Nine of Birmingham's best hidden gems

Whether you're brand new to Birmingham or have lived here all your life, you'll be surprised about the amount of incredible things to do in the city. Birmingham has more than its fair share of exceptional bars, restaurants, spaces and experiences which are either completely hidden or hold something delightfully unexpected.

Newcomers: use this as a checklist for discovering the quirky side of the city. Brummie aficionados: see this as a gratifying ‘been there, done that’ exercise.

Posted 08 January 2024

spotlight primary

1. Lane7

Now with two locations in Birmingham Lane 7 offers pretty much everything you could want for a great night out. The venues feature bowling lanes, karaoke booths, retro arcades, shuffleboard, beer pong and much more. You can find one venue right by the Bullring exit of New Street and another in the Mailbox. 

2. Bacchus Bar

Hidden underneath the Burlington Arcade, Bacchus bar transports you from the city streets of Birmingham to ancient Greek-inspired lounges, medieval corridors and Victorian studies. Inspired by Bacchus, the Greek God of wine, the bar and restaurant has plenty of drinks on offer, ironically specialising in cask ales though rather than the wine of its namesake.

3. Library of Birmingham secret garden

It’s hard to say if a secret garden is a secret when there are signs that lead you to it, but it’s safe to say you wouldn’t expect to see a rooftop garden on your first visit to Birmingham Library. The Library of Birmingham is one of the largest public libraries in Europe, and is not only home to the historic Shakespeare memorial room, but also a tranquil rooftop garden with stunning views of the city.

3. Birmingham Back to Backs 

Hidden in plain sight next to the Hippodrome are the Birmingham Back to Backs. This quaint little courtyard of houses shows what life was like living in Birmingham over the past 200 years. The homes are the last surviving example of back-to-back housing which covered the city centre and was a cheap, but pretty unsanitary, kind of housing. You can take a guided tour, go to a special event, or just visit their second-hand bookshop and free exhibitions.

5. Birmingham Bouldering Centre

Like many great things in Birmingham, this Jewellery Quarter-based Bouldering Centre is tucked away between one of the city’s railway arches. The climbing walls range in difficulty from newcomer to ‘I can’t believe anyone could tackle that’ expert. A fun and exhausting hour for just £5 if you’re a student.

6. Chance and Counters

When scrabble and a pint just isn’t cutting it, you need to step up your game. With 600+ board games available to play, Chance and Counters is a cornucopia of weird and wonderful board games for casual and veteran tabletop gamers. Not only is it a great place for your next meet-up with your mates, but it’s also a cheap day out. For just £2 an hour per person you can play as many games as you like and casual dining options including quality burgers, fries and vegetarian options won’t break the bank.

If you’ve got no idea how to play Risk or have taken one look at Game of Thrones board game and felt an early onset headache then don’t fret. All the staff are really knowledgeable and will even set up the games for you.

7. Digbeth's street art

Birmingham has been called the city of a thousand trades, but the streets of Digbeth also show it’s a city of colour. Hidden in the narrow backstreets and less travelled alleys of Digbeth is art from some of the West Midlands' best graffiti artists. The City of Colours festival, last held in 2016, encouraged street artists to make Digbeth their canvas and some of these artworks are now iconic parts of Birmingham. You can see some great examples of Digbeth street art here, but it’s likely that most of these art works have been replaced with new creations so the best way to experience it is simply to take a stroll.

Grafitti on a brick wall in Digbeth, Birmingham

8. Curzon 'secret' balcony 

A secret only to those outside of BCU! The roof terrace garden on Curzon B is a great place to unwind after a long day and enjoy views of the Eastside Canal.

Curzon Facilities 6 600x400 - Roof terrace floor 1

9. 1920s speakeasy bar

The Liquor Store on Colmore Row appears to be just a quality clothing shop. However, call the number on their website and they'll tell you how to access their prohibition era Speakeasy bar.

Student life in Birmingham

Birmingham has everything: bars, restaurants, theatre, music, nightlife, street food. We're one of the most cost-effective cities for students in the UK and with five universities there's so much here to see and do. Find out why Birmingham has the UK's largest student population outside London!

Find out more