Planning a solo trip to Bristol, England? Here’s everything you need to know for your visit:
- The largest city in the South West United Kingdom, a population of about 700,000.
- Known for its thriving urban underground scene, with a strong focus on music and graffiti. It is known as the birthplace of the drum and bass movement.
- Serves as the largest centre of culture, employment and education in the region; its prosperity is mostly owed to a rich maritime industry.
- Nickname: Brizzle. Often pronounced Bristle or Brisul by the locals (Bristolians).
- Currency: British Pound (GBP) and the Bristol Pound (£B).
- Spoken languages: English.
- Best time to visit: from June to September. Bristol is one of the warmest and sunniest cities of the country, with summer highs in the 20+ Celsius (70 F).
- Arriving via airport (Bristol Airport): Bristol Airport Flyer bus service costs £13 for a return ticket (valid for up to one month). A taxi ride costs £25-30 (standard saloon car).
WHERE TO STAY
- Best Bristol hostel for solo travelers: The Full Moon Backpackers. Just 1.2km from Bristol Cathedral, this is a simple, well-located hostel with comfortable beds and clean bathrooms. Very friendly staff who go out of their way to help travelers. Great value!
- The Georgian neighborhood of Clifton is the most elegant stretch of the city, and features upmarket boutiques complemented by a dazzling choice of cafés.
- Stokes Croft hosts the urban scene and is where the party starts and ends, while Broadmead bisects the city centre and offers budget accommodation, shopping and entertainment.
- Train service covered by the Severn Beach Line stops in Bedminster, Parson Street and Filton Abbey Wood. It has been named one of the most scenic railway routes in Europe, with tickets purchased on a zonal fare system starting at £2 for a a single.
- First Bristol provides bus services running from Temple Meads Station to Clifton by the city centre. Your best is to buy a day ticket (£5.30), which includes return on the Park & Ride as well as unlimited travel on First buses.
- The distinctively blue Hackney Carriage taxis can be an expensive ride. To pre-book, call 0117 369 9885.
- Instead of bothering with taxis, do as the locals do – call an Uber using their app.
- Drinking age is 18, last call is never (to the glee of the local student body!)
- Gloucester Road and Cheltenham Road are busy till the early hours with the bohemian crowd. Quaint bars line the streets side by side with take away outlets.
- Hotwells is becoming increasingly popular with the young professional crowd by offering casual bars and trendy restaurants.
- Great bars/pubs to start your night: The Boardroom, The Hatchet Inn, Cat & Wheel, and Mickey Zoggs.
- Clubbing scene: Motion (great stage), Lakota (Afro beats). Regardless, check Resident Advisor first.
UNIQUE LANDMARKS TO VISIT
- The Brunel’s SS Great Britain is the award winning attraction designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel in 1843. It is the world’s first steam-powered ocean liner, and can be seen at the Great Western Dockyard.
- The Clifton Suspension Bridge is the city’s most iconic landmark, set on the cliffs of the Avon Gorge.
- Street art is elevated culture around the corridors of Nelson Street. The project is called See No Evil and and is the country’s largest permanent outdoor gallery.
- M Shed along the historic harbour tells the story of the city through working exhibits and a fine collection of objects and art.
- Ashton Court Estate is a historic park covering 850 acres of woods. It boasts two 18-hole golf courses and a miniature railway, while special mountain biking trails offer the chance to spot deer grazing around the estate.
- Queen Square is flanked by cobbled streets and is popular for open air performances, concerts and major events. It is conveniently located in the heart of the city and is often used by nearby workers on their lunch breaks.
- Just off the Broadmead shopping galleries, Castle Park is one of the green lungs of the city and offers a quiet stroll and a playground for children. The ruins of St. Peter’s Church can be seen here, and although they remain close to the public, they complete the picturesque scenery.
- Local street artist Banksy has made himself a world class reputation for his murals, with one reportedly fetching 1 Million GBP. His works can be found on walls across the city centre, from Park Street to Stokes Croft.
- Bristol is extremely multicultural, owing to a large ethnic population. Young at heart, Bristolians enjoy a warm, laid back lifestyle unparalleled in the rest of the country.
- Festivals and concerts abound throughout the year and offer excellent entertainment to suit any taste, from Bristol Balloon Fiesta to BrisFest and the Harbour Festival.
- Great budget restaurants: Tuk Tuck (Korean), Beijing Cooking Pot, and Eatchu (Japanese dumplings).
- Where to find good cheap eats: St. Nicholas Market on Corn Street offers a multitude of jewelry, handmade crafts and second hand books. Its main draw, however, are the gourmet food stalls. It is a favorite among the lunch crowd.
- Dangerous areas: The area of Easton is not considered safe for walking around at night due to gang related crimes. Similarly, drunken brawls erupt outside nightclubs over the week-end and are usually managed well by the police.
Recommended trip duration: 2-3 days