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City guides: Bradford

By SanctuarySocial 05 Jun 2023

Everything you need to know about this northern beauty.

This city guide will provide all the information you need to make the most out of living in Bradford. Full of great ideas including top restaurants, shopping, the best night spots and fun places to visit, this is a must-read for anyone looking to enjoy student life to the full.

Student Life in Bradford

Bradford is the third largest city in Yorkshire and is a few miles west of Leeds. Given the position, it’s a great place to be a student. With lovely towns all around, some amazing countryside to enjoy and several universities, it’s a great place to spend time.

While the town itself doesn’t always get the best press, the real story is much more nuanced. It’s also a lot more positive!

So, if you’re thinking about studying in Bradford, it’s a brilliant place to be. The locals are friendly, there’s lots to see and do and you’re in God’s Own Country.

Choosing where to study is a big decision, and Sanctuary Students is here to help. We’ve spent time in the city, plus we have student accommodation in Bradford and know it well.

We’ve brought all that experience together in this guide to student life in Bradford. We hope it helps you make the right decision!

Universities in Bradford

As Bradford is close to Leeds and some other towns, there’s a lot of education happening in the area. The University of Bradford is the main option but you also have Bradford College and University of Bradford International College.

You’re also not far from the University of Leeds, Leeds Beckett University, Leeds Trinity University, Leeds Arts University and a number of other private colleges.

The University of Bradford is known as a technology university that undertakes excellent research and partners with leading companies.

The Faculty of Engineering and Informatics is well respected for its School of Engineering, School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and School of Media, Design and Technology.

Living costs for students in Bradford

Despite being a popular city to live in, Bradford is actually a relatively cheap place to be a student. The purchase cost of property in Bradford is pretty low, so rents are too. Like many university towns, the quality of that property can vary a lot!

University halls are generally pretty good. They’re well maintained, warm, safe and include most modern amenities. Private rented student accommodation can be hit and miss.

Sanctuary Students has a building on Little Horton Lane, minutes away from the University of Bradford and Bradford College. If you’re looking for great-value student accommodation in Bradford, we’re the people to call!

Eating out in Bradford

Bradford has a surprisingly rich cultural heritage with an eclectic mix of nationalities now calling it home.

The town was the curry capital of England in 2012 and still has more curry houses than most other places in the country. If you like your food rich and spicy, you’ll be very happy here.

It isn’t all about curry, though. There are a lot of other cultures and cuisines represented in town, including The Manor House Bradford and Christophe’s Coffee House, two local hotspots.

Shopping as a student in Bradford

Shopping as a student in Bradford is actually pretty good now The Broadway is open. It has plenty of shops and restaurants and is a decent place to while away some time browsing or buying.

The Kirkgate Centre at the top of town is okay too. It has a mix of chain stores and independents and provides another nice place to shop. There are also smaller stores around the Independent Quarter around North Parade and the Oastler Shopping Centre. The Foster Gate Retail Park isn’t bad either.

Then, of course, you have Leeds, Manchester, York and Sheffield to splurge or get some well-deserved retail therapy.

Nightlife in Bradford

Nightlife in Bradford is reasonable for a town this size but with Leeds a short bus or train ride away, you’ll never be short of things to do. Bradford was also voted 'best city for budget night out'.

Local highlights include Twelve Café Bar in Baildon, The Holme Lane Tavern, The Monkey, Bradford Playhouse, The Brick Box Rooms, City Vaults, Hullabaloo, The Fox, Trash Bradford, The New Inn, The Spotted Cow, The Underground and other bars, cafés, restaurants and clubs.

If you don’t mind travelling, then Leeds is a short journey in one direction and Manchester in the other. You also have York and Sheffield north and south, so you’re never going to be far from the action.

Student accommodation in Bradford

As we mentioned earlier, the property market in Bradford is at the more affordable end of the scale.

With low prices come lower rents and student accommodation is plentiful. As with many student towns, the quality is all over the place.

You’ll see lots of student houses you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy but you’ll also see surprisingly luxurious flats, houses and penthouses at surprisingly reasonable rents.

We would counsel caution, though. Student accommodation is your second largest outgoing after course fees, so save what you can without scraping the barrel.

Sanctuary Students offers high-quality, low-cost private halls for Bradford students based in the city centre. You can walk to the University of Bradford and Bradford College and everywhere else you might need to go.

Don’t book your student accommodation in Bradford without checking us out first!

Places to visit in Bradford

Bradford has some places everyone should see and do while a student or visitor there.

Highlights include: Alhambra Theatre, National Science and Media Museum, Bradford Industrial Museum, Bronte Parsonage Museum, Salts Mill, East Riddlesden Hall, Boiling Hall, Impressions Gallery, Bingley Five-Rise Locks, The Chevin and St Georges Hall.

Then, you have Leeds, Manchester, Sheffield and York all within easy reach.

Plus, the towns, countryside and parks to explore.

Getting around Bradford

Getting around Bradford is relatively straightforward. The road network around the town isn’t the easiest to navigate if you haven’t been here before, but is otherwise fine.

Leeds Bradford Airport (LBA) is the closest airport to town and is just 7 miles away.

Bradford Interchange and Bradford Forster Square are the two main train stations in town that cover local routes to places like Keighley, Shipley and Bingley as well as intercity to Manchester, London and further afield. Bradford Interchange also acts as the bus station for First Bus local services and National Express coaches. Both are quite cheap and accessible ways of getting around.

There’s no tram or tube in Bradford but driving is okay once you get to grips with the local roads.

Ride services like Uber, Lyft and others all operate in and around Bradford, as do delivery apps and other useful conveniences.

Working in Bradford as a student

If you need a job to add a little extra income, you’ll find a decent range of opportunities in Bradford.

There are usually lots of waiting staff and bar staff jobs going. The current staff shortages mean you could find work in supermarkets, warehouses, industrial premises and many employers looking for casual or lower skilled staff.

Wages aren’t particularly high here but they do tend to be fair. Plus, the minimum wage prevents the more unscrupulous employers reliving Bradford’s Victorian industrial past!

Living in Bradford as a student is an overwhelmingly positive experience. The city has its challenges like any other, but on the whole, people are friendly, there is plenty to see and do and the university isn’t bad either!

Check out more city guides for all the other cities Sanctuary students reside in and get exploring! Share with us any discoveries you make @sancstudents.


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