If you’ve landed a place to study in Bristol, congratulations – you’re in for a brilliant three years. With all-round friendly vibes and a particularly buzzing student community, unbeatable nightlife, cracking culture and a renowned foodie scene, we’re certain you’ll love your soon-to-be second home.

Alongside making new friends and settling into uni life, get stuck into ticking things off our student bucket list. It’s a bumper list of things to do for students in Bristol, to help you experience the best of the best that our city has to offer. Complete them all and you'll know Bristol inside-out!

Attractions

Street art

Bristol is a renowned centre for street art and you’ll stumble across plenty of it during your time in the city. Join a street art tour to see some of the highlights, or take yourself on self-guided walks on the trail of Banksy pieces or Upfest murals.  

One of the guides from the 'Where The Wall' street art tour in Nelson Street, central Bristol - credit Paul Box
Image: Where the Wall street art tour, credit Paul Box 

A day of culture at the museums

You’re spoilt for choice when it comes to museums in Bristol. Brush up on your local knowledge at M Shed; admire world-class collections of art, archaeology, geology and natural history at Bristol Museum & Art Gallery; have a peek at historic houses thanks to The Georgian House Museum and The Red Lodge Museum.  

Get inquisitive at We The Curious, a state-of-the-art science centre (currently closed for repairs), retrace Bristol’s incredible aerospace achievements at Aerospace Bristol, not far from UWE’s Frenchay campus, or step aboard Brunel's SS Great Britain, which was rescued from wreckage in 1970 and returned to its home city.

A stone’s throw from the UWE Glenside campus, Glenside Hospital Museum explores the treatment of mental health, covering the 1860s right up until the late 20th century.

Exterior of the SS Great Britain at the Great Western Dockyard in Bristol - credit Brunel's SS Great Britain
Image: Brunel's SS Great Britain 

Meet the local wildlife

Bristol Zoo Project has habitat-themed areas of parkland filled with wildlife, including the new Bear Wood exhibit. Or get a feel for life under the sea at Bristol Aquarium, with its amazing array of aquatic animals including rays, seahorses, a common octopus, terrapins, piranhas and more.

Clifton Suspension Bridge

Walk across the bridge Bristol is famous for, pop into the Clifton Suspension Bridge Visitor Centre to discover everything about its history or take a tour of the bridge or the magnificent underground vaults, then sit with a pint on The White Lion Bar's terrace for a spectacular view.

Go on a boat trip

A boat trip is one of the best ways to see Bristol, with groups like Bristol Packet Boat Trips offering themed tours. Make the most of the ferry services by Bristol Ferry Boats and Number Seven Boat Trips that can whizz you from A to B on the floating harbour too.

Spend a night at the theatre

West End productions, classic and contemporary plays, improv, emerging and established talent – it can all be found in Bristol’s theatres. Pick up tickets to performances at Bristol Old Vic, The Bristol Hippodrome, Tobacco Factory Theatres, The Redgrave Theatre and more, many of which offer concessionary prices for students. 

Garden tour at University of Bristol Botanic Garden

These beautiful gardens are crammed with 4500 plant species from over 200 plant families – a little flower-filled oasis near Clifton Downs. 

The tropical pool at the University of Bristol Botanic Garden, credit University of Bristol Botanic Garden
Image: University of Bristol Botanic Garden

Climb up Wills Memorial Building

As well as amazing views from Wills Tower, which stands 68 metres high above Park Street, a tour of this iconic University of Bristol building gives you access to the Great Hall, Council Chamber and libraries.

Activities

Go bowling, batting or beer ponging at Roxy Lanes

More than just a bowling alley, Roxy Lanes on Union Street not only has 8 full size bowling lanes but also batting cages for baseball and tennis, shuffleboards, full-size pool tables, beer pong, ice-free curling, duck pin bowling, arcade games and a karaoke booth. Fuel up between games on pizza, or head to their bar for a range of soft drinks, beers, spirits, wines and cocktails.

Bowling alleys lit up with blue neon
Image: Roxy Lanes

Have a go at mini golf or darts at Par 59

Around the Harbourside on Millennium Promenade you'll find fun bar Par 59, which has four interactive darts boards or two 9-hole mini golf courses for you to try. 

Go karting

Race around over 800m of exhilarating bends, straights, chicanes and ramps at Absolutely Karting

Get a group together for VR gaming

MeetspaceVR allows you to play with up to six people across a number of games and missions - choose whether you want to challenge each other or work together to survive.

Jump around

Bounce around at the world’s biggest trampoline park, with over 140 interconnected trampolines that span right across the floor and up the walls! AirHop Bristol also has an obstacle course, Dodge Attack, Ninja Tag and Battle Beams. Students can get a 20% discount off a standard jump with your valid student ID using discount code STUDENT20.

An interior view of the AirHop trampolining centre in North Bristol - credit AirHop
Image: AirHop

Escape rooms

Test your new uni friendships by attempting to figure your way out of an escape room together! Locked in a Room, Puzzlair, City Mazes and Bristol Escape Rooms are a handful of those scattered across the city.

Watch or play sport at Allstars Sports Bar

Watch a game on one of Allstars Sports Bar's two huge screens (or 40 HD TVs!) while playing some games with your mates, whether you opt for pool, snooker, darts, shuffleboard or table football.

Try your hand at axe throwing

Go up against your friends in an axe throwing tournament at Whistle Punks in the city centre - it's a great way to let off some steam after a long day of lectures. Students can book in a session for just £15 with a house drink included. 

A group of people at the Whistle Punks Bristol axe throwing experience in central Bristol - credit Whistle Punks
Image: Whistle Punks

Social darts

Flight Club on Corn Street has a selection of games based around social darts, so it's a fun way to practice your dart flinging while also competing against your friends!

Jailhouse cocktails

Go on an immersive experience as an inmate in a jail cell at Alcotraz Bristol, where you can enjoy your smuggled-in liquor in bespoke cocktails!

A group of women wearing orange jumpsuits in a cell - credit Alcotraz
Image - Alcotraz Bristol

Chance & Counters

Get competitive over some delicious small plates and nibbles at this board game café on Christmas Steps. There are over 850 games to choose from, plus fortnightly social gaming events, which are great for meeting new people.

Food & Drink

Discover Bristol's speakeasy scene

Semi-hidden behind mysterious doorways, search out Bristol's speakeasies for a taste of the Prohibition era. You've got the Milk Thistle and sister bar Hyde & Co, plus The Wellhead tucked into a riverside location in Finzels Reach. 

Ornate cocktail bar in low light
Image - Milk Thistle

Eat your way around the world

Head to Za Za Bazaar, one of the UK's largest restaurants, for a broad selection of world dishes, from Indian specialities to sushi and stir fries. Head to the live cooking stations to have your own specific dishes made to order. A student discount is available throughout the week (except Saturdays), with lunch for £10.99 or dinner for £15.99 from Monday to Friday, or £14.50 all day on Sundays, for unlimited dishes during your allocated time.

Variety of world dishes from above - credit Za Za Bazaar
Image - Za Za Bazaar

Cocktails and dancing

The Old City is full of fabulous cocktail bars, from steampunk-inspired The Clockwork Rose to mini cocktail crawl of The Raven, Stock Exchange Cocktail Club, Revolution and The Library on St Nicholas Street. 

Venturing up the hill towards Clifton, take your pick from Secret Lantern on Unity Street, London Cocktail Club and Be At One on Clifton Triangle, Her Majesty’s Secret Service on Whiteladies Road, and Crying Wolf on Cotham Hill. 

The Wellhead Bar Bristol
Image: The Wellhead

Sample local beers at Bristol’s brewery tap rooms

Bristol has a first-class beer scene with a selection of brewery taprooms ready to keep your glass full. You can take a craft beer tour of the city or head to one of Bristol's many beer festivals throughout the year. You can also enjoy 10% off drinks at Wiper & True's brewery taproom in Old Market when you show your NUS card.

As well as the brilliant breweries, there are several pubs which also brew on site, including King Street Brew House, Brewhouse & Kitchen and Zero Degrees, where you can taste your way through their wares or book on to a beery experience.

People sitting inside the Wiper & True Taproom in Old Market, East Bristol - credit Wiper and True
Image: Wiper and True in St Werburghs

£7.50 lunch at Three Brothers Burgers

Based on a boat on Welsh Back, conveniently close to the Unite Student halls in this part of town, tuck into Three Brothers Burgers’ lunchtime deal of a classic burger or veggie option with fries for only £7.50.

A burger at Three Brothers Burgers in central Bristol - credit Three Brothers Burgers

Image: Three Brothers Burgers 

Award-winning pies from Pieminister

Bristol is where it all started for Pieminister, and today you can have a taste of their pies at three locations in the city – St Nicholas Market, Broad Quay and Stokes Croft.

Frozen cocktails at Brozen Bar

A unique bar on the Bristol scene, try your first ever cocktail made with liquid nitrogen at Brozen. 

Person using liquid nitrogen at Brozen Bar in Bristol
Image: Brozen Bar 

Gelato from Swoon

Keeping on the ice cold theme, gelato from Swoon is the perfect treat to enjoy on College Green or Wapping Wharf on a hot day. The brains behind their flavour lab keep the freezer stocked with flavours like mango sorbetti, salted caramel and guest flavours picked according to seasonality. They also offer a 10% discount to NUS card holders.

Gelato in cones at Swoon - credit Swoon

Image: Swoon 

Hangover-curing brunch

Feeling worse for wear during Freshers’ Week? Hit up Bristol's best brunch spots for a plateful of something to perk you up.

All the snacks at St Nick's Market

Plan in some return visits to St Nick’s Market, as once is never enough! A mix of permanent vendors in the Glass Arcade and street food traders in the weekly markets cover pretty much every cuisine you can think of. There’s also a brilliant mix of independent retailers selling everything from handcrafted jewellery to chocolate and records.  

Cargo at Wapping Wharf

Another spot where you’re spoilt for foodie choice is Cargo at Wapping Wharf. Pick between the independent restaurants that have taken over the repurposed shipping containers, such as Seven Lucky Gods, The Athenian and Bandook.

Beers on bar at Cargo Cantina in Wapping Wharf - credit Simon Withyman
Image: Wapping Wharf, credit Simon Withyman

The Weird Bristol Pub Crawl

For a change from the usual pub crawls along Gloucester Road or Park Street, follow this route outlined by Weird Bristol aficionado Charlie Revelle-Smith. Stop in at some of Bristol's most historic watering holes uncovering the fascinating tales tied to them, which range from playing a part in the abolitionist movement to being the local of infamous pirate Blackbeard. 

A view of the eastern end of King Street in central Bristol, with the historic Llandoger Trow pub on the left and the modern King Street Brew House on the right
Image: King Street in Central Bristol

Drink cider on The Apple

Enjoy some proper West Country refreshments aboard the cider boat or on their sunny quayside terrace. Sample their famous Old Bristolian – at 8.4% it’s available in half pints only!

Mrs Potts Chocolate House

Treat your sweet tooth to a chocolate-flavoured feast at Mrs Potts Chocolate House on Park Street, where hearty portions and the finest local ingredients are always on the menu.  

Have an Exhibition cider at The Cori Tap

The Coronation Tap is a Bristol institution best known for its Exhibition cider. It’s a must-try but go easy – at a potent 8.4%, it’s served in half pints only!   

Make the most of your student discount

Enjoy a whopping 25% off dishes at The Real Greek, or 20% off sushi and Japanese dishes at Yakinori. Pizza on the Park also offer a 20% discount to NUS card holders, while King Street Brew House give students 15% off food and drink any day of the week. Students can dine for £15 at buffet restaurant Cosmo, get 10% on all food and drink at Racks in Clifton, or enjoy drinks on the terrace with a student discount at Bambalan.

A pizza on a table with two glasses of wine at Pizza on the Park in central Bristol - credit Evoke Pictures
Image: Pizza on the Park, credit Evoke Pictures

Music & nightlife

Student nights

No matter what day of the week it is, you’ll easily find a student night running in Bristol, spanning from indie club nights to the cheesiest of pop. Our guide to Bristol’s student nightlife runs you through all the need-to-know clubs and bars and what’s on at each.

Live music

The Bristol calendar is chock-a-block with gigs and concerts. Choose from well-known acts at the O2 Academy, free live music and open mic nights at The Gallimaufry and everything in between. Keep an eye on our What's On pages and Headfirst Bristol for upcoming events you might like.  

A DJ on stage at 02 Academy Bristol with an audience in the foreground - credit 02 Academy Bristol

Image: 02 Academy Bristol 

Explore the LGBTQ+ scene

Bristol has two gay districts – Frogmore Street and Old Market – with plenty of pubs and bars, plus there are regular LGBTQ+ club nights across the city and the annual two-week long Bristol Pride celebrations.

Magic and music

Head to a comedy or magic show at Smoke and Mirrors and be greeted by their House Magicians, who will perform tricks at your table free of charge. Even if you don't have tickets to a show, it's worth popping in for a chance to see some magic or live music in the main bar.

Seek out some belly laughs 

Giggle your way between festivals, regular nights and one-off gigs all dedicated to comedy, catching both upcoming comedians and famous faces. Scour our comedy listings to pick out acts you want to watch. 

People enjoying various food tents at Bristol Comedy Garden - Credit Bristol Comedy Garden
Image: Bristol Comedy Garden

Festivals

Bristol International Balloon Fiesta

The mass ascents at the annual hot air balloon festival at Ashton Court Estate provide some of the most spectacular sights you can get in Bristol, as do the magical Night Glows when balloons light up the sky in time to music.

Bristol Harbour Festival

Every July this free festival takes over the city, celebrating Bristol’s maritime heritage and putting on an epic line-up of music, dance, circus, food and much more.

St Pauls Carnival

Watch the iconic carnival procession dance its way through town, wander between the music stages and sound systems, and fill up on authentic Caribbean food at this one-day celebration of African Caribbean culture in Bristol.

A performer in the parade during St Paul's Carnival in East Bristol

Image: St Pauls Carnival

Love Saves The Day

A line-up that showcases both underground artists and chart-toppers makes Love Saves The Day in Ashton Court one of the summer’s most popular festivals. Taking place over the bank holiday weekend in May, it’s a great way to celebrate the end of the uni year.

Film festivals

Bristol is a UNESCO City of Film and that’s reflected in the stellar line-up of film festivals, including Bristol Film Festival and Cinema Rediscovered. Check out our round up of the top ones for the full lowdown. If you're a film fan, student tickets are available at many of the city's cinemas including Watershed, which also has £5 anytime tickets for under 25s.

Audience watching a film at the Forbidden Worlds Film Festival in the Bristol Aquarium cinema on the Harbourside - credit Robert Browne
Image: Forbidden Worlds Film Festival, credit Robert Browne

Outdoors

Ride The Wave

This cutting-edge inland surfing lake caters to every surfer, whether you’re a complete novice or a professional.

A surfer riding a wave at The Wave inland surfing lake near Bristol - credit The Wave
Image: The Wave

Explore the city by bike

With bike-friendly roads and heaps of cycle paths, hopping on your bike is one of the best ways to get around Bristol. Even if you don’t have yours at uni, a choice of bike hire shops such as Bristol Tandem Hire or Pedal Progression can get you on two wheels. In fact, students can get 50% bike hire at Pedal Progression when booking for an hour, or one hour free for hire bookings of two hours or more. Use discount code ST22 when booking.

Watch a sports match

Join the local fans to cheer on Bristol Bears rugby team and Bristol City FC at Ashton Gate Stadium, or if cricket is more up your street then watch Gloucestershire Cricket play at their home ground just round the corner from the independent shops, pubs and restaurants of Gloucester Road.

Watersports on the harbour

Team up with course mates or housemates for a group paddleboard adventure led by SUP Bristol, or hire a canoe from Adventurous Activity Company.

Paddleboarders in front of Hotwells and Grain Barge, Harbourside - credit SUP Bristol
Image: SUP Bristol

Enter the Giant’s Cave

Don’t fancy climbing in the gorge? You can still stand on its edge, as the Giant’s Cave at Clifton Observatory leads you out on to a spectacular viewing platform. While you’re here, take yourself for a ride down the Clifton Rock Slide, a section of sloping rock face that’s been left smooth and polished by the behinds of generations of Bristolians.

Spend time in the city’s parks

Bristol is blessed with beautiful green spaces that people flock to on sunny days, including four parks in the city centre – Brandon Hill, Queen Square, Castle Park and Clifton Downs.

These are really just the tip of the iceberg though, with all manner of parks and gardens squeezed into different corners of the city. Discover new ones as well as different neighbourhoods and nearby countryside by following our walking routes around the city.

Shopping

Shop for vintage and second hand gems

There are a host of vintage and charity shops dotted around the city, but Gloucester Road and Park Street are your best bets for a second hand shopping spree. In Broadmead, sift through clothes dating from the 1960s to the 2000s at Beyond Retro, handpicked by their team of trend and vintage experts.

Clothes rails inside the independent Beyond Retro clothing shop in Bristol's Shopping Quarter - credit Beyond Retro
Image: Beyond Retro

Find high street favourites in Cabot Circus

Have a day of retail therapy shopping from brands like H&M, Monki, Zara, Harvey Nichols, The Body Shop and more under Cabot Circus’ huge roof. 

Christmas markets

Search for the perfect Christmas gifts and warm up with mulled wine at Bristol’s annual Christmas Market, which fills the streets of Bristol Shopping Quarter between throughout November and December. Bath is renowned for its magical Christmas market, so the festive season is also a great time to go day tripping there - it's only a 12 minute journey between the cities by train. 

Follow @VisitBristol on Facebook and Instagram to keep up with all things Bristol throughout the year.  

 

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