City Guide

Things to Do in Bristol

Ben Maples  · Nov 30th 2021
Severn bridge at dusk, with lights alongside the bridge with the river underneath.

Bristol is one of the most popular cities in the UK for students to study in and is home to two of the best universities in the UK.

Things to do in Bristol


Located in the southwest of England, Bristol has an estimated population of 693,552 according to the most recent figures. It’s at the very forefront of creative arts, electronics and aerospace industries.

Things to Do in Bristol

Bristol boasts a nightlife that is almost second to none, the nightclubs and pubs around the city remain some of the most sought-after in the UK, which is why Bristol-based universities rank as some of the best universities for nightlife.

For a night out in Bristol, PRYZM is renowned for its cool vibes, inviting atmosphere and for its Saturday tradition of Mambos, you’ll have to go there to find out more! There is also another bar to check out by the name of The Pitcher and Piano, which is located deep in the city. The Pitcher and Piano has a great atmosphere, a good place to eat and drink and also operates a click and collect service in case you fancy a night in.

Located on the Mud Dock is the boat/bar Thekla, which is a mixture of a bar, restaurant and grill. Initially starting life as a cargo vessel, the ship became an essential part of the city’s emerging drum n bass scene and is now one of the hottest venues in the city.

There are a handful of museums around Bristol including the Bristol Museum & Art Gallery, The Georgian House Museum, The Red Lodge Museum, Blaise Castle House Museum and the rather strange but oddly compelling MShed.

Bristol has a huge selection of cinemas, including; Showcase Cinema De Lux, Cineworld’s and finally Scott Cinemas – The Orpheus Cinema.

Bristol has hosts some festivals that are held every year including Bristol Beer Week, the Downs Festival and Bristol Biennial. These festivals are incredibly popular and feature a number of different musical styles and also give you a chance to learn a little more about Bristol.


There are two main railway lines in the city, Bristol Temple Meads and Bristol Parkway. Both stations go to other cities all the time, there is also MetroWest, which is a scheme that increases the rail capacity in the city and is likely to be finished by 2023.

The city is easily accessible through a series of motorways and A-Roads and the city’s main Portway road was the most expensive road ever opened in the United Kingdom when it was opened in 1926. The city has also been working on a new Clean Air Zone to help reduce pollution in the city centre.

There are a number of buses and coaches that operate in the city as well, such as First West, Abus, Wessex Bus, Stagecoach West and Stagecoach South West. There is also a bus rapid transit system (BRT) called MetroBus, which was started by the city in 2018. There are also three Park and Ride bus services in the city as well.

The city has a number of ferry systems and boat trip companies for people that wish to travel further afield. The city’s ferry system also allows you to transport cars and other vehicles if needed.

There is only one airport in the city, which is Bristol Airport, which flies commercially, domestically and internationally.

Things to do with kids in Bristol

Universities in the City

There are two universities in the city, the University of Bristol and the University of the West of England.

The University of Bristol is one of the oldest universities in the UK after it was established in 1595 as the Merchant Venturers Navigation School, though it didn’t actually receive university status until 1909.

The Student Union at the university is the University of Bristol Student’s Union (Bristol SU) and was one of the founding members of the National Union of Students (NUS) and is one of the oldest student unions in England.

The university offers a number of media outlets such as UBTV (University of Bristol TV), BURST (the Bristol University Radio Station) and Epigram, the student newspaper.

The University of the West of England, was initially part of the Merchant Venturers Navigation School, with the University of Bristol and the University of Bath, however, when the college eventually dissolved, it became a Polytechnic, before gaining university status in 1992.

The student body is represented by the Students Union at UWE and is responsible for the various sports clubs and societies at the university. In 2018, the university was awarded the Gold Award in the Teaching Excellence Framework (or TEF Awards).

History and Culture

The city is one of the country’s oldest cities. The city was previously a Roman stronghold and had a connecting Roman Road to Bath.

The city was officially founded as its own city in the year 1000 and was a roaring trade centre by 1020. Diarmait Mac Murchada, the Irish king of Leinster also went into exile in the city after being overthrown as well.

In 1914, the city launched the Bristol International Exhibition, which had to be put on hold as it was used as a barracks for the Gloucestershire Regiment during World War I. The city was very heavily damaged by the Luftwaffe during World War II with nearly 100,000 buildings attacked, 3,000 irreparably so.

Things to do with family in Bristol


In terms of football, the city is the home to one of the most famous rivalries in football, between Bristol City and Bristol Rovers. With Bristol City playing in the Championship and Bristol Rovers in League One. The two teams have been known to play against each other fairly often, given both team’s fluctuating league positions. Bristol Rovers is the older of the two teams, as they were formed in 1883.

The city’s main rugby club is Bristol Bears, a Rugby Union team that plays in the English Premiership. The team was previously in the second division, and were known as Bristol Rugby, however, they changed the name back to the Bristol Bears, after they were promoted and they have won the second division four times!

The city's first-class cricket club is the Gloucestershire County Cricket Club and they play regularly at the Bristol County Ground, which is the only major sports venue in the South West.

Bristol is also home to the Bristol Flyers, a basketball team that competes in the British Basketball League.

Who’s from Bristol?

Famous people to have come from Bristol include; JK Rowling, Lee Evans, Damien Hirst, Russell Howard, Banksy and Massive Attack.

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