Diverse, hip, and a playground for creativity and multiculturalism, Bristol has everything a solo traveller could want in an English city. Located in southwest England, Bristol has a history rooted in engineering and was once an important trading port thanks to its harbour. Nowadays, Bristol balances modern and historic architecture, while being renowned for its street art and the location of Banksy’s earliest works. It is also considered to be highly sustainable and was the UK’s first cycling city.
I visited Bristol on a whim after staying in the Cotswolds and was impressed by how much character the city had- it is laidback but far from dull! With the amenities of a large city but minus the crowds and high price tags, Bristol will appeal to all with an open mind.
Keep reading to learn everything you need to learn about solo travelling in Bristol, England.
How to get to Bristol
The Bristol Airport is a quick 20-minute bus ride from the city center and only costs 9 pounds one-way. The city can also be easily reached from other towns and cities in the country by bus or train. There are several direct buses that are cheap and frequent from major cities like London and Birmingham.
Getting around Bristol
Public transportation in the city is plentiful with many bus routes. It’s also easy to access Bristol on foot if you are primarily in the city centre. Another option is to rent an e-scooter or bicycle for an environmentally friendly and quick way to get around.
Where to stay in Bristol for solo travellers
Bristol doesn’t have the largest selection of hostels, but there are a few options. If you’re looking to meet other travellers in a lively environment, I recommend booking a dorm at the Full Moon Backpackers. It is in the Stokes Croft neighbourhood, an edgy area known for being a hub for art and a counter-cultural lifestyle.
Stokes Croft is a bit sketchy and not an area you want to walk alone at night, but I felt very safe at Full Moon Backpackers as there was security onsite. I loved staying at this hostel and to give you an idea of just how social this place is, it is literally in the same building as a bar and nightclub. With that being said, it’s not a quiet hostel, and music can be heard playing until the early morning, but it makes for an opportunity to meet other travellers. The Full Moon Backpackers is very clean with a homey feeling, however, this is a no-frills place, but its quirky murals and maze-like halls make it charming.
Activities in Bristol for solo travellers
It’s easy to stay busy in Bristol but I appreciated that it wasn’t overwhelming. To understand the history and culture of the city, take a guided tour. There are several available such as cycling tours, ghost tours, and street art tours all at reasonable prices, allowing you the chance to meet other people solo travelling in Bristol with similar interests. If you don’t want to spend money on a tour, try a free self-guided tour instead. I did one of the free “Banksy in Bristol” walking tours that are available on the Wanderers of the World blog and it was great. There are three to choose from depending on how far you want to walk and how much time you have. And if any kind of tour just isn’t your thing, walking around Stokes Croft (during the day!) is enjoyable with tons of street art, cool vintage shops, and little cafes and bars.
The Bristol Museum and Art Gallery is worth stopping into and has an assortment of exhibits from Renaissance paintings to dinosaur skeletons, and mummies. I really liked that this museum wasn’t overly large so you didn’t have to spend hours there, and the entry fee is by donation.
If you enjoy being on the water, there are several companies with boat cruises along the River Avon. Relax and take in the beautiful views while you socialize with other travellers, sip on drinks, or on some cruises you can have afternoon tea! You will also be able to see the Clifton Suspension Bridge, a tourist hotspot and icon of the city. Built in 1864, this impressive suspension bridge was designed by the famous engineer, Isambard Kingdom Brunel, who also designed the SS Great Britain (another popular tourist attraction in Bristol).
Those who are working while on the move should consider booking a hot desk in the Bar Space at Distil Co-Working. With reasonable rates available for half or full-day bookings, Distil Co-working is a comfortable space to work from with reliable Wi-Fi. Although there are other places to work from that are free of charge, such as the Bristol Central Library, Distil-Coworking allows for a collaborative space where you are likely to connect with other travelling workers.
Where to eat in Bristol for solo travellers
You’ll find more than English pubs in Bristol as a variety of cuisines are available. To avoid the costs that come with table service, consider checking out St. Nicholas Markets where there are food stalls surrounded by beautiful buildings. Portuguese, Caribbean, and Mediterranean flavours are just a few of the yummy items served here.
For a group culinary experience, sign up for a food tour! This is an excellent way to meet other solo travellers and there are different types of tours to choose from such as street food and a cheese and cider crawl. The tours typically last a few hours allowing lots of time to chat with the group.
If you want to treat yourself to a nice dinner (or have a craving for good Italian food) visit MOLTO BUONO. The pizza and fresh pasta at this restaurant are top-notch and I can confidently say, is the best cacio e pepe I’ve ever had (sorry Italy). The atmosphere is tiny yet adorable with twinkle lights and dried flowers. There are also tons of supermarkets throughout Bristol that offer grab-and-go options to save money, or to purchase ingredients to cook in a hostel.
Nightlife in Bristol for solo travellers
I didn’t have any expectations for nightlife in Bristol but quickly realized it’s home to unique bars. You’ll find a bit of everything in the city from pubs and cocktail bars to clubs and patios (depending on the season). Partying in Bristol doesn’t have to be expensive, if you stick to the smaller and less flashy bars, you’ll find drinks for reasonable prices. The Full Moon and Attic Bar (located on the property at The Full Moon Backpackers hostel) is a multi-venue complex complete with a pub, nightclub, large courtyard, and food options. You’ll find weekly events here such as Tuesday trivia nights and Wednesday student nights that make it easy to connect with other solo travellers and locals. This place gets busy and is the best nightlife option if you are staying at the hostel, as it eliminates the need to walk or take a cab late at night.
The cocktail bars in Bristol are impressive and it’s worth splurging on a drink or two to experience them. The Cocktail Club Bristol Triangle was my favourite bar with décor inspired by the Peter Pan novel- think Lost Boys meets bougie jungle vibes. The drinks not only were delicious but also had clever names that tied into the bar’s theme. I was there on a weekday night and even though there were only a handful of people in the bar, the bartenders were lively and made it a memorable time.
The Cocktail Club also has another location on Corn Street where they host a weekly Dirty Disco Saturday brunch. This bottomless cocktails and prosecco brunch features loads of live entertainment and is an easy way to mingle with others looking for fun. To ensure your spot at the brunch book your tickets in advance as it tends to sell out!
We hope this guide will help you plan the ultimate trip for solo travelling in Bristol. Be sure to let us know in the comments if you have any tips for visiting Bristol and if there are other spots in the area that travellers shouldn’t miss! Cheers!
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