By Aminah Jagne

As the 7th largest English district with a population of over 420,000, (according to the 2011 UK Census) Bristol, although not quite as bustling as London, still holds its own as a thriving city. The city’s vibrant and varietal culture truly does cater for everyone and with a plethora of possible activities, it’s no surprise that in 2009, following a survey of 5000 people conducted by market research company One Poll, Bristol was branded as England’s best city to live in.

Travelling around Bristol, the cultural diversity is obvious and each area serves different tastes and moods.
Gloucester Road is in the North of Bristol and is recognised as having the greatest number of independent traders on any one road within the UK. Ever popular with students, Gloucester Road is always buzzing and features a massive choice of bars, shops, cafes and restaurants. Be it Japanese, Chines, Thai, Italian, Indian, British, Lebanese and many more, there are foods in this area to suit any palate.
The city centre is home to Cabot Circus, a relatively new instalment within Bristol that provides hundreds of larger-scale stores, both within the actual shopping centre and its surrounding areas. However, there is plenty more than just shopping to be found at the heart of Bristol, which includes popular theatre spots such as; The Hippodrome and Bristol Old Vic as well as the Bristol Aquarium and At-Bristol, an educational science discovery centre.
Nightlife in the centre is energetic, Bristol is known for it and the options are infinite. A massive amount of music genres are catered for when it comes to clubbing; with R&B, Jazz, Rock, Techno, Dubstep, Drum & Bass, Garage, Indie all covered by spots such as Po Na Na, Syndicate, Revolution, The Bear, Bierkeller, Dojo Bar, Blue Mountain, Motion, Antix and others, with a surplus of bars to go with them.

Head on up to the antique stretch of Clifton and although a large number of independent stores can still be found, they tend to be more upmarket in this somewhat opulent area. Along the way, there are several opportunities to explore Bristol’s history with buildings such as the Red Lodge (a Tudor house turned museum), The Georgian House Museum and Bristol Museum & Art Gallery. Clifton is also home to both Clifton Down, a beautiful stretch of public greenery and The Clifton Suspension Bridge, opened in 1864.
St Pauls and Stokes Croft are cultural areas of Bristol, both with a strong sense of community. Shops here include specialist international and local stores and St Pauls is home to the famous St Pauls Afrikan Carribean Carnival which is run by members of the local community.
With all this variety, an intimate population of around 500,000 (compared to London’s 7.75 million) and roughly 29% cheaper than the capital city, it’s no wonder that Bristol has been appraised so highly. This article has scarcely touched on all of the potential delights to be found within Bristol and it is strongly recommended that students, both new and old, do not hesitate to explore.  With a vibrant culture, strong economy, distinctive sense of history and diversity, Bristol is the place to study.

Image courtesy of Fenners1984