Bristol is my hometown for the sake of this article. I have loved and worked in this city since October 2014, when I arrived back here after a stint living in India. Armed with just a backpack of belongings and very little money to my name, I chose Bristol as my base in England. The good will of family friends and kindness of my work colleagues helped me get back on my feet. I have since set down roots here…even if temporarily.
Despite my intensive job hunt at the time and as I’ve mentioned, next to no money, I still managed to see the city's essentials. Based on those experiences I have put together a rough guide for those making a fleeting visit to the city and who are on a budget. I believe all the places listed below can be seen on a 2 day trip and can be enjoyed with little or no money!
Bristol is a city in the South West of England accessed easily via air, train and coach links. It is most known for its street art and graffiti culture. So making it top of the list is well known…
There are numerous Banksy pieces (8 to be approximate) on display in and around the city. There is little need for a guide or much money (just enough for bus rides and coffee stops) provided you are willing to walk and potentially be lost at times. You can work out your route using a map but to make it easier here is a list of some of his work and where it is located in the city.
The Grim Reaper: (Now found at M Shed), Central Bristol:
The Girl with the Pierced Eardrum: Central Bristol
Well Hung Lover: (Basically the bottom of well-known Park Street), Central Bristol
Paint-Pot Angel: Bristol Museum And Art Gallery (Go Inside), Central Bristol
Mild, Mild West: Stokes Croft (The Canteen)
2. THE SS GREAT BRITAIN
Bristol's other claim to fame is the ingenuity of the engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel. SS Great Britain is his creation. It costs £14 to go aboard the grand SS Great Britain but money aside, it is worth viewing it's grandeur in the harbour. It is a former passenger ship that made it's maiden transatlantic voyage to New York in July 1845. It retains an old world charm and is a well maintained and celebrated piece of history. That should be reason enough to visit.
3. CLIFTON SUSPENSION BRIDGE
This is an engineering masterpiece. People flock to this bridge in the affluent area of Clifton to enjoy breataking views of the city and to enjoy sunsets and picnics on the Clifton Downs during the summer months. The neighbouring woodland of Leigh Woods is also another reason to head towards the Suspension Bridge. It is a green haven within the city that offers an opportunity to feel close to nature.
4. DISCOVER STOKES CROFT & GLOUCESTER ROAD
Known for it's quirk and artistic charm, this area has in recent years becomes Bristol's creative hub. It has a very laid back, down-to-earth vibe with various fusion pubs and food establishments catering to the unusual and wonderful punters of the area. Gloucester Road in addition continues much beyond Stokes Croft and hosts an array of independent shops, bakeries and food stalls as well as some of the most popular restaurants in the city. Worth a visit, if merely for a bit of people watching and a coffee stop.
5. THE HARBOURSIDE
The Harbourside is often teeming with activity and in the summer it really bubbles with life. There is a lovely little market most Sundays and an independent cinema called the Watershed. Particularly in the summer, it is one of the most popular locations for late night drinking and dining.
6. BRANDON HILL
If you were a teenager about 8 years ago, you'd remember watching the teen series Skins that was famously filmed in and around Bristol. Brandon Hill featured as one of the locations in multiple episodes and became a landmark of sorts among the youth at the time. Located just off Park Street it is a park that offers more amazing views of the city and a little respite from the hustle and bustle that lies just streets away.
7. ST. NICKS MARKET
This gem can be found on Corn Street easily walk-able from the center. It is a covered market that often spills out onto the streets on market days (more so in the summer). It has a complete plethora of multi cultural food stalls, vintage clothing, bohemian artifacts, jewellery, homemade wares, book stalls…all the goodies you expect of a market. Worth a look for anyone visiting Bristol!
Stuck for where to eat, catch some Zs, grab a hot beverage or dance the night away?
Then here is my Bristol hit-list.
Of course, these are just some personal recommendations and in no shape or form represents the official quality, ranking or popularity of a place. I hope you enjoy them as much as I have!
GRUB: Brown's (Clifton Triangle), The Glass Boat (Welsh Back), The Stable (Harbourside), Pieminster (Stokes Croft), Atomic Burger (Gloucester Road), The Canteen (Stokes Croft)
REFUELLING: The Cosy Club (Corn Street), The Bristolian Cafe/Bistro (Stokes Croft- Picton St) , Under The Stars (Harbourside), Boston Tea Party (Park Street, White Ladies Road and various locations)
WHEN NIGHT FALLS: The Big Chill (Small Street), Mr. Wolfs (St. Nicholas Street) , The Attic & Full Moon Bar (Stokes Croft), Start The Bus (Baldwin Street), The Apple (Welsh Back), The Social Club (Stokes Croft), Brew Dog (Welsh Back), The Canteen (Stokes Croft)
A ROOF OVER YOUR HEAD: Full Moon Backpackers (Stokes Croft), Rock N Bowl (Nelson Street), YHA Bristol (Narrow Quay)