Bristol on a Budget

Food & Drink

In Bristol you don’t need to look far to find eating establishments galore, there are over 500.

Whilst many of us would love to “live the dream”, travelling by private jet, staying in the swankiest hotels complete with butler service, dining in Michelin starred gourmet restaurants on oysters and caviar, and being whisked around to see the sights in a chauffer driven Rolls Royce, in reality most of us have to watch the pennies. Fortunately a great holiday and just as much fun can be had on a tighter budget. Here are just a few money saving ideas to help you stay within your budget, on a trip to Bristol.

How to get the cheapest fares:

The old saying “The Early Bird Catches the Worm” really is true when it comes to planning your journey to Bristol. Bristol Airport is served by the well-known low-cost carriers, Easyjet and Ryanair, but be warned, their fares can often become expensive if not booked well in advance. To take advantage of their lowest fares it is best to book as soon as the flights are released so keep an eagle eye on their websites!

A marketplace in CliftonA marketplace in CliftonThe Clifton Suspension Bridge. Credit: N HindmarchThe Clifton Suspension Bridge. Credit: N Hindmarch

Similarly if you are travelling to Bristol by train or bus, booking well before your date of travel saves you money. To take advantage of the really cheap deals you should plan to make your journey during “off peak” hours. A saving of over £100 on the return train fare from London from Bristol can be made in this way – enough to buy a slap up meal for two on your arrival!  Book rail and National Express bus tickets in advance on line. Rail tickets can be collected at the station on day of travel.

How to find cheap accommodation:

Room rates in Bristol hotels range from around £29 per night to over £150 per night. For the very best deals it is always better to book in advance. If you are happy with basic accommodation, the lowest rates are found in dormitory accommodation in hostels. Those who like to burn the midnight oil could try the Rock & Bowl hostel at around £15 per person per night. As the name suggests this backpackers hostel is centrally located slap bang in the middle of “club land”, so don’t plan a quiet night in, particularly at the weekend (free earplugs are available from reception!). Looking for a quieter option? Try the Youth Hostel Association hostelon the harbourside at around £19.00 per night, you don’t have to be a youth to stay here – just young at heart. For a more upmarket experience try the modern budget hotels such as Travelodgeor Premier Innthat are clean, comfortable and located near the centre. The cost of a room for two people per night is upwards of £29.00 per night, including free tea and coffee making facilities.

How to save money travelling around the city:

Bristol is a compact city and very easy to explore on foot so you shouldn’t need to spend anything on travelling around. For those who do become foot weary, the regular bus service will save the day. For best value buy an off peak First Day ticket that covers central Bristol (Zone 1 and 2) and allows unlimited travel all day for around £4.00. These tickets can be bought from the bus driver.

St Nicholas MarketSt Nicholas MarketPeroPero

How to save money on food:

In Bristol you don’t need to look far to find eating establishments galore, over 500 at the last count, including fast food outlets, bistros and fine dining restaurants with prices to match. If you choose wisely it is possible to eat well on a budget. Fancy a long lazy lunch? Check out the special lunch menus offered at many establishments that allow you to enjoy the same quality and type of food at a much lower cost than in the evening. Alternatively for a quick bite to eat why not pick up a reasonably priced ‘meal deal’ from one of the supermarkets and eat it in a peaceful park or by the harbour? A drink, sandwich and crisps can usually be bought for around £2.00 to £3.00

In the evening, Pre Theatre or Early Bird menus are great value provided that you are happy to eat before 7.00pm. Alternatively try one of the restaurants that offer “all you can eat deals” for a fixed price. The most famous, largest and best is Za Za Bazaar on the harbour-side where you can eat your way around food from up to 12 different countries including India, China, Italy, Britain and Mexico – maybe not one to try if you are trying to lose weight!

How to save money on daytime attractions:

Free things to do are plentiful in Bristol. You can visit the museums and art galleries run by Bristol City Council, watch the activity in the busy harbour area, view the historic churches, wonder at the Georgian architecture in Clifton or stand in awe at the drop from the Clifton Suspension Bridge gazing at the water below. Then, if you still have the energy there’s the Wills Memorial Building to admire and the bustle of St Nicholas Market to experience. The thriftiest travellers will also be pleased that money can also be saved on some of the “paid for” activities. Nearly all the major attractions offer less expensive family, student and senior tickets – remember to take the relevant identification cards with you as proof of entitlement is often requested at the ticket booth.

Bristol Museum and Art Gallery. Credit: N HindmarchBristol Museum and Art Gallery. Credit: N HindmarchBristol CathedralBristol Cathedral

How to save money on a night out:

Who wouldn’t say “no” to a reasonably priced night on the town? One of the largest nightclubs in Bristol, the Oceana, offers 25% off tickets for event nights at weekends if you buy tickets online in advance - If you buy tickets this way you can dodge the long, tortuous queue at the door and start partying right away! Many other nightspots offer special deals on tickets or drinks from time to time so it’s worth keeping your eyes peeled for notices outside the venues.

How to save money on day trips:

When venturing out of the city by bus for a day trip, buy a First Day South West ticket. At £7.00 this is great value compared to buying tickets individually and allows travel for one day on most First bus services in Bristol, South Gloucestershire, Somerset, Wiltshire, Dorset, Devon and Cornwall.

Finally put the savings you have made to good use and come back to see us in Bristol again next year.


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