Stephenson Place, at the intersection of New and Corporation streets, is a good starting point for sampling the attractions of City Centre. A 5-minute stroll along New Street leads to Victoria Square, where Council House, Victoria Square (tel. 0121/303-2040), the city's most impressive Victorian building, anchors the piazza. Built in 1879, it is still the meeting place for the Birmingham City Council and an impressive example of the Italian Renaissance style. It's open for viewing Monday to Thursday from 9am to 5pm and on Friday from 9am to 4pm. The chamber can only be seen by guided tour, which must be arranged in advance.
Along Broad Street is the Gas Street Basin (tel. 0121/236-9811). Operated by Second City Canal Cruises, it forms the hub of the 3,220km (2,000-mile) canal network that runs in all directions from Birmingham to Liverpool, London, Nottingham, and Gloucester. From the Basin, you can take a cruise along the canals or just walk by the towpaths.
Just a 10-minute walk from City Centre is the Jewelry Quarter at 75-79 Vyse St. (tel. 0121/554-3598; www.the-quarter.com). This complex includes more than 100 jewelry shops. The skill of the jeweler's craft can be viewed at the Discovery Centre's restored Smith and Pepper factory displays, or by visiting shop workbenches that still produce most of the jewelry made in Britain. A unique time capsule of the ancient craft of jewelry making and working with precious metals, the quarter offers bargain hunters the opportunity to arrange repairs, design a custom piece, or just browse. Admission to the Museum of the Jewelry Quarter is free; it's open April to October Tuesday to Sunday 11:30am to 4pm and November to March Tuesday to Saturday 11:30am to 4pm.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.