Birmingham: Student City Guide
Leaving home for Uni can be a daunting task for anyone. Especially, if like many University of Birmingham students, you are travelling from all over the country.
It is most likely that you will not know much if anything about the city of Birmingham and what it has to offer in the way of entertainment and services for students. Also, if you’re moving from a small place to Birmingham, you’ll probably feel lost and swallowed up by a new and unfamiliar urban environment.
This may not change in the second year and quite a few students will be looking to see and experience new things within the city. This especially applies to those of you looking for new student accommodation in Birmingham.
This is one of a long line of ‘Student City Guides‘ aimed at increasing your local knowledge of the city whilst keeping the student budget in mind.
With our quick city guides you’ll never be stuck for ideas. Most importantly, you’ll know you’re getting the best out of your student city and life at university!
(Note: Figures quoted are correct as of March 2012)
Examples of what students can expect to pay in Birmingham:
Pint of Lager: £2.20 +
Double vodka & mixer: £2.50 +
Average Rent: £58 per week
Single bus ticket to uni: £1.70
Keep reading below for more detailed info on prices.
Universities and Colleges
Birmingham has a well integrated travel system. This is no surprise seeing as it is the second biggest city in England. it has a vast array of travelling choices including the bus, train and metro system. So travelling across the city is simple.
For students getting to University the bus is the best option.
Getting in and out of Birmingham is just as easy, with a multitude of major train stations connecting students to their hometowns across the country.
The Bus system in Birmingham is very efficient and serves the whole city. The biggest bus company is National Express West Midlands but also look out for Pete’s Travel and Birmingham Bus Company.
The buses will take you pretty much anywhere you want in Birmingham but if you are unsure then you should plan your route to university of wherever you may be going by using the Birmingham journey planner.
Currently a single fare is £1.70. You should be aware that return tickets are not available but you can buy a day ticket for £3.50 or £3.00 after 6p.m. Also, it is recommended that you have the correct change available as National Express West Midlands do not offer change.
Alternatively you can buy a term pass for £120. This is as little as 99p a day which is a bargain in the long run. You can buy your student travel card here.
Birmingham is not the best for cyclists but is still accessible.
There are a lot of pedestrians and not many cycle lanes in the town centre. You will also need to look out for cars blocking the cycle lane and, as with most cities, erratic driving.
If you’re looking online, you can get a good deal on a bike delivered to your door from Hargroves Cycles.
The Metro runs between Wolverhampton and Birmingham with a number of stops. It is a simple way to get around but is limiting. There are plans to extend the destinations.
A day pass will cost around £4.50 with a single ticket setting you back around £2. The best deal is a term pass at £168. If you are looking to travel on the Metro at least twice a day throughout term then this is definitely the cheapest option.
Also it is a good idea to look at the joint tickets on offer for the Metro and the buses.
For up-to-date information about public transport in Birmingham, have a look at the Transport for Midlands Website.
Best Student Nightclubs
Birmingham boasts a dynamic nightlife. The city has plenty of student type bars and clubs to cater for all tastes. The compactness of the city also means that getting from club to club is easier than most cities.
There is a wide selection of drinks at varying prices. Some of the best drinks deals in the country can also be found in Birmingham.
These are our top student night club picks to suit various tastes in music.
Birmingham is not much different to most other cities when it comes to Indie music. It has a wide range of clubs varying from Indie pop to a more underground sound.
- Propaganda – Every Friday night at the O2 academy Propaganda host the biggest Indie night in Birmingham. Look out for special guest DJs from your favourite Indie bands.
- Snobs – They have a lot of nights but every other Friday is Rag & Bone. It plays the latest in indie tunes with a mix of soul hip hop and dubstep thrown in for good measure. £3 with a flyer.
- Indiscretion - This is a night at Barfly every other Saturday playing Indie tunes with drinks starting from as little at £1.
Pop & Retro
Pop (and cheese!) is well catered for in Birmingham with all the clubs aiming to please. Many clubs offer dedicated nights to the joys of the 60s, 90s and naughties!
- Jump Around – This night is hosted every Tuesday at Barfly. It plays the best of the 90s including a few retro Hip Hop beats. Entry is only £1 with an NUS card.
- Minted@Mechu – if you are looking for something a little classier then this is the place for you. They play the latest in Motown, funk and soul.
R&B, Funky House and Hip-Hop
The urban genres are huge in Birmingham and the nightlife reflects this.
- Chi – Every Saturday has Coco@Chi. They play the latest in Hip, R&B and funky house. You have to dress smart and it is £5 to get in.
- Oceana – This is one of the best known club franchises in England. Our top tip is fuzzy logic every Monday. RnB Funky House and cheese are played long into the night and doubles cost a meager £2.50.
Dubstep, Drum & Bass & Techno
Birmingham is no doubt a lead player in the dance scene. It boasts being the home of music genres such as bassline and niche.
- Custard Factory (Factory Club) – a club that offers the latest in headline DJs and underground Indian bands.
- Full moon – Every Wednesday at the HMV institute. The latest in dance, dubstep and electro with top DJs and MCs. Tickets are as little as £4 with drinks starting at £1.50
- Gatecrasher – This is one of the best clubs in the UK for dance music and a great party atmosphere. It’s like bringing Ibiza to the Midlands. However it can be quite expensive so save it for a special occasion.
Rock music appears to be a genre that is not too popular in Birmingham. If you know of any rock nights for students in Birmingham then do not hesitate to comment.
Being the second largest city in the UK, Birmingham offers plenty of choice for eating out to meet any palette. The diversity in food is huge in all area of the city from Turkish to Australian. Of course you’ll find all big restaurant chains like Pizza Express, Zizzi’s and Nandos to name only a few.
But if you prefer something a little different and unique to Birmingham then check our our top restaurant picks.
- Balti triangle – If you like curry then the Balti Triangle is for you. Birmingham has some great restaurants in and around this area offering the best in Indian cuisine to suit all tastes. There is such a wide variety of restaurants it is hard to pick a favourite. We recommend the Royal Naim for its amazing Balti at such cheap prices. Have a look into it yourself and tell us what you think. It is located between Moseley and High Gate.
- The Studio – This is a quirky place that offers cheap and delicious English meals. There is an open atrium and terrace that leads to a brilliant eating atmosphere.
- Chinese Quarter – If you live for Chinese food then head to the Chinese quarter for some great meals at low prices for students.
Every city has it’s major attractions and entertainment hot spots. Birmingham is no different.
There are loads of places to visit along with some great shopping hot-spots and some great places to chill out and relax in the busy city lifestyle.
It boasts a large amount of entertainment all year round and is one of the many reasons why the city attracts so many students from across the world!
- Star City – Located 10 minutes from the city centre this entertainment centre’s main attraction is its 30 screen cinema. This is the biggest in the UK. If you fancy some more entertainment then Star City also houses a laser station and a 22 lane bowling alley. To add to this, parking is free and there are a lot of food and drink venues so why not make a night of it.
- The O2 academy – The academy is on Bristol street and is the major gig venue in Birmingham. All of the biggest artists play here at all times throughout the year. However, the gigs are expensive so check your bank balance before visiting.
- The Bull Ring – With over 160 shops the Bullring is no doubt the retail centre of Birmingham. It boasts a flagship Slefridges amongst other stores. If you are looking for a new top to go out in or ever an everyday jumper then look no further. However you will have to look hard for a sale or bargain.
- Birmingham museum and art gallery – If you love to delve into culture and widen the brain then the museum and art gallery is the place to be. With free entry you can go as many times as you like during the year and not have to worry about breaking the bank.
- Seasonal Attractions – Birmingham has a great Christmas market. Starting in late November, it’s a great way to get in the Christmas spirit. They boast the largest outdoor Christmas market in the country. For bonfire night, again head over to any local park and there is most likely going to be a display there.
Health & Fitness
You’ll have no problem keeping fit and healthy in Birmingham. There are loads of gyms which offer student discounts and trials. However the best option for students usually comes through the universities.
The University of Birmingham offers some great deals for students and you can take a look here. If you go to another University in Birmingham then have a look at your local gym for the best prices.
If you enjoy swimming then Birmingham is great. There are swimming pools located all over the city offering great prices.
For jogging or running there are plenty of parks and open spaces in Birmingham. Try Cannon Hill Park for lots of running tracks and green space.
New section! Find and review letting agents in Birmingham.
There are literally thousands of student flats and properties located in and around Birmingham. There is a huge selection in nearly all parts of the city.
From my experience, I would strongly recommend looking to live in the central part of the city as you have access to everything that you want and need on your doorstep. You could attempt to be within walking of your university to cut on costs.
For student digs, average rent can range between £50 to over £66 a week, obviously depending on location and quality of the house. Check out our guide to viewing a student house for extra tips when taking a look.
There are lots of students houses in Birmingham so you don’t have to worry about finding somewhere to live. If you are looking for a flatshare with other people nearby then take a look at Easy Roommate.