Student City Guide: Get To Know Bristol, Southampton, Exeter & Brighton

If you’ve recently started university or are about to enrol, then you’ve come to the right place! To help you settle in wherever you’re going, we’ve been talking to students across the country to bring you the best recommendations for the student hotspots in all the major uni towns, from Newcastle to Exeter. In this instalment of our Student City Guide series, we’re talking about the cutest cafés to work in, the coolest bars to drink in and the most fun activities to try out at universities based in the south of England. So, if you’re headed to Bristol, Southampton, Exeter or Brighton for your studies, have a scroll…


Café:  Cafe Kino


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They run things a little differently at Cafe Kino: it’s a not-for-profit co-operative, so the business is run collectively, giving it a great community feel. The work of local artists is displayed in constant rotations on the walls, the food and cakes are homemade and it’s also all vegan! Don’t forget to check out their event and workshop schedule when you grab a coffee.

Bar: Hyde & Co


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To get to this speakeasy-style spot, you first have to ring an inconspicuous doorbell under a small illuminate sign. You’ll then be lead through a bookcase (classic) and into the bar area where you can sip on award-winning creative cocktails all night long. When it first opened, this bar had no website or social media so word of mouth recommendations made it a Bristol must-visit. However, it is a little on the expensive side so this could be one to save for special occasions.

Activity: Paddleboarding on the harbourside


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Turns out, paddle-boarding is the UK’s fastest growing water sport, so why not give it a go and explore your new home from a whole new perspective? SUP Bristol, alongside lots of other companies, offer a number of options from beginner taster sessions to adventure tours which take you around Bristol harbourside and the historic waterways.


Café: Baffi


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Part café, part pizza joint, Baffi’s is a great place to set yourself up for the day and make a dent in your course reading list whilst snacking on Italian food. It’s got a great decked seating area for warmer days but is super roomy inside too. Plus, it’s right next to the student high street – now isn’t that convenient!

Bar: Dancing Man Brewery


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Perched on top of a hill with a view that overlooks the sea as well as the exact spot of where the Titanic was berthed before it set off,  it’s no surprise that the Dancing Man Brewery is one of the most-loved pubs in Southampton. Indoors, it’s your classic cosy pub with an endless selection of beers to choose from and regular live music events.

Activity: Southampton Common


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The common, which is the largest open space in Southampton, looks picturesque all-year-round due to the tree lined walkways, local wildlife and sprawling lake which twists in between the woodland. Since barbecues are allowed in all the city’s parks and open spaces, in warmer months, you’ll always find groups of students lounging around on the grass and enjoying a BBQ in the sun.


Café: Artigiano


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Speciality coffee hotspot by day and vibrant wine bar by night, Artigiano’s is a café that can do both. With its trendy hipster aesthetic – think exposed brick walls and leather sofa seating, all illuminated with industrial style hanging lights and neon-lit wording on the wall. It’s a cool spot to meet new friends for brunch or a coffee.

Bar: The Old Firehouse


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Everyone loves a good pub – especially one that’s dripping with twinkly fairy lights and draped with colourful strings of bunting (inside and out!). As well as the jazz, DJ and football screening events which they host every week, The Old Firehouse has become well known for it’s amazing (and cheap) pizza so this is a great place to stop by for a drink and a snack before a night out.

Activity: Kayaking at the quay


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Kayaking on the Quay is a fun idea if you fancy a break from sitting around in the students union and desperately trying to remember the names of all the people you’ve just met. There are a host of companies that offer a range of kayaking sessions for beginners, intermediate level and groups. Hire prices start from just £10 and you can fit two people in the boat, so pick a partner and get involved.


Café: Redroaster


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Lovers of foliage and botanical spaces will fall in love with Redroaster café in Kemptown, Brighton. With a little help from the World Interiors Designer of the Year, Hana Hakim, the spot was recently renovated and is now a modern, bright and open place to enjoy brunch, lunch or coffee. Plus, there are plug sockets everywhere so you can get some work done there too!

Bar: Patterns


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People say that Brighton has some of the top nightlife in the UK and Patterns has got to be up there with the best of the city’s after-dark places to be. They offer an amazing happy hour running from 5pm-9pm which is always followed by a roster of DJs and cutting edge music talent. In milder months, the south-facing sea view terrace is the perfect place to spend lazy weekends or grab a post-lecture drink.

Activity: Brighton Palace Pier


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Brighton Palace Pier might seem like an obvious choice, but there’s more going on on than you might think! Alongside the classic arcade games and small rollercoaster rides, they hold a whole range of events from live music performances to firework displays. You can enjoy all of this whilst munching on some delicious seaside treats like fish and chips, churros and milkshakes!