Bristol UK Travel Guide For Students (Updated 2024)

Nestled in the heart of the UK, the city of Bristol offers an enticing blend of rich history, dynamic culture, and progressive education. This vibrant city has long been a top choice for international students pursuing studies in some of the finest boarding schools, colleges, and universities. The charismatic metropolis is a crossroads where past, present, and future converge, creating a melting pot of experiences that serve as a wonderful backdrop to an enriching education.

bristol uk travel guide

From its historic harbourside to the modern shopping quarters, Bristol is alive with countless attractions. No trip to Bristol would be complete without visiting the iconic Clifton Suspension Bridge. The architectural masterpiece by Isambard Kingdom Brunel spans the Avon Gorge and offers breath-taking views. The nearby Clifton Village is filled with boutique shops, cosy cafes, and elegant townhouses, all set amidst Georgian charm that is sure to captivate you.

International students with a passion for history and culture would appreciate the SS Great Britain, another of Brunel’s incredible creations. This former passenger steamship now serves as a fascinating museum, offering a glimpse into the golden age of steam travel.

Another must-visit attraction is Bristol Cathedral, one of the UK’s finest examples of Gothic architecture. The cathedral’s vast nave and beautiful rose window are testament to the craftsmanship of the medieval period.

When it comes to culture, Bristol has it in spades. The city is renowned for its music and art scene. Home to the elusive street artist Banksy, you’ll find his work adorning various parts of the city. Take a Banksy Street Art tour and immerse yourself in these incredible works of art. The vibrant Stokes Croft area, with its edgy street art, independent shops, and quirky cafes, is also worth exploring.

A hub for theatre and music, Bristol boasts of venues such as Bristol Old Vic, one of the oldest continuously working theatres in the English-speaking world, and Colston Hall, which regularly hosts a wide range of music concerts. International students will find these outlets not only entertaining but also a great way to meet locals and other students.

Nature enthusiasts should not miss Bristol’s abundance of green spaces. The vast and verdant Ashton Court Estate, with its deer park and walking trails, is perfect for leisurely walks or even hot-air balloon rides. The Bristol Botanic Garden, with its array of exotic and native plants, is a haven for students seeking tranquillity amidst their rigorous academic pursuits.

Of course, an essential part of the student experience is the city’s gastronomic offerings. Bristol’s food scene is diverse, with cuisine from all over the world represented in its many restaurants, pubs, and cafes. From the popular street food market at St Nicholas Market to the fine dining establishments on the Harbourside, there’s something for every palate and budget.

In terms of education, Bristol houses world-renowned institutions like the University of Bristol and University of the West of England, Bristol, that draw students from across the globe. These universities, along with various prestigious boarding schools and colleges in the area, offer a wide range of courses and a diverse, multicultural environment. They are well-known for their supportive and inclusive communities, offering a multitude of services to make international students feel at home.

Furthermore, Bristol is a vibrant tech hub with a reputation for being a leader in sustainability and innovation. It was even named the UK’s first Cycling City, further emphasising its commitment to sustainable transport. For students pursuing courses in technology, engineering, or environmental studies, Bristol offers a stimulating environment where cutting-edge advancements are a part of daily life.

Top Things To Do In Bristol

1. Clifton Suspension Bridge and Clifton Village:

Clifton Suspension Bridge and Clifton Village: An iconic symbol of Bristol, the Clifton Suspension Bridge is a remarkable architectural marvel offering incredible views of the Avon Gorge. After a visit to the bridge, students can explore the neighbouring Clifton Village with its boutique shops, cosy cafes, and Georgian-era charm.

2. SS Great Britain:

This historic steamship turned museum allows students to take a fascinating journey into the past. Designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, the SS Great Britain provides a glimpse into the heyday of steam travel and offers immersive exhibitions and activities.

3. Banksy Street Art Tour

Bristol is the birthplace of the elusive artist Banksy, and his work can be spotted in numerous locations across the city. Students can take a guided tour to view these remarkable pieces of street art and learn about the messages behind them.

4. Stokes Croft

Known as Bristol’s cultural quarter, Stokes Croft is brimming with independent shops, eclectic cafes, and some of the city’s best street art. This vibrant and edgy neighbourhood is a fantastic place for students to explore, shop, and enjoy a bite to eat.

5. Bristol Museum & Art Gallery

Offering free admission, the Bristol Museum & Art Gallery houses a variety of exhibits, ranging from Egyptian mummies to contemporary art. It’s a great place for students to immerse themselves in culture and history, all under one roof.

Transportation In Bristol

Transportation in Bristol, UK, is diverse, efficient, and notably geared towards sustainability, making it ideal for students to navigate through the city.

Buses: Bristol boasts an extensive bus network operated primarily by First Bus Bristol. These buses cover most areas of the city and many surrounding regions, including late-night services, making it convenient for students to travel. The Bristol Bus and Coach Station, located in Marlborough Street, serves as the city’s primary hub for local, regional, and intercity bus services.

Trains: Bristol has two major railway stations – Bristol Temple Meads and Bristol Parkway. They provide regional services to neighbouring cities like Bath, Gloucester, and Cardiff, and direct trains to London, Birmingham, Manchester, and other major cities. Temple Meads is conveniently located near the city centre and universities, providing an easy transportation option for students.

Cycling: Bristol was the first city to be named the UK’s Cycling City, and it continues to support a strong cycling culture. With dedicated cycle lanes, bike rental schemes such as YoBike, and storage facilities, cycling is a healthy, eco-friendly, and cost-effective way for students to commute. For the more adventurous, the Bristol to Bath Railway Path provides a scenic 13-mile route between the two cities.

Walking: Given the compact nature of Bristol’s city centre, walking can often be the best way to get around. It’s also a great way to discover hidden gems and enjoy the city’s vibrant street art.

Ferries: An unconventional but delightful mode of transport in Bristol is the ferry. Bristol Ferry Boats and Number Seven Boat Trips offer services around the Harbourside and can be an enjoyable and scenic route to places like the SS Great Britain or the Bristol Aquarium.

Car and Car-Sharing: While owning a car in Bristol might not be necessary given the city’s robust public transport, there are several car clubs like Zipcar and Co-wheels that provide cars for hire by the hour. This could be handy for day trips or large shopping hauls.

Airport: For international students or those wishing to travel further afield, Bristol Airport is approximately eight miles south of the city centre. It offers flights to many destinations within the UK and Europe.

Bristol’s comprehensive public transportation network, its commitment to cycling, and walkability make it an easy city for students to traverse, whether they’re rushing to lectures or exploring the city’s many attractions.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What are the main modes of transport for students in Bristol?

Bristol has a comprehensive transportation system including buses, trains, bicycles, and ferries. Walking is also a common way to get around, especially in the city centre. For longer trips, Bristol has two major railway stations and an airport.

Q: What are some popular attractions for students in Bristol?

Some popular attractions in Bristol for students include the Clifton Suspension Bridge, SS Great Britain, Banksy Street Art Tour, Stokes Croft, and Bristol Museum & Art Gallery.

Q: Are there educational institutions for international students in Bristol?

Yes, Bristol is home to several prestigious educational institutions that cater to international students. These include the University of Bristol and University of the West of England, Bristol, along with various boarding schools and colleges.


In conclusion, Bristol, as a city, embodies a lifestyle that effortlessly balances academic rigour with an exciting social scene and a strong sense of community. Its rich history, cultural vibrancy, and emphasis on innovation make it a perfect choice for international students seeking a rewarding and comprehensive study abroad experience. Bristol isn’t just a place to study; it’s a place to live, learn, and love. Come and be a part of the Bristol story.

Apply For A Boarding School - Contact Us

Join our UK Study newsletter and get helpful articles on UK study, admission tips, courses and more delivered to your inbox.

Apply To A Boarding School

We provide free boarding school application assistance and advice. Speak to one of our consultants now!