by Rebecca Fong
Here are some top tips for making the most of your time in Bristol:
Food and drink!
Best coffee – too many good coffee shops to mention. Try The Stock Exchange Bakery, St Nicholas Street BS1, Pinkmans Park Street, Laura Hart’s bakery at Temple Meads Station (it’s a hidden gem), Small Street Espresso, The Well on Gloucester Road and Mark’s Bakery in Southville. You could be drinking coffee somewhere else everyday…
Best bread: Good bread used to be hard to find, but now it’s everywhere. For CHEAP good bread, try… The Bread Store on the Gloucester Road (go at the end of the day and they sell of bread cheaply)
Best place to buy oriental ingredients for cooking:
Wai Yi Hong, a massive Chinese supermarket (good fresh food on Sunday mornings, Peking duck, dumplings, Chinese cakes etc) -Eastgate Centre, near IKEA. Big restaurant upstairs serving dim sum (take the same buses as for IKEA, see page 3 of this document) and then walk (about 8 minutes). Look it up on google maps.
Vietnamese supermarket, Gloucester Road
Korean supermarket, Gloucester Rod
Wing Yip – Thomas Street East (near Bristol Bridge in The Centre) A good Asian supermarket, with a Chinese restaurant above it (look it up on google maps)
Asian supermarket – Denmark Street (just next to the Hippodrome in the centre – if you are facing the Hippodrome, Denmark street is on your left, walk to the top, it’s on your left)
168 Oriental on Park Street
Too numerous to mention….
Several on the Gloucester Road
Roo Bar (Clifton Down) or Walkabout Gloucester Road – good for watching sports events
There are lots of pubs around the Corn Street area in the “Old City” (just off The Centre) eg The Slug and Lettuce, The Commercial Rooms etc etc
The Old Duke for live jazz and The Llandoger Trow – both on Welsh Back
Best pub terrace:
The White Lion (The Avon Gorge Hotel, Clifton Village) – go on a nice day and sit on the terrace…what a surprise…
loads of bars in Corn Street, The Centre, The docks area and Waterfront: Arnolfini, Watershed Bar, Pitcher and Piano, Mud Dock…..
Cheap and cheerful restaurants:
(too many to mention)
COSMO, (Clifton Triangle): Costs around £13 for the buffet in the evenings, about £8 for lunch, Asian food (Chinese, Malaysian, Indian, Japanese, Thai…). Student discount at certain times.
ZaZa Bazaar – Harbourside, Buffet like Cosmo, world foods. Various “deals” available.
if you’re decorating your room/house and want paint, the most convenient DIY stores are Wilko (Broadmead and Clifton Triangle) or Gardiner Haskins near Temple Meads station – you can get there on a number 8 or 9 bus, get off at The Bristol Evening Post building, just 2 stops before Temple Meads station; ….and opposite Gardiner Haskins is a good garden centre for pot plants.
Shopping days out!
- IKEA just off junction 2 of the M32 motorway. From UWE, take a First bus 48A from UWE to Robertson Road (SW bound). There is about 6 minutes’ walk when you get off. Check this out online before you go.
- CRIBBS CAUSEWAY – a huge out of town shopping park, you could spend a day there. Take the 19 from UWE go to Cribbs Causeway, the final destination (about 25 mins from UWE). Or from the centre, a 1 or ONE or 2 will take you there (about 45 mins).
Markets: St Nicholas permanent outdoor and indoor markets on Sat, Mon, Tue, Wed (food), Thurs – Corn Street Bristol (+ first Sunday of every month is The Slow Food Fair, very nice organic food). There is some really yummy “street stall” food here. Falafels, Kurdish wraps, Italian, Jamaican, Moroccan… mmmmm…
Independent cinemas for independent foreign films and old movies: Arnolfini and Watershed (both on the Docks), The Cube (King’s Square)
In town cinemas: The Odeon, Broadmead; The Orpheus, Henleaze (bus 2 from the Centre, to Waitrose Henleaze), The Showcase VUE, Cabot Circus (top floor)
Best swimming pool: Bristol University in the Students’ Union, Queen’s Road (a UWE student’s card will get you in for £4 a time); also Horfield Leisure Centre on the Gloucester Road (top end not city end)
Best classical concert venue: St George’s, Brandon Hill, just off Park Street; The Colston Hall (Colston Avenue)
Best theatres: The Bristol Old Vic (afternoon matinee tickets are cheaper); The Tobacco Factory, Raleigh Road, Bedminster (wonderful performances); The Hippodrome for musicals (The Centre)
Clubs and discos: As your fellow students…!
Best public transport: there is no such thing as good public transport in Britain, sorry…
Be aware that there are 2 bus companies in Bristol (apps and bus time checkers are available)
- First Bus (the “white” buses) and
- Wessex red (the red buses) – tend to be slightly cheaper than First
You can get cheap day passes on each (with student discounts) OR a BRISTOL DAY RIDER, slightly more expensive, which means you can use both companies’ buses all day. Without a discount, this costs £4.50 a day.
Confusingly, these buses mostly serve different routes, but there are also a couple of common routes eg First bus 1, Wessex Red ONE.
Bristol buses – student deals are available, visit the Student Union in F Block and ask about weekly/monthly/annual passes. Get a student card to reduce your travel costs. Online, pre-paid options where you pay with your phone, are also good value.
If you want to go to BATH for the day, get a “First day southwest” ticket on the bus. It’s £11 without a student pass and includes unlimited bus travel in Bristol and Bath PLUS the train fares to and from Bath.
Cheapest coach trip to London:
1) The Megabus from as little as £1 a journey. You must get your tickets online at www.megabus.com. Buses to London leave from UWE every day from the NORTH entrance bus stop (not the regular bus stops)
3) National Express student travel card for 30% off standard rates on all trips or book early and get their funfares.
Trains: Trains are incredibly expensive in Britain, but if you book and pre-pay WELL in advance, using trainline.com or the national rail site, you can often get much cheaper “APEX” fares (you cannot change the times on the tickets though). Travelling on Fridays or at peak times (before 9.30am and after 4.15pm) is more expensive on trains.
Regular coaches go from the coach station to the train station/ to Bristol International Airport in approx. 45 minutes (cheap airlines from Bristol include Easyjet, Ryanair, bmi regional).
Buy a bike! – best place to get a bargain – check the “For Sale” section of the local paper, the EVENING POST, gumtree, or advertisements in small shop windows; you could get a perfectly usable bike for about £50 and never have to take a bus again! UWE also has bikes for hire – £50 for a year, approx.. Check the bike hub down by the bus stops.
When you cycle in Britain, you must follow the Highway Code (pretend you’re a car!). Wear a helmet, and/or a green cycle jacket. Don’t cycle on the pavement or the wrong way down a one-way street. Also, ride with care. It goes without saying that you will need good D-locks and lights. There is a “back way” through fields from Lockleaze into UWE avoiding all the major roads. SUSTRANS, the HQ for sustainable/bike transport, is located in Bristol and has been central in improving bike lanes etc over the years. Nothing is perfect, but the city is gradually becoming more cycle friendly. Please contribute to giving cyclists a good name.
STAY SAFE – only get a bicycle if you feel confident about cycling. If you do though, you will get an enormous sense of freedom for Bristol and visit parts that others never see J. UWE to city centre on a bike? 35 minutes, great exercise and it’s FREEEEEE….
Cheap hotels for friends to stay in: The Premier Travel Inn, Broadmead and many more. Airbnb is now also available.
Sightseeing in Bristol (All city museums are free – though special exhibitions may not be)
Best historical hour out: The Georgian House, Brandon Hill, just off Park Street
Best view of Bristol: From the top of the Cabot Tower, Brandon Hill, just off Park street, – go on, it won’t kill you, and it’s free….lots of squirrels in the park too!
Best alternative perspective of Bristol: From the Camera Obscura in the Observatory next to the Suspension Bridge – only go on a really sunny day or the camera won’t work!
Best rides: take the ferry from the centre – to….anywhere, do a round-trip stopping off at some pubs! The Official Bristol open top bus tour is fun too, about £6 on/off as you like all day
Best summer fun: The Harbour Festival (July), The Balloon Fiesta (around the second weekend in August), The Pop Festival (July), Grillstock, The Kite festival (early September), The Organic Food Fair (early September). Bristol is a festival city – 39 festivals between May and September!
I hope you have a great time in Bristol. Rebecca