What to do in Bristol

  1. Before arriving in Bristol
  2. How to get to Bristol - Getting to Bristol by train, plane, car or bus
  3. Public transport in and around Bristol - Getting around Bristol and the UK
  4. The cost of living in Bristol
  5. Save money in Bristol - Tips for living on a student budget in Bristol
  6. Accommodation for students in Bristol - Top tips and advice
  7. Bristol neighborhoods - The most important districts of Bristol
  8. Nightlife in Bristol - Nightclub guide and going out in Bristol
  9. British cuisine - The gastronomy of Britain and traditional dishes
  10. What to do in Bristol
  11. Festivals in Bristol - Festivals and events in Bristol and the South West
  12. Day trips from Bristol - Places to visit and excursions around Bristol
  13. Bristol in 3 days - What to see and do in 3 days

As well as bursting at the seams with food, pubs, bars and nightclubs, Bristol is full of science, museums and cultural visits too. In this next section, we will take a look at those must-visit places, museums and historical sites, because there are lots to keep you busy...don’t worry, we will take a look at some awesome shopping and art places too!

Must see Bristol - Top 5 Must see

We The Curious

Previously known as ‘At-Bristol’, We The Curious is an awesome place to visit. Full of science, experiments and exhibitions you are encouraged you to get involved, to touch what is on display, to explore what they have on offer as well as your mind, to be curious and to ask questions, to discover. With your Student ID card you can access this incredible place for just £12.95.

Brunel’s SS Great Britain

Designed in 1843 by engineer, Isambard Kingdom Brunel, the SS Great Britain Steamship holds a lot of history from her previous days. After completing the crossing between Bristol and New York, she became too expensive to run and after various other duties, she was rightfully returned to Bristol and now serves as a refurbished, multi-sensory, interactive experience. Be sure to pay her a visit, you won’t regret it.

Clifton Suspension Bridge

You can’t leave Bristol without seeing the Clifton Suspension Bridge. Spanning the Avon gorge, this seventy-six metres high bridge makes for a great visit (and a great photo). This was designed by the genius engineer, Isambard Kingdom Brunel, who also designed the SS Great Britain, who unfortunately died before it was completed. You can walk or cycle across the mighty bridge for free and between April and October you can participate in a free tour at 3pm on the weekends.

M Shed

If you are someone who is interested in finding out more about the history of Bristol then this is the museum for you and it is free entry! The museum has been divided into different sections; you can explore the past of the people in Bristol, the places and the life of Bristolians, from as far back as slavery to more modern topics such as current music artists that blossomed in Bristol. Did you know that the famous Wallace and Gromit Aardman Animations studios is located in Bristol and you can see some of the figurines at the M Shed? There really is something for all ages and interests. Get on down!

Bristol Zoo Gardens

For all those animal lovers out there, you will love Bristol Zoo. Be sure to grab your tickets online before hand so you can receive the online discount. Here you can visit the gorillas, the lions, seals, penguins and flamingoes as well as the creepy crawlies and slimy reptiles, followed by stepping inside the butterfly enclosure. This makes a great day out. You will need to catch a bus there from the city centre as it is located in Clifton. You can catch bus number 8, which runs between Bristol Temple Meads station, goes via the city centre and heads for the Zoo. Take a look to the following link for more information on how to get there. You can even pay to be a Zookeeper for the day!

Museums, art and Galleries in Bristol

We have already mentioned two museums in Bristol that you must visit, The M Shed museum and We the Curious, but there are a few others that are worth a visit during your time in Bristol too…

Bristol Museum and Art Gallery

Enjoy free entry to this one! With three floors you can take a look at artefacts and archaeology from ancient times on the ground floor, explore the natural world on the first floor (including dinosaurs and geology) and on the second floor, you can feed your creative side with European art, pottery and ceramics.

The Georgian House Museum

After you have discovered some of Bristol’s history at the M Shed Museum, head over to this one to discover how the home of a Bristolian slave owner may have looked like in the 18th century. Also free entry! What a winner…

The Red Lodge Museum

Another free one! Here you can uncover 400 years of history and visit three of the oldest rooms in Bristol! With oak carved walls and four poster beds dressed in bright green velour, this is definitely something beautiful and worth your visit.

Blaise Castle House Museum

Located on a large estate here you can uncover even more history... this really shows you what life was like for people of the past. Displaying the items of clothing that they wore and the toys that children played with, this is another FREE adventure to feed your mind with knowledge about your new Erasmus home.

Banksy Walking tour

Banksy, an artist who grew up in Bristol and has continuously added to the wonderful street art throughout the city, is now internationally recognised. Many of his works have been removed but there are still some that remain in Bristol, and if you are a fan of his you can take yourself on a self-guided tour of his works that are located around the city.

Churches and Cathedrals in Bristol

Bristol Cathedral

The cathedral of Bristol is located on the College Green and is open to the public 365 days of the year! You will see many people enjoying their lunch on the Green with the beautiful surroundings of this interesting piece of architecture.

St. James Priory

Located in the heart of Bristol, this beautiful building claims the label as the oldest building in Bristol and it is still in use today! You can visit this church to learn more about the history and view it from the inside Monday to Friday 10am - 5pm.

Cathedral Church of Saints Peter & Paul, Clifton

The Clifton Cathedral is a Grade II listed building and is located in, you guessed it, Clifton. Take a visit here to learn more about the history and take a step inside to see it for yourself.

St. John on the Wall Baptist church

Located on Broad Street, this church was built into the city walls in order to offer a place for those travelling to pray before they embarked on a journey. Being the only one out of five of the churches that were built into the city walls to survive to this day, it holds a lot of history. It is usually open between 11 am and 2pm, so be sure to visit within these times.

Christ Church with St Ewen, All Saints & St George

Located in the Old City of Bristol, it currently stands as the only church in the old centre that is used on a regular basis for services.

St Mary Redcliffe Church

Over 800 years old and located in Redcliffe, this is a beautiful Gothic style church that welcomes everybody to come and have a look around. Entry is free but they ask that you provide an optional donation that will go towards the upkeep of the church. This church is open during the week and on Saturdays, 8.30am - 5pm. Please take note that on Sundays there are services at 8:00am, 9:30am, 11:15am and 6:30pm and you will not be able to view the church during these times.

Castle Park and St Peter’s Church

Located right next to the city centre, take a step from the modern city centre to the historic park. The remains of St Peter’s Church stand here and were damaged as a result of World War II. Unfortunately, the ruins are not open to the public but it is a pleasant park to stroll through nonetheless and see the ruins from the outside. Day events and festivals are often held here too.

Historical Places of interest in Bristol

We have already taken a look at some places where you can uncover some of Bristol's most interesting history, many of which fall under the previous heading, ‘Churches and Cathedrals’, but there are a few more places that are worth a visit! Let’s see…

Cabot tower

Cabot tower is situated in the oldest park in Bristol, Brandon Hill, and offers fantastic views over the city of Bristol. You can climb the tower for free and it is open daily to do so. Don’t miss out on this wonderful opportunity to see over your Erasmus home!

Ashton Court

This historic park is located just outside of Bristol, it is a large estate and the home to lots of deer! Be sure to head down there to explore some exquisite countryside to escape the chaos of the city.

Clifton observatory

You will have previously read about Clifton Suspension Bridge in the ‘Top 5 must see’ section and what better way to view it than from the eighteenth century windmill that was originally planted there as a corn windmill, and is located above the gorge. There is a small fee to enter the Camera Obscura; for prices and opening times and to read more about the history, take a look at the website. There is public transport that can take you here but to save you some money it only takes about half an hour to walk there from the centre of town.

Shopping in Bristol

No doubt you will want to do some shopping during your time in Bristol and it is a great place to splash some of your hard-earned Erasmus funds! Bristol has large shopping centres as well as rows of independent, vintage shops so you will be sure to find your new favourite item of clothing here!

Cabots Circus

Cabots is located in the centre of Bristol, right next to the bus station. It is a multi-story shopping heaven! With your favourite high street brands such as TopShop and Urban Outfitters on the bottom floor, to the best chain restaurants on the second, and even a mini-golf course and a deluxe cinema up top! You might need a few hours here!


Made up both a shopping centre and a large street of shops, there are over three hundred stores to explore here, located right next to Cabots Circus and in the nucleus of Bristol, you will find everything you need in this area - as well as an enormous Primark!

Cribbs Causeway

Cribbs Causeway is not actually located in the centre of Bristol, you will need to take a bus here as it is located just off the M5 motorway. It is filled with hundreds of high street stores such as M&S, Argos and Apple. You can catch a bus here from the city centre and it takes around 50 minutes - hour. For more information on travel and the stores available there, take a look at their website.

Gloucester Road

Take a walk up Gloucester Road on a Saturday afternoon and you will come across a big handful of independent stores, vintage shops and charity shops full of interesting, original and reasonably priced clothing. Be warned though, there are not many cash points on this road and some places will only take cash, so be sure to take some with you.

Take a look at The Bristol Shopping Quarters website for all the information you will need to have the best shopping experience whilst in Bristol.

Cinema, theatre, circus and concert halls in Bristol

If you are interested in dancing, singing and musicals or the latest release on films, then Bristol has all you need!

The Bristol Hippodrome

The Hippodrome theatre is located in the centre of Bristol, close to the Harbourside. The Hippodrome first opened in 1912 and since then has served as the host of hundreds of award-winning theatrical and musical performances such a Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Mary Poppins and Billy Elliot. You can buy tickets for as little as £12.00 but it might be worth your while paying a little extra so you can secure some good seats! It is a truly beautiful theatre and if you are not interested in seeing a performance, you can still partake in a tour of the theatre at a student price of £14.40.


There are numerous cinemas in Bristol, however, here we will look at a few cinemas you should definitely visit during your stay.

  • The Showcase cinema de lux: located on the top floor of Cabots Circus, this 13 screen cinema is both comfortable and affordable. You can get a student ticket for just £8.30 with a valid student ID card, so head here after you have shopped until you have dropped (right in front of the newest release on the big screen).
  • Everyman cinema: located all over the UK, Everyman is your ultimate cinema experience. Although it is a little more expensive (£11.60 with a student ID card) and slightly outside the city centre, you can enjoy sitting on a sofa and ordering wine, beer or food to your seat. The idyllic place to go on a date…
  • Watershed Independant cinema: support this independent cinema and digital creative centre by visiting and being a part of their diverse and unique agenda of arts.
  • Bristol institution 20th Century Flicks: one of the only video stores remaining in the UK, you can watch any film of your choice available in the store in the smallest cinema in Bristol.
  • Circus

    Bristol is a hub for budding circus and theatre performers. Keep your eyes peeled for low-key, independent performances and shows to see what talent Bristol has to offer. If you are feeling daring you could even go to an aerial class at the Island with Rada, who is a fantastic teacher (yup we’ve hung out, upside down!) or head down to Circomedia for some classes and to see where full-time circus students train.

    • Bristol Beacon: previously known as "Colston Hall", is the home to concerts, dance performances, choirs, operas and workshops. Take a look at what is on and don’t miss a chance to visit this perfectly built, sound engineered concert hall.
    • The O2 Academy: visit here to see some of your favourite bands or music artists. There are a number of different performances throughout each month, so do make sure you take a look to see if there is anything you fancy!

    Other - a few hidden gems in Bristol

    Hell in a Cell

    If you are up for a challenge and enjoy the thrill of horror, this might be for you. With Hell in a Cell you can visit some of the old, underground cells of Bristol Crown Courts and partake in an interactive, horror experience. Play out your own, personal horror movie scene if you are brave enough! It costs £30 per person and you will be on-site for an hour and half and do not fear, you can opt-out at any point if it becomes too much!

    Cheese and Gin tasting

    Yup! That’s right, and I know it sounds strange but who doesn’t love cheese and Gin? Head down to Cox and Baloney Tea rooms and try out their Cheese and Gin tasters menu for just £16.00.

    Hidden underground caves

    Like many UK cities, Bristol has some underground caves that you can visit. You can partake in a guided tour with Alan who is really clued up on information regarding the caves - a great bubble of knowledge and very interesting!

    The Treasure Island Trail

    The infamous pirate, Blackbeard, was actually a Bristolian, believe it or not. There is an app that takes you around the Historic Harbourside in Bristol and you have to follow the instructions on the app to reach different points throughout the city which relate to ‘Treasure Island’. Something a little different to do, especially if you are a Treasure Island fan!

    Hopefully you won’t get bored with this big list of things to do in Bristol... and I am sure you will discover more during your stay that you can share with other students on our Erasmusu website!

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