Bristol is a city bursting with great restaurants, fascinating history, diverse activities, and lots of art. I enjoyed the energetic and arty vibe the city had. Bristol is a college town with a youthful feeling. Bristol is full of great ways to save money – from the museums and cathedrals to the cheap transportation and landmarks. There are a lot of great parks to lay out around, good museums and historic homes, and a waterfront filled with nice art galleries and restaurants. Bristol also makes for a good base of operations for visiting Bath. The town is one of my favorite in England.
Hostel prices – Hostels will cost you $20-25 USD a night for a dorm bed, about $30 USD for a private room. Most hostels are located in the heart of the city, so this is a good option.
Budget hotel prices – The average price for a hotel is $80 USD a night for a double during the summer, a bit less during the off season.
Average cost of food – You can eat a nice meal out in Bristol for $10 USD. Many of the cafes and restaurants offer inexpensive cuisine. But if you eat at the waterfront or at a nice restaurant, expect to spend around $30 USD. If you choose to cook, groceries will cost you between $50-80 USD per week.
Transportation costs – Buses cost $2.50 USD for a single ride ticket, or $1.70 USD within the center zone. Trains are comparably priced. The city center is easily walkable but to get to some of the outer parts of the city, you’ll need to take a bus.
Money Saving Tips
Play in the park – Often times it seems like Bristol is one giant park. There are many great places to relax, play Frisbee, talk to friends, and have a picnic. It’s a low cost way to spend an afternoon, hang out, and people watch.
Visit the museums – Learn about Bristol’s fascinating history by going to the museums, which are all free.
Eat with the students – Since Bristol is a college town, you can find lots of cheap sandwich shops and restaurants. If you flock to where the students go, you’ll save money on your meals.
Top Things to See and Do
Clifton Suspension Bridge – This is Bristol’s most famous landmark. Suspended high above a river, this is not an attraction for those afraid of heights. The bridge gives you sweeping views of the river and surrounding parks and buildings.
Pirate Walks – This is a short guided tour that takes you to some of Bristol’s oldest neighborhoods as well as the historic harbor. You’ll learn about Bristol’s 16-18th century history, especially that involving the slave travel. It costs $16 USD, but is worth it as a good history lesson on the city.
The S.S. Great Britain – Located in the harbor, this was the world’s first steam-powered passenger liner. A ticket is $23 USD, and while it’s not a must see, it’s something interesting to do.
Visit King Street – King Street is a fascinating, historical part of Bristol. It used to be where the old sailing barges docked after their journeys from South Wales. Now the area is the heart of the theatrical district.
Bristol Museum and Art Gallery – A museum worth taking a look at for its diverse collections of everything from archaeology to sea dinosaurs. It’s the area’s largest museum and it’s free.
Visit the Bristol Cathedral – This is one of the truly must-sees in Bristol. It’s a beautiful cathedral that was built during the Norman Era and originally the abbey of St. Augustine. Its open daily and free.
Visit Bath – The site of the ancient Roman baths are a quick train ride away. It’s a common day trip from Bristol. You can find more about visiting Bath by clicking here. But if you are in the city, I highly recommend a day trip to Bath. It’s an interesting and cool place.
Bristol Zoo and Gardens – At over 12 acres of beautifully landscaped land, this zoo and garden blends animal life into the surrounding scenery. There are over 450 species of exotic and endangered animals to see—and you can even walk across a rope-bridge with monkeys. The penguin exhibit is pretty neat, as well.
Wookey Hole Caves – While there is also adventure golf, penny arcades, and toy shops here, the historical museum and museum are the main attraction here. You can take a boat ride through the murky cave waters and learn about spelunking. Supposedly, a witch used to live here.
Watershed Media Center – This is a highly prized event venue and picturehouse, for Bristol. There is a neat blend of old and new digital media to check out here and an interesting program of independent films. On Sundays, there is a spaghetti dinner.
St Nicholas Market – Just off the old Corn Exchange, this is an awesome, bustling market with more shops than you could go through in an afternoon. There seems to be an endless number of farmers’ stalls, with amazing local produce, second-hand bookshops, and vintage clothing stores. This is a great place to pick up a gift for yourself or someone back home.
The Outer Edge – If you are looking for some adventure activities, this is a great place, with a huge variety of offerings. There is rock climbing, abseiling, kayaking, canoeing, hill walking, gorge walking, archery, rock pool jumping, wild camping, and mountain biking. There is something for everyone.