Wacky and wonderful, Bristol is an exciting city and a popular student destination. From clubs on boats to secret cocktail bars, chain shops to quirky individual retailers, the city offers a truly unique university experience. Despite not being a campus university, Bristol nonetheless has the strong feel of a student city so you’ll feel at home in no time and, far from being homesick, you will never want to leave.
Things to do
With an endless list of things you can do in Bristol you’ll never get bored. Here are a few of the top things to try whilst you’re living in this amazing city.
- For shopping, you can guarantee that Cabot circus, Bristol’s main shopping centre, and Broadmead, with its bustling pedestrianised streets will meet your retail needs. With a generous selection of chain stores and independent retailers you’ll find plenty to do here. Need a rest from shopping? Take a break and grab a bubble tea from CUPP, a Chinese “drink that you chew” served from a funky, converted storage container cafe
- Park street is the place to go for quirky shops including trendy vintage boutiques, music and record stores and countless bars and restaurants. Need to buy some key pieces for your university wardrobe? Make sure to keep an eye out for “wavy garms” (basically anything edgy with a loud pattern) in the many vintage shops if you really want to nail the look of a Bristol University student.
- Bristol Harbourside is an area of Bristol worth checking out. With an endless number of cafes and restaurants, you’re really spoilt for choice! Don’t miss The Harbourside Market every Saturday and Sunday 11am to 4pm, with its quirky stalls and unbeatable street food. At night, this is the place to go for a romantic evening stroll or a casual drink with friends at one of the many waterside bars.
- Venture out of Bristol’s urban city centre and check out Clifton Village which is a stone’s throw away and yet a completely different world. Beautiful and tranquil, this area of Bristol known for its cute cafés, upmarket shops and chic restaurants. Nearby are the iconic Clifton Suspension Bridge, The Clifton Observatory and Bristol Zoo which are all worth a visit at least once!
- Fancy getting out of the city altogether? Take a day trip to Bath and spend the day strolling along the pretty pedestrianised streets. For lunch, you can’t beat Hall and Woodhouse an eclectic bar and restaurant with a delicious and affordable menu.
Arts & Culture
Make sure you leave some time in your busy schedule to check out some of the great galleries, museums and independent cinemas Bristol has to offer.
- Located on the harbourside, Arnolfini is one of Europe’s leading centres for contemporary arts. With exhibitions taking place throughout the year, it’s definitely worth a pop-in every now and again.
- Also on the harbourside is The Watershed, a buzzing multi-arts venue with an arthouse cinema and cafe bar. With an exciting programme of independent films and the occasional live music events and festivals, this is the ultimate place to soak in some culture.
- If you want a truly unique Bristol experience go to Horts, a cool little pub with a cinema in the back. And guess what? It’s free! Relax in one of the big leather armchairs and enjoy a film (often a classic) shown every Wednesday night.
- With free entry, there’s no excuse not to give Bristol Museum and Art Gallery a visit. With collections of art, nature and history on display within a magnificent building, this place is the perfect venue for some cultural indulgence.
Music & Nightlife
Bristol is not short of live music venues, bars and clubs so you’re guaranteed to get an unmissable university experience here.
- With live music every Wednesday to Friday, No.1 harbourside, is a great spot for some dancing. For New Orleans inspired live Jazz music, check out The Old Duke, a bustling old pub with great atmosphere and live music every day of the week! For a more laid back experience, The Grain Barge, a pub on a moored boat with big windows looking over the water, is the place to go. With live music every Thursday performed below deck among fairy lights, you can relax and let the music wash over you.
- In need of a little sophistication after months of university budgeting? For a classy night out go for drinks in one of Bristol’s many cocktail bars. You’ll be spoilt for choice at Be at 1 with its generous menu of traditional or more adventurous alcoholic combinations. If you really want to impress your friends, take them to one of the secret cocktail bars. More expensive but worth a visit, Red Light, The Milk Thistle and Hyde and Co are so well concealed you’ll need google maps to find them!
- The nightlife scene in Bristol is as varied as it is unique. If it is a traditional clubbing experience you are after, then SWX and Lola-Lo’s won’t disappoint. With great music and a fun, friendly atmosphere you’ll be dancing well into the early hours of the morning. For an edgier night out try Lakota, Motion (a club in an old skate park warehouse) and Thekla (a club on the boat).
- For a clubbing alternative, try salsa dancing at The Cuban, a colourful and lively cocktail bar and restaurant. It’s impossible not to love this place with its upbeat music and spirited atmosphere that brings the energy of Havana to Bristol.
Whether you’re looking for a romantic date night restaurant, or a casual spot for a dinner with friends, you’ll be spoilt for choice when searching for somewhere to eat out in Bristol.
- On the harbourside, The Stable is the perfect spot for a casual dinner of pizza or pie topped off with a glass of cider. The pizza toppings are locally sourced and delicious and the stripped back warehouse interior glows invitingly day and night with candles burning on every table.
- With a sleek modern interior, delicious food, and a 50% student discount every day of the week, Wildwood is a restaurant that will undoubtedly become your student go to.
- In Clifton, Côte Brasserie is the perfect spot for a romantic date night. With a two-course set menu for £10.95 you can indulge in an authentically French candle-lit meal without breaking your bank account. Afterwards, walk off your meal with a stroll through Clifton village.
- Hungry after months of scrimping on your food shopping? Eat until you can eat no more at Zaza Bazaar, one of the best buffet restaurants in the city. With an interior inspired by Asian night markets, and an extensive menu of global foods, you’re guaranteed a unique eating experience.
- If you’re after a quick bite on a night out, go to Taka Taka, a Greek Fast Food restaurant on The Triangle. The food is fresh and fast and what more could you want as you fuel up for the walk home after a night of dancing?
Top 5 Discounts in Bristol
It takes time to search for the best student discounts in the city so to save you the effort of hunting them out for yourself, here are a few of the top ones.
- Wildwood – 50% off for students with a code downloaded from the website
- Ryman – 20% off for students if you show your student card
- Fancy reading something other than academic books? Get 2 books for £5 in The Last Bookshop on Park Street
- Zaza Bazaar – all you can eat buffet for £8.99 (Monday-Thursday) with a student discount if you bring your student ID.
To get into the Christmas spirit, make sure you do some festive things in Bristol this winter.
- Check out Bristol’s Christmas Market on the pedestrianised streets of Broadmead which is open until the 24th of December. Expect a magical Christmassy atmosphere complete with mulled wine, mince pies and 40 wooden chalet-style stalls selling unique Christmas gifts so don’t miss it!
- Go ice skating with your friends at At-Bristol’s Millennium Square Ice Rink. A forty-five-minute session costs £8.50 on the door or £7.50 online for students so this activity is as affordable as it is fun!
- Winter Wonderland at the Mall, Cribb’s Causeway is another place worth going to in the run up to Christmas. Here you’ll find the largest indoor ice rink in the South West, along with a great selection of festive foods.
- Ever heard of the Coca-Cola Christmas Truck Tour? Well it’s coming to Bristol on the 25th of November. Explore the winter wonderland and then have your photo taken in front of the iconic truck. You’ll be given a free can of Coca-Cola and once the sun has set there will be a short Christmas animation screened onto the truck.