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What you need to know about Bristol

Britain has plenty of cities that have risen majestically from the ashes of heavy industry, but none have achieved urban regeneration with quite so much style as Bristol.


Currency GBP (Great British Pounds)

From Brunel’s famous suspension bridge in elegant Clifton, to the vibrant harbourside and diverse neighbourhoods dotted with Banksy murals, this historical south west city is regularly voted Britain’s favourite to live in. It’s easy to see why; 21st century Bristol has embraced culture, community, green spaces and eco-friendly living, creating a city that is full of character, fantastic food, lively festivals and vibrant nightlife.

The city may be the gateway to rural Somerset, but Bristol’s effortlessly cool and cosmopolitan vibe feels a million miles away – not a tractor in sight!

Food and drink

Bristol has a huge choice of bars and restaurants, many of them around the Harbourside, Park Street and Whiteladies Road, which are the main places to eat and drink if you’re up for mingling with crowds of locals out for a good time.

But it’s worth looking a little further afield for quality food and great pubs – Clifton Village feels like a little corner of West London, with a stylish, relaxed vibe and some of the best restaurants and bars in the city.

Likewise, some of Bristol’s more up-and-coming neighbourhoods like Bedminster, Southville, Cotham and Montpelier have some great hole-in-the-wall indie cafes and restaurants, and a fantastic selection of world cuisines. 


Bristol shopping is wonderful, and reason alone to visit the city. For big brands, designer labels and department stores, the place to go is Cabot Circus. This huge glass-roofed shopping centre is a much needed update to the nearby Broadmead shopping centre, and attracts shoppers from far and wide.

If indie shopping is more your thing, St Nicholas Market is a Bristol institution, home to the largest collection of independent retailers in Bristol, selling crafts, jewellery, vintage clothing and wonderful world foods.

Gloucester Road is Europe’s longest street of independent shops, with fantastic organic foods, clothes, street art and antiques.  

For boutique shopping, gifts, jewellery and homewares, head to Park Street and Clifton Village, which beautifully blends luxury brands and local boutiques into a little shopping paradise. 

Local businesses

Bristol’s modern economy has been built on aerospace, defence, media, IT, financial services and tourism. The MOD has its Defence Equipment and Support headquarters at Abbey Wood, and the city is also home to the headquarters of BAE Systems, Lloyds Bank, Bank of Scotland, Aardman Animations, Burges Salmon, Imperial Tobacco and Cameron Balloons.

It’s also the home of SACO Apartments, and a city we all love! 

Getting around

Bristol is an easy city to get to – it’s less than two hours from London Paddington by train, with direct lines to Birmingham, Edinburgh, Exeter and Portsmouth, and an international airport just eight miles from the city centre.

Once you’re here, you’ll find Bristol is a lovely city to explore on foot, from the historic Harbourside to Clifton Village and the beautiful Downs overlooking Clifton Suspension Bridge. Buses throughout the city are good value and cover the whole region, or you can hail one of Bristol’s famous blue taxis from outside your serviced apartment.

If you prefer two wheels, you’ll be delighted to discover that Bristol is considered Britain’s best city for cycling, with a superb network of cycle ways that will take you all over the city, and even out to Bath and the Somerset countryside. 

Things to watch out for

Bristol hosts some brilliant festivals through the year – the biggest and best include the Bristol Harbour Festival in July, a free family festival which attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors for amazing food, dance, music and watery fun.

Then, in August, Europe’s biggest hot air balloon event comes to town – the Bristol Balloon Fiesta runs for four days, with hundreds of balloons taking off every day if weather permits!