Bristol nestles in the hills of South West England. In 2015 its population was just over 440,000. There is nowhere quite like Bristol, it manages to effortlessly mix its varied maritime history and character with the atmosphere of a cosmopolitan and dynamic City. Proud of its status as the European Green Capital, residents benefit from huge expanses of parkland and the City’s sustainable approach.
It’s a buzzing city, with a huge array of festivals taking place all year round, a massive range of cuisine and nationalities, miles of designated cycle tracks, beautiful Georgian architecture, inspirational street art and a prolific music scene. It’s one of the UK’s most popular tourist destinations, and in 2014 was named the Sunday Times’ best city to live in. Bristol became prosperous thanks to Merchant Seamen using it as a base from which to first explore the Americas during the 15th century and has remained a key port and shipping outpost ever since.
Bristonians have their own currency – the Bristol Pound
Bristol has all the high street names to be expected in a city of its size, but there is a huge amount of competition from thriving independent retailers. Gloucester Road probably has more independent shops than any other street in the UK and is the place to go for vintage clothes, second-hand books, vinyl records, freshly baked bread, organic food and ethnic fabrics. Park Street is known for its fashion offering, and the Bristol Guild is privately held department store showcasing local artists’ works alongside its offer of toys, kitchenware, furniture, jewellery, ceramics and eclectic foods. St Nicholas Market was voted one of the Guardian’s top 10 UK markets, and houses over 60 independent businesses. Outside the City is Cribbs Causeway Retail Park, with many big name outlets, as well as a December Christmas market.
Sports lovers will thrive in Bristol, with rock climbing in the gorge and a plethora of park and water-based activities on offer. Clifton Down and Durdham Down cover over 400 acres of green space to the north of Bristol and are enjoyed by a variety of enthusiasts. To the west of the Avon Gorge is Ashton Court, which covers 850 acres of woodland and meadows. Ashton Court has trails for bikes and horses, a golf course, a deer park and an orienteering course. The Bristol Half Marathon is a firm favorite in the runner’s annual calendar, and takes in a scenic sea-level route.
Bristol is home to a massive range of live music venues which play host to every genre imaginable. Venues are as varied as the music they put on, from the 20,000-seat Ashton Gate Stadium to a plethora of hidden gems with a much smaller capacity. Bristol produces a high quantity of media and film, allowing a large range of cinemas to flourish in the city, from multiplexes to small independent cinemas, screening both mainstream and more obscure cult movies. Touring theatre companies flock to Bristol, and the two main competitors are the Bristol Old Vic, the oldest and best known, and the Tobacco Factory. Street theatre is also commonplace. There are several museums and galleries to enjoy, from the traditional to the interactive, and Bristol City Council allows temporary galleries to use disused shops. Foodies are in the right place. A hugely diverse population gives rise to a massive range of quality world-cuisine eateries jostling for position.
Creative media businesses, as well as those focused on aerospace and electronics, have made their homes in Bristol, and the docks in the City Centre are hubs of heritage and culture. Businesses are fed by a steady stream of quality academics and graduates from two world-class universities, the University of the West of England (UWE) and the University of Bristol. Bristol hovers consistently near the top of the Sustainable Cities Index, thanks to its impressive record of recycling and composting, its green spaces, and a range of other initiatives. Bristol is also a Fairtrade City, and bodies such as the Soil Association, the Environment Agency and Sustrans all have their head offices here.
Bristol is full of character and offers something for everyone. Property values remain strong with flats costing upwards of £250,000 and houses up to £2 million. The pace of life is somehow slower in Bristol than other comparable cities. People are friendly, and there is a relaxed atmosphere, a thriving café culture in the City, as well as an almost Mediterranean feel during the summer months with the close proximity to the sea.
Everything is not always what it seems in Bristol. There is a theatre in a former brewery, as well as other theatres above pubs and one in a bar come nightclub. An exhibition space in what used to be an Edwardian toilet can be booked by artists for free. Street art is everywhere, with resident Banksy having adorned many of the buildings, followed by a stream of copycats. During the summer months there are a huge amount of festivals, offering something for everyone, with all musical tastes catered for, as well as amazingly diverse food festivals. Furthermore, Bristol is the perfect size. Most things can be reached on foot, and if not on foot, then there are a huge amount of safe and undulating cycle tracks to get from place to place.
The first part of the National Cycle Network was built here, and Bristol is proud to be completely safely navigable on two wheels. The Bristol Ferry Boat provides both leisure and commuter services on the harbour.
The M4 and M5 motorways put Birmingham less that 2 hours away by car and central London just over 2 hours away.
Bristol has two mainline railway stations, Bristol Temple Meads and Bristol Parkway, both of which offer regular services around the UK, with direct service from both stations to London Paddington taking as little as 1 hour thirty minutes.
Bristol Bus Station is located in Marlborough Street, near the Broadmead shopping area. Bristol has over 50 bus and coach services operating in the City, providing links not just around the City but also to rail links, park and rides and connections to other major UK cities.
Bristol Airport is 13km to the south of the City and has scheduled flights to many UK and European cities.