Things to see in and around Bristol

Around 100 years ago, Cary Grant and Nobel-winning physicist Paul Dirac were at school together in Bristol. More recently, Derren Brown and Chris Morris studied at Bristol Uni. If you’re about to join the new generation of students in the city, why not move in a few weeks before term starts? There’s plenty to do in and around Bristol:

Brunel’s work

With an innovative design by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, the SS Great Britain was “the largest and fastest ship in the world” when it was first launched in 1843. Now it’s a popular museum.

A few miles along the Avon is another Brunel triumph: the Clifton Suspension Bridge. Built over 30 years, the bridge wasn’t completed until after Brunel’s death. There’s a visitor centre on one side of the bridge, with information about the history and construction of the bridge, as well as a gift shop.


Thekla is “Bristol’s only music venue and nightclub on a boat”. A former cargo ship, it was transformed into a mini-theatre in the 1980s. Now under new management, the Thekla hosts mostly underground musicians, alongside a few famous acts, as well as regular club nights. For more mainstream music, the Colston Hall is just a few streets along in the city centre.

Bristol Museum and Art Gallery

Situated in a spectacular neo-Baroque building, the Bristol museum has fossils, dinosaur skeletons, and artefacts from ancient civilisations, while the art gallery has a great selection of works by old masters and newer artists. If you’re studying English courses in Bristol, you could certainly benefit from a trip to the Bristol museum.

If you’re into street art, Banksy is a Bristol native. He began his career by painting walls in the city during the late 1980s. Bristol still has a thriving graffiti art scene, and the Nelson Street paintings is an amazing example of the work of local street artists.

Bristol Zoo

Bristol Zoo has more than 450 species, including several types of monkey, penguins, hippos and the weird-looking okapi. Kids can also try the adventure playground and ‘zoolympics’, where they can test their athletic strengths against those typical of the zoo animals.

To see animals in their natural habitat, the Slimbridge Wetlands Centre is based 25 miles from the city on the river Severn.

Easy access to Bath

A 13-mile bike ride down the old railway path takes you to Bath, which is well worth seeing for its architecture. Don’t miss the stunning Abbey, and the Roman Baths next door. From there, a walk through the shopping area will take you to the Jane Austen Museum.

With plenty to see and do all year round, international students taking the courses in English or training teacher UK institutions in Bristol offer will never be disappointed.

Resource box

Banksy  – In 2009 Banksy held an exhibition in Bristol, his native city

Isambard Kingdom Brunel – The BBC’s mini biography of one of the city’s most famous sons, along with Cary Grant and Nobel-winning physicist Paul Dirac

The Bristol Pound? – The Telegraph on recent plans by the city of Bristol to issue its own currency


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