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Bristol

Overview

This page has been created by Bristol Couch Surfers with info which might be useful for those looking for alternatives to the mainstream and those on a budget.

For the local beWelcom group, please visit http://www.bewelcome.org/groups/844. For general information about the City please see the Wikipedia page http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bristol

Tourist Information

  • Noteworthy Bristol Events
  • A lot of good tourist information about Bristol can be found at http://wikitravel.org/en/Bristol
  • http://visitbristol.co.uk/ is a Bristol City Council website with lots of information about the city
  • Venue magazine, published weekly, is our local what's on listings guide http://www.venue.co.uk/
  • The "DON'T PANIC" Bristol Blog also has useful reviews and listings http://dontpanicbristol.blogspot.com/
  • There is a Tourist information office near the centre of town on Anchor Rd, Bristol, BS1, Tel: 0117 926 0767
  • Got an iPhone / iPad? Get the free "Bristol Unique Guide" app here http://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/bristol-unique-guide/id398455034?mt=8

Health / Emergencies

http://www.bristol.nhs.uk/your-services/emergencies.aspx ACCIDENT & EMERGENCY MEDICAL CENTERS If you need emergency care you should go to the emergency department or call 999 for an ambulance.

MINOR INJURIES UNIT If you need non-emergency care you should go to the minor injuroes unit.

NHS Direct NHS Direct's website provides self-help advice or you can call 0845 4647 to speak to health advisors

Walk-in Centres Walk-in centres provide non-emergency health services and advice to visitors and residents. Emergency contraception is available.

The Bristol Royal Infirmary (B.R.I.) is located near the centre of the city and has a 24 hour accident and emergency department: https://maps.google.com/maps?oe=utf-8&client=iceweasel-a&ie=UTF8&q=Bristol+Royal+Infirmary&fb=1&hq=Bristol+Royal+Infirmary&cid=0,0,9767808964913179474&hnear=&ll=51.458192,-2.596335&spn=0.009533,0.01929&t=m&z=16&vpsrc=6

New Bridewell police station New Bridewell police station is in the city centre and is open from 9.30am to 5pm Monday to Friday. Newfoundland Road police station is slightly outside of the city centre but is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. For non-emergencies you can call 0845 4567000.

Emergency services: To call out the emergency services (fire, police or ambulance) call 999 or 112.

Couchsurfing in Bristol

Please do not make couch requests directly within the group page.

Couches should be found via the CouchSearch tool. In this way your effort (as a personal letter) will be more appreciated. For more information have a look at: http://wiki.couchsurfing.com/en/How_to_write_a_CouchRequest

CouchSurfing does reccommend personal messages whenever possible as you tend to get better responses AND stay with people who have interests similar to your own, but we all understand that life happens and sometimes this just isn't possible.

How to get there

Train

Trains are notoriously expensive in the UK, especially if getting a ticket at the last minute. If you're planning to travel by train book as soon as possible to get a cheaper deal - there are 3 types of ticket - Standard, Saver and Advanced. Saver tickets are not valid during some peak times. Advanced tickets must be bought at the latest by 6 pm the day before travel, and the cheapest ones tend to go quickly. Two singles can sometimes be cheaper than a return.

http://www.thetrainline.com/buytickets/ (Note - there is a booking fee on this one), http://www.crosscountrytrains.co.uk/ or http://www.gner.railsaver.co.uk/ are good websites

  • National Rail Homepage: http://www.nationalrail.co.uk (text link �National Rail �

Train times and fares�)

  • Bristol Station page: http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/stations_destinations/BRI.aspx

(text link �Bristol Train Station Details�)

  • Live Arrival/Departure Info: http://ojp.nationalrail.co.uk/service/ldbboard/dep/BRI

(text link �National Rail � Live Departures and Arrivals, Bristol Station�)

From Temple Meads station, buses 8 & 9 go from the train station to the town centre (broadmead for shopping, park street for the museum, then further on up into clifton and the zoo) - bus 8 goes round via Clifton first on the loop, whereas bus 9 goes up by the University and on into Redland.

Within Bristol there are many small, local stations, often a good alternative to buses. For example, Temple Meads to Clifton - just be aware that the local trains tend to run quite infrequently.

Coach

Megabus http://www.megabus.com/uk/ is usually the cheapest coach operator in the Country. Pick up/drop off is on Colston Street near the centre.

National Express coaches, which operates the biggest network of routes, use Bristol bus station. If you book ahead, they can be about the same price as Megabus, and some people think their buses are more comfortable.

From London use Victoria coach station for National Express. Megabus go from the Green Line depot just across the road from there.

Local company Bakers Dolphin does a daily London Flyer (various stops in Bristol and London). You get an assistant on board who can make you a sandwich. If you're lucky it will be Elma.

Car

The M32 comes right into the centre of Bristol. It links to the M4 for London and South Wales and the M5 for the South West and the North. If coming from the M5, it can be quicker (and is much more scenic) to drive in on the A4 (the Portway) which runs through Avon Gorge and under the Clifton Suspension Bridge.

Plane

Bristol Airport is outside of the city to the south-west. A taxi will cost approx �20. There's a shuttle bus to the centre - numbers A1 and A2. To or from Temple Meads station or the Bus station, a single is currently �6, or a return is �10.

Left luggage

Sorry, there is no commercial luggage storage at present.

Internet access

Guest access is available at the central library. Many bars, cafes and pubs have free wifi - there will usually be a sign to advise this.

A 15 min free access to the internet (on computers, of which there are only one or two) is provided at the Watershed cinema's cafe, if you ever need to check something in emergency (like your host's adress ;)), you might just need to get a coffee or an orange juice though...

Free Wi-Fi: If you have your smartphone or laptop there are plenty of places to get free wi-fi in the City. This map lists a few http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UTF8&msa=0&msid=213381533924368548666.00045778c07239ec460fe&ll=51.451413,-2.594533&spn=0.021716,0.066047&t=h&z=15

Local transport

Buses

First has the franchise for Bristol buses. They're not particularly cheap. Often a day rider ticket (�4) will work out cheaper than buying 2 singles or a return. Other companies run some of the buses out to surrounding towns such as Bath, Wells or Weston. Many of these go from Marlborough Street bus station, or the streets around the Broadmead shopping centre.

Cycling

Bristol recently won a ton of money in a competition to become the UK's first cycling showcase city but little has been spent yet. Getting around Bristol by bike is not always easy for the novice cyclist. It's hilly for starters, especially north of the river. Cycle lanes on roads tend to start and then end abruptly just as you start to feel comfortable. Cycling on the pavement is frowned upon but necessary in some places where the roads are busy and fast.

There are some Paris style rent-a-bikes on the centre and next to the Create centre (also near the centre). More are planned. You can also rent bikes from the Zero-G bike shop on the bottom of Park Street (�16 per day), from the big boat next to the ferry stop on the centre and from the bike shop at the top of Blackboy Hill.

The best thing about cycling in Bristol is the Bristol to Bath railway path, built by Sustrans (based in Bristol). It's a 13mile (ish) flat (ish) ride through beautiful countryside to the centre of Bath. There are a couple of pubs along the way. The Bristol end isn't that easy to find, being in an industrial area in the Old Market area of town, behind Temple Meads.

A critical mass takes over the centre of Bristol on the last Friday of the month http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=2246736445

As with any major city, bike theft is a problem so a good quality lock is recommended when leaving bikes in the city centre. Make sure to lock your wheels and frame to something.

Maps and Guides, mostly free http://resources.lifecycleuk.org.uk/index.php?cPath=34_24&osCsid=7eb58c4deaf9f41ae9be7f8ee0183496

Recycled and refurbished bikes can be purchased for �40-�100 http://www.lifecycleuk.org.uk/buy-a-bike

Places to stay

Hostels

The YHA, situated by the waterside in the centre of Bristol, is a quiet and peaceful place for families and short-term visitors http://www.yha.org.uk/find-accommodation/south-west-england/hostels/Bristol/. It's in one of the converted old warehouses right on the docks.

The Full Moon Backpackers, in Stokes Croft, is the place to stay if you want to see the 'arty' part of Bristol, nice venues and atmosphere just down the road http://www.fullmoonbristol.co.uk/. It has a pub attached, and a sometimes-nifty, sometimes-irritating fingerprint-based security system...

Bristol Backpackers, right in the centre of the city, easy to go anywhere from that place, from short to long stay, affordable prices, can get a bit noisy on weekends [http://www.bristolbackpackers.co.uk/[

The Lanes http://www.rocknbowlmotel.com/ - this is above a bowling alley and bar, so can be noisy. Is right in the centre of town, next to the Broadmead shopping area. Apparently often has special prices on some of the hostel reservation sites like Hostelworld and Hostelbookers which can make it the cheapest option in town.

Camping

Hotels / Bed & Breakfast (B&B) / Guesthouses

Food & drink

Of course, if the weather's reasonable, you can always visit one of the supermarkets, get some picnic stuff and sit out in green spaces like Queen Square or Castle Park (in the centre), Victoria Square (in Clifton) or up at the Downs.

Cafes

Cafe Kino on Nine Tree Hill in the Stokes Croft area is a workers co-operative cafe selling great veggie and vegan food. Open all day till late. Tiny upstairs, there's more seating downstairs.

Boston Tea Party on Park Street is a local institution. Great food, cool building, nice garden out back and a few much-coveted spots on sofas in the upstairs area. There's another branch in Clifton Village, but the original's the best.

Primrose Cafe in Clifton Village is a real gem too although not cheap. A table outside is perfect for people watching. Great breakfasts.

St Stephens cafe, is a lovely little island of peace in the middle of the centre, enjoy very tasty vegetarian food, delicious soups for cold heavy winters or tasty 'tea and cake' in the garden for refreshing summers, what else do we need ? Not hard to find just ask for St Stephens church !

Pieminister - Locally famous Pie & Mash http://www.pieminister.co.uk/

Delis / Take-aways

For the best take-away alternative to the sandwich, get a healthy wrap filled with fine, freshly cooked ingredients at Magic Roll http://www.magicroll.co.uk on the Triangle in Clifton.

Indian Deli Bristol Sweetmart has a great selection. Try a Chaat box for lunch http://www.sweetmart.co.uk/

For late night munchies, try avoiding the saturated fat emporiums at the bottom of Park Street and pop the other side of the fountains to Falafel King.

Restaurants

Cafe Matreiya on St Marks Rd in Easton was voted best veggie restaurant in the UK two years running. Beautifully presented seasonal local food and lovely staff. Not cheap approx �20 for two courses but well worth it for a special treat http://www.cafemaitreya.co.uk/index.htm

Thai - Pat loudly and frequently recommends the Old Fish Market pub on Baldwin St, which has a menu done by a family of Thai chefs.

Indian - in the centre, the Raj (downstairs on King Street) is a classic British Indian place. Elsewhere around town, there are 4 (so far) branches of Thali Cafe, rapidly becoming a local institution - http://www.thethalicafe.co.uk/. Cheap, yummy, authentically Indian and very good for veggies. For those down south of the river, Ganesha on Bedminster Parade does very good South Indian food (mmm, dosas...).

Pub Grub - whilst you can always get something cheap at the Wetherspoons, another cheap option is the King William on King Street.

Nightlife

The largest music venues in town are Colston Hall (classic concert hall, often mostly seated - tends to be a little more expensive, gorgeous new foyer building) and the O2 Academy (club/venue underneath the Ice Rink - it's hot, often sweaty and smelly, not cheap for drinks, but where a lot of the more popular bands go).

Theatres

The Bristol Old Vic is a theatre company based at the Theatre Royal, King Street, just off the centre. The theatre complex includes the 1766 Theatre Royal, which claimed to be the oldest continually-operating theatre in England (sadly, given that the Old Vic closed for restoration a few years back, this is no longer the case), along with a 1970s studio theatre the New Vic.

The Hippodrome, on the Centre, is the largest theatre space in Bristol, and plays host to any of the travelling Musical productions that come through (recent examples have been Dirty Dancing, Buddy, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Hairspray and Spamalot), along with the traditional Christmas Panto.

The Tobacco Factory in Southville is based in an old tobacco factory. It's no longer a factory which processes tobacco. It's a theatre. There is no smoking inside. There is a bar downstairs.

The Alma Tavern Theatre is a tiny 50 seat venue above the Alma Tavern pub in Clifton. Just off Whiteladies Rd.

Cinemas

Apart from the usual soulless multiplexes, Bristol has some great cinemas.

Most remarkable is the Cube Microplex http://microplex.cubecinema.com/cubewebsite/. The Cube is hidden away not far from the bus station. It is a not-for-profit co-operative venue run entirely by volunteers and without any external funding. It shows art house, amateur and underground films in a beautiful, shabby, 1960s theatre space. It makes it's own cola. You can take a beer into the film. Refugees get in free. Tuesday films are just �2 otherwise �4/�3 concession. Bands also play there as well as other events like cabaret. It's a unique experience. The first time you go you pay �1 for lifetime membership.

The Watershed, http://www.watershed.co.uk/, down on the dockside is a big plush, three screen art house cinema which has a great bar also serving good food. Various festivals throughout the year including the Encounters short film festival in November.

Also on the docks, the Arnolfini art gallery, http://www.arnolfini.org.uk, has a cinema which tends to show more classic films often as double bills. Nice for a wet Sunday afternoon.

Further out of town near to the Downs in Henleaze is the Orpheus http://www.scottcinemas.co.uk/index.php?localpage=bristol which is part of a small chain of local cinemas and has a relaxed old-fashioned (80's) charm. They show a mix of mainstream and not too risky art house. Cheap and worth a trip out of the centre.

Lucky's Cinema: 22 Nelson Street Bristol BS1 2LE. (It's above the lanes) Lucky's Cinema is Bristols First Classic Cinema, Screening the best of Classic and independant film as well as hosting Stand-up comedy and live music. For more info find us on Facebook or call: 0117 3251979

A bus ride/ short car journey away, the Curzon cinema http://www.curzon.org.uk/index.html in Clevedon is one of the oldest working cinemas in the world (started 1912). It's a community cinema operating as a charity and is well worth the trip.

For mainstream cinema there are at least three huge multiplexes on the outskirts of Bristol which all smell of popcorn and despair. There's a Cinema de Lux in Cabot Circus end of Broadmead (main shopping centre) which is pricey and plush. There's also an Odeon in Broadmead which is small and quite sweet. It's supposed to be haunted.

Bars

If you're wanting a late night drink or two, and maybe a dance, but in a smaller setting, then central options include Mr Wolf's (just off Baldwin St), Start The Bus (Corn St) and The Big Chill (just round the corner from St Nicholas' Market). There are many more on Park Street, such as Yia Mass, Antix or Agora, and the area up around the Triangle includes such questionable delights as La Roca, MBargo and the Lizard Lounge. Over towards Gloucester Road, the Canteen is increasingly popular.

The Big Chill Bar http://www.bigchill.net/bristol

Start the Bus http://startthebus.tv/

Bocabar http://www.bocabar.co.uk/

Clubs

For those looking for the big nightclub experience, the Oceana off Millenium Square is probably the largest in town, although the Syndicate (near Broadmead) is also big and commercial. For those with slightly more specific tastes, the Stokes Croft area is home to famous Bristol venues such as Lakota or Blue Mountain.

Live music & comedy

Lucky's Cinema: 22 Nelson Street Bristol BS1 2LE. (It's above the lanes) Lucky's Cinema is Bristols First Classic Cinema, Screening the best of Classic and independant film as well as hosting regular Stand-up comedy and live music. For more info find us on Facebook or call: 0117 3251979

The Cube Microplex puts on regular local, national and international bands, see cinemas below for details.

The Bear in Hotwells is great for jazz. As is The Old Duke on King Street off the centre.

Pubs

Yes, there are a lot of these, and which ones suit you will depend what you're looking for.

Cheap options are the Wetherspoons chain, the King William (Sam Smith 's pub on King St) and the Crown (metal/rock pub in St Nicholas' Market - http://www.yelp.co.uk/biz/the-crown-bristol).

Live music of various types can be found at the Old Duke (jazz/folk/country/whatever the hell they feel like - http://www.theoldduke.co.uk/), Louisiana (rock), Bristol Ram (popular covers on Fri/Sat eve), Mr Wolf's, Start The Bus (both can be quite varied), sometimes The Big Chill (though this is more usually a place for DJs), the Attic, the Canteen and numerous places up Gloucester Road.

Good places for real ales include the Grain Barge in Hotwells (converted boat affiliated to Bristol Beer Factory), Horts on Broad Street, the Three Tuns (in Hotwells, down the road from the Library and Cathedral), the Cornubia (extra points for finding this one), the Seven Stars, the Bank, the White Lion (Wickwar beers right on the Centre) and many more.

Real or farmhouse cider can be found in places such as the Apple (converted boat, on Welsh Back at the end of King Street), the Orchard (about a block away from the SS Great Britain on Spike Island), the Coronation Tap (legendary little hole-in-the-wall up in Clifton, near the Bridge) or the Bristol Cider Factory (near Portland Square).

Other recommendations:

The Hatchet Inn. The oldest pub in Bristol dating back to 1606. Popular with fans of Alternative music and students, the pub is full of history and nostalgia. Regular clubs nights are held and the crowd is always fun and lively http://www.yelp.co.uk/biz/the-hatchet-inn-bristol

The Duke of York. http://www.yelp.co.uk/biz/duke-of-york-bristol

The Bell, 16 Hillgrove Street BS2 8JT, near Stokes croft, nice place to experience the english 'way of life', nice old pub with great music, nice 'Bristol' people, from 20ish to 40ish and a cosy atmosphere, quite crowded on weekends.

The Chelsea Inn, on Chelsea Road in Easton BS5 6AU, a place to see locals, enjoy cheap beers and experience Bristol, wednesdays and thursdays are said to be the best days to come around.

Attractions

The Clifton Suspension Bridge http://www.cliftonbridge.org.uk/

The S.S. Great Britain http://www.ssgreatbritain.org/

The New Room Chapel http://www.newroombristol.org.uk/

Music & Culture

Bristol Ticket Shop - Get tickets for and keep up to date with what's on http://www.bristolticketshop.co.uk/

Bristol is a City of Music - check out Hijack to find out about the latest happenings http://www.bristolculture.org/board/index.php

Lots of fringe and underground events get mentioned on the Secret Bristol Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=278274631499

The Tunnels - located next to Temple Meads train station http://www.thetunnelsbristol.co.uk/

The Invisible Circus - unique, interactive and distinctly odd http://invisiblecircus.co.uk/invisible_circus/TheInvisibleCircus/Home.html

The Fleece - Live music and club venue http://www.thefleece.co.uk/

Motion - Often overlooked venue and ramp park pulls in some big names in DnB, Breakbeat & Turntablism http://motionbristol.com/

Markets

St Nicholas Market is named as one of the ten best markets in the UK, it is the living embodiment of what a market should be. And is home to the largest collection of independent retailers in Bristol http://www.stnicholasmarketbristol.co.uk/

A comprehensive list of other markets can be found here http://www.bristol.gov.uk/ccm/navigation/business/markets/;jsessionid=FD9C422987A77292E81DDC1C7CE8BCC9.tcwwwaplaws3

Walks / Tours

Pirate Walks http://www.piratewalks.co.uk/

Haunted & Hidden Bristol Tour http://www.hauntedandhiddenbristol.co.uk/

Museums / Galleries

Arnolfini, situated by Bristol's waterfront, this is one of Europe's leading centres for the contemporary arts, presenting innovative, experimental work in the visual arts, performance, dance, film, music and events. Entrance to the building and the galleries is completely free. http://www.arnolfini.org.uk/

Centre Space Gallery, right in the centre by Corn street, 6 Leonard Lane BS1 1EA http://centrespacegallery.com/

Here Gallery, 108 Stokes Croft BS1 3RU http://www.thingsfromhere.co.uk/

Spike Island gallery is on (surprisingly enough) Spike Island, near the SS Great Britain http://www.spikeisland.org.uk/

People's Republic of Stokes Croft - local art and crafts for viewing and purchase by Dutch Auction http://prsc.org.uk/

View Art http://www.viewartgallery.co.uk/

Royal West of England Academy (RWA) http://www.rwa.org.uk/

The Bristol Gallery http://www.thebristolgallery.com/

Graffiti & Street Art

Bristol is the home of Graffiti and Street Art in the UK. Here are some useful links for visitors wishing to view our urban canvas.

Map of sites with Photos http://www.bristol-street-art.co.uk/map-of-bristol-street-art

Bristol Graffiti & Street Art Facebook Group http://www.facebook.com/BristolGSA

Upfest - a now annual Urban Paint Festival taking place in June http://www.upfest.co.uk/

Weapon of Choice Gallery http://www.weaponofchoicegallery.co.uk/

Antidote Bristol http://www.antidotebristol.com/home

Annual Events

JANUARY

FEBRUARY

MARCH

APRIL

MAY

IgFest - the Interesting Games Festival, end of May Bank Holiday http://igfest.org/

Vegfest - Vegetarian & Vegan Festival, in May http://bristol.vegfest.co.uk/

JUNE

Easton Arts trail, around the last two weeks of june http://www.eastonartstrail.co.uk/

Upfest - Urban Paint Festival in June http://www.upfest.co.uk/

JULY

St Pauls Carnival - Annual Carribean street festival takes place at the start of July every year. Lot's of people, music and food. http://www.stpaulscarnival.co.uk/

Harbour Festival - big free music festival all around the Harbour, late July/early Aug http://www.bristolharbourfestival.co.uk/

Pride Bristol - LGBT Festival which is getting bigger every year http://www.pridebristol.org/

AUGUST

Jazz Festival - 3 days in King Street hosted by the Old Duke Pub (Free) http://www.theoldduke.co.uk/index.htm

Bristol Balloon Fiesta, middle of August http://www.bristolballoonfiesta.co.uk/

St Marks Road street party, sometime in August, BS5

SEPTEMBER

Bristol Festival, in September http://www.thebristolfestival.org/

Bristol Redfest - Festival of the Arts in September http://www.facebook.com/redfestbristol#!redfestbristol?sk=info

OCTOBER

Bristol Zombie Walk - Your chance to join the undead for a day of fun at Halloween http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=2736466328

NOVEMBER

Encounters International Film Festival, in November http://www.encounters-festival.org.uk/

DECEMBER

Montpelier Winter Fair http://www.transitionmontpelier.org.uk/blog/

Nearby destinations

Cardiff

Bath

Clevedon (beach)

Cheddar

Westonbirt Arboretum

The Mendips

Exmoor

Glastonbury

Related

Bristol