Bristol holds a treasure trove of hidden gems. At every twist and turn in the city, you come across tucked away, independent eateries, captivating street art, dazzling attractions and glorious architecture. Whilst the most popular attractions are worth a visit, what makes Bristol utterly special is its hidden gems. So, here’s how to live like a local and get these on your bucket list:
Smoke & Mirrors
Situated just a stone’s throw from the historic Hippodrome theatre, Smoke & Mirrors is an equally historic establishment, with a magical quality. Not just a pub, offering great drinks and a great vibe, it’s home to a secret 46-seat theatre. You access this theatre through a secret curtain at the back of the venue. As we said, pure magic. Opening up again soon on 3 September, this is one to look out for.
Whilst clubs are unfortunately a no-go for now, it doesn’t mean we can’t get excited about the reopening of this hidden gem. Literally found underneath Temple Meads station, Loco Klub was built within the asphalts of the original station from years gone by. Famed for an eclectic range of events from circus to drum and bass, it offers a night like none other.
This hidden Clifton boozer can be accessed via Clifton Down station’s car park – so it’s quite the cosy pub. With a heated outside beer garden, the comfiest of sofas and fairy lights, this is a popular one with in-the-know students.
Exchange's basement stage
Letting just 60 people downstairs through its doors to the basement stage, once live performances are up and running again, Exchange’s basement is the place to be. Hosting up-and-coming-but-very-cool music acts, audiences get to see the greats before they’re revealed to the world.
Across the River Avon, this place is a true hidden gem, because the easiest way to it is via ferry. Cross the river, and you’ll find the most adorable tearooms and pub, only open in summer months for you to get that sunshine in your life. Opening up again in Spring 2021, get ready for a Bristolian day trip.
Not just a pub, Horts hosts a cinema, usually every Monday in pre-Covid times, with screenings at 18:00 and 20:00. Excitingly, you might even visit the boozer without realising a cinema was on offer, as the intimate space can be accessed through a door to the rear.
The Cheese Comedy Club
The Cheese can be found underneath The Crown, and is known for putting on sold out events to locals who really know their stuff. Up-and-coming and touring comedians get their funny on – and you can keep an eye out for their reopening soon.
Bristol might not have Paul, John, George and Ringo, but we do have Zed Alley. Bristol’s Cavern-Club-like venue is hoping to start hosting intimate gigs soon, and is headed by local band, Hooper. So, we can thank Hooper for bringing the best of Liverpool to us Bristolians.
Not just a place for swimming, The Lido in Clifton is a hidden gem for coffee and a bite to eat, or even a fancy meal in the evening. Make like a local and take a dip, then indulge in a coffee and cake.
Yes, this is a literal island! You can find Spike Island just past the harbour in the city centre. On the island itself, there’s the Spike Island art gallery, featuring regular exhibitions, talks and screenings. City Campus students, it’s your place to be.
Only open at specific points throughout the year, the Caves offer a range of awesome events. We’re talking atmospheric cinema screenings of classic films such as Jurassic Park, tours of the iconic caves and more. Whilst we wait for the caves to reopen safely, we’re planning what we’ll get up to on our next visit.
Tour the hidden vaults at the Clifton Suspension Bridge
If you’re one for admiring the beautiful bridge from afar, but would rather not think about the crazy heights the bridge towers over the gorge, this one might not be for you. But for those who are thrill seekers, you can indeed tour the hidden vaults at the Clifton Suspension Bridge. At this time, tours are not possible, but digital visitors can explore the history of the bridge via the website.
The Old Bookshop
In student favourite, Bedminster, The Old Bookshop serves up food, with a side dish of music. Crowned ‘best bar’ at the Bristol Life Awards, there’s an outdoor covered garden featuring a wood burner, tasty food and, usually, some great live music.
The Old Duke
This New Orleans-inspired jazz bar has been a Bristolian favourite for years and years. Still managed to hold the status of hidden gem, this is where in-the-know locals enjoy their drinks and live music. The pub is now open, and live music is looking to hopefully follow suit soon.
Tucked inside St. Nicholas Market, Wanted Records will leave you wanted by everyone you know, because once you step foot inside, you’ll be lost for hours. It’s a cornucopia of records from all genres and time periods, and there’ll be plenty you’ll be wanting to take back home with you!
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