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Bristol: the most alternative city in England?

Updated: Aug 12, 2019

Other articles in "Living in the UK - Housing" Section

Is Bristol the most alternative city in the UK? It certainly seems to strive for the title. The Bristol pound is the largest circulating community currency in the UK. In 2015 Bristol won the European Green Capital Award, and the Sunday Times named as as the best city to live in 2014 and 2017. With fast transport links to London, its own airport, and the Cotswolds Area of National Beauty (AONB) on its doorstep, it is difficult to find a reason why you shouldn’t move there! In all seriousness it’s a city of arts, culture, sustainable industry, an aerospace hub, and has a rich port history. It has developed into a popular and unique town in the British landscape.


I’m a low maintenance person, feed me well and I will be happy. Bristol delivers on all count. Pasta Ripiena has quickly become popular and the hype is worth it, nobody can resist fresh stuffed pasta! For the deviants among you who dislike Italian cooking, there are plenty of other options. If you want to be refined and pay through the nose reserve a table (and a ticket) at Casamia. If you are more like me and like to eat your food with your hands go to Bertha’s for delicious sourdough pizza with seasonal ingredients that will blow your socks off. The pizzeria is located in Wapping Wharf, part of the historic harbour-side, so grab a pizza and explore the sights and the shops. Or visit Bravas, a nod to Barcelona and the Spanish way of eating this tapas restaurant and bar (yay alcohol!) is just one of the many culinary experiences available in this incredibly versatile city. In the words of Marina O’Loughlin “you can’t fling an organic parsnip without hitting a broadsheet food or drinks writer...or turn a steep corner of the city without stumbling into another fine little independent restaurant.”


It is no wonder that Bristol is one of the top tourist destinations in the UK, not just because it’s close to Bath and Roman ruins. Where else would you find a night club/music venue in a 1958 cargo ship? Thekla, formerly the Old Profanity Showboat, has an impressive music heritage (Massive Attack and Portishead used to play here), a Banksy graffiti on its hull, and is moored in the Floating Harbour which you can paddleboard through (told you they’re alternative). The city also hosts the International Balloon Fiesta and the Encounters Film Festival, which surely attract very different audiences. Encounters focuses on international short film and takes place every September. The city has a long and rich history, and you can easily get lost exploring these through the harbour, the SS Great Britain and its Being Brunel exhibition or the Bristol Museum & Art Gallery which is currently celebrating 10 years since Banksy vs Bristol. The city is famous for its street art and you will soon find much more than Banksy here, especially if you take part in Upfest, Europe’s largest street art festival. Is there anything about this city that does not scream “look at how alternative we are”!? You will be glad to know that there is also a zoo and a science centre if you are looking for calmer ways to spend a weekend. Mind you, the science centre is called “We the Curious”, what else do you expect from Brunel’s hometown?


Literally on your doorstep and everywhere. The aforementioned Cotswold park is a good day trip, but shorter excursions, parks or hilly leafy sights are never far away. This is not the concrete jungle that Londoner’s are used to. The seaside is not too far either. Bristol has been attracting ‘green’ business for years and its sustainability sector and green council initiatives. It is home to the first biomethane-powered UK bus (run entirely on human poo) officially known as the bio-bus. It is not known as “Cycling City” for nothing, in fact, it is one of the most cycle friendly town in the UK. Cycle through the Clfiton suspension bridge to the Leigh Woods, or choose any of the city’s numerous parks to relax in. Remember it was awarded Europe’s Green Capital title in 2015 as you breathe in the fresh air.