City sights: Your best bits of Bristol

We asked students their top spots to unwind, grab a bite, discover something new or meet friends around town. Here’s what they had to say:

Harbourside

Bristol harbourside

Joseph (MSci Mathematics) told us, ‘My favourite spots are on the harbourside, which not only has loads of cool bars and restaurants, but is also one of the prettiest areas of Bristol at night.’ From independent cinema at Watershed to art at Arnolfini, this area is a cultural hub as well as a central place to catch a drink with friends or watch the boats go by.

If you’re still getting to know Bristol, the (free!) M Shed museum aims to tell the story of Bristol through quirky artefacts, personal accounts and interactive exhibits. Nearby Cargo offers an array of lunch options – from tacos to tapas – served out of re-purposed shipping containers.

Bristol Museum

Where to duck to escape the bustle of Park Street at lunchtime? Tamara (BA English Literature) said, ‘I love the Bristol Museum and Art Gallery. The architecture is beautiful and it’s so peaceful.’ From gilded Renaissance masterworks to Banksys, local wildlife to Egyptian mummies, there is plenty to explore.

Royal Fort Gardens

Royal Fort Gardens in bloom

This lush green space is a firm student favourite for the way it brightens up the middle of campus. The gardens feature a (seasonal) wildflower meadow and pond as well as unexpected art installations like the mirror maze sculpture ‘Follow Me’ and ‘Hollow,’ a modernist wooden grotto constructed from samples of 10,000 trees. When the weather warms, this is where you want to bring a book to study al fresco.

Mrs Potts Chocolate House

Mrs Potts is a wonderful place to escape reality for a while and just relax or have a chat,’ says Yasmin (MEng Mechanical Engineering) about the Park Street cafe. ‘The cakes are delicious (with a lot of vegan options), the coffee and hot chocolate warm you up on a cold day, and the interior is extremely cosy…When it’s not too cold, you can go downstairs to a picturesque courtyard with fairy lights and candles.’

St Nicholas Market

St Nicholas Market on Corn Street in the Centre

Established in 1743, this spot is home to the city’s largest collection of independent retailers. It’s a favourite of Muirne (MBChB Medicine), who says, ‘What I love most about St Nick’s Market is the sheer variety. There are tons of different cuisines available as street food, and most of it has amazing vegan and vegetarian options. There’s a mix of shops, from niche jewellery designers, to antique record and book shops, to boho-style crystal and incense stalls. And because of this variety, you get a wonderful mix of people there too.’

Christmas Steps

Draped in white fairy lights and dotted with interesting indie businesses, this spot gets your vote for atmosphere. An ornate wrought-iron sign announces ‘To Christmas Steps’ from high above the chimneypots before winding down layers of city streets – past artisan popups, an art-house video rental with mini cinema, and a popular board game café.

Have we missed any of your best bits of Bristol?

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