If there’s one advantage to being a student, it’s the discounts. Being a student can be financially difficult, especially for those who are living away from home and learning how to manage their income. For anyone worrying about the costs of navigating a new city, but still looking for a good time, you’ve come to the right place! Here is a list of 11 completely free things for students to do in Birmingham – from museums to concerts and even donkey sanctuaries!

1. Thinktank

Thinktank - free things to do in Birmingham includes museums
Source: Thinktank Facebook

Are you a fan of, or even just curious about, all things scientific? Do you happen to be free on Wednesdays? Thinktank is perfect for you. Thinktank is an award-winning science museum which offers all students free admissions on Wednesdays, otherwise known as ‘Free Student Wednesday’ (very helpfully titled). No need to book in advance, just arrive on the day – and make sure not to forget your student ID!

This museum has something for everyone. Their science and technology collection features a range of items spanning themes of computing, medicine and machinery! If that’s not your thing, why not head over to the natural science collection where you can gaze upon a range of rock, plant and wildlife specimens.

2. Tolkien Trail

 

For any fantasy fanatics, here’s a fun fact for you. J. R. R. Tolkien, widely recognised as the author of the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings series, was in fact a Brummie! He moved to the city in his early childhood from South Africa, and much of his writing was inspired by Birmingham’s iconic landmarks. For anyone who’d like to follow in his footsteps, quite literally in this case, why not embark on a journey re-tracing Middle Earth’s stimulus? The trail will take you from Moseley Bog to Plough & Harrow pub. It even offers two distinct trail routes in Hall Green & Moseley, as well as Ladywood and Edgbaston, making it accessible to students from all over Birmingham!

3. Library of Birmingham

Library of Birmingham free places to visit in the city
Source: Library of Birmingham Facebook

This one goes out to any fellow book lovers, or to anyone who prefers a more quiet scene. Library of Birmingham is free to enjoy for all members of the public, which includes students! The library is located in centenary square, and spans over 10 levels in total – most of which are available for public access. On the seventh floor lies a terrace for visitors to take in the local scenery. The library is home to over one million books. It even has the second largest Shakespeare collection in the entire world. If that’s not enough to make your jaw drop – the library even holds a Shakespeare First Folio – one of only 250 worldwide. Beyond this, the library has a coffee shop on the ground floor and hosts multiple exciting exhibitions throughout the year.

4. Birmingham Canals

Birmingham Canals
Source: Birmingham City Council (UK) Instagram

As you may or may not have heard before, Birmingham is known for having more canals than Venice… technically. It actually has more miles of canal (around 35 miles in fact!). And the best part? These canals are completely free to visit. They also make an excellent setting for photos for anyone hoping to add to their Instagram page. An ideal location to view the canal is Brindley place (only a short walk from places such as Broad street, National Sea Life Centre, Utilita Arena and even another feature on this list – Ikon Gallery). Or if you’re looking to take a scenic route around Edgbaston, why not stroll past Worcester and Birmingham canal on Somerset Road?

5. Barber Institute of Fine Arts

Barber Institute - free things to do in Birmingham for students
Source: Barber Institute

For anyone looking for a new way to spend their lunch break, head over to the Barber Institute at University of Birmingham. It’s one of the best free indoor things to do in Birmingham, where on Fridays between 13:00 to 13:50, various musicians come in to perform classical music. Sometimes they’ll even give lectures describing their pieces – for any fellow history nerds! What better way to enjoy your sandwiches than to be serenaded by Chopin’s greatest works?

Please note that the Barber Institute is temporarily closed and will reopen in Spring 2024. However, for anyone still hoping to catch one of their incredible lunchtime concerts, head over to Elgar Concert Hall in the Bramall Music building in the meantime.

6. Walkabout bar

Walkabout Birmingham
Source: Walkabout Birmingham Facebook

Walkabout Birmingham advertises itself as the home of live sport, as well as the proud host of legendary parties. It’s definitely not a place to miss. Book an early bird ticket and arrive before 10pm to enjoy free front row seats to the latest sporting action. For any deal chasers, be sure to sign up to Walkabout’s exclusive student newsletter for special offers, such as free drinks and discounts. And if you happen to be named Tom and can get your mum to tag along, be sure to pop in on a Wednesday night where the theme is ‘I love Tom’s mum’ for drinks on the house!

7. Cannon Hill Park

Cannon Hill Park - free things to do for students in Birmingham
Source: Cannon Hill Park

Home to over 200 acres of green space, Cannon Hill park is the ideal spot for relaxation, exercise and good fun. Take a stroll through its stunning woodland and natural amphitheatre. It even has five tennis courts, two of which are floodlit (so don’t worry about the rain) which can be booked online for free. Whether you’re an avid player, or just wanting a fun day out with friends, why not pick up a racket? Don’t worry if you don’t own any, Cannon Hill also has free equipment to borrow.

8. Lapworth Museum of Geology

University of Birmingham - museums in the city
Source: University of Birmingham

One of the oldest specialist geological museums in the UK, Lapworth museum possesses a wealth of geological collections and is easily one of the top free indoor things to do in Birmingham for students there. Think fossils, maps, axes and even dinosaurs! The museum contains over 250,000 specimens, and that’s not all. The Lapworth Archive has an extensive catalogue of research dedicated to Charles Lapworth (the first Professor of Geology at UoB) as well as other noteworthy geoscientists. Encounter stunningly-preserved zoological specimens, such as German crabs and Brazilian fish. You’ll even find animals dating back as far as 510 million years old. The museum provides fascinating insight into how our world has evolved and makes an incredibly perceptive day out.

9. Ikon Gallery

Ikon Gallery best things to do for free in Birmingham
Source: Ikon gallery

Since its establishment in the 60s as an alternative space for artists, Ikon has evolved into an international art gallery situated right on Birmingham’s doorstep. The gallery particularly specialises in showcasing contemporary art and holds regular exhibitions. They even support local artists by spotlighting some of Birmingham’s finest talents, as well as presenting international arts. The beauty isn’t even limited to its interior, the building itself is a majestic neo-gothic structure. The gallery truly lives and breathes art. From its independent art bookshop (the only of its kind in Birmingham) to its singing lift – designed by Turner Prize-winner Martin Creed. For a taste of avant-garde, Ikon Gallery is the place to be and one of the best free things to do in Birmingham.

Please note that Ikon is closed until 8th February 2024 for exhibition installation.

10. The Donkey Sanctuary

The Donkey Sanctuary in Birmingham free places to viist
Source: The Donkey Sanctuary

And last but certainly not least in our top free things to do in Birmingham, why not head over to The Donkey Sanctuary and pet some adorable donkeys? The sanctuaries maintain free roam environments for their donkeys to keep them healthy and happy. Friendly staff are on hand to tell you everything you may want to know about the donkeys. If you’re lucky, a donkey could even come up to the fence for pets and strokes! And if you don’t feel like parting with them at the end, you can even adopt a donkey! You’ll receive bi-annual updates, portraits (with a display frame), postcards and even a certificate to endorse your companionship. Just be sure to pre-book on the website to ensure your visit stays cost-free!

11. Winterbourne Gardens

Winterbourne House and Garden - what can you do for free in Birmingham
Source: Winterbourne House and Garden Facebook.

An extra treat for any readers attending the University of Birmingham. Winterbourne House and Garden offers free entry to anyone with a valid student ID. The house itself dates back to 1903. Its garden is described by its current owners as ‘one of the best surviving examples of Edwardian Arts and Crafts.’ Winterbourne has been connected to UoB for many decades, acting as a residency for female students up until the 1960s. The garden offers a stunning view for all visitors, especially when warmer seasons start rolling in. So for anyone who is either planning ahead for a post-exam de-stress with one of the things to do for free in Birmingham that’s also relaxing, look no further.

Now that you’ve toured the city for free with our list of the best free things to do in Birmingham, why not discover a bit more about things Birmingham is famous for next?

Last Updated on June 11, 2024

Author

  • I'm a current student teacher working in primary schools. I completed a BA in English in 2023 and love all things to do with arts and linguistics! When I'm not teaching, I love reading, journaling and painting. I also love learning languages, I'm bilingual in English and Portuguese and I'm currently learning Welsh!

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