre of England. It’s the second largest city in the UK, and is a popular destination for tourists. It has top class music venues and theatres, fantastic bars and restaurants, and hotels to suit every budget.
But Birmingham is also a really great base from which to explore Central England. It’s easy to travel around the region by train or car, giving plenty of options for day trips. Whether you are looking for an exciting day out, or something more relaxing, you’re sure to find something to suit.
Here are some of my top recommendations for day trips from Birmingham:
The best day trips from Birmingham
Stratford upon Avon
The medieval town of Stratford-upon-Avon is a must-see for lovers of British history and especially for fans of William Shakespeare. The famous poet and playwright was born in Stratford upon Avon, and the whole town is full of living history. You can visit the house where Shakespeare was born and spent his childhood, as well as the beautiful cottage where his wife Anne Hathaway once lived. The Royal Shakespeare Company performs at both the Royal Shakespeare Theatre and the Swan theatre, and you can also book backstage tours for a closer look behind the scenes.
The River Avon flows through Stratford, and a river cruise is a great way to see the town from a different perspective. The town has many half-timber buildings from the Tudor era, and you can choose from a wide range of restaurants and bars to suit all tastes.
Stratford upon Avon lies around 40 miles (65 km) south of Birmingham, and the journey takes around 40 minutes by car. Alternatively, you could take the train from Birmingham’s Moor Street station right into Stratford – this takes around 50 minutes.
If you want to look little further back into British history, then Warwick Castle should be on your list. This medieval castle was developed upon William Conqueror’s original castle, built in 1068. The castle that you see today was completed in the 1100s, and was then converted into a country house in the 1700s.
In 1978 Warwick Castle was opened as a tourist attraction and is now one of Britain’s top historical attractions. The castle’s owners take their role as custodian very seriously, so the castle has been very carefully restored.
The castle is packed with exhibits and live action walk-through adventures that bring together actors, shows and special effects. You can also see exciting birds of prey displays, and the largest trebuchet in the world. Warwick Castle brings history to life, and it makes a really exciting day out.
And if there is just too much for you to pack into one day, you can even stay overnight at the castle in Woodland Lodges and Mediaeval Glamping. Or for a very special stay, you could book one of the luxurious Tower Suites in the 14th century Caesar’s Tower.
Warwick Castle is in Warwickshire, around 36 miles (58km) south east of Birmingham. The journey by car takes around 45 minutes, or you could use the train and bus to get there. This takes around 55 minutes.
This next day trip is perfect for anyone with a sweet tooth!
The Cadbury family began making chocolate in the south west of Birmingham in 1879. They built a village for their workers to live in, which was named Bourneville. Cadbury is still one of Birmingham’s major employers and Bourneville is now a popular residential area of the city.
In 1990 Cadbury World was opened on the site of the original Cadbury factory. It is now one of the UK’s most popular family attractions. It isn’t a factory tour, but takes the visitors through a self-guided tour exploring the history of chocolate. You travel through 14 different zones with demonstrations, multi-sensory experiences and of course, plenty of chocolate to try.
You’ll travel back in time to when Cadbury started manufacturing chocolate, and visit Bull Street where he opened his first shop. You’ll also go even further back to Aztec times when chocolate was originally discovered. And then you can finish your day with a visit to the Cadbury cafe and stock up on goodies in the Cadbury Shop and Factory Zone.
It will take around 20 minutes to drive to Cadbury World from central Birmingham. Alternatively you can catch a cross-city train to Bournville Station from Birmingham New Street. The journey takes around 12 minutes and then you will have a 10 minute walk to Cadbury World.
Thrill seeking visitors to Birmingham should definitely spend a day at Alton Towers. This very popular theme park is situated near the village of Alton in Staffordshire, around 50 miles (80km) north of the city. It’s the biggest theme park in the UK, and the second most popular after Legoland.
There’s something to suit all tastes at Alton Towers, from child-friendly rides to the fastest of roller coasters. And if you want to take a breather, then you can wander around the beautiful gardens as well. There’s also a water park, crazy golf and even a high ropes course. The park has plenty of places to eat, and there are themed hotels if you want to extend your stay overnight.
Alton Towers hosts various themed events throughout the year, including Scarefest at Hallowe’en and a massive season-ending firework display.
It’s easiest to reach Alton Towers by road, and the drive will take you just over 1hr 10 mins. Travelling by train is possible, but you will need to take the train from Birmingham New Street to Stoke, and then take a bus which stops outside the entrance to Alton Towers. The journey by public transport will take you around 2hrs 10 mins.
For a quieter day out, why not travel 40 miles (65km) westwards to the county of Shropshire. There, you can pay a visit to the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution.
Thomas Telford built the world’s first iron bridge in Shropshire in 1779, and it was the start of a new industry in the area. That bridge is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the town built nearby was named Telford in his honour.
Shropshire is a beautiful rural county, and a day trip to Ironbridge is perfect if you fancy a slower pace for a day. There are a range of museums in the area including Enginuity which is a fun hands-on engineering museum, the Jackfield Tile Museum, and Blists Hill Victorian Town where you can travel back in time to Victorian times. There are also plenty of lovely places to eat, and you can take in the gorgeous Shropshire countryside as you walk along the River Severn.
The journey to Ironbridge is a simple 40 minute drive from Birmingham, or around 1hr 30 mins by train and bus.
For more information about the Ironbridge Gorge and the museums there, visit https://www.ironbridge.org.uk/
I hope this has given you a taste of the day trips that are possible from Birmingham. So when are you going to come for a visit?
BIO: Sally Akins blogs about travel and food at SallyAkins.com. She lives with her husband and their two sons in Shropshire, and firmly believes that age is just a state of mind.
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