The city of Bristol, in the Southwest of England, has a strong reputation as being creative and multicultural, as well as being a hub for fun events. From the trendy student hangouts to the city’s strong art scene, you definitely won’t get bored when visiting. Here are Bristol’s must-visit spots.
Talk to anyone from Bristol about a must-see Bristolian spot and you’re guaranteed to be told about the famous Clifton Suspension Bridge. With views across the Gorge and the entire city, this is a fun and romantic location. Walk across the bridge, drive over for a small toll fee or simply sit on the surrounding grass or in a local pub and soak up the views. Don’t miss how it lights up at night.
On Park Street you’ll come across a number of cool and quirky stores, plenty of places for coffee, food and drinks, and even a park area half-way up. Don’t miss the chance to snap a picture of the infamous Banksy piece, located at the bottom of Park Street.
Bristol is well known for its diverse culture and the Stokes Croft area, located just outside of the city centre, is definitely the most vibrant district in the city. Expect to see lots of street art, cool independent stores and plenty of quirky places to eat.
This outdoor space is the park that we touched on earlier, located halfway up Park Street. With plenty of green space, although a little hilly, this is a great place to sit in the sun after a day of shopping.
Situated in the park on Brandon Hill, this Grade-II listed building was built in the 1890s to commemorate John Cabot. Stand on the platforms at the top of the tower to see amazing views across the city.
Brunel’s SS Great Britain is a huge ship that has taken up residence in the Bristol Harbour. You can visit the ship, which was first launched in 1843, and soak up its history and marvel at its structure. There are a bunch of different events held here throughout the year, from sports to literary-themed days.
The Arnolfini art gallery is legendary among Bristolians, and not just for the incredible exhibitions that are on display. As well as being home to a café-bar that’s perfect for enjoying a post-exhibition coffee or glass of wine, there’s also an in-house bookshop boasting a range of different specialist publications. In the summer months, locals love sitting outside the building to enjoy the harbour views.
Bringing us onto our next must-see spot, taking a stroll around Bristol Harbour is something everyone should do when visiting the city. With pretty views of the bobbing boats and an abundance of pubs to stop off in for a tipple along the way, this is a great way to spend an afternoon. There’s also a regular market here that’s extremely popular with locals.
Fancy a stroll through magical woodland? Leigh Woods is another Bristol spot that offers something completely different, but still practically in the centre of town. With a number of different trail options, it’s suitable for all levels of fitness, while the benches provide perfect picnicking spots.
This huge country estate, not too far from Bedminster (south of the river) hosts a number of events including markets and the famous hot-air balloon festival. With a golf course, deer park and bikes available to rent, this is the perfect location for a day out.
This historic street located near the fountains in the city centre is essentially a set of steep, slanted steps with shops located on either side as you walk down (including well-established barber shop, Harry Blades). There’s also the convenient and aptly named Christmas Steps pub, positioned right at the bottom.
Upfest is one of Europe’s biggest street art festivals. While the event only takes place once a year, the incredible artwork is on display all year round, adorning shopfronts and sides of buildings. Take a stroll from top to bottom and marvel at the colourful work by some of the world’s most renowned graffiti artists.
The Bearpit has been described as an outdoor art gallery. The space which is located below St James Barton roundabout has been transformed in recent years and now features colourful street art and a number of independent restaurants through one of the tunnels. This is a great route to take if you’re walking from town to the aforementioned Stokes Croft.
You’d be hard pressed to spot many fish peering over the edge of the harbour, but happily there’s a place right there on the harbourside where you can see fish and other marine life from all over the world. With more than 40 displays based on different sea and freshwater habitats, you can spend hours exploring. It’s also the only aquarium in the UK to feature a large botanical house, so you can meet some interesting plantlife as well.
Oakham Treasures is one of the largest privately owned history museums in the country, a wonderland of antiquated farm and retail memorabilia including toys, old packaging for familiar goods, tools, machinery and household items.
Bristol has a special significance in the UK’s skyfaring history, having been the birthplace of the Concorde. Now you can step inside the cockpit of the famous but ill-fated aircraft – and plenty more – at Aerospace Bristol. The museum features a timeline of aeronautical achievement dating back to the very first planes ever to be built right to the cutting edge, with plenty of interactive exhibits and special talks.
A great counterpart to the other, older galleries around the city, Spike Island is the place to go to see contemporary art in Bristol. It provides a home for an international community of more than 70 different artists, featuring everything from sculptures to paintings to things which almost defy definition. Sitting just up from Wapping Wharf, on the banks of the Avon, it’s a perfect setting for the art displayed there, and is open year round with special exhibitions happening all the time.
Next to the Zoo and Aquarium, Bristol plays host to a third place devoted to animals. The Wild Place Project was set up by the Bristol Zoological Society to support the conservation of African and European wildlife, and is fully open to the public. You can meet giraffes, lemurs, bears, baboons cheetahs and much more, all within reach of the city centre.
If you’re seeing the suspension bridge, the Clifton Observatory is a great place to stop off at on your way. Built in 1766 as a windmill, it was later converted into an observatory, complete with a camera obscura that’s still in working condition. The observatory leads into a cave, which is also open to the public, so you can learn about the natural and manmade history of this spot, as well as taking in the postcard-worthy views.