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Birmingham City Guide 🇬🇧

Birmingham, 0121 stand up!

Birmingham is waking up. Not just from the imposed slumber of lockdown, but to its gridlocked, road-reliant infrastructure and its heavily polluted high streets. Change is afoot and Voi scooters are at the forefront. Sustainable, socially distant, affordable travel that can take you to some of Birmingham’s absolute best spots.

Here’s just ten you can tootle to, from Bournville in the south to Handsworth Wood in the north, as picked by me, Tom Cullen, founder of Brum’s ‘What’s On’ bible, ‘I Choose Birmingham’. Oh, and I’ll sort suggestions for your breakfast, lunch and dinner on the way, bab.

Breakfast at Caneat

Brum’s best brek and brunch spot sits among the superb independent bars, restaurants, florists and creative spaces of up-and-comer Stirchley which, alongside its neighbour Bournville, was named as one of the UK’s best places to live by The Times in March, 2020. Everything on the menu will be excellent and veggies and vegans are always well catered for too. Keep an eye on Caneat’s evening activities also. Pop-ups, one-offs and residencies a plenty.

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Bristol Road cycle path

Surely not? A cycle lane is a recommendation in its own right? Absolutely. Anyone who’s cycled into town from South Birmingham will know the dangers of pre-cycle lane Bristol Road and, anyone who’s driven, will know of the snail-like crawl. This path of blue, cordoned off joy, which opened in full in 2019 makes the city centre scoot an absolute pleasure. Sailing past stagnant traffic, sometimes to the left of one of Brum’s busiest road, sometimes right down the middle, but always, always safely sectioned off. A real buzz.

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The Vale

Greenery and space is in happily plentiful supply in a city that is often claimed to have more parks than any other European city. Cannon Hill Park is one of the most beautiful, but what about hitting the grounds around the University of Birmingham's hidden gem lake and gardens, known as The Vale? Sit, look and listen. Breath it in and get some mental TLC. The nearby canal is also worth an explore.

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Birmingham Wildlife Conservation Park

Use the discount triggering Voi parking space on Oakfield Road to access the fabulous BWCP. A quite simply jaw-dropping spot housing remarkable species from the beloved red pandas to komodo dragons, all with refreshingly plentiful space and with excellent conservation teachings throughout. Do book ahead.

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A Street Art Tour of Digbeth

You don’t need any sort of expert in toe to enjoy the wall-emblazoned brilliance of Digbeth’s street art. Simply scoot about the Custard Factory area taking in Gibb Street, Floodgate Street, Heath Mill Lane, Lower Trinity Street and loads more for the work of Foka Wolf, Gent 48, Jim Zoot, Ziner and all number of Brum’s best graffers and pasters. This area is also home to baseball batting cages (The Floodate), board game cafes (Chance & Counters), neon heavy bowling alleys with shuffleboards (Roxy Ballroom), Ghetto Golf and table tennis tables (DropShot). Oh and the small matter of the UK’s best street food at Digbeth Dining Club. Onwards!

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The Back-to-Backs

The Ladywell Walk parking zone is a perfect pop-down point for your scooter when visiting the Back-to-Back buildings — an immersive walk around the homes of working class Brummies of the 19th Century. One of the last surviving of its type Back to Back homes were so-called because they were built back-to-back, quickly and cheaply, with outer houses facing onto the street, and inner houses facing into a shared courtyard. The National Trust spot is surrounded by both the vibrant Chinatown and Gay Village areas of our multi-cultural home city, and the Hippodrome, home of Birmingham Royal Ballet and the most popular single auditorium theatre in the UK.

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Lunch at Medicine Bakery

I’m sending you for a heavy dinner so maybe a light lunch is wise? Medicine Bakery near Victoria Square is home to some of the city’s most beautiful cakes, cronuts, salads and sandwiches. Dine in their light-filled eating space or take your goodies to eat in the idyllic, fountainy surrounds of Vic Square’s statues and neighbouring Chamberlain Square with the imposing Town Hall and Birmingham Museum buildings. Then, back on the scooter with you, there’s more to do.

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The Jewellery Quarter

The JQ is your next stop off, home to the city’s historic jewellery trade and debatably our prettiest church — St Paul’s. If it’s sunny, sit in the church’s stunning square. If not, maybe nip into the 180 Club for some seriously amusing darts action. If historical culture is more your thing the Museum of the JQ is a frozen in time and perfectly preserved jewellery workshop, while the Coffin Works is a darker but no less fascinating snapshot of an (almost) forgotten era.

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Aston Hall

Often dubbed Britain’s mot haunted location, the stunning Aston Hall and grounds is a Seventeenth Century, Grade I listed Jacobean house steeped in history. There’s even a cannon ball-shaped hole in one staircase from when a Parliamentarian force from Coventry lay siege in 1643.

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Dinner at Soho Tavern

Obviously your final port of call is a curry. This *is* Birmingham, after all. Soho Tavern is one of Brum’s best desi pubs, serving punchy Punjabi food in super-laid back surrounds. Expect zippy, spicy, full-on hits of flavour. The mixed grills are where the best value for money can be found but, however big the appetite, you’re going to struggle spend more than £15 a head on food. Look around while you’re there. Take it on. It’s a wonderful example of all the walks of life that tread the streets of Birmingham, dining under one roof. What. A. City.

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