Bristol is probably one of the liveliest student cities in the country, and because of this, living there means that you are spoilt for choice when it comes to what to do with your spare time. Whether you have a whole weekend free or simply a few hours one evening, here are 20 things to do in Bristol as a student.
This is one of the more obvious choices for a visit, as the Clifton Suspension Bridge is possibly the most iconic piece of Bristol’s architecture. However, it doesn’t mean that visiting it is any less worth your time; walking across is free, and the views from the bridge at night are stunning. Definitely an opportunity for some Insta-worthy pictures!
The Clifton Observatory can be found right next to the bridge, and its Camera Obscura is one of only three remaining in the UK. Ticket prices are as low as £2.50, or £4 if you wanted to visit the Giant’s Cave as well.
This attraction is bound to provide an adventurous experience for any group of students who are looking for something to do. The cave path winds its way through Avon Gorge, and leads you to a lookout with some truly fantastic sights. This site can be found near the Clifton Observatory, and joint tickets can be purchased to experience both, as mentioned above.
Climbing Cabot Tower is absolutely an activity to tick off your Bristol bucket list! Built in 1897, the tower looms over the oldest park in Bristol, and provides some great panoramic views, as well as an interesting venture for any student interested in Bristol’s history. Climbing the tower is also free, and it is open every day apart from Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.
When living on a student budget, it will be no surprise that going out for activities like bowling or going to the cinema would rarely be possible. But with their prices for students being as low as £3 – dependent on the time of day – going bowling at The Lanes in the city centre is a steal. The venue also puts on film nights at certain times of the year, where you can have a cheap pint with friends while watching a cult classic movie.
Thekla isn’t exactly one of Bristol’s secrets, but being as iconic as it is, any Bristol student should go at least once. The whole idea of having a club on a boat certainly screams ‘Bristol’, and Thekla usually hosts themed nights throughout the year, as well as having discounted prices on Thursdays. The club is especially known for its indie nights, which are always packed out, particularly around Fresher’s Week.
The Tobacco Factory Market is one of Bristol’s hidden gems, and although it is a little far from uni, it provides a brilliant daytrip for any student. From vintage fashion to vegan baked-goods, this market is full of personality, and it showcases some of Bristol’s best independent businesses.
To get yourself in the festive spirit, why not take a walk to the city centre around December to see Bristol’s Christmas Market? As well as being full of stalls selling Christmas decorations and deliciously festive food, just being able to walk through the market is an experience in itself, and is definitely worth doing.
9. Visit Bristol Museum and Art Gallery
Sitting right next to Wills Memorial Building, Bristol Museum and Art Gallery is hard to miss. And, with free entry for most exhibits, this attraction will provide you with hours of entertainment. The museum explores not only Bristol’s history, but the histories of art and culture overall, and there are occasionally special exhibits put on display as well.
10. Go vintage and charity shopping on Gloucester Road
For students looking to update their wardrobes or decorate their bedrooms after arriving at Bristol, stopping off at Gloucester Road is worth a trip. Gloucester Road is known for its independent businesses, and there are a number of charity and vintage shops in the area that might peak a student’s interest. From charity retailers stocking an eclectic mix of books and clothing to trendy plant shops, Gloucester Road is a highlight that would be sorely missed.
11. Walk Bristol’s Harbourside
With its wide selection of pubs and restaurants, Bristol’s Harbourside district is a must-visit for students looking to enjoy an evening out with friends. The river itself is lovely to see, especially at night when the lights of the buildings reflect off the surface of the water. Once every few days, market stalls may pop up around the waterfront, which are good for a browse. Certain restaurants around this area even do student discounts, so if you can verify you are a student, your trip to Bristol’s Harbourside is bound to be much less expensive.
Although the university experience is amazing, it is undeniable that being away from home can involve missing your pets a lot. For students who are feeling the absence of their feline friends at home, You&Meow is the place to be. Adult entry prices start at £6 an hour, and you can either book online, or simply walk in and check for spaces. On top of being able to spend time playing with adorable cats and kittens, You&Meow sells cute cat-themed drinks, and a range of delicious café foods.
St Nick’s Market is a treasure trove of Bristol’s independent sellers and is always fun to explore when you are in the city centre. The market is permanently based at the Corn Exchange, within a Georgian arcade. It’s a great place to grab a snack – there are a variety of food vendors nearby – or to simply browse the unique items on offer. St Nick’s is open every day bar Sunday, from 9:30am until 5pm.
14. Have a picnic at College Green
When summer rolls around, students looking to make good use of the warmer weather may enjoy studying or having a meal with friends at Bristol’s College Green. With Bristol Cathedral as its backdrop, the area is undoubtedly picturesque and seems oddly serene at times considering it is near the heart of the city.
15. And while you’re there, why not visit Bristol Cathedral?
For students interested in delving into the city’s past, Bristol Cathedral may be a fascinating venture. Entry is free, and with the site dating back hundreds of years, any budding historian is bound to gain something from the trip.
16. Walk the Downs
For any student missing their Duke of Edinburgh award, or for those who just want a bit more fresh air, the Bristol Downs are a perfect location. Consisting of Clifton and Durdham Downs, this large area of parkland hosts the University of Bristol Welcome Fair each year, so students are bound to venture there at least at the start of the year. However, the Downs are worth visiting more than just the once, as they provide some fresh air and quiet that the city often seems to lack.
17. Have a cider at The Cori Tap
For a boozy night out with friends, The Coronation Tap, or Cori Tap, is a perfect location. This Georgian-style pub is known for its live music nights, which are an inexpensive way to have a great time and to meet other music-loving students. This venue is also known for its stock of local ciders, which are definitely worth a try!
Every August, Bristol’s skies become decorated with over a hundred hot air balloons, ranging in many different sizes, shapes, and vibrant colours. Suffice to say, the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta is something to see. And, with hot air balloons being such an iconic symbol for Bristol, missing this event while you are a student here would surely be a mistake.
Why not take a break from the city and go for a walk in Ashton Court? This site of natural beauty is within walking distance from Clifton and would provide stunning views, especially in summer. On top of this, the area is home to its own heard of deer, making it a must-see for any nature lovers out there.
20. And finally, take a Banksy graffiti tour
Bristol isn’t just known for its bridges and balloons. Banksy, the world-renowned graffiti artist, is believed to be a Bristol native, since the majority of his paintings can be found scattered throughout the cityscape. During your time at Bristol, it would be worth exploring his artwork. While there are paid tours of his art available, plenty of information about each piece can be found online, so it may be a fun idea to take a group of mates on a self-guided tour of his murals. Who knows, you may even discover a new one?