Birmingham in United Kingdom
Who’s been here?
Latest updates from our Birmingham travelers
Bus, Train and Metro all come under the authority of Network West Midlands (Part of Centro, the PTE of Birmingham and surrounding area), their website is the best source for all information required on public transport in the region and can be found Here
Birmingham is not a particularly cycle-friendly city (especially compared to the rest of Europe ), but it is possible to get around without too much trouble. There are plenty of places to lock a bike up in the city centre, but few cycle lanes and lots of pedestrians. Unless you're touring the UK on pedal power, the best use for a bike is to explore the extensive canal network and country parks, travel to out-of-town attractions and head off to more distant places such as Warwick (England) Warwick, Leamington Spa and Stratford-upon-Avon.
Birmingham City Council produces an excellent cycling and walking map of the area. You can pick one up from any local library, tourist information office, leisure centre or bike shop.
Road and cycle path maintenance in the area leaves much to be desired, and it is not uncommon for trees and parked cars to obstruct rights of way. The standard of driving is similar to other cities, so exercise extreme caution on main roads and at night. The canal network can be accessed in the city centre from the Broad Street / Gas Street area, or at most road crossings elsewhere. The towpath is generally well-maintained to within a few miles of the city, and after that tends to be packed earth with plenty of mud and embedded bricks. A permit from British Waterways (free) is needed for towpath cycling
The Sustrans National Cycle Network Route 5 ( Oxford to Derby ) passes through Birmingham from the south to the north-west. The local stretch is known as the Rea Valley Route; there is also the Cole Valley Route to the east.
On Your Bike, 33-40 Bradford Street, +44 121666 6933, (mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org, fax +44 121 666 6388), http://www.onyourbike.com/. M W F Sa 10AM-6PM, Th 10AM-7PM, Tu Su closed.
See also Cycling in Birmingham.
All areas of Birmingham are well-served by bus routes, operated almost exclusively by National Express West Midlands (NEWM) with some competition from smaller providers such as Pete's Travel and the Birmingham Coach Company.
There is no central bus station for local services; buses depart instead from various locations in the city centre (principally Bull Street, Colmore Row, Corporation Street and Stephenson Street). Bus stop maps are available from libraries, tourist information offices and the Network West Midlands (NWM) office at New Street Station.
Route maps and timetables are available from the outlets mentioned above, and there are extensive online versions on the National Express West Midlands and NWM websites. If you do not have a lot of time to spare tracking down which buses serve which areas, you can use the Traveline Midlands Journey Planner (+44 870 608 2 608).
Single fares are currently £1.50 on NEWM services, and transfers are not allowed. There are no return tickets, but you can buy an all-day pass, or 'Daysaver' for £3.00 or an evening (after 6PM) pass for £2.00. NEWM buses do not give change, so make sure you have the exact amount required for the fare (in coins) ready when you board the bus.
Birmingham's bus system is roughly radial, with frequent services in and out of the city centre from most locations. There are also two orbital (#8 and #11) and several linking services. This can be inconvenient, as you may find that you have to go into the city centre and back out again to travel between two places that are relatively close as the crow flies.
Birmingham's city centre is partially pedestrianised and has several unintuitive one-way systems. A car is a viable (if polluting) way of getting around the city and other areas, but a good map is essential.
Birmingham City Council produces a map of city centre car parks (available from tourist information offices)-expect to pay £1-£1.50 per hour in Pay & Display areas and more on street meters. Parking attendants patrol popular areas regularly, so expect a fine if you're late back or a clamp if you're parked illegally.
Car hire is possible both in the city centre and at the airport. Major providers include:
Avis, St. James House, 17 Horsefair, +44870 608 6318 or Arrivals Hall, BHX, +44 121 782 6183, http://www.avis.co.uk/. Budget, Main Terminal, BHX, +44 870 240 2189, http://www.budget.co.uk/. Enterprise Rent-A-Car, 9-10 Suffolk Street Queensway, +44 121643 7743 or Terminal Link Building, BHX, +44 121 782 9030 http://www.enterprise.co.uk/. Hertz, 7 Suffolk Street Queensway, +44 121643 5387 or Terminal Building, BHX, +44 870 600 1014 http://www.hertz.co.uk/.
Birmingham's central shopping area is partially pedestrianised, and most things to see and do can be reached on foot. To walk from Digbeth to the top of Broad Street (the longest distance likely to be covered on foot) will take around thirty minutes and may involve only one surface road-crossing.
Birmingham has a large canal network. In the city centre extensive development has enhanced the environment and level of amenities around these canals, making them excellent pedestrian routes in their own right.
Motorcycles and mopeds are becoming increasingly popular in Birmingham as a way of avoiding rush hour traffic jams, and usually enjoy free parking in city centre car parks. Although not a lot of car parks have bike areas, there are a number of bays round the centre but none of them have any rails etc to lock your bike to.
Birmingham has an abundance of taxi ranks all over the city, the best-served being New Street Station. Both hackney carriages and private hire vehicles are easy to find, but you should exercise usual caution and not get into an unmarked car or one you haven't booked.
Friday and Saturday nights are the busiest times due to clubbers going home en masse, and there can be waits of over an hour if you're somewhere busy like Broad Street.
Popular providers include: Sky Radio Cars, 147 Soho Road, +44 121 554 5555. Birmingham Taxi Co-Operative, Unit 1, Zair Works, 111-119 Bishop Street, +44 121 622 6694, http://www.taxi-co-op.org/. Castle Cars, 13 Oak Tree Lane, Selly Oak, +44 121 472 2222. Elite Radio Cars, Omnibus Garage, Harborne Lane, Selly Oak, +44 121 415 5000. Falcon Cars, 211 Monument Road, +44 121 555 6050 TOA, 100 Vivian Road, Harborne, +44 121 427 8888. BIG YELLOW TAXI LTD, CARPENTER ROAD 32 B15 2JH, +44 121*4407117
More taxi companies in birmingham are listed at Birmingham cabs
area, operated mainly by London Midland.
Route maps and timetables are available from libraries, tourist information offices, railway stations and the Traveline Midlands Journey Planner (*+44 870 608 2 608). You can take bicycles, pushchairs and wheelchairs on board without prior reservation, and there is usually a designated carriage.
Fares vary with distance, but you can expect to pay between £2 and £5 for a day return to a local destination. Fare-dodging is rife, and there has been a crackdown recently with ticket barriers at stations and on-board checking. The penalty for not having a valid ticket is a £20 on-the-spot fine (which can be contested in court, but is rarely worth the hassle).
From New Street station, the cross-city line runs between Lichfield Trent Valley in the north and Redditch in the south, stopping notably at Sutton Coldfield (for Sutton Park), Aston (for Aston Hall), University (for the University of Birmingham), Bournville (for Cadbury World) and Barnt Green (for Lickey Hills). Local services also run to Hereford (via Worcester (England) Worcester and Malvern ), Leamington Spa, Northampton (via Birmingham International Airport, Coventry and Rugby (England) Rugby ), Nuneaton, Shrewsbury (Shropshire) Shrewsbury (via Wolverhampton ), Stafford (via Walsall ), Stratford-upon-Avon, Tamworth (England) Tamworth and Warwick (England) Warwick. Additional services to these areas run from Snow Hill and Moor Street stations (they are on the same line), and you may not be able to catch a specific train from New Street.
Birmingham has a single metro line, running between Snow Hill Station and Wolverhampton, via the Jewellery Quarter, West Bromwich, Wednesbury and Bilston. Plans are afoot to extend the service out to Five Ways, via the City Centre and along Broad Street.
The Metro runs from roughly 6:30AM-11:30PM M to Sa, and 8AM-11PM Su and bank holidays. Fares vary with distance, but expect to pay around £2 for a single, £3.50 for a return and £4.50 for a day pass (combined bus / train / Metro passes are also available). Full route, timetable and fare information is listed on the Midland Metro website, and there is additional information on the Centro website.
By water bus
Water buses and taxis operate out of the canal offices in Gas Street Basin (underneath Broad Street) with tours of the area. Obviously, they are limited to the local canals and are significantly slower than other forms of transport.
When to go
As with the rest of the UK, in any emergency call 999 or 112 (from a land-line if you can) and ask for Ambulance, Fire or Police when connected.
In general, Birmingham is a safe city. Certain suburbs (see below) have had their share of gun crime problems, but these are extremely unlikely to affect you unless you make yourself part of the larger drug gang problem. Avoid any offers of cheap drugs, you'll probably be lured into a secluded place and robbed. Muggers in Birmingham tend to operate in groups of two or three, typically one will ask you a question (to judge whether your local or likely to hit back) while the others move in behind you so they can force you to the ground. If you find this happening to you then move to the side, that way you've got a clear escape path and can't be grabbed from the rear.
The city centre is well-policed-the only trouble you might witness is a small scuffle on the Broad Street nightlife quarter as the nightclubs turn out in the early hours of the morning. However, take care at either end of Broad Street where the traffic flow speeds up. Immodestly dressed women can also expect to receive sexist verbal abuse.
As usual, common sense will keep you safe-avoid walking alone in deserted or poorly-lit areas, especially at night, keep your wits about you at cash machines and do not get into unmarked taxis. The only higher crime-rate areas that tourists might want to visit are Aston and Sparkbrook, even these are fairly safe during daylight. Canal towpaths at night, if relatively near a road-access point, can also be hazardous.
Every Friday and Saturday night unofficial motor-races take place around the city centre ring-road. Although it's unlikely that you should want to participate in this illegal activity you should be aware of the danger that it presents to other road users.
Birmingham, like many large cities, has relatively high incidences of STIs compared to the rest of the UK. Having unprotected sex is asking for trouble.
The people in New Street, near the junction with Ethel Street, who offer you a free stress test are trying to recruit you into the Church of Scientology.
City Hospital (A&E), Dudley Road (#80, #82 or #87 bus), +44 121 554 3801. Daily 24 hours. Steelhouse Lane Police Station, Steelhouse Lane, +44845 113 5000 mailto:email@example.com. Daily 24 hours. Selly Oak Hospital (A&E), Raddlebarn Road, Selly Oak (train to Selly Oak or #61, #62 or #63 bus), +44 121 627 1627. Daily 24 hours.