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Freshers might feel a bit different this year, but the fact remains that Bristol is the best student city in the country. If you want to avoid the SU bar and opt for something a bit cooler with your pack of new mates, here’s just a handful of the city’s best offerings for drinks, food, shopping and more to add to your Bristol bucket list. map

Drinking spots

Breaking Bread, The Downs, BS9 1FG

UoB fresher living up at Stoke Bishop? Your closest watering hole is Breaking Bread – a pop-up environment housing highly regarded restaurants and The Pipe and Lovers pub garden. Expect beers, kebabs, cocktails, comedy nights, special guest kitchens and DJs; oh and did we mention it’s run by the team behind Love Saves The Day?

The Anchor, BS7 8PE

A favourite for UWE Frenchay students due to its Gloucester Road location (the UK’s longest stretch of independent shops!), The Anchor has drinks deals and cheap eats in abundance, as well as plenty of plasma screens for footy fans (and cosy tables for those who want to avoid them).

The Christmas Steps, BS1 5BS

Another musically managed pub, The Christmas Steps is home to some of the only outdoor pub seating in the city centre. Owned by our long-time collaborators Crack Magazine, you can get a taste of their exclusive hops here in one of the city’s most historic districts.

Places to see DJs

Lakota Gardens, BS2 8QN

Lakota is one of the country’s most renowned nightlife venues, having been at the centre of Bristol’s club scene since the ‘90s. Although incoming freshers may not have a chance to dance inside just yet, their gardens are open and past Love Saves The Day acts like Skream, Skepsis, Mella Dee and My Nu Leng will step up to the decks in 2020.

HighRise Hub, BS2 9ES

Bristol is a global centre for bass music – jungle, drum and bass and dub can be found throughout the city’s sonic history. HighRise Hub’s pop-up venue at The Boxing Club celebrates soundsystem culture, inviting selectors such as Channel One, Randall and Born On Road to play in their festival-feel setting.

Strange Brew, BS1 3BN

Dirtytalk’s parties are legendary and, although clubbing is currently on pause, the crew have been working hard to present Strange Brew – a new city centre venue for music and art. Their livestream launch brought together Shanti Celeste and Batu, among other huge names, and they’re opening soon for more great music alongside art installations and a bar.

Pizza & burgers

Pizzarova, BS1 5HS, BS1 6ZA, BS7 8NY

Bristol is a heaven on Earth for sourdough pizza fans, but Pizzarova is among the best. With three sites across the city, there are plenty of places to pick up a pizza that’s handmade and customisable with a rotation of fresh local toppings. Check out the Wriggle app for exclusive deals at Pizzarova and other independent eateries across Bristol.

Hobgoblin, BS7 8AS

Three words: dirty dirty fries. Gloucester Road pub Hobgoblin are famous for their extreme (and extremely delicious) take on diner food. You’ll find chips loaded with cheesy pulled pork and an only-for-the-brave hot wings challenge where participants make it on either the Hall of Fame or Shame.

No. 51 Stokes Croft, BS1 3QP

When they aren’t hosting late-night DJs, No. 51 – a staple on Stokes Croft – plays host to student-friendly pub prices and tasty grub deals for pizza and burgers, all best enjoyed in their alfresco drinking area out back.

Vegan eats

Oowee Vegan, BS1 1QZ, BS3 1JF, BS6 5QA

Oowee’s plant-based meat alternatives are so good, even the most carnivorous fresher won’t be able to spot the difference between their vegan junk food and the real thing (found at their North Street, BS3 diner for comparison).

Koocha Mezze, BS6 7AD

A 100% vegan destination, Koocha Mezze’s take on Persian-style mezze is best shared. Select small plates of falafel, dips, fritters, stews and more or opt for plant-based mains like kebabs, hotdogs and loaded fries.

Baba Ganoush, BS2 9JJ

Specialising in veggie and vegan food, the wraps and salad boxes at Baba Ganoush are famed throughout the city for their unbeatable value. Their lunchtime deals are unbelievably cheap and will leave you in a food coma for the rest of the afternoon – find them on the Wriggle app!

Vintage clothing

Loot, BS1 3LN

Fashion has a dangerous environmental impact – did you know the industry is the second largest polluter in the world? That doesn’t mean no new clothes for your new year in Bristol, though: shopping second hand at spots like Loot is a sustainable and stylish way to upgrade your wardrobe.

The Vintage Thrift Store Bristol, BS1 5NH

Park Street is Bristol’s most iconic street, home to many independent shops that wind all the way up the hill. Being so close to UoB’s Clifton campus, it’ll be easy to get lost in all the rows of vintage gems in-between seminars and library sessions.

Beyond Retro, BS1 3HA

Beyond Retro’s newest franchise – behind stores in London, Brighton and Sweden – has recently opened its doors in Broadmead. You’ll unearth retro finds from brands like Nike and Levis as well as one-off, completely unique pieces.

Record stores

Idle Hands, BS2 8TP

DJ and record label head honcho Chris Farrell curates the finest selection of dance music vinyls across a myriad of sub-genres – techno, house, disco, dubstep, grime, reggae, dub and everything in-between.

Rough Trade, BS1 2QD

Part of the same family that have iconic record shops in Brick Lane, Notting Hill, Nottingham and Brooklyn, Rough Trade is a centre for alternative music on vinyl. Stay tuned for the reopening of their live music venue.

Friendly Records, BS3 1ES

For a mix of new and used vinyl, Friendly Records is the south of the river spot for collectors, also stocking merchandise and a tucked-away bar.