The ultimate student’s guide to Bristol: where to go out, best cheap eats, coffee shops, arts and entertainment destinations and places to unwind
As the home of Wallace & Gromit, Bristol is a deeply creative and cultural city, with its universities churning out some impressive alumni. Alongside the city’s creativity is its heritage, including Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s Clifton Suspension Bridge and his 1843 S.S Great Britain liner docked in the city.
Around one tenth of Bristol’s population is made up of students, so it’s no surprise that there’s an array of shops, bars and clubs catering to this demographic. Here’s our pick of the best. It’ll be gurt lush!
Going Out: best student-friendly bars and clubs
A 13-minute walk from the main campus is club vessel Thekla. Floating on the East mud dock it’s the home of three club nights held every Thursday, Friday and Saturday. The club was voted Best Small Venue by the NME in 2012 and is an ideal cheap night out with admission from £5 after 10pm.
The Grove, East Mud Dock, BS1 4RB Tel: 0117 929 3301 (Website)
Just a short walk from campus is one of Bristol’s most popular student nightclubs, Bunker. With cheap shots and drinks from £1.50 this is the way to have a great night on a budget. Alongside the club, Bunker also hosts sports nights with traditional pub grub.
78 Queens Road, Clifton Triangle, BS8 1QU Tel: 0117 9304604 (Website)
A popular venue for Bristol students, Mr Wolf’s is a club as well as a live music venue. A nine-minute walk away from the main campus, this bar is the ideal night out for clubbers and music lovers alike, serving cheap meals for under £10. Open seven nights a week this is a great venue to start and end the night.
33 St Stephens Street BS1 1JX Tel: 01179 273221 (Website)
Cheap Eats: restaurants that won’t take a chunk out of your loan
If you’re recovering from the Bristol nightlife, then Grillstock is the cure for your hangover. Described as a “meaty experience”, Grillstock BBQ meals are popular with students and locals for its Hickory smoked meats. Open seven days a week until late, this venue is essential for the hungry carnivore.
41 Triangle West, Clifton, BS8 1ER Tel: 0117 927 3200 (Website)
Want to try something different? Yume Kitchen serves authentic Japanese food at student prices. This healthy cuisine consists of organic produce freshly prepared and full of flavour. From Sushi to Katsu Curry this is a great eatery to get the tastebuds tingling.
21 Regent Street BS8 4HW Tel: 0117 907 7840 (Website)
An indie, trendy venue, Bagel Boy is a great eatery for a quick and delicious meal. Bagel fillings ranging from smoked salmon with cream cheese to a Thai – spiced pork patty, Bagel Boy caters for all the senses. A ten-minute walk from the campus, this a cheap way to have a filling lunch.
39-41, St Nicholas Street, BS1 1TP Tel: 01179220417 (Website)
Coffee Breaks: for when the textbooks take their toll
Situated in the centre of Bristol, Mocha Mocha is a specialty coffee house that serves rich and milky coffees perfect to warm you up from the British weather. They are also known for their jacket potato fillings and home made sandwiches, its popular choice being the Mint Hummus, Roast Vegetables and Avocado sandwich.
139 St Michael’s Hill, Kingsdown,BS2 8BS Tel: 0117 929 8880 (Website)
Didn’t You Do Well
DYDW embodies the perfect independent coffee house. The baristas’ expertise in different coffees adds to the quality of this café. DYDW also have a delicious selection of cakes and brownies, a perfect retreat to study or to catch up on some reading.
20 Park Row, BS15LJ (Website)
This city treasure is tucked away in Clifton village where its services range from a morning coffee to a three-course meal. It prides itself on its gourmet breakfasts and sandwich selections. The café has a variety of teas, coffees and winter warmers. We especially recommend their Hot Chocolate with all the trimmings and Nutella mocha.
1, Clifton Arcade, Boyces Avenue, Clifton, BS8 4AA Tel: 0117 946 6577 (Website)
Shopping: independent outlets with student-friendly price tags
Crowned as the UK’s best record shop, Rise Music is a must-visit. With music ranging from blues to world music, this shop caters to every taste. Rise also sells DVDs that beat the traditional high street pricing. Biographies and cult classic books are also sold in store. Rise music is a great shop for the alternative or vintage obsessed student.
70 Queens Road, Clifton, BS8 1QU Tel: 0117 929 7511 (Website)
The Galleries is an essential destination for both unique and international shopping brands. A few of the budget shops such as the 99p Store and TK Maxx are perfect for those on a tight budget. Located in the centre of Bristol, The Galleries is a great place for everyday essentials and gifts.
25 Union Gallery, Broadmead, BS1 3XD. Tel: 0117 929 0569 (Website)
Bamonte clothing is a women’s fashion store which stocks designer clothing from Paris and Milan, ranging from bags and accessories to shawls and designer tops. Located next door to the Primrose Café, Bamonte is great for finding unique fashion.
8 Clifton Arcade, United Kingdom, BS8 4AA Tel: 0117 974 3548 (Website)
Arts & Entertainment: forget your essays with a dose of culture
See No Evil
[Picture: Luke Andrew Scowen / Flickr / CC]
Integrated into Bristol’s urban landscape, See No Evil is an ambitious exhibition of bold street art. Founded by street artists such as Inkie, the grey facades of Nelson Street have been transformed by leading street artists from around the world. An unmissable tour for art lovers.
Nelson Street, (Website)
Home to the Encounters Short Film and Animation Festival, The Watershed is a unique cinema that features mainstream and international films. This cultural gem is one of the creative hotspots in Bristol and is great venue for film students and art lovers.
1 Canons Road, Harbourside, BS1 5TX Tel: 0117 927 6444 (Website)
Bristol’s home of music hosts a variety of performances from classic orchestration to the sensational Ladysmith Black Mambazo. Colston’s program also includes comedy acts such as Stephen Fry Live and choral and charity concerts. All acts vary in price, the Hall’s program can be seen through this link.
Colston Street, BS1 5AR Tel: 0844 887 1500 (Website)
Escape: places to relax after a soul-sapping study session
Banksy Walking tour
Known as the world’s leading street artist, Banksy’s art roots are still scattered throughout Bristol, which you can discover in an exciting art tour. Some of his famous works are listed via the link below. Just don’t try to nick a piece of wall to flog on eBay.
With free admission to this stately home, Ashton Court is a great place to unwind in the beautiful rural landscape. After an extensive restoration of the estate’s landscape, this is one of the best places to go to forget upcoming exams.
Long Ashton, BS41 9JN Tel: 0117 963 3438 (Website)
Located at the top of Clifton, The Downs is a good place to hang out after lectures. The landscape is perfect for picnics, sports or other events. Close to campus, The Downs is the perfect place to unwind.
Ashton Court Estate, Long Ashton, BS41 9JN (Website)
So what makes Bristol so unique?
A media marvel
As a part of the UK’s media triangle (the other cities being London and Manchester) Bristol is one of the innovative places to be for the creative industries. Home of Aardman Animations, The Station and BBC Natural History, the city has enough creative projects to suit everyone’s tastes.
It’s quite easy being green
Bristol became the first cycling city in the UK and is now one of fair trading leaders. The city trades with 58 developing countries with five million workers worldwide.
A hotbed of acting talent
Over the years Bristol has been the home of some of Hollywood’s most famous stars, such as Cary Grant, Jeremy Irons and David Prowse (Darth Vader). The Bristol Old Vic is a widely regarded institution for the theatrical thespian.
Bristol always has something going on, and with festivals, exhibitions and excellent nightlife you’ll never be bored in the heart of the West country.
Find all the locations in this student guide on our Bristol map:
Where in Bristol would you recommend for new students?
Feedback: your responses
— Dave Taylor (@evadrolyat) September 10, 2014
Cube Cinema, Dove Street South, off Kings Square, BS2 8JD, 0117 907 4190, more info