Known for its vibrant street art and underground music scenes, trendy Bristol is also regarded as the unofficial capital of the South West. Whether you’re practising the local dialect, supping on a cider, sauntering along the harbourside or checking out some of the hottest bars and clubs around, you’ll have a blast. It’s time to ‘gert lush!’
Your guide to the ultimate stag weekend in the South West’s most vibrant city
Everyone who visits Bristol for the first time gets a different first impression. There are great nights out to be had in the bustling city centre, with its eclectic mix of people and places and unique urban style. Enjoy supping a pint by the water or venture out into the suburbs where hidden pockets boast welcoming country pubs.
At a glance:
- A vibrant city with all the features of London but on a smaller scale
- Hundreds of nightclubs, bars and pubs across the city mean there’s no shortage of nightlife
- Home to Banksy and one of the most impressive collections of street art in the country, turning the streets into open air graffiti galleries
- Great scenic spots such as Brandon Hill, Clifton Downs and the iconic Clifton Suspension Bridge
Things not to miss:
Italian Auto Moto Festival
Every April, the Italian Auto Moto Festival showcases some of the most stunning classic Italian cars and motorbikes on Corn Street. This open air exhibition is free and a huge draw for automobile enthusiasts across the South West. http://www.italianautomotoclub.co.uk/
With the tagline ‘Meat. Music. Mayhem’, this two-day festival in July is a carnivore’s dream. Live Americana rock, bluegrass and country music complements the slow cooked BBQ grills, competitive eating competitions and freshly brewed craft beers on tap. http://grillstock.co.uk/
Clifton – Bristol’s classy district
Clifton has a wealth of upmarket bars, clubs and restaurants. Because of the nearby university, it’s often buzzing with students and young people on the weekends. The best spots for clubs are Park Street, the Triangle and Whiteladies Road.
The Centre – The starting point for a great night out
The Centre, a pedestrianised public space built over the River Frome, is the hub of Bristol with something for everyone. There are historical focal points such as the SS Great Britain and the Bristol Old Vic Theatre, famous street art from local artist Banksy and hundreds of restaurants and bars. There’s also Cabot Circus, a contemporary shopping centre with over a hundred high street and designer stores, cafes and chain restaurants, as well as the Showcase Cinema de Lux.
Gloucester Road – A bohemian blend of vintage shops, restaurants and cafes
Gloucester Road is unique in that it has the longest stretch of independent shops anywhere in the UK. Only a short bus ride from the centre of town, it attracts locals and tourists in huge volumes. At night Gloucester Road is often the starting point for many students because of its cheap drinks and lively atmosphere.
Best bars and pubs in Bristol:
The Dundry Inn, Dundry
Located five miles outside of Bristol, The Dundry Inn is a venue that ticks plenty of boxes. Serving up delicious homemade food, cask ales and fine wines, it also offers accommodation so patrons can simply head upstairs when the night is done. Seasonal offers and a close proximity to Bristol Airport make it ideal for groups looking for a stop en route or simply a change from the city centre.
Tobacco Factory, Southville
Once a part of several Imperial Tobacco warehouses in the area, this last building has been transformed into a melting pot of café bars, exhibition spaces, media offices and studio apartments. It’s also contains a theatre which hosts regular performances, for those looking for some cultural entertainment.
The Canteen, Stokes Croft
This large open plan café bar forms part of the entrance to revamped creative arts centre, Hamilton House. A laid back café serving teas, coffees and home-cooked food during the day, it effortlessly blends into a hipster hangout in the evening, with live music every night of the week.
Hyde & Co, Upper Byron Place
Modeled on a 1920s speakeasy, Hyde & Co is an ultra stylish cocktail bar complete with vintage lampshades and a grand piano in the corner. Expert bartenders whip up delicious cocktails inspired by the prohibition era.
Turtle Bay, Broad Quay
Head on down to Turtle Bay for an authentic taste of Caribbean food and drink. It can get pretty busy, especially around its 2-4-1 happy hour, so get there early if you want to spice up your night out.
The Bag o’ Nails, Hotwells
Nestled in the heart of Hotwells, The Bag o’ Nails was once an empty space, boarded up and all but forgotten about. Now it’s been taken over by an enthusiastic landlord who really knows his real ales. If you appreciate quality beers, a warm welcome and a higher than average amount of free-roaming kittens, you’ve come to the right place. You won’t find any chart tunes in here though – all the music comes from a selection of choice LPs.
The Gryphon, Colston Street
Alternative pub The Gryphon mixes real ale and floor-shaking heavy metal in a small but uniquely shaped venue on Colston Street.
The Robin Hood, St Michaels Hill
Sitting near the top of the almost vertical St Michaels Hill, The Robin Hood is a Grade II listed building dating back to 1848. With a fantastic selection of real ales and ciders, it’s worth the struggle getting up the hill.
Food: eat like a local:
Bristol is lucky to have Za Za Bazaar, a huge upper floor restaurant that can cater for up to a thousand diners in one sitting. It’s all-you-can-eat buffet serves up a whole host of international cuisine including Thai, Vietnamese, Chinese, American and Italian.
Dev’s Kerala on Gloucester Road is a small restaurant dishing up delicious Indian food to spice-loving locals.
Simply Thai is another Gloucester Road indie favourite. It doesn’t look like much from the outside with a few simple dining tables and chairs, but its dishes are full to bursting with authentic flavours of Thailand.
Diners looking for an upmarket eatery should hop aboard the Glassboat, a unique, fine dining floating restaurant overlooking Bristol bridge.
The immensely popular Thali Café has a handful of restaurants located in Totterdown, Montpelier and Clifton. Its owners travelled across India and brought the aromatic flavours of Indian street food back home with them.
Best hangover breakfast in Bristol:
For the best hangover cure, American style diner Rocotillo’s in Clifton serves up delicious milkshakes, pancakes and a hearty full English breakfast. It’s a small restaurant so can get pretty busy on weekends, but is absolutely worth the wait.
The best view of Bristol:
Walking across the famous Clifton Suspension Bridge is the place to go for the best view of the city and Avon Gorge. And if the tabloids are to be believed, you might even spot a crocodile.
Traffic can be a problem in the city centre, with after work rush hours causing lengthy delays for drivers. Buses are everywhere and thanks to a recent price overhaul are now much more reasonably priced. A word of warning though, buses in Bristol aren’t known for their regularity, but walking (so long as you don’t mind a few steep hills) or jumping into a taxi is a good substitute.