Guest post by Laura from She Who Wanders
Bristol, a city often overlooked for London, is absolutely not a city you should miss! This vibrant bustling city in the South West of England is home to an amazing variety of things to do, restaurants to visit and experiences to be had. Want to make the most of your visit? Then be sure to check out this list of 15 things to do in Bristol
Clifton Suspension Bridge
One of the most well known and easily recognized attractions in Bristol is the Clifton Suspension bridge. Suspended over the Avon Gorge connecting Clifton to Leigh Woods on the other side. Not only is this bridge beautiful to look at, but the views from the middle of the bridge are also something to check out. Whether you fancy yourself a photographer or just like a good view, sunrise and sunset are awesome times to visit. Pedestrians can walk across the bridge on both sides and there is an observatory overlooking the bridge and the Avon Gorge that is also a must-see spot.
Bristol Botanic Gardens
As part of the Bristol University Campus, the Bristol Botanic Gardens are tended to year-round. Separated into several sections including The Mediterranean, Useful Plants and Local Flora there is also an amazing greenhouse to be explored. The Grounds are home to nearly 5000 species of plants, and there is also a very charming cafe on the grounds with a patio overlooking the pond. The best time to visit the gardens is definitely in Spring/Summer when all the flowers are in bloom.
S.S Great Britain
Designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel this Bristol icon was once the longest ship in the World. More recently though she has found a home at the dry docks of Bristol and has been turned into the most amazing museum. Come and explore the dockyard, marvel at the ship or go aloft on the ships rigging. There are plenty of activities that take place on the S.S Great Britain year-round, and your ticket gives you access to the entire ship. Go above deck and take in the sights of Bristol’s busy Harbourside or head below deck to get a sense of what it was like as a passenger or even a crew member. Visit the newest addition of “Being Brunel” where visitors can get a real insight as to the man behind the beautiful ship and his many other creations.
Bristol Museum & Art Gallery
Located at the top of Park Street near Bristol University, the Bristol Museum & Art Gallery should not be missed. Home to some of the World’s greatest treasures, the museum and art gallery extends over several floors. Explore Ancient Egypt and the time of the Pharaohs, admire beautiful art and antiques from around Europe and even lay your eyes on a piece of art by the infamous, and local, Banksy. There are new exhibits opening all the time and the museum has previously seen incredible exhibits from Japanese art to Gypsy artefacts. With free entry and a cafe on-site there’s no reason not to visit.
Pop down to the Harbourside and check out this unique and buzzing hot spot in Bristol. Restaurants, bars, cafes and even shops have taken up residence in old shipping containers in Wapping Wharf and really can be viewed as a hub of Bristol. If coffee is your lifeblood then stop into Little Victories or Mokoko. Visiting around lunchtime, grab a burger at Squeezed or a takeaway from Gopal’s Curry Shack. For a few drinks with your mates, WildBeer is the best spot to be for a night out, or maybe the Bristol Cider Shop to pick up a few to have later. For shopping, you’ll find everything from a massage parlour to a cheesemonger, a flower emporium and even a grocery store. This is definitely you’re one-stop unique shopping destination.
To learn about Bristol and all it’s amazing history head for the M-Shed. Right underneath the massive cranes on the Harbourside, and next to Wapping Wharf is the Bristol Museum. Housed in a 1950’s dockside transit shed you will find the most colourful and vibrant displays depicting Bristol’s moments through time as well as it’s maritime history. Over two floors visitors can interact and engage with the exhibits and depending on the time of year of your visit you could be lucky enough to attend any number of touring exhibits. Known to showcase the National Geographic Wild Life Photographer of the year this is a great opportunity to see some amazing photographs.
No matter the weather there is no better place to be than Bristol’s Harbourside. Start at Prince’s Street Bridge and carry on past The M-Shed and Wapping Wharf along the water’s edge leaving plenty of time for photo stops along the way. Watch for sailboats out on the river, rowers getting some practice in and of course the Bristol ferry jetting back and forth on the river. Get an up-close and personal view of The Matthew and the S.S Great Britain, and on towards the docks and Baltic Wharf. This is also where you’ll find the best view of the iconic rainbow row houses of Clifton Wood, and keep your eyes peeled on any given good weather day for hot air balloons overhead. You’ll be able to cross over and come back along the other side of the harbour through The Boathouse where you’ll find great restaurants and cafes to stop at.
The perfect place for a dog walk or a walk without a dog, you get the point. Ashton Court Estate is a historic National Trust site is located just 10 minutes (drive) from Bristol city centre and is easily accessible on foot as well. You can even walk across the Clifton Suspension Bridge and drop down into a section of Ashton Court too. The estate covers 850 acres with a gorgeous manor house at the top of the grounds which was once was owned by the Smyth family (who then later gifted it to the National Trust). There is a deer park on the grounds as well and they seem to come out on perfectly beautiful mornings making it a great spot for photographers. This is also the base for the annual Balloon Fiesta, Bristols hot air balloon fiesta that is definitely worth checking out too.
If you’re after a lovely afternoon of shopping and some of Bristol’s best restaurants look no further than the charming Clifton Village. From well to do charity shops to beautiful flower stalls, greengrocers and book shops, Clifton has something for everyone. This is also where you’ll find some of the most beautiful homes in the city. Head to Royal Your Crescent for some stunners or if you’re visiting during the months where Wisteria is in bloom you’ll be in for a real treat. For an awesome cake and coffee combo head to Twelve or East Village Cafe for a lovely brunch. The Ivy is quite the establishment in Clifton and perfect for a special occasion, and The River Cottage Kitchen is the best spot in the neighbourhood for a Sunday roast.
At the base of one of Bristol’s steepest streets is the beautiful Bristol Cathedral. Sitting smack in the middle of College Green this gothic-style cathedral has tall windows that let in the beautiful light. It is free to enter the Cathedral and on any given day you could find yourself lucky to be hearing the massive organ in the center of it being played beautifully. Explore the grounds and then enjoy the sunshine in College Green as you admire the beautiful gardens here too.
If you like this post of 15 things to do in Bristol then check out my other lists of things to do in the UK
Stokes Croft & Gloucester Road
Just North of the city center is the largest and longest street of independent shopping in the whole of England. Full to the brim with local independent shops, restaurants, cafes and pubs to be enjoyed. Stroll through Stokes Croft and be sure to take in the awesome street art dotted along the way. Visit Stokes Croft China for a lovely little souvenir to take home with you, or stop into the Bristolian for one of the best brunches in the whole city. As you walk along you’ll find tons of shops and a few galleries to pop into as you make your way towards Gloucester Road where it all continues. More shopping to be done, more coffees to be drunk and more restaurants to be visited. Some favourites worth checking out are SunCraft, Hobbs Bakery and Calmado.
For street art lovers you best head south of the river into Bedminster towards North Street. The street art scene here is one not to be missed, there is even a festival hosted by the city where local and international artists take to the walls and buildings of the street to create incredible murals. The festival called Upfest happens once a year (but sometimes takes a break in between events) but even if you visit outside of festival time the murals still remain. Second to the street art scene is the food and drink scene as well as the amazing amount of local shops to be visited. Head to Storysmith’s to pick up a new book or two, or Rhubarb Jumble to peruse the amazing vintage finds from Bristolian closets. The Old Bookshop is one of the best roasts in town, and Albatross Cafe is a cute and cosy escape on the rainiest of days. Every Sunday you’ll find a vibrant and bustling market scene at the Tobacco Factory, boasting up to 40 stalls seeing food, produce, art and so much more. Settle in with a pastry from Faro Bakery and a good coffee and enjoy the live music or head inside The Tobacco Factory for a great lunch.
Named as Britains best large indoor market in 2016, St-Nicks market is a must-visit. Home to the largest collection of independent retailers in the city and established in 1470’s the market operates year-round, rain or shine. Visitors will find anything from vintage home-goods, clothing, arts and crafts from around the world and produce from local farmers too. With over 60 stalls to visit in the covered market here are a few must-visits: Ah Toots for some of the best tea and cake you’ve ever head. Eatchu will have you coming back again and again for their dumplings and you’ll be able to smell the falafel from Eat-A-Pitta from the other side of the market. In addition to the everyday market, every Wednesday there is also a farmers market on.
For the best views over Bristol make for Cabot Tower. Built in the 1890s to commemorate the 400th anniversary of John Cabot’s journey from Bristol to what is now known as Canada. Located in the very pretty Brandon Hill park high above the city center, Cabot Tower stands over 330 ft tall and is open to the public between dawn and dusk every day. Climb up the narrow spiral staircase to several different levels in the tower to be gifted with some incredible panoramic views of the city. On the clearest sunny day, you’ll be able to see for miles out over the harbour or the university neighbourhoods. At the base of the tower is a lovely little garden and walking paths throughout the park. In the Springtime the blossom trees at Brandon Hill are some of the most vibrant you’ll ever see.
If you fancy a day of treating yourself look no further than the Bristol Lido. Originally opened back in 1850 in the heart of Clifton Village, this beautiful oasis is tucked at the end of the street feeling almost like a well-kept secret. After many years open, the lido fell into a bad way in the 1990s and was closed down. However, it was eventually completely refurbished and opened back up to the public. Memberships exist for Bristol residents, however, the Lido facilities are open to the public Monday – Friday from 1 pm – 4 pm. For £25.00/person you’ll have access to the heated pool, sauna, steam room and jacuzzi. There is a gorgeous restaurant at the Lido as well which is perfect if you fancy lunch but not the swimming part.
Have you ever visited Bristol? What’s your favourite thing to do? Let us know in the comments below.