Here at Europcar, we’re always on the look-out for interesting and exciting areas to explore across the UK; and this month is no different as we turn our attention to the great city of Birmingham.
The UK’s second largest city is awash with museums, attractions, shopping centres and cultural events taking place throughout the year. The surrounding Midlands and Black Country areas, meanwhile, offer plenty of scenic options for those keen to explore some of Britain’s best-loved countryside.
So what are you waiting for? Pick up a hire car and discover the delightful West Midlands with our outsider’s guide to Birmingham and beyond.
The village of Bournville is just a twenty minute drive south of Birmingham city centre and is perhaps best known as the home of Cadbury World. The village was in fact named by Cadbury shortly after the company set up its factory there in 1879, and today the magical Cadbury World visitor centre tells the story of the famous chocolate maker’s history. Discover the secrets behind the chocolate making process, from the weighing of ingredients all the way through to the manufacturing and packaging stages. You can also take in live demonstrations from Cadbury’s master chocolatiers and take a trip down memory lane as you check out some of Cadbury’s most memorable advertising campaigns.
Once you’ve sufficiently satisfied your sweet tooth, why not take the time to visit the nearby Selly Manor Museum? It’s located just a few hundred yards up the road from Cadbury World and allows to you explore one of Birmingham’s oldest buildings. Selly Manor dates back to the 1300s and was actually saved from demolition by a certain George Cadbury back in 1907. Today, it is a popular museum featuring a range of collections and charming gardens at the back of the cottage.
The Royal Town of Sutton Coldfield
The Royal Town of Sutton Coldfield is a popular shopping destination for those looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the inner city. The picturesque town boats a fine selection of high street boutiques and shopping centres, as well as bars and restaurants, all within a twenty minute drive of central Birmingham.
So what’s the deal with the town’s royal title, we hear you ask? Sutton Coldfield was awarded its royal title by Henry VIII in 1528, however, the title is believed to have been lost when the town became a borough in 1886. The town’s royal status was officially reaffirmed by the government in June 2014, following two years of campaigning.
If you’re planning a visit to this charming town, why not pick up a luxury hire car in Birmingham and ensure you arrive in a style befitting the town’s royal heritage?
Black Country Living Museum
A half hour drive north-west of the city takes you into the Black Country, the former industrial heartland of Britain. Those keen on immersing themselves in the region’s past should head for the town of Dudley, home of the fascinating Black Country Living Museum.
Considered to be one of the UK’s finest open-air museums, the Black Country Living Museum spans across 26 acres and allows you to step back in time to the golden era of British industry. Stroll through a classic Black Country village, re-created in painstaking detail to mirror life in the 1800s to early 1900s, and chat to the friendly residents, shopkeepers and police officers – all portrayed by live-actors.
Dudley Zoological Gardens
The 11th century Dudley Castle forms the backdrop of Dudley Zoo, a 40-acre park which houses over 1,300 animals. Get up close to some of nature’s most fascinating wildlife, including black bears, lions, chimpanzees, giraffes and meerkats. You can also learn about the Zoo’s extensive conservation projects, or take a ride on the UK’s only vintage chairlift.
Looking to take break from all that driving? Spend the night in Dudley and treat yourself to an evening of spooky tales on a Dudley ghost tour. The walking tour includes a visit to Station Hotel, one of the town’s most haunted buildings, as well as Dudley Castle and a handful of other ghostly hot spots.
Warwick Castle is widely regarded to be one of the most impressive medieval structures in the UK, offering visitors an insight into over one thousand years of history. The majestic castle grounds overlook the River Avon and feature a range of attractions suitable for the entire family, offering fascinating facts and plenty of entertainment. Explore the Castle Dungeon (not for the faint hearted) and learn about the castle’s gruesome history, brought to life by actors and a range of special effects.
Warwick Castle has undergone significant renovations in recent years and offers plenty of fun for younger visitors. Climb the steps up to the Princess Tower and help the resident princess break the curse set upon her sweetheart by an evil sorcerer. Alternatively, take part in the interactive Merlin tour, based on the hit BBC children’s show. This year also marks the castle’s 1,100th birthday and special shows will take place throughout the year in celebration.
Got your mind set on a visit to some of the UK’s best cities? Check out our other Outsider Guides: