Food, fun and free activities – a guide to Bradford city

Phei Shan is an international student, studying Pharmacy here at the University of Bradford. In her blog, she tells us about her favourite places to eat and fun places to go in Bradford.

Phei Shan, MPharm Pharmacy (Hons)

Are you excited to finally meet up with friends over a meal after months of staying home? Are you new to the city and excited to discover what Bradford has to offer? Do you want to go somewhere within walking distance from campus? If you answered yes to any of these questions, read on and find out what Bradford has in store for you.

One of the most exciting aspects of student life is the opportunity to travel and explore the city you are studying in. My fondest memories of being a fresher in university are mostly related to dining out and discovering local attractions with friends.

As a student on a budget, I am always on the hunt for affordable eateries and, contrary to popular opinion, trips to museums and art galleries are far from boring if you have good company and a keen mind! The fact that these are usually free attractions is definitely also an added bonus.

A good tip is to always carry your student card with you. Apart from identification purposes, you may also benefit from the many discounts and perks offered by local diners.

My favourite eateries

Bab Tooma

Offering Middle Eastern and Syrian cuisine and just five minutes from campus by foot, this is a restaurant that is slightly pricier than the others on this list, but if you want to taste authentic dishes (as approved by my Middle Eastern friends), it is absolutely worth the try.

Ice Stone Gelato

As someone with a sweet tooth, this list would not be complete without a dessert recommendation. Their outlet on Great Horton Road is just a few minutes away from the campus gym, which sounds to me like great motivation to work out! They offer a wide selection of waffles, cookie dough, shakes and of course, gelato. The well-decorated interior also makes for a nice photo background.


Being Malaysian Chinese myself, I cannot deny my love for East Asian cuisine. When I found out about this Chinese buffet in town, I had to check it out for myself. They offer a wide array of meat (non-halal) and vegetable dishes, so if you are looking forward to tasting multiple new delicacies in the same meal, this is the place for you. When I visited them in 2019, they offered student discounts and it was cheaper to visit for lunch than for dinner.


I stumbled upon this small corner diner on one of my trips to town during freshers’ week. Inconspicuously located opposite Barclays Bank, Zunera’s may easily be overlooked, but I have visited multiple times for their biryani dish. For a tasty good portion at an affordable price, you know where to go if you get hungry while running errands in town.


In the spirit of saving the best for last, I honour my South East Asian heritage by introducing you to my favourite food spot in the city. Located near Tesco and the City Park, you are bound to pass by this shop at some point. If the wafting smell of pad Thai and tom yum does not get you salivating, maybe this picture below will do the trick.

Popular attractions

City Park

In the heart of the city, this place is the perfect hangout spot in any season. In winter, if you are an avid reader, you will enjoy visiting the public library here to borrow a novel before huddling together with friends at Starbucks, Wetherspoons or Nando’s next door.

When the weather gets warm over spring and summer, you will find people enjoying the refreshing walks through the fountains in what the locals refer to as the mirror pool. The clock tower is beautifully lit up after sunset and is truly a sight to behold.

National Science and Media Museum

For science nerds and fans of games and photography, I have not forgotten about you! A travel guide to Bradford would not be complete without a recommendation to this popular museum.

The museum has seven floors, including an IMAX cinema and ever-changing galleries and exhibitions to provide you with a different experience upon each visit. Refer to their website for updates on current exhibits.

I would also recommend visiting the retro games room to play some classics like Super Mario or Pac-Man. You can even get a Pac-Man coin minted at the souvenir machine to take home. The museum also overlooks the City Park, which reminds me of how convenient it is to have all the attractions in one place.

Bradford Ice Arena

Located right next to the museum is the ice skating rink. Whether you are an amateur like me or a figure skater, the ice arena offers public skating sessions as well as options to privately book the rink. Have you watched the Netflix show, “Spinning Out” and got inspired to skate? Just take a five-minute walk from campus and get your skates on to start training!

The Peace Museum

I think we can all agree that 2020 has been a tumultuous year and if we could just spare a couple of hours to learn about stories of peace and social reform, we would emerge from this experience with more empathy.

This museum is, literally speaking, a hidden attraction in town. It took me a few looks at maps and road signs to find it because of how small it is. Do not let the exterior fool you though, for there is so much you can learn despite the fact that the exhibits are only on one floor. The staff are welcoming and happy to answer your queries too. You do not have to be a peace studies student to enjoy this; take it from me, a pharmacy student.

Cartwright Hall in Lister Park

This is an art gallery that features both modern and ancient art. Located in the picturesque Lister Park, this is a gallery you would not want to miss out on, especially when it is free entry.

Order a warm drink at the café and wind down in the peaceful ambience here after you get tired from strolling around the park. This activity is perfect regardless of whether you are here alone, or with friends or family. The next time you feel bored at home on a weekend or stressed about classes, head here to clear your thoughts and you are bound to leave feeling more inspired than before.

Your time in university is an opportunity to find balance in life, so do not be afraid to take some time off to explore the city on evenings or weekends, as long as you revise consistently.

I personally find myself feeling more motivated to study when I have travel plans to look forward to. As a student from an equatorial country without changing seasons, I have always admired how you can visit the same place in UK several times in one year and feel differently about it every time, because of how the surroundings change drastically. I hope this blog has given you a better understanding of Bradford, a city rich with diversity and culture.

Disclaimer: All photographs are my own unless stated otherwise. Eateries and attractions mentioned were visited before the COVID-19 pandemic and information may be subject to change.

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