Abstract Photocatalysis is considered to be an effective solution for the current energy and environmental crises caused by industrial development. However, the practical application of conventional oxide photocatalysts is restricted by poor visible light adsorption because of their wide band gaps. The study of photocatalysts with a narrow band gap is thus a hot topic. Among oxide photocatalysts, Bi-based photocatalysts have attracted much interest because of their high visible light photocatalytic activity. This review summarizes recent advances into the type, preparation method, morphology control, composite construction, and properties of Bi-based photocatalysts. Finally, this review ends with a discussion on the future development of Bi-based photocatalysts in this exciting research area.