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Bristol’s best-kept secrets: Exploring the city’s hidden gems

Helping to acquaint arriving freshers with the city, Nel Roden explores some of Bristol's best local attractions.

By Nel Roden, Co-Deputy Features Editor

Moving from your hometown to a new city is always a daunting prospect, especially when you’re unfamiliar with what that new city has to offer. So, to aid this transition, here’s a collection of some Bristol’s best lesser-known spots for you to explore, helping to acquaint you with the city and become a true Bristolian.

Seamus O'Donnell's Irish Pub

Ah, the luck of the Irish. Kicking off the list is Seamus O'Donnell's; your classic Irish pub…with a hint of drag. Claiming to pour the best Guinness in the South West, Seamus’ is the perfect spot to experience the bustle of Bristol’s old city alongside some iconic drag performances. Whether you’re Irish and looking for a taste of home, or British/international and looking for a taste of Ireland, Seamus O’Donnell’s is the place to be.

The Coronation Tap

Located at the end of an unassuming street in the heart of Clifton, the Cori Tap is one of Bristol’s truly hidden gems. Known for its legendary – and lethal – Exhibition Cider, the Cori Tap is a cosy, welcoming cider-house ideal for a boozy pub night. But beware, while their half pints may seem like lightwork, they’re no joke; you’ll be sure to have some humbling memories from this Bristol experience.

John Mcmahon / Unsplash

Bag of Nails Cat Pub

Looking to fill the void of a pet after moving to university? Well, look no further. Bag of Nails is an intimate pub that combines the comforts of a good pint and a cat in your lap. Located near the riverside, this pub is a great place to spend an afternoon getting to know your new housemates alongside the pub’s feline residents. With a quiz night every Tuesday and an ever-playing mix of eclectic music scoring your visit, what more could you want!

Chance & Counters

Calling all boardgame enthusiasts! Chance & Counters is Bristol’s very own boardgame café. Whether you’re a hardcore boardgame fanatic or just looking for a light-hearted afternoon with friends, you won’t regret a visit to this brilliant spot. With cafes on both Christmas Steps and Gloucester Road, Chance & Counters has an extensive food, drink and boardgame menu, and is guaranteed to have something for everyone.

The Vaulted Chambers

On the topic of themed café’s, why not try the medieval inspired Vaulted Chambers? Located within the iconic grounds of Castle Park, The Vaulted Chambers is built within the last overground remains of Bristol Castle. Whether you’re interested in Bristol’s medieval history or simply wanting coffee and cake to accompany your Castle Park ramble, The Vaulted Chambers is a must-visit city centre spot.

Cabot Tower

While one of Bristol’s most scenic and popular green spaces, Brandon Hill, is no secret, you might not know that you can actually climb the spiralled staircase of the park’s spire, Cabot Tower. Built in the 1890s to commemorate John Cabot’s voyage from Bristol to Newfoundland, it’s the perfect fusion of Bristolian history and scenery to familiarise yourself as a new resident. Situated at the top of the hill overlooking the cityscape, it’s undoubtedly the best view in Bristol and a great way to get your bearings.

Tak-Kei Wong / Unsplash

St Nicholas Markets

If strolling around market stalls spending your student loan on street food and nick-nacks is your thing, then visit St Nicholas Markets! Located in the heart of Bristol’s old city, it’s easy to miss with the highstreets of Cabot Circus so near, but this experience is not one to pass up on. As Bristol’s largest collection of independent retailers, St Nick’s Market has it all. From authentic street food to hand-crafted clothes and jewellery, this is the ideal day out for any new student.

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Centrespace Studios & Gallery

Another one of Bristol’s — quite literally — hidden gems is Centrespace; an artist-run, non-profit gallery discreetly tucked away down Leonard Lane. From promoting a variety of artistic mediums to hosting events and workshops, Centrespace is a great day out for anyone looking to explore and support independent and sustainable artwork. Be sure to check the Centrespace website to see what exhibitions are on offer during September.

Featured Image: Unsplash / Kaung Sithu

Will you be visiting any of Bristol's hidden gems?