Being a student in Bristol is not a bad place to have landed yourself right now. Not only was it voted by The Times as the UK’s Most Liveable City, it was made European Green Capital in 2015, was designated the UK’s first “Cycle City” and most recently picked up another accolade for Coolest Cities in the World, even pipping Paris to 11th place.
If you are a student in the city who enjoys getting outdoors, you could not come to a better place. Even negotiating Bristol’s hilly topography can be a workout in itself! There’s a whole host of ways students can get into the outdoors. We’ve compiled the top 10 Bristol activities on offer.
If you ever look at a map of Bristol, you will notice this vast green space to the west of the City Centre. Ashton Court mansion was once an estate owned by a wealthy family of merchants. Now managed by the City Council, this Grade 2 protected area of natural beauty is one of the most loved of Bristol’s many green spaces and easily accessible from the City Centre and Clifton. Two fantastic MTB trails have been built and hold the accolade of being the closest to any UK city. Bike hire can be found on site for those keen to give these well-designed routes a go.
For those looking for a more sedate afternoon outdoors, there are also two “Pitch and Putt” golf courses, a deer park and several miles of walking trails, which are also popular with joggers. The estate has also played host to several music festivals through the years.
It would be fair to say that Bristol likes its festivals. In fact, there are so many varieties of festival through the year you’d be hard pushed to find a weekend without a festival going on. The biggest and (some say) best has to be the Harbour Festival. A celebration of Bristol’s nautical past, this free festival now boasts several music stages scattered around the city, an huge food market and various interactive workshops.
Another of Bristol’s flagship festivals is the annual Balloon Fiesta. The twice daily ascent of hundreds of hot air balloons, with the famous Clifton Suspension Bridge as a backdrop, is a sight to behold, as is the spectacular ‘Nightglow’.
Food, cider and beer festivals have become increasingly popular as Bristol’s burgeoning restaurant and bar scene steps outdoors. Some of the best include Foodies Festival, Love Food Festival and Bristol Beer Festival (held in the Brunel built Passenger Shed).
For those looking to really let their hair down, Love Saves the Day is an amazing music festival fast making its name on the circuit! Held over the second May bank holiday in Eastville Park, this festival now boasts big name acts such as Dizzee Rascal, Chase & Status, Stormzy and Azealia Banks and attracts the best and beautiful of Bristol along to party hard all weekend!
West Country Games
A trip to Bristol would not be complete without immersing yourself into the famous ways of this part of the world. West Country Games celebrates all things south west so put on your wellies and straw hats for one of the most hilarious days out you have had in years! Battle it out with your mates in hugely funny games such as Vicky Pollard Handbags, The Cider Run, Mangold Dangling and Wurzel Knockout to name but a few!
When your Mangold really has been completely dangled, head to the farm restaurant on site for a picnic lunch washed down with local cider to round off a great day in the country. Not only is this a great activity for students, but also anyone on a Bristol stag weekend. Proper job!
Bristol’s rock climbing enthusiasts are lucky enough to enjoy one of the most beautiful spots in the country. The winding gash of Avon Gorge designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, is a 70 metre high winding crag of quarried limestone. Several specialist companies offer rock climbing and abseiling activity days and there is always a friendly crowd on hand to give advice.
Stand Up Paddle Boarding
The craze of Stand Up Paddle Boading, or SUPing as it has become known, has spread like wild fire over recent years. And Bristol’s River Avon certainly plays host to one of the most scenic and easily accessible urban locations around. So pick up your paddle and jump on board – it’s harder than it looks though!
Boat trips – Beeses Tea Garden
Beeses had for years been a bit of a hidden secret, until recently enjoyed only by savvy Bristolians in the know. But thanks to several local boating operations, and a bit of prior organisation with the landlord, it has become much more easily accessible. Following an interesting ride along the River Avon, passing industrial relics of old opening up to stunning river vistas beyond the city’s limits, approaching Beeses feels like you’ve really stumbled upon something really quite special. A lovely English garden with lovely views of the river provides the perfect setting for a pint or Sunday lunch, before jumping aboard once more for the return home.
Bristol’s ballooning heritage goes back a long way, with Cameron Balloons knocking them out from its nearby factory. There really is no better way of seeing Bristol’s famous Avon Gorge and Suspension Bridge than from a small wicker basket up in the skies.
A real summer highlight would be to combine your ballooning experience with the aforementioned Balloon Fiesta, when hundreds ascend over the weekend.
Urban Adventure Challenge – Bristol Outdoor Activity Company
A cross between orienteering, problem solving and adventure racing, this activity is a fantastic way for a group of friends or colleagues to bond together. Conveniently located around Bristol’s historic Harbourside, the area is divided into separate zones in which you must complete a tricky set of challenges.
Using a map, compass and clues your team must navigate by foot to outwit other challengers and win the challenge.
Ahoy me hearties! Perhaps one of Bristol’s best loved attractions, join Pirate Pete on his tours around this city’s famous maritime history. Tours last around one hour and are a great way to discover Bristol’s turbulent past.
A great way to finish off would be to step inside one of the old timber framed haunts of swashbucklers of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries on King Street, which are just as popular today, although now renamed the “Beermuda Triangle”.
Leigh Woods Walking Trails
A great one for when your student loan is running low! The Avon Gorge, a designated area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, is the perfect backdrop for the Leigh Woods walking trails. Dozens of interlinking trails loop their way through the woods, before opening up to offer stunning views of the gorge.
The woods really are a local hidden gem. What other city allows you to move from city to nature within a 30 minute walk from the Harbourside?
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