Considered to be one of the most fun, vibrant and relaxed cities in England, there are lots of reasons why it’s so easy to fall in love with Bristol. Read on for all the best things about Bristol and why I love living here.
Residents and travellers alike repeatedly claim to have fallen in love with this incredible city, and in my view, why shouldn’t they be inclined to feel that way? I have lived here for 5 wonderful years, and have even decided to buy my first home here.
So, in aid of helping to put Bristol on the map more and more, here are 20 of the best things about Bristol and why it’s so easy to fall in love with this fantastic city. You may even be surprised by some! Such as, did you know that Ribena was invented here?!
Jump to your destination:
- 1. Street art is celebrated, not shunned
- 2. Bristol has a super trendy city vibe
- 3. Fancy a free festival? No problem!
- 4. Bristol was voted the European Green Capital in 2015
- 5. Bristol is a very colourful city
- 6. From John Cabot to Brunel, history is at its best in Bristol
- 7. Love the city? Love the country? Have both in Bristol!
- 8. Bristol is perfect for shopaholics
- 9. The technology and aerospace industries are booming
- 10. International travel is easy
- 11. Beaches and the waterfront are never too far away
- 12. Bristol was England’s first cycling city
- 13. The Clifton Suspension Bridge… enough said!
- 14. Fun is Bristol’s middle name!
- 15. The food is fresh and fabulous
- 16. Bristol was voted the best place to live in the UK for 2017
- 17. Independence is celebrated in Bristol
- 18. Declared European City of Sport in 2017
- 19. Bristol is the true home of Wallace and Gromit
- 20. Ribena was invented here… say what?!
1. Street art is celebrated, not shunned
Bristol is one of very few cities around the world that truly celebrates street art, rather than shun, ban or prevent it. Now, I’m not talking about the graffiti ‘tagging’ that some choose to do. I am talking about the beautiful, evocative and thought-provoking art that just so happen to grace the sides of buildings, walls and fences. Just taking a walk along Gloucester Road will show you fantastic street art pieces (including some by world-famous guerilla artist, Banksy). Additionally, Europe’s largest urban paint festival, UpFest is held every year, which truly celebrates everything great about street art. How many cities can say they do that?
2. Bristol has a super trendy city vibe
Any visitor to Bristol will likely remark on the vibe that is felt across every inch of the city. From the trendy hipsters you see roaming the streets, to the sheer volume of free events held regularly, the trendy city vibe reveals itself every step of the way. There are also loads of romantic things to do in Bristol too meaning it’s also got a romantic vibe, right?
3. Fancy a free festival? No problem!
If you’re a foodie, music lover or even sightseer, there are a number of free festivals held every year that you will love. Some of my favourites include the International Balloon Fiesta (held every August), Harbourside Festival (that runs every July) and UpFest (also held every July). There’s never a dull day in Bristol, especially throughout the summer months.
4. Bristol was voted the European Green Capital in 2015
The European Green Capital award is a prestigious and highly coveted award from The European Commission. Previous winners include Stockholm and Copenhagen, but as the first city in the UK to win this award in 2015, Bristolians were so proud of the accomplishment. So many residents and businesses in Bristol pride themselves on being eco-friendly. There were a number of reasons why Bristol was voted European Green Capital in 2015, including the fact that Bristol uses less energy per household than any other major UK city and has a booming cycling population. But that’s not all. When declaring the winner, the judges said: “The award of European Green Capital 2015 goes to the city with the sense of fun.” Even the judges fell in love with Bristol!
5. Bristol is a very colourful city
You only have to take a walk along the harbourside, or near the Clifton Downs and Totterdown to see why I would describe Bristol as “colourful”. In these areas, the houses glow down on the surrounding neighbourhoods like some kind of domestic rainbow. Oh, and (as already mentioned), other areas are plastered in bright, visual artwork!
6. From John Cabot to Brunel, history is at its best in Bristol
Legendary inventor Brunel has helped put design engineering on the map when it comes to Bristol. From designing the impressive SS Great Britain, which was able to carry Victorian passengers all the way to Australia, to the beautiful Clifton Suspension Bridge, there are so many impressive feats Brunel helped to bring to life. And not just that. There’s also John Cabot. Cabot was an Italian-born explorer who settled in Bristol in 1490. In 1497, he sailed on the ‘Matthew’ in search of Asia, and claimed the land he found as New-found-land. On his second expedition in 1498, he wanted to find Japan. But… it’s believed that he actually reached North America instead, although never returned home to Bristol. Although this piece of history isn’t certain, it does cast doubt on Christopher Columbus’s discovery.
7. Love the city? Love the country? Have both in Bristol!
There are not many cities that can claim to have the best of both city and country available to its residents and visitors. But this really is true of Bristol. The city centre itself is a thriving cosmopolitan city. But venture outside of Bristol for maybe 10 minutes and the countryside is right on your doorstep. (You could even cycle to it!) Rolling green hills, chocolate box landscapes, farmer’s fields and thick forests are never too far away from you in Bristol.
8. Bristol is perfect for shopaholics
From designer shopping in Cabot Circus and the bustling Cribbs Causeway Mall, to unique, independent boutiques in Clifton Village and along Gloucester Road, Bristol is perfect for shopaholics. In fact, with the surrounding areas of Gloucester Road being very popular with the middle classes (who love local produce), this 1.7 mile stretch of road has certainly kept its independent vibe over the years. It is now promoted by Bristol City Council as a centre of independent trade.
9. The technology and aerospace industries are booming
With top industries such as technology and aerospace booming in Bristol, and with it being named as the #1 city to create a new business in several times over, finding incredible work opportunities in Bristol is certainly possible. Yes, there’s steep competition for the top jobs with many flocking to the city for work or even commuting long distances, but working in Bristol offers so much to its hard workers. That’s enough to keep anyone inspired to do well!
10. International travel is easy
With its own international airport and easy access to London via the M4 motorway, (or even by train or coach if you wish!), travelling internationally is super easy when living in Bristol. Why else do you think I became an avid traveller after moving here…?!
11. Beaches and the waterfront are never too far away
Similarly to rolling green hills, a trip to the seaside for sunbathing, swimming and sandcastles is also never too far away. Weston-Super-Mare has a fairly decent beach, which is only 30 minutes away from Bristol. And if you wish to venture further afield, then fabulous beaches in Devon and Cornwall are easy to get to in about 2-3 hours.
12. Bristol was England’s first cycling city
Back in 2008, Bristol was named England’s first ‘cycling city’ in a £11.4 million Government scheme to encourage more people to cycle. As part of this transformation, Bristol chose to use the money to create dedicated cycle lanes, better facilities and more training for children. In today’s Bristol, a large portion of the population are big on cycling, cycle lanes are excellent (and long), plus lots of Bristol-based workplaces are involved with the ‘Cycle to Work’ scheme, allowing you to purchase bicycles at a fraction of the price.
13. The Clifton Suspension Bridge… enough said!
Brunel’s masterpiece, the Clifton Suspension Bridge opened in 1831, and is an iconic Bristolian landmark. If visiting the city, you most definitely have to see the bridge, which offers fabulous views across Avon Gorge and the city skyline. When the bridge was opened all those years ago, Sir Abraham Elton of Clevedon Court, called it “the ornament of Bristol and the wonder of the age”. Even today’s visitor would be inclined to think the same thing!
14. Fun is Bristol’s middle name!
One of the best things about Bristol is that no city could be described as fun as Bristol! I’ve already mentioned the free festivals held annually, and the fact that street art is celebrated, but I’m not quite finished yet. There are a number of trampoline parks in the city, which have made bouncing around a room full of trampolines every Bristolian’s favourite pastime! Back in 2014, a giant waterslide closed down an entire road in Bristol (Park Street) – sadly, I didn’t score tickets to slide down it, but I’ve heard a little rumour that the slide might be returning. Watch this space! Also, I’m very excited about a project called The Wave that is currently underway to bring surfing in-land. How great would that be when it opens? Yet more reasons why fun is Bristol’s middle name!
15. The food is fresh and fabulous
Down with all the latest food crazes, such as great vegan choices, healthy living and perfect street food, Bristol really is a food lover’s paradise. There is so much I could say about the food here, which is why I’ve started a food series guide to Bristol. Mmm… delicious!
16. Bristol was voted the best place to live in the UK for 2017
Praised for being “handily placed for seaside and scenery”, Bristol has secured the top spot in The Sunday Times’ best places to live in the UK guide. This guide runs every year and combines data such as crime rates, house prices and school performance. So, what did The Sunday Times have to say about Bristol? “The city is a worthy winner thanks to its ideal combination of extraordinary culture, impressive schools, buzzing culinary scene, exciting redevelopment and community spirit. We sum the city up as cool, classy and supremely creative.”
17. Independence is celebrated in Bristol
As mentioned, Gloucester Road and Clifton Village are both awash with independent boutiques and family-run businesses, but this celebrated independence goes further than that. Did you know that Bristol has its own currency? Encouraging residents to “shop local”, the Bristol Pound is made by local people for local people and can only be used within BS postcodes. What this means is that the money circulates around Bristol, helping to make the “local economy greener, fairer and stronger.” One point to note: you can use the British Pound Sterling in Bristol too of course!
18. Declared European City of Sport in 2017
Awarded by The European Capitals and Cities of Sport Federation, cities in Europe that show a passion for sport at every level are able to win this coveted award. According to the Bristol Government, “our great sports facilities, current physical activity levels, the success of local sports clubs and sporting events and how Bristol works together to provide high quality sports provision” are all reasons why Bristol was able to win this award. So, keeping fit in Bristol should be pretty easy, right?
19. Bristol is the true home of Wallace and Gromit
Anyone who is remotely familiar with the British culture knows that the Wallace and Gromit cartoons and movies are a huge part of that. And guess what?! They were filmed in Bristol! Since then, Bristol has celebrated this fact with several charity schemes involving fun, vibrant and colourful (there’s that word again!) statues of the Wallace and Gromit characters. Just take a look at what we’ve been up to over the years in aid of raising millions for the Wallace & Gromit’s Grand Appeal – the Bristol Children’s Hospital Charity.
20. Ribena was invented here… say what?!
Ribena was originally manufactured by Bristol-based food and drink company HW Carter as a blackcurrant squash. As part of an experiment, Ribena was invented in Bristol by Vernon Charley, a scientist at the University of Bristol in 1933. Then in 1938, the new drink was launched under the name of Ribena. Did you know? The name Ribena comes from the botanical name for the blackcurrant, which is Ribes nigrum.
I could go on for hours and hours, days and days discussing all the best things about Bristol and explaining why it’s so easy to fall in love with the city, but I think 20 reasons is more than enough to get my point across. What are some of the reasons you think Bristol is so easy to fall in love with? Jot a few thoughts down in the comments section below…
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