Budget-Friendly Date Ideas in Bristol: Romance Doesn’t Have to Break the Bank

budget date ideas

In our opinion, Bristol is one of the most romantic cities in the UK, so coming up with date ideas in Bristol is pretty easy. 

However, we’re living in a time where everything from rent and food to public transport is getting more expensive. This makes dating feel impossible without annihilating your carefully planned budget.

Fear not! Bristol is full of free and affordable things to do that are perfect for dates. 

Using our local knowledge and past experiences, we’ve created an up-to-date list for 2023 of brilliant date ideas Bristol has to offer that won’t break the bank.

Budget-friendly date ideas in Bristol:
Walk the Clifton Suspension BridgeTake a city bike rideWatch the sunset at HarboursideRelax on the downsExplore Clifton observatory and cavesComplete the city sculpture trailVisit Cliftonwood’s colourful terracesTake a self-guided tour of Bristol’s street artExplore St. Nicholas market Visit a magic bar

Free & Affordable Bristol Date Ideas for Couples

Being a romantic doesn’t have to be an expensive lifestyle. Yes, it’s nice to get dressed up and visit romantic restaurants with your significant other or to impress on a first date, but it’s not necessary. 

There are so many places to go and things to see in a quirky city like Bristol that are almost completely free. Check out our list of the best Bristol date ideas complete with tips and prices that will protect your wallet.

1. Walk the Clifton Suspension Bridge

One of the most iconic structures in Bristol – or the country – is the Clifton Suspension Bridge. The bridge offers great photo opportunities from a distance, but did you know it’s also free to walk across it? 

The views from the bridge are stunning, and despite the traffic crossing the bridge, it still feels incredibly romantic, especially on a summer’s evening when the sun is setting and a warm breeze is running through your hair.

Although you may not be able to afford a romantic hot air balloon ride, you might be able to spot one or two from the bridge and fantasise about future dates with your partner.

2. Go on a City Bike Ride

There’s something inherently romantic about hopping on two wheels and taking a leisurely bike ride around the city centre. This is super easy in Bristol thanks to the Voi e-bikes and e-scooters that can be found all over the city.

These bikes cost £0.99 to unlock then £0.16 per minute to use, all you need is the Voi app to activate a bike. You can ride the bikes on the road or around parks, just be aware of your surroundings as you sightsee. They’re also great for getting to and from other free date ideas.

Note Voi is being replaced by a new company called TIER in 2023, but the concept is the same.

3. Watch the Sunset Harbourside

As far as romantic settings go, a sunset is pretty classic! There are so many locations in Bristol where you can watch the sunset for a perfect date night. One of the most interesting spots is Bristol harbourside.

You can sit on the harbour walls and dangle your legs over the water as the sky shifts from blue to pink and orange hues. You can even bring a small picnic and a few drinks; just be mindful of open container laws and stick to soft drinks. A quick Google of ‘Bristol Sunset Times‘ will help you plan your trip perfectly.

4. Relax on the Downs

There are plenty of green spaces in Bristol that offer a beautiful backdrop for a date night on a budget, but none are quite as perfect as Bristol Downs

To get to The Downs from the city centre, you’ll have to get a bus or hire a Voi e-bike as the walk is all uphill, and you don’t want to be a sweaty mess during your date.

This is another great location to bring a picnic and watch the sun go down. If you want to make more of a day of it, a fun date idea could be to bring some classic outdoor games such as a Frisbee to help rekindle your youth and have a few laughs.

5. Look Around Clifton Observatory & Caves

If the Clifton suspension bridge isn’t really your thing, or you want something else to do while you’re up there, a visit to Clifton Observatory and Caves is a great choice. Not only do you get to learn a bit more about this intriguing city, but you also get some pretty romantic views!

A full-access ticket to the Clifton observatory costs £5 for an adult. If you want to explore the caves and get a unique view of the suspension bridge, you’ll need to add an extra £3. Not bad for dating on a budget!

6. Complete the City Sculpture Trail

If there’s one thing Bristol is known for, it’s art. Artwork in the city comes in many forms, but one that’s stuck over the years is the sculpture trails that raise money for charity. Each year a different animal or character sculpture is chosen, and various charities and companies get to decorate them. Then they’re spread throughout the city for you to find.

The trail is completely free to complete, and you can get some really fun photographs. Previous trails have included Gromit and Shaun the Sheep from Aardman Animation. This is a great first date idea as it gives you plenty to talk about as you wander around the city.

7. Visit Cliftonwood Colourful Terraces

One of the most iconic images from Bristol is the coloured terraced houses of Clifton. These houses are visible from the harbourside where you can get some beautiful pictures on a sunny day. For a better first date idea, you can stroll down the street and see the houses up close.

The iconic rainbow terrace is located in Cliftonwood, just down from Clifton Village. It’s a quiet, residential neighbourhood, so make sure you’re respectful when visiting and try not to take photographs standing on people’s doorsteps.

8. Take a Self-Guided Tour of Bristol’s Street Art

The thing that has put Bristol on the cultural map more than anything else is its street art – thanks, Banksy! If you’re looking for date ideas that bring out your cultural side without visiting a stuffy art gallery, a self-guided tour of Bristol’s street art is the king of unique date ideas.

The best thing about Bristol’s street art is that there’s so much more than just Banksy’s work to look at. There are unique murals to honour local legends like DJ Derek and stunning portraits that represent Bristol’s life and history. For date ideas in Bristol, this should be right at the top of your list!

9. Explore St. Nicholas Market

Another classic date idea in Bristol is a trip to St. Nicholas Market. Although a market might not sound like the most romantic location for a date night, you can’t underestimate the magic of this city. This indoor market is filled with the city’s largest collection of independent retailers.

This is a great location for a first-date idea and can provide the perfect opportunity to learn more about what your date is interested in. 

If you’re feeling brave, haggle your way through the stalls and pick up a unique souvenir of your time together. You could even grab some food from one of the many eateries within the market and enjoy a romantic picnic in the nearby Castle Park.

10. Visit a Magic Bar

We’ve already mentioned that Bristol has magic running through its veins, so why not visit an actual magic bar? Hidden away in one of Bristol’s many side streets is the Smoke and Mirrors pub. Located next to the domineering Bristol Hippodrome, this tiny bar is the perfect location for a date night.

You can simply pop in for a drink and enjoy some table-side magic from their in-house magician. If you want a more organised first date idea, you can book tickets to their Joke and Mirrors nights for a reasonable £6 per person. The ultimate Bristol comedy event showcases the city’s up-and-coming talent in a comedy night.

Tips for Planning a Budget-Friendly Date Night in Bristol

Now we’ve given you plenty of inspiration for a wallet-friendly date night in Bristol, it’s time to get into the execution of the date. None of our suggestions may be a hot air balloon ride, but they can quickly get expensive if you don’t plan properly.

Preparation is Key

As with anything, if you fail to prepare, prepare to fail. Even if you’re going on a free or cheap date, you need to put some effort into the planning to make sure it goes without a hitch. This is particularly important to make sure you impress on a first date.

We don’t always have the luxury of plenty of notice for a date, but you can execute a pretty epic date idea for a reasonable price if you plan ahead. The earlier you book tickets, the more likely you are to get a better deal. There are always early bird offers and discounts available.

Remember, getting discounts for booking early applies to your transport too! Make sure you book those train tickets nice and early.

Local Insights

If you’re not from Bristol or aren’t familiar with the city, you might miss out on some of the best cheap dates and free opportunities. You can check out this comprehensive list of free attractions and places to visit in Bristol. This list lets you know when free attractions are open to the public and how to get to them.

The majority of green spaces in Bristol are open to the public 24/7, but if there are events or festivals being held, there might be restricted access. It’s important to google the intended location of the date beforehand to ensure you have a fun night.

As a general rule, all paid-for attractions are going to be slightly cheaper and less busy outside of school holidays and during the week. This can help you plan a relaxing, cheap date.

Value Over Price Tag

It’s easy to overspend when coming up with unusual date ideas or fun things to do on a first date. We can easily get caught up in trying to impress our date, and before you know it, you’ve booked a hot air balloon ride you can’t afford!

It’s important to remember that it’s the thought that counts more than the price tag. Taking your date in a hot air balloon might impress them, but they’re likely to be just as impressed with a picnic filled with their favourite snacks to eat while watching the sunset over the harbour.

Also, some of the best date ideas happen when you go with the flow. What starts out as a casual Bristol picnic can turn into finding a local bar with pool tables and live music to keep the date going.

Our Bristol Date Night Example

If you’re still nervous about organising the perfect cheap Bristol date, we’ve come up with a simple date night example to help inspire you.

  • Meet at Bristol Temple Meads – This is an easy meeting point whether you’re from Bristol or not
  • Grab a Voi Bike to Clifton Suspension Bridge – These bikes cost £0.99 to unlock and £0.16 per minute. You can also buy a day pass for £10, which gives you 120 minutes of riding time. You can have a picnic up here as the sun sets.
  • Bike back down to the city centre – This can use up the rest of your day pass if you bought one. If the weather is less than ideal, you can get the number 8 circular bus back to the city, which costs £2 per person.
  • Finish with a drink and some magic at Smoke and Mirrors – This tiny side street bar has free entry and reasonably priced drinks. You can enjoy some magic at your table from the in-house magician. If you go on a Monday, you might be able to squeeze into their Joke and Mirrors comedy night for only £6 per person.

Rounding Up Our Favourite Budget-Friendly Bristol Date Ideas

In a city as quirky and interesting as Bristol, there’s no shortage of date ideas. There are numerous romantic locations where you can impress your date for little to no money. 

The thing about romance is it doesn’t matter how much it costs, it’s the thought that counts. Check out some of these amazing Bristol date ideas to create your own memorable experiences on a budget.


How Do You Save Money on Dates in Bristol?

There’s no reason why you have to spend a lot of money on a date in Bristol. Hot air balloons may be tempting, but they aren’t necessary. Checking out the free date ideas we’ve mentioned in this list is a great place to start if you want to save money on your dates.If you want to go to paid attractions, booking early is the best way to save money.

Are There Free Indoor Date Ideas in Bristol?

Yes! There are plenty of free activities and attractions that are indoors in Bristol. The majority of museums and art galleries in Bristol are completely free. We can never rely on British weather, so it’s always a good idea to have a couple of these places up your sleeve as a backup plan.

How can I Get to Bristol?

If you don’t live in Bristol, it still makes a great place for a cheap date. You can get to Bristol from most surrounding towns and cities by train or bus, both of which will stop at Bristol Temple Meads Station. You can also drive to the city, but be aware that there are parking charges and clean air charges that apply.

Is Bristol an Expensive City?

Bristol can be an expensive city to visit. If you want to visit the best date night restaurants, you’re likely to spend more money. However, there are plenty of fun things to do and places to go that are budget-friendly and still perfect for a date night.

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