The last couple posts I’ve written (about everything no one tells you after graduation, and about my 2019 failures) have gotten a wee bit deep, so I thought I’d keep things light and breezy today by chatting some of my favourite places in Bristol. If you’ve just moved here like me and are still exploring this beautiful and crazy city, this might be a decent post for you. Or, if you’re thinking of coming here on a lil trip away, or are trying to work out why the heck I’m so obsessed with the place, this post could work for you too, maybs. So let’s do some lazy Sunday writing (for you to have a lazily Sunday read) and we can chat about my favourite city in the world (tied with Paris, it still has my heart). I’m gon’ take you on a lil city tour – a wander throughout Bristol, if you will:
We’ll begin at Cabot Circus. Coming from built-up Birmingham after three years at university, I didn’t think a shopping centre could really beat the Bullring. And I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I honestly do prefer Bristol’s Cabot Circus.
It’s slightly cosier and smaller than the good ol’ Bullring, but sometimes that’s all you need from a shopping centre. You can feel overwhelmed with the noise, busy shops and choice in Birmingham, but with Cabot, you know where you stand. Aka: you know you’re going to be spoilt for choice in a selection of fab high street stores that other cities might not have, such as Pull & Bear, Bershka, Monki and & Other Stories.
I’m trying my best to only buy new clothing when is absolutely needed, and look to charity shops and vintage stores as alternatives, but sometimes even a wander around Cabot for inspiration on how to rewear the clothes you already have does just the trick. Plus, the shopping centre is a babe for other activities: you’ve got a ton of restaurants and a big ass Showcase Cinema de Lux, which is faaancy. And the little light decorations as you enter the shopping centre epitomise the coolness and kitschness (not a word, I know) of Bristol.
St. Nicholas Market:
This covered market is a BEAUTIFUL maze. A maze of independent retailers, second-hand bookshops and record stores, and unique finds you didn’t even know you needed but still very much want. Plus, you’ve got street food vendors to rival Camden Market. The quaint streets around this part of the city literally melt my heart, and I just want to get lost in here every lazy Sunday.
St. Nick’s also holds night markets once in a while. I went to the Christmas one in December, and although it was heaving with people, it was a cracking night. Around the area, there are also lots of cute little eateries and pubs, so you’re set for a full day out if you venture here.
I believe I am thinking of Welsh Back when I’m thinkin’ of the various adorable restaurants and pubs that line the river near the city’s Castle Park. In Welsh Back, you can find (to name just a few) Brewdog, Three Brothers Burgers (which, can I just say, are insane) and the famous Old Vic theatre is nearby. Plus, there are a ton of independent pubs that line the way to the water and have seating outside all year round, encouraging a community feel between the different venues. I can’t explain why, but a wander along the water’s edge on a sunny afternoon, wandering without a purpose at all, really calms me. I honestly can’t believe I can call this city home, now – it makes me so happy.
St. George’s Square:
This is a cute lil square nearby Welsh Back and the Old Vic, with a grassy park area and a square of posh terraced houses surrounding the grass. It may not sound like much, but again, it’s one of my favourite areas of the city. A couple minutes’ walk from the harbour, it’s nice for an afternoon stroll – and a spy on all the many doggos people walk around the area. I can’t explain why – the place just makes me happy.
I mean, this one goes without saying. Bristol Harbour is bustling. On a Saturday night: with restaurant-goers excitedly rambling to the many restaurants that line the water’s edge, or people ready for a night out in the many cocktail bars nearby. On a lazy Sunday: with the homemade market that lines the water, showcasing everything from second-hand classic books, to vinyls, clothing and independent jewellers and bakers. During the week in spring and summer: with boat trips taking people around the harbour and as far as Bath. And in the summer (this is my favourite time of year in Bristol): with masses of people sitting with their feet dangling over the water, ciders in hand. It’s such an iconic feature of Bristol, and I sure as heck love it.
Again, bit of a random one as there’s not all that much to do in College Green. But, I genuinely think it may be my favourite part of Bristol because of the architecture. The City Hall stands proudly with its water features and fountains, the Cathedral is like a Bristolian Notre Dame (and this is where I want to get married – if I was at all heavily involved in the church or an aristocrat which I am obviously not so that dream can clearly go and die lol) – and the Royal Marriott Hotel and City Library’s buildings are beautiful. Call me weird (I totally am) but I just love to sit on a bench here when the weather’s nice and watch the world pass by.
Aside from the fact that this street is a BITCH to walk up (it’s. Just. So. Hilly!!) Park Street is great. It looks adorable in winter with the Christmas lights, there are famed coffee shops, restaurants and vintage shops here, and at the top of Park Street, you’ll find Bristol’s Museum & Art Gallery, plus a University of Bristol building that is just so majestic. A visit here is fun (unless you don’t like hills, like me, then you just may as well get the bus up the top and make your way down the street instead of up lol).
Ahhh, delightful Clifton. A suburb of the city centre, this is where I’m lucky enough to call my home. Sadly, I’m not loaded enough to live in Clifton Village itself, but the entirety of Clifton is just beautiful. Ornate, gothic houses, colourful buildings and owners who’s dogs are called the likes of ‘Jaegar’ and ‘Monty’, Clifton is poooosh.
Clifton Village feels like a villagey haven from the city. There are quaint, independent, arty shops, fancy restaurants like The Ivy Clifton Brasserie, the most expensive houses in Bristol in the Royal Crescent, and it’s also home to the insane Clifton Suspension Bridge! This bridge is just a wonder to look at – and there are some beaut pubs with magical views of the bridge you can have a tipple in (if you don’t like heights). But standing on the bridge and looking out across the entirety of Bristol and what feels like the rest of Somerset, is a must-do.
Clifton Downs! A massive expanse of parkland in Clifton that’s A) great for dog-watching and B) reminds you of somewhere like Greenwich Park or Hyde Park in London. Cars shoot by through roads built through the park, but everything feels serene. There’s also apparently what doggo owners call ‘dog highway’: an area of the park where all the doggos just seem to love to go and congregate. Grab a bench here, and all the adorable doggos in the world will flock to you and it’ll literally be a dream. I’ve never been to this park in summer yet, but as we live close by, I’m buzzing for cider season so I can picnic my way through the summer here.
Places I’m yet to explore, but know I’ll love:
I’ve been to both Stokes Croft and Gloucester Road whilst Sam was at university in Bristol, but we haven’t really explored them properly. They’re both supposed to be really fun, edgy areas of the city – and I can’t wait to explore them soon. Other suburbs, such as Bedminster (where the famous Greta Thunberg street art is) and Montpelier look super fun, and I’m gon’ head there the next day I can. Outside of Bristol, the city is super easy to reach other beautiful places. It’s fifteen minutes on the train from Bath (which I love visiting), 30 minutes from Weston-super-Mare if you fancy a beach day, and both Portishead and Clevedon, seaside towns, are next on my hitlist.
Bristol’s just beautiful – and if you get the chance to visit soon, I seriously recommend it. I’m, frankly, obsessed.