100 Bristol

PopulationMetro: 1,126,000
Independent, creative and multicultural, Bristol is England at its most engaging.

The more diverse a city’s population, the more it produces global ideas—on a local scale. That’s certainly the case with Bristol, which comes in at #34 in our People category.

In the 1950s and 1960s, waves of immigrants made Bristol the most racially diverse city in the UK. With these new cultures came access to different ideas and music genres. Politics, reggae, hip hop, and graffiti helped shape an underground creative scene characterized by spareness and darkness, and local artists like Massive Attack, Portishead, and Banksy flourished. Back in March 2017, the Sunday Times voted Bristol the best place to live in the UK; it ranks #23 in our University category, which means it’s a pretty good place to study, too.

Fiercely independent and proud of it, Bristol has its own currency, the Bristol Pound, to help the local economy. It also has some of the most intriguing street art in the world. Start your visit in Stokes Croft, a bohemian neighborhood where just about every wall is covered in graffiti; keep an eye out for Banksy’s Mild Mild West artwork, of a teddy bear throwing a Molotov cocktail at riot police, located next to The Canteen, a melting pot and meeting place for great food, drink and music.

Place 33
Product 15
Programming 6
People 68
Prosperity 16
Promotion 6

Across the city center is Wapping Wharf, a new harborside neighborhood where you can grab a bite to eat, something to drink and a souvenir at Cargo, an area where independent retailers have set up shop in converted shipping containers. Check out Brothers We Stand for ethically produced menswear by indie designers. Learn more about Bristol’s history through film, photos and objects at M Shed, a free museum set in the historic city docks. For dinner go to Casamia, a family-run restaurant where Michelin-starred chef Peter Sanchez-Iglesias serves a multi-course tasting menu. For a more laidback dining experience, try his other restaurants, the intimate Paco Tapas, or Pi Shop for the best pizza in town. This being Bristol, don’t call it a night until you dance it away at Lakota, the place to check out live music. All of this is to say, we’re not surprised Bristol comes in at #58 for Nightlife and #84 for Culture.