It may be aesthetically challenged but England's second-largest city has a lot to be proud of: an important industrial legacy; the Mini; Formula 1 star Nigel Mansell; British pooch-pageant Crufts; more canals than Venice; and more curry joints than you can shake a naan at.
Until recently the city had a bit of a grim rep - WWII bombs paved the way for the architectural debacles and the local accent is regularly voted the least attractive in Britain. But 'Brum', as the city is affectionately called, is sexing itself up.
The city centre is undergoing a facelift and the cultural scene is taking off. Canalside developments are giving the city a trendy cafe society, the local Royal Ballet receives national acclaim, and the Ministry of Sound attracts crowds of clubbers.
Facts for the traveller
Off the beaten track