Few think of former industrial powerhouse Sunderland as a seaside city, although it's one of the country’s largest, with a dozen beaches to its name.

Sunderland is a small city. I've heard fellow students complain that there's little to do; however I disagree. It has a few gems, such as good bars, cinema, bowling, pool halls, and a bit of a live music scene. There's some lovely cafes, breakfast bars, and some very good fish and chips on the coast. It benefits from being close to Newcastle with good transport links, and therefore there's no excuse to be bored at the weekend. The people, in general, I've found to be very friendly. (Third year student, University of Sunderland)

What Sunderland's famous for...

Shipbuilding

Sunderland was a major bombing target in World War Two, all because of its reputation as ‘the largest shipbuilding town in the world’.

Sunderland nightlife, according to students

Most of the clubs are around Park Lane and Holmside. There isn't much in terms of alternative music – mostly typical night out music. There's a couple of 80s bars that can make a fun change. The area around Green Terrace and High Street West offer something a bit different, with more chilled out bars rather than dance clubs. The student nights are on Wednesdays, and tend to focus on the same three clubs every week which can be a bit tedious. A night out in Newcastle is always an option. (Third year student, University of Sunderland)

Little Athens

Standing on the city's outskirts, the Penshaw Monument is a mini version of Athens’ Temple of Hephaestus. One of the pillars hides a secret staircase to the top.

Sunderland nightlife, according to students

Every Wednesday is Play, the student night which follows a route through the main clubs. It’s changed over the years, but is pretty decent for a new experience. There’s also Revs (Revolution) which is a popular student bar. They do great cocktails, and you get a 2-for-1 deal with your Revs card through being a member of a society. Wetherspoons is also super popular for students, not only at night but through the daytime too if you want a good meal between lectures. (Third year student, University of Sunderland)

Sunderland Till I Die

What do 'tiger kings' and Sunderland have in common? They’re both Netflix hits! Docu-series Sunderland Till I Die shows the local football club's enduring place at the heart of the local community. 

Student life in Sunderland

Local gems, tips, and things to do, as recommended by students.
Low on cash
The Winter Gardens have a beautiful indoor garden, a library, and a multi-level museum all in one. [It’s] one of my favourite places to go in Mowbray Park. (Second year student, University of Sunderland)
Treat yourself
Definitely Kaspas, if you’re a dessert lover. Newcastle is only 30 minutes by metro, [with] all sorts of restaurants and shopping too. (Third year student, University of Sunderland)
Friday night out
Ttonic is our go-to – always a nice atmosphere, and they have a really nice place outside which is warmed in the winter. The Independent has the Blue Pints for £1, that students are crazy for. (Second year student, University of Sunderland)
Sunday chilling
In Sunderland, you can find green just about anywhere in the city. Backhouse Park is huge, but not nearly as large as Barnes Park, which has lots of trees and long nature routes for a good jog or cycle. The beach and riverside are also great. (Third year student, University of Sunderland)
When family visit
There are a lot of different places to visit, like the Penshaw Monument for a hike. The beach has arcades, the pier and lighthouse, lots of food places, and is very dog friendly! (Third year student, University of Sunderland)
Feeling cultural
The National Glass Centre [is an] exhibition space for glass, ceramics, art, and photography. The Empire Theatre was once very prominent in the North, and still is a great place to see musicals. (Third year student, University of Sunderland)
Catch up with mates
[There are] some very nice independent coffee shops, like Biz-R, Grinder, and The Keel Lounge. (Third year student, University of Sunderland)
Grab a bite
No2 Church Lane is a must! They have a student menu, and the option to build your own burger. (Second year student, University of Sunderland)

Sunderland in pictures

Seaburn Beach

One of my favourite places to be. (Colleen, third year student at University of Sunderland)

River Wear

The view of the River Wear from the National Glass Centre. Beautiful with the dock cranes on the other side of the river. (Colleen, third year student at University of Sunderland)

Living in Sunderland, according to students

Thornhill – it's an area where the rent is quite cheap. It is close to the city centre and the city campus. It's a bit far from St Peter’s Campus, which is where I'm based, and that can be a bit annoying. It is quiet enough, and I've never felt in danger. Sometimes it may be too quiet, as it feels quite isolated and not part of the student community, like I felt in my first year in student halls. (Third year student, University of Sunderland)

National Glass Centre

An exhibition in the National Glass Centre, showing the work of one of my lecturers and one of my favourite photographers, Marjolaine Ryley. (Colleen, third year student at University of Sunderland)

Wearmouth Bridge

View of Wearmouth Bridge, from outside the St Peter's Campus. One of my favourite things about [the campus] is its riverside location, which is stunning on a nice day. (Kieran Archer, third year student at University of Sunderland)

 

Living in Sunderland, according to students

City centre – where I live is very quiet and chilled despite being so close to the city centre and main roads. It’s a two-minute walk from the bus station and metro, and a five to ten-minute walk from the City Campus. The shops are also very close by, but I have the choice of two different corner shops for the essentials. There aren’t any supermarkets in the city centre other than Tesco Metro, so you need to either shop in multiple places, or walk a little to a supermarket. My friends all live very close by too. (Third year student, University of Sunderland)

Living in Sunderland

Housing, travel, and budgeting tips.

Where you'll find students
  • Roker
  • City centre
  • Thornhill
Local transport
  • Weekly ticket: £12
  • Stagecoach Sunderland 7 Day Megarider
  • Bus

Student money tips

There are some very good burger bars that seem to cater to the student market, as they aren't overpriced. BURGeR and No2 Church Lane are impressive, and don't break the bank too much. With regards to accommodation, you tend to get more space for your rent south of the Wear, but that's a generalisation. (Third year student, University of Sunderland)

The cost of living as a student soon adds up, us our budget calculator to find out roughly how much you'll need each month.

​Discover more savings on student life in Sunderland with UCAS student discounts. Find the latest deals, from fashion brands and eating fresh, to big discounts on tech and travel.