Bristolian suburbs decoded: What to see and do in Bristol's neighbourhoods

One of the most exciting things about Bristol is the very fact that each area of the city is so distinct, personality-driven and colourful. Let's have a look at what you can see and do in some of its bustling neighbourhoods!

One of the most exciting things about Bristol (apart from how awesome and cool The Students’ Union and UWE Bristol are, naturally) is the very fact that each area of the city is so distinct, personality-driven and colourful.

Bristol’s a vibrant city, with so much to see and do even outside of the centre itself. From must-munch-away-at restaurants and quirky cafés, to iconic sights and award-worthy street art, there is plenty to get stuck into in each neighbourhood. So, let’s decode a few of Bristol’s charming suburbs:

Harbourside 

This undeniably iconic area of Bristol surrounding the harbour is both bustling and an idyllic calm from the buzz of the city centre –  at the same time. Take a boat trip around the harbour, with seagulls flying overhead and colourful pastel houses up in the hills – or get your socialising hat on and meet friends for dinner and drinks at one of the many delicious restaurants that line the water’s edge. Make sure to also visit on the weekend, as you’ll be able to mooch around the Harbourside market.

Bristol City Centre and the Old City 

The City Centre is obviously home to all the main Bristolian sights. You’ve got plenty to see and do, with Cabot Circus prime for shopping, many cool restaurants and bars - both independents and chains - and the Old City is perfect for a quainter, traditional Bristolian experience. You can find St. Nicholas Market; the one-stop shop for incredible street food and equally incredible vintage and antique finds. Other highlights include: the Christmas Steps, Bristol Shopping Quarter, Park Street, Welshback and Queen Square.

Clifton 

Always touted one of Bristol’s most expensive postcodes, it’s easy to see why Clifton is a little bit pricey. From pastel, colourful terraced houses, to grand townhouses, the Royal York Crescent and the Clifton Suspension Bridge, Clifton’s for those days when you’re feeling a little bit regal. Have a walk across the bridge and try not to feel queasy from the height, spot iconic sights on the Bristol skyline and grab a coffee in many of the quirky, independent cafés.

Gloucester Road 

North of the city centre, Gloucester Road is known for two things: its bohemian vibe, and its incredibly long street. Here you can find trendy bars, laidback pub culture and plenty of charity shops that you can shop sustainably in. It also just so happens to be the longest street of independent shops in Europe, so you can live like a true Bristolian – as we all love to support the independents here. 

Stokes Croft 

Nicknamed Bristol’s cultural quarter, there’s plenty to see and do in Stokes Croft. One of the best things about this suburb is it’s like walking through a suburban art gallery. At every twist and turn, the walls of buildings are covered in some incredible street art. Spot a Banksy, stroll past delicious restaurants and feel your ultimate cool.

St. Paul's 

Home to St. Paul's Carnival, the annual event, this area of the city is a cultural melting pot of vibrant communities. 

Bedminster and Southville 

Now we’re talking south of the river. It’s a very popular one with Bristolians and is a great location for City Campus students to live and visit. North Street is the place to be, with some of Bristol’s most famous restaurants and cafés, such as Oowee and Parson’s Bakery. It is also home to some colourful street art and the Tobacco Factory theatre, which also plays host to the Sunday street food market. There’s always something to do here.

Old Market, Temple Meads and Redcliffe 

Still in the beating heart of the city, this bustling area is where you’ll find Bristol’s biggest transport link, Temple Meads Station. Castle-like and a beauty in itself, there’s plenty more to do in this place, however. Old Market is another bohemian centre of Bristol and it has a rich past. Temple Quay is a beautiful harbourside area where you can find the ever-popular Harts Bakery for a mid-afternoon snack, and Redcliffe is across the bank from the Floating Harbour. Redcliffe caves and St. Mary Redcliffe Church can both be found here.

Montpelier 

Montpelier is where the cool kids are. We’re talking creative types, artistic communities and plenty of street art to be spotted. Montpelier Station houses not just trains and commuters, but incredible works of graffiti, so you can definitely feel inspired in this area of Bristol.

Cotham 

Home to plenty of millennials in its Victorian houses, Cotham has some beautiful architecture. Rumour has it there’s a certain resident who owns five daschunds and walks her sausage dogs daily, so if you’re lucky, you might spot an adorable sight on your walk to Cotham. Popular for its cosy pubs and their hearty meals, Cotham is a lazy Sunday hotspot.

Redland 

Leafy Redland is home to a lot of Bristol’s families. Nearby the famous Downs parkland, Chandos Road has been claimed by some to be one of the best streets in the city for food. With plenty of residential areas, this is a perfect place for a quiet weekend stroll and a major people-watching session – because, yes, people-watching can be a legitimate extracurricular activity. You heard it from your Students’ Union.

Totterdown 

The place to go if you want those classic pastel-coloured Bristolian houses in your life, Totterdown is super close to Temple Meads Station and is home to the steepest residential street in England. Bring your trainers for this one, because it’s like climbing a mountain. But once you get to the top, the view is so worth it. It’s also a super creative area, as you can find trees with pompoms stuck on them, drainpipes painted and fences with artwork. Just your classic Bristolian suburb for you.  

St Werburghs

Here you can find St Werburghs City Farm – an adorable day out if you want to get out of the hustle and bustle and meet some goats. You can also find redbrick housing, interestingly two climbing centres, and 13 acres of community allotments.

Filton 

A popular area for Frenchay students, Filton is student central. A largely residential area, it’s close to all the amenities of Gloucester Road, Bishopston and, of course, your Students’ Union. So, naturally, this makes it a cracking place.

Frenchay 

Frenchay is a stone’s throw from Frenchay Campus and has a little museum that tells of the village’s past. With parks, a moor managed by the National Trust and walks along the River Frome, this is the perfect place for an escape from a day in the Library working.

Bishopston 

The neighbourhood surrounding Gloucester Road, Bishopston thrives with independent eateries – especially with lots of sustainably-minded, vegan and vegetarian restaurants such as Suncraft. With many eco-conscious shops such as Scoopaway, a weigh-your-own-product venue, Bishopston is the place to go to up your sustainability credentials and do some good.

Want to find out more about your new city? Read our Welcome content for more Bristolian recommendations!