Combining a prosperous maritime history with a dynamic underground scene, Bristol is one of Britain’s must-visit cities.
Bristol has had a long and successful history that is shaped by geniuses from Brunel to Banksy. It’s the largest city within an idyllic area of countryside in southwest England, just a stone’s throw from Wales. Almost half a million call it home, making it one of Britain’s biggest cities. Yet at the same time, it has retained a strong sense of identity, being less well-known than the likes of London, Birmingham, and Manchester. Since the 1980s, Bristol has been famous for its underground scene that saw the rise of counterculture, trip-hop, and street art. This is inspired by a mix of ethnicities and cultures, all finding a way to live together in harmony. With a large student population, Bristol is viewed as lively, dynamic, and fun. Yet head to the monuments and you can feel the proud history among the beautiful architecture. Bristol is a strong contender for Britain’s coolest city that just oozes culture.
Where to live in Bristol
While much of Bristol is safe, friendly, and beautiful, this can’t be said for the entire city. There are pockets of the population that experience a certain level of crime, homelessness, and destitution. Before moving anywhere, make sure you’re in a pleasant and welcoming area of town. For the most part, Bristol is accepting of all cultures, regardless of your race, religion, or sexual preference. Bear in mind though that the nicest neighborhoods do come at a price, with Bristol having some of the highest living costs in England.
Best Neighborhoods in Bristol
Bristol has a fantastic diversity of neighborhoods, catering to all preferences. There are the posh places lined with statues and monuments to a proud past as well as edgy areas populated by hipsters. Choose a vibe that fits your personality. Neighborhoods are often defined by the ethnicity and culture of the residents, as well as their age. There are student areas as well as communities for older life-long Bristolians. The vast array of options can be a little overwhelming but Bristol is an interconnected city that allows easy access to amenities in the city center, wherever you are.
Quick Facts About BristolBristol is a busy and bustling city that has been the home of many exciting events and fascinating people. When you step into Bristol, you’re stepping into a vibrant town, becoming part of its proud history. Here are some quick facts you should know about Bristol, which may encourage you to visit the place for yourself.
Bristol is home to many religions and culturesBristol gets its vibrancy from a perfect blend of cultures, all coming together within one city. Not only are there 45 religions in one city but also 187 countries of birth and over 90 native languages spoken.
It’s a haven for independent businessesThe lively and dynamic atmosphere makes for the fertile ground that entrepreneurs love. The bohemian Gloucester Road is thought to have more independent stores than any other British street.
Bristol is fiercely progressiveDespite its more traditional neighborhoods, Bristol has developed into one of the most diverse and accepting cities in the UK. In 2020, anti-racist protestors threw a statue of a slave-owner in the river, in defiance of the darker aspects of Bristol’s past.
Many famous creatives are from BristolMuch of Bristol’s architecture was built by Brunel, but he’s not the only creative genius to have come out of the city. There’s street artist Banksy, top British comedian Russell Howard, and folk-pop superstar George Ezra.
Bristol is a student cityWith two major universities, one of which is among the best in the country, Bristol is a truly intellectual city. More than 54,000 students call Bristol their home and their influence is integral to the city’s culture.
Bristol is a green cityDespite being the southwest’s most urban concrete jungle, Bristol is much greener than you’d expect. There are more than 400 parks and gardens and environmentalist views dominate.
Bristol invented its own music genreIn the 80s and 90s, Bristol was a pioneer of the underground scene, a reputation it retains to this day. The city invented trip-hop, a surprisingly addictive mashup of hip hop and electronica.
Bristolians make their own funDespite being a large city, Bristol retains a great sense of community. For instance, in 2014, they turned Park Street into a makeshift water slide which was enjoyed by around 100,000 people. In summer, streets are often closed in favor of the community and cultural events.
Work in Bristol
Eight out of the top ten places in England to find work exist in the south, with Bristol coming in at number five. That’s according to a 2020 research project carried out by Indeed. The mix of independent stores and bigger businesses means that there’s a constant demand for workers. Top employers in the city include the universities, Airbus, and Hargreaves Lansdown. You might have a particular interest in relocating to Bristol if you’re pursuing a more creative career. From art to music, Bristol has the perfect environment to flourish if you’re looking to excel in these kinds of industries.
How good is Bristol for Digital Nomads or Remote Work
Remote work is changing how the global workspace operates. In a trend that is showing no signs of slowing down, remote work is rapidly on the increase all around the world—especially in a place like Bristol. And about 25% of remote workers describe themselves as digital nomads—those who like to travel or stay in cities around the world while they work. So, how good is Bristol for both of these growing movements?
Average Internet SpeedLike any large city in the UK, the internet is fast and reliable. The average download speed is 20 Mbps but the fastest speed recorded is as high as 395 Mbps.
Work-friendly Coffee ShopsKnown for its independent stores, take a stroll through the trendiest Bristol neighborhoods to easily find a unique workspace. If you’re looking for immediate suggestions, here are some of the best coffee shops for working in: You&Meow: As the first cat cafe in Bristol, this is a stress-free environment to grab a coffee and get some work done. Small Street Espresso: A rustic joint located in Bristol’s Old Town, this is a charming and welcoming little cafe. It’s a little bit tucked away, meaning it makes for a quiet escape from city life. The Canteen: Offering a greater range of food options and plenty of table space, this is a great option for daytime working. Come 5 pm, shut your laptop, order a beer, and watch the place evolve into a lively social space.
Coworking SpacesBeyond the coffee shops, you can choose to work in one of Bristol’s nautical-themed pubs for an old-timey office experience. Alternatively, choose from one of these top-rated trendy coworking spaces: Origin Workspace: This is a modern office that includes unlimited coffee, a gym, and a roof terrace for relaxing after the work is done. Raw Space: With its own roof garden, Raw Space is designed to relieve stress as you work. They also allow dogs so you may be lucky enough to have even more stress relief on site. Mild Bunch: Plenty of natural sunlight makes Mild Bunch a pleasant workspace with strong connections to the community. Membership includes access to a panini press and discounts on local bars and restaurants. You don’t need an office in Bristol but you may find that the coffee shops and bars are a little too noisy while coworking spaces provide a quieter, more productive environment. The trendier ones are located on Gloucester Road or Stokes Croft but you can find plenty in the city center as well.
Suitable Level for Digital NomadsWith a lively, innovative vibe, fast internet, high quality of life, and plenty of green space, Bristol is a generally great place for digital nomads. You’ll find a friendly community atmosphere nestled within an economically successful city. However, it’s important to note that Bristol comes with a high cost of living. Thriving cities in the north of England such as Manchester, Sheffield, and Liverpool tend to offer for your money, with rental costs significantly lower. If you’re willing to spend a bit more, though, then Bristol is a fantastic place to work. Indulge in the independent economy and take advantage of a diverse and creative workforce.
Visa RequirementsSince leaving the European Union, it’s become a bit more difficult to live and work in Britain. Having access to the EU does not automatically give you permission to enter the UK. However, both EU and US citizens are allowed to stay in the UK for up to six months, whether as a tourist or on business. Furthermore, time spent in Bristol won’t count towards your limit for staying in EU countries. If you’d like to stay longer than this, then you’ll need either a Temporary Work Visa or a Skilled Worker Visa. Both of these require confirmation of a job offer in Bristol and you’ll need to meet a certain salary threshold. As long as you have a legitimate work opportunity, you shouldn’t run into any issues. If you’re a digital nomad, then you may be best off sticking to the six-month limit.
Food and Drink in Bristol
The food and drink industry in Bristol is centered around independent stores and maritime history. For instance, Hole in the Wall is a pub that displays Bristol’s pirate past for a fun and educational drinking experience. The harbor is full of boats transformed into bars, including Thekla, a floating music venue and nightclub. While there’s plenty of larger chains and fast food, it’s worth exploring the hidden independent joints that contain a uniquely Bristolian cultural vibe. Another fantastic option is Za Za Bazaar, a massive warehouse full of all-you-can-eat buffets from around the world. With enough seats for 1000 people, this will likely be one of the most massive and impressive dining experiences of your life. The delicious food is inspired by all corners of the globe, from Tennessee to Tokyo. It’s this combination of cultures that sets Bristol’s food scene apart. Innovative immigrants have brought their own cuisine from around the world and made it accessible to all. Of course, if you want traditional fish and chips, then Bristol has plenty of chippies as well. Finally, remember to try some of the cider that the southwest is famous for. Exhibition cider is a crisp local brew that can only be bought from Coronation Tap pub in Clifton.
Top 6 Things To Do in Bristol
The top sites for visitors to Bristol include the monumental Clifton Suspension Bridge, the architecturally stunning Bristol Cathedral, and Brunel’s epic SS Great Britain. Beyond this, Bristol Zoo is one of the largest in the country, home to over 400 species. For your cultural fix, head to the Bristol Art Museum and Gallery or try to find Banksy’s Well Hung Lover on Frogmore Street. In the daytime, travel to one of Bristol’s 12 nature reserves to escape the bustle of the city and breathe in the tranquility. At night, visit the bars on the harborside and engage with the ever-friendly residents of Bristol.
Leigh Woods National Nature Reserve
Valley Rd, Bristol
Blaise Castle Estate
Kings Weston Rd, Bristol
Stoke Rd, Bristol
John Wesley's Chapel
New Room, 36 The Horsefair, Bristol
The Georgian House Museum
7 Great George St, Bristol