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Anyone who can recall Birmingham in the late 1980s will remember when Brindleyplace was, literally, all fields (well, industrial wasteland to be more precise). Hard to believe that what started as a 17-acre long-forgotten, long-derelict site has since become one of the most vibrant areas of the city.

Filled with bustling bars – US President Bill Clinton famously enjoyed a pint – and top-class restaurants, famous galleries and business headquarters, Brindleyplace hugs it way around Birmingham’s central canal network and is next to Gas Street Basin. With an enlightened approach to regeneration, striking architecture and inviting public spaces it attracts more than four million visitors a year and is top of any tourist’s must-see list.

Its name comes from James Brindley, one of the most notable engineers of the 18th century who played a vital role in shaping the way canals were built during the Industrial Revolution.

Walking to Brindleyplace from Rotunda

A 20-minute walk to Brindleyplace and Birmingham’s convention quarter from Staying Cool at Rotunda can take in canals, coffee and cronuts!

From our Rotunda front-door, turn left on to New Street and follow the street until you cross Corporation Street and reach Piccadilly Arcade on your left.

Stroll through the lovely arcade, picking up a gift from Smithsonia or coffee from Faculty, and stop to admire the stunning ceiling art right above you.

With New Street station on your left, follow Navigation Street until you spot the bright-red Mailbox building ahead.

Walk through the central lounge of the Mailbox and you’ll pass fab stores, restaurants and the legendary cronuts from Medicine Bar & Bakery. You must try one as you pass.

After you’ve walked through the Mailbox you’ll reach the heart of Birmingham’s canal network, more bars (this is thirsty work!) and lovely spots for a scenic selfie, taking in the best of Brum.

Cross the bridge next to The Cube building and follow the canal towpath with the gold-topped Library of Birmingham ahead of you, passing the delightful Canalside Bar, Tap & Spile and Canal House pub.

A tunnel will take you under Broad Street, before you reach the ICC on your right and Brindleyplace on your left.

Here you’ll find contemporary art at IKON Gallery and – in the spring – beautiful blossom in Oozells Square, a lovely spot to sit and take in some of Birmingham’s best views.

Where to eat at Brindleyplace

Chic and sophisticated at BANK

With its inspired seasonal cooking, the restaurant offers two all-weather terrace areas including The Waterside Grill overlooking the canal. A long-time favourite of city diners, expect great food, great cocktails and great service delivered in its super stylish setting.

Authentic Thai at Siamais

South East Asian dining at its finest. Theatrical dishes are bursting with flavours and paired with cocktails to suit every course. Bottomless brunch – available every Saturday and Sunday from 12pm-4pm – is a must and served with Prosecco, Mimosas, Porn Star Martinis and Cosmopolitans.

Brunch delights at Gorilla Café

A favourite for its delicious coffee, excellent brunch and lunch dishes, decadent treats and premium beers. It’s also home to the city’s Bicycle Workshop and Cycle Club, for two-wheeled meet-ups and social events.

Where to drink at Brindleyplace

Raise a glass at Lulu Wild

One great social media backdrop after another, soak up the atmosphere as you work your way through the oh-so glamorous cocktail menu. There’s traditional as well as tempting tipples with a Chinese twist, including the must-try Ginger Mojito, the Shanghai Secret or the Fortune Cookie, made from vanilla vodka, cookie and cream.

Opulence at Nuvo

With its luxurious VIP areas and a state of the art video wall, live DJs play a mixture of urban, house and popular music through to the early hours. There’s two stylish levels, including the exclusive Late Lounge with private booths for up to 15 guests.

Great coffee at York’s

Housed in the famous IKON gallery, this new-generation coffee shop has been recognised as one of the top brunch destinations in the country by both The Sunday Times and The Observer. Enjoy the own-roasted coffee throughout the day and cocktails, bottled and canned craft beers, wines and whiskies into the evening, served alongside soulful food.

What to see in Brindleyplace

Modern art IKON

The internationally-acclaimed contemporary art venue housed in a stunning neo-Gothic, former school house. It’s free to enter and the array of exciting exhibitions encourage public engagement and debate. Join staff for 15-minute spotlight tours on selected dates throughout the year to learn more about the key work on display.

Get up close with sharks at the National Sea Life Centre

Here you’ll find the UK’s only 360° Ocean Tunnel where you can marvel at sharks, a giant turtle, rays and hundreds of tropical fish swimming overhead and underneath. There’s the sea otters, Ozzy and Ola, as well as the Penguin Ice Adventure and Octopus Hideout, alongside a 4D cinema experience and state-of-the-art marine rescue facility.

A night at the theatre at The Crescent

One of Birmingham’s oldest theatre companies operates from its purpose-built space in Brindleyplace. The 300-seat main house and a 100-seat studio theatre stage around 15 productions each year, from in-house shows to productions from other regional companies.

Fun for everyone at LEGOLAND Discovery Centre

The ultimate LEGO adventure, packed with creative activities, the Kingdom Quest and Merlin’s Apprentice rides, build and play zones, and a 4D cinema experience. The kids will love it, obvs, but there are adult-only events too throughout the year if you’re looking for a date night with a difference!

The world-class conference venue at The ICC

Hosting around 400 events a year – including such big hitters as the Conservative Party Conference – it’s also home to Symphony Hall. Considered one of the finest concert halls in the world, discover performances from award-winning comedians, top rock and pop artists as well as its resident orchestra, the renowned CBSO.

If you’re looking to explore more of Birmingham, take a look through our guides to Southside, Jewellery Quarter and Digbeth too.