area guide

Bristol area guide

Bristol is lucky enough to benefit from a wonderful position in the West Country, where urban city life is paralleled by some of England's best countryside, which you can see for miles in every direction. From the stately Georgian homes of Bath, to the honey-coloured houses within the Cotswolds, there is so much to appreciate and so much to do, all just a short distance from Bristol itself.

Of course, it comes as no surprise that Bristol is considered to be one of the most easily accessible cities in the country. The city has hugely benefited from being next to two of the UK's largest motorways, from use of the busy Temple Meads train station, and of course from the ever expanding Bristol International Airport which has planes arriving from as far afield as North America, which all help make Bristol such a connected city.


Bristol has everything in terms of entertainment and lifestyle and with so many restaurants, cafes and pubs to choose from, you’ll truly be spoilt for choice when it comes to eating out. This, coupled with the vast and diverse range of shopping centres, (ranging from the modern and contemporary experiences of The Mall, Cribbs Causeway and Cabot Circus to the more elegant independent boutiques of Clifton Village), Bristol offers something for everyone.

Being the economic hub of the West Country, Bristol is home to a buoyant and ever growing business sector as well as becoming a thriving technology hub in its own right too. On top of this, being home to the University of Bristol and University of the West of England, internationally renowned employers including AXA, the MOD and Orange, (to name but a few), are located here, probably because the quality of the work-life balance is quite so excellent. The recently opened Bristol & Bath Science Park in Emersons Green is attracting many more visitors as well as businesses and their employees from every corner of the globe.

With regards to the cities history and culture, Bristol has enjoyed a rich and very eventful past, and many parts of the city are left much as they were hundreds of years ago. From medieval town to cutting-edge city of culture, Bristol continues to lead the way in its own unique style. Whether Brunel’s Clifton Suspension Bridge and SS Great Britain, the Bristol Old Vic Theatre or Bristol City Museum & Art Gallery float your boat, Bristol offers everything from a deep ingrained history which is many centuries old, to the modern culture of the present day.

City centre


Right in the very heart of the city centre is Broadmead. Known as Bristol’s shopping quarter, it comprises hundreds of shops and restaurants, multiple cinemas and a huge surplus of bars. There are three main shopping areas: The Galleries, Cabot Circus and Quakers Friars which have everything from high street brands to designer labels. Practically all of the residential accommodation in Broadmead consists of new build apartments such as the well-known developments, The Horizon and Broad Weir.

Redcliffe and Harbourside

The popular areas of Redcliffe and The Harbourside also have their fair share of bars and restaurants, however, they also benefit from more housing, which is a mixture of newly built apartments, traditional period houses and modernised flat conversions. Redcliffe is the nearest of the two to the Bristol Temple Meads train station which is adjacent to Temple Quay, Bristol’s new office district. A short walk through Queen Square, (a beautiful green space in the heart of Bristol enclosed by some wonderful Georgian architecture), is The Harbourside which is fast becoming one of the most sought after and trendiest places to live for young professionals. Largely, the buildings are apartments, all within a few minutes’ walk into the city centre, the avenues, squares and streets forming the Harbourside are predominantly pedestrianised which really gives a somewhat continental feel to the whole area. It is one of the more impressive and culturally interesting places within Bristol to live, offering an exciting and vibrant mix of music, film, contemporary art, history and entertainment. The Harbourside is also home to The Arnolfini, M-Shed, Watershed and the SS Great Britain all of which are must see attractions in Bristol.


West Bristol

Clifton and Redland

Home of the famed Suspension Bridge built by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, Clifton has recently been described by a leading travel writer as, “a neighbourhood of garden squares and Georgian terraces, bars and boutiques that match Bath in terms of sophistication”. Clifton does indeed have some of the highest rents in Bristol, probably due to the fact that this is where some of Bristol’s most beautiful residences are. Wandering amidst the wonderful Georgian architecture, you can choose between the many small, but up-market independent shops and boutiques. Clifton has a good mixture of families, professionals and students making up its population.

Whiteladies Road is what separates Clifton and Redland. Redland is situated between Clifton, Cotham, Bishopston and Westbury Park. Although it is less affluent than Clifton, Redland is still able to boast some fantastic Georgian architecture. A large amount of the houses in Redland have been converted into apartments, but it still has more houses (compared with flats) than Clifton. Redland is known as a popular area for a lot of student accommodation, particularly with second or third year students from Bristol University and the University of West of England.

Redland and Clifton are very well assisted by a good number of primary and secondary schools, including Clifton College, Redland Green School and Redland High School for Girls.

Cotham and Kingsdown

Cotham is another affluent suburb of Bristol, situated between St Pauls and Clifton, giving it a similar character to Redland. A short walk from the shops of the Gloucester Road, Cotham is a popular area with both young professional and families alike. It is a cosmopolitan feeling residential place, with many large old properties, (many of which are used as hotels and bed and breakfast accommodation, or have been divided into flats), and a selection of small independent shops. It also is lucky enough to have the Cotham School (formerly known as Cotham Grammar School).

Kingsdown is substantially a residential area of Bristol, situated to the south of Cotham. It is very popular with university students as well as many staff of the Bristol Royal Infirmary Hospital. There are over 200 listed buildings in the area. Kingsdown Sports Centre offers an array of community facilities for its residents.

Stoke Bishop, Westbury on Trym and Henleaze

Stoke Bishop is an affluent, small to medium-sized area in the north-west of Bristol, located in between Sneyd Park, Westbury-on-Trym and Sea Mills. An area popular with families, Stoke Bishop is centered around a small village hall and also a row of shops on Druid Hill, which is home also to a number of small local businesses. There is also one primary school called Stoke Bishop Church Of England Primary School and the St Mary Magdalene Church.

To the north-east of Stoke Bishop lies Westbury on Trym. Often commented on regarding its village atmosphere, Westbury on Trym High Street has a mixture of restaurants, pubs and cafés. The village centre is well-served for shoppers, containing banks and independent stores including book shops, craft stores, hardware shops, florists, and a number of charity shops. Schools include Elmlea Infant School, Elmlea Junior School and Westbury on Trym Church of England Academy making this a perfect family area with lots of nearby green space. Independent schools include the esteemed girls' schools Badminton.

Henleaze is a very popular residential area of Bristol, with Edwardian streets on its southern fringes. Its closest neighbours are Westbury on Trym and Redland. It is very well served by the local high street which consists of the Orpheus cinema as well as an array of independent shops. Schools in Henleaze include Henleaze Junior School, Red Maids' Junior School and St Ursula’s Academy, which is why it comes as no surprise that this is a great area for families, as there is such a large choice of schools and activities as well.

St Andrews, Montpellier and Bishopston

St Andrew's is a popular suburb of Bristol, situated around 3 km North of the city centre. The area was developed in the late 19th century as St Andrew's Park Estate, and consists mostly of large Victorian villas, perfect for growing families. St Andrew's Park is right at the heart of the area and the park is home to events such as 'Music in the Park' during the summer, and 'Carols in the Park' at Christmas. The park features well-sized children’s play area and a permanent paddling pool. Schools nearby include Sefton Park Infant School and Colston’s Girls School.

Montpelier is an area of Bristol bounded by the Cheltenham Road to the West, St Paul's to the south, St Werburghs to the east and St Andrew's to the north. It even has its own railway station. It has a reputation for being rather bohemian and 'alternative'. Picton Street, for example, is a real haven for anyone who enjoys organic, vegetarian cuisine. There is a strong feeling of community spirit in Montpelier. Both street parties and fundraising events are held quite regularly. St Barnabas Church of England VC Primary School and Cabot Primary School serve the local area well.

Bishopston is situated around the Gloucester Road, a main road which takes you into the city centre. The Gloucester Road is well known for its restaurants and pubs and is known to be one of the last few remaining local high streets in the country because it is very well used by local residents and will continue to be used for a long time to come. The does have a fairly large student population but also has an abundance of families and young couples living in the area. Bishopston is home to Gloucestershire County Cricket Club. Schools include Bishop Road Primary School and Ashley Down School.


North Bristol

Horfield and Filton

Horfield and Filton lie on the Northern edge of Bristol and mark a large part of the boundary between the counties of Bristol and South Gloucestershire. Filton has some lovely large areas of open space, which includes several playing fields, a golf course and even an airfield. Filton is home to several aerospace companies including BAE Systems, Airbus, Rolls-Royce and MBDA. Other employers in Filton include the MOD, Viridor, Hewlett Packard and the Royal Mail. So there is plenty of opportunity in the area. Filton is also home to the regional blood processing facility, NHS Blood and Transplant. It is predominantly a family and student area, aided well by the shops of Abbeywood Retail Park. Charborough Road Primary School, Orchard School and South Gloucestershire and Stroud College are amongst the schools in the area.

Bradley Stoke

Bradley Stoke is a fairly new town situated on the North side of the city of Bristol. Once reported as being Europe's largest private housing development, it has flourished into an important hub of Bristol. The town is predominantly residential, (mostly families), with some retail and commercial areas. The town centre, Willow Brook Centre, features around 18 stores, mainly national chain stores. The main employers are found along the Great Park Road at the Aztec West development and also at the Almondsbury Business Park. There is a good choice of schools in Bradley Stoke, including Wheatfield Primary School, Meadowbrook Primary School and Bradley Stoke Community School.

Stoke Gifford and Stoke Park

Stoke Gifford is a large estate in the Northern suburbs of Bristol. The parish is neighboured by Little Stoke, Harry Stoke and Stoke Park. The parish also borders with Filton, to the South-West, Patchway to the North-West, Bradley Stoke to the North and Winterbourne and Hambrook to the east. It is home to Bristol Parkway railway station which is on the London-South Wales railway line, as well as the Bristol offices for; Hewlett Packard, Friends Life, and The University of the West of England. There is a large supermarket within short walking distance and most of the local children walk or cycle to nearby St Abbeywood Community School & Michael's C of E Primary School. It is a very popular area with families and students.


East Bristol

Redfield and St George

Close to the city centre lies Redfield and St George. Areas lined with Victorian terraced houses. Toward the eastern border of Redfield is St Georges Park, a good sized green space and mature woodland which includes a tree-lined avenue, a tennis club and large pond with ducks and swans. There is also a skate park. The park has a dedicated jogging circuit and there is a small car park for convenience. The public library is also nearby. St. George is a district readily known for its shops and many pubs of which it is home to many. Schools include Summer Hill Primary School and Whitehall Primary School. Both areas are popular with professionals and families alike.

Kingswood and Hanham

Kingswood is an area residing on the eastern border of the city, bordering the county of Gloucestershire. Schools to boast include, King's Oak Academy, The Park Primary School and The Grange School and Sports College.

Hanham is going to be the first place in the UK to trial the new eco-towns which are being built on the former Hanham Hall hospital site. The new eco-town will act as a design for five other eco-towns which are to be rolled out nationally. 

Fishponds and Downend

Fishponds is an area in the north-east of the city. It has two large Victorian parks; Eastville Park and Vassell's Park, (formerly the Vassell's Family estate), also known locally as Oldbury Court. Fishponds is mainly a residential family area through which two main bus routes pass, making it a well-connected suburb of Bristol. Housing here is typically of the terraced Victorian variety. The high street encompasses many local shops, such as greengrocers and florists. There is also a small student population due to the existence of the St Matthias and Glenside campuses of the University of the West of England.

The popular family area of Downend has Fishponds to its South-West and the suburbs of Staple Hill to the South, Frenchay to the West and Mangotsfield to the east. Between Downend and Frenchay are Cleevewood and Bromley Heath which are well priced, popular areas for families. Downend does mainly consist of domestic housing and local shopping facilities. The high street is home to a number of independently owned shops and major high street banks. Downend is lucky to benefit from a lot of green space and parks including The King George V Playing Fields, and there is also a local cricket club located in the centre of Downend. Secondary and primary schools based in Downend include, Stanbridge Primary School, Downend School, Christ Church Junior and Infant Schools and Bromley Heath Junior and Infant Schools. There are a number of local churches although the closest are Downend Baptist Church on Salisbury Road and Christ Church on Downend Road. Badminton Road Methodist Church, between Downend and the Avon Ring Road serves the newer housing alongside Badminton Road and in the Bromley Heath area.

Emersons Green

Emersons green is a comparatively new housing estate in the north-east of Bristol. As an area it is highly popular with families, which is helped by its open spaces, good schools and fantastic shopping facilities. The Bristol & Bath Railway Path is very nearby and transport links to the motorway network are particularly excellent. The area is in the process of undergoing a large amount of development with the land to the North of the Rosary Roundabout, (known as Emersons Green East), set aside for up to 2,500 new homes, two new primary schools, a secondary school as well as business units. The scheme will also include a new park and ride facility, a footbridge over the Avon Ring Road and a network of footpaths and cycle ways. Open spaces planned for the site include playing fields, a multi-use games area and even an all-weather sports pitch. Schools in Emersons Green are Mangotsfield Primary School, Emersons Green Primary School, and Blackhorse Primary School. The Bristol & Bath Science Park and the NHS Treatment Centre are also located in Emersons Green.


South Bristol

Southville and Bedminster

Southville is located on the South bank of the River Avon and north-west of Bedminster. The area has been largely gentrified since the early 1980s, alongside the national rise in house prices. It has been referred to as ‘’Lower Clifton’’, a reference to the very prosperous Clifton area in Bristol. New bars and restaurants and the nationally renowned Tobacco Factory theatre attract many visitors to the area, while the Southville Community Centre and Southville School have become central features to the vibrant community atmosphere. Just South of Southville is Ashton Gate Stadium, home of Bristol City Football Club. It is very popular with families and professionals.

Bedminster lies on the south side of the city. Schools include Holy Cross RC Primary School, South Street Primary School, Victoria Park Primary School and Parson Street Primary School. The two main shopping streets in Bedminster are East Street and West Street. Bedminster is home to Windmill Hill City Farm. An area which is undergoing regeneration, Bedminster has always been, and remains to this day to be a sought after area for renting by all typed of people.


Totterdown is an area situated just south of the River Avon and south-east of Temple Meads railway station and the city centre. It rises steeply from the river bank to a largely terraced Victorian housing area which is notable for its painted homes which are often in bright shades of blue, pink or yellow which can be seen from quite some distance. There is a very tight network of extremely steep roads in Upper Totterdown, of which Vale Street which although very short, is alleged to be the steepest residential road in the whole of England. For safety, cars have to be parked on it at an angle to the kerb. Totterdown has become a very popular area for the younger generation working in the city centre. Totterdown is also popular with young families. The local schools serving the area are St Mary Redcliffe Church of England Primary School and St Mary Redcliffe and Temple School.