The Greener Guide to Seeing Bristol More Sustainably

Having a green trip to Bristol is a walk in the park
Having a green trip to Bristol is a walk in the park | © Remco Merbis Photography / Courtesy of The Ethicurean
Photo of Imogen Lepere
23 November 2021

This forward-thinking West Country city strides ahead with secret-garden-like restaurants, harbourside hotels with sustainability handbooks and zero-waste shops selling local Clifton coffee.

With one foot in the past, thanks to its Georgian architecture, and the other firmly in the future, with its cutting-edge creative scene, bohemian Bristol has always marched to its own beat. What’s more, this West Country city is one of ethics and individuality, having been named European Green Capital in 2015 and awarded Gold Sustainable Food City status in 2021, as communities worked together to create a better food system. Add independent shops, cafe culture, characterful pubs and imaginative galleries, and you might find a weekend is not quite enough.

The Ethicurean

Restaurant, British, $$$
Sunrise over the walled garden of vegetables at the Ethicurean in Bristol
© Iain Pennington / Courtesy of The Ethicurean, Bristol
Bristol’s very own secret-garden restaurant, the Ethicurean sits in a glasshouse surrounded by veggie fields and walled gardens. The building itself feels as organic as the food, with bunches of herbs hanging from white brick walls, crooked beams and a wood-burning stove. Multi-course set menus showcase local produce, such as hand-dived scallops and grass-fed heritage meat.

The Bristol Hotel

A double bed in a room at the Bristol Hotel
Courtesy of The Bristol Hotel /
Housed in a brutalist building overlooking the harbour, this is a chic option in the centre of town. The Arnolfini gallery is practically next door and it’s just over the water from the Watershed arts centre. In the lobby, you’ll find a handbook detailing everything the hotel is doing to become more sustainable, from installing lifts that run on their own kinetic energy to hosting a Green Festival, with pop-up stalls and games.

Windmill Hill City Farm

Natural Feature
Two young children walk through the gardens of Windmill Hill City Farm in Bristol, as two adult women look on
Courtesy of Windmill Hill City Farm
Bristol is a hotbed of urban growing spaces inspired by permaculture, and Windmill Hill City Farm is a case in point. This 4.5-acre (1.8ha) site in Bedminster is home to chickens, sheep and goats, and they also have guinea pigs and rabbits if you fancy a cuddle. The vegetable gardens supply the light, airy cafe, which serves only home-reared meat when it is available.

Poco Tapas Bar

Bar, Cafe, Tapas, British, $$$
A person carrries a tray of lit tealights as guests eat at Poco Tapas Bar in Bristol
© Tom Hunt
Fab for a late-night dinner of small plates and cocktails made from foraged ingredients, this happening spot in Stokes Croft pushes the boundaries of the green agenda. All their ingredients are sourced from producers who follow Slow Food values – the vast majority within 50mi (80km) of the restaurant – and the wine list is predominantly organic.

Mollie’s Motel & Diner

The interior of Mollie's Motel & Diner, on Cribbs Causeway near Bristol
Courtesy of Mollie’s Motel and Diner /
A stylish take on an American motel from the Soho House group, Mollie’s is located on Cribbs Causeway, just outside Bristol, and is therefore the ideal pit stop on a West Country road trip. Soho House is implementing an impressive sustainability plan, including screening all its suppliers to check they’re following inclusive, environmentally responsible practices.

We The Curious

The silver Planetarium and Energy Tree outside We The Curious in Bristol
© Keith Ramsey /
A centre for scientific research and an inspiring morning out for anyone who wants to know more about the world around them, We The Curious has more than 300 exhibits. In the space of a few hours you can be wowed by the UK’s first 3D planetarium, walk through a tornado, meet robots and create your own animations.

Zero Green

Four handmade soap bars tied together by rope
© Aurelia Dubois /
Friends Lidia and Stacey founded Bristol’s first zero-waste shop in 2018 and it continues to be a favourite with the city’s sustainably minded types. From rice to reusable razors, everything is plastic-free and ethically sourced. There are also plenty of products from local producers: look out for brews from Clifton Coffee Roasters and vegan, family-run FabFudge.

Farro Bakery

Bakery, Pastries
A tray of pain aux raisins on sale alongside other sweet baked goods
© Olga Serjantu /
This Scandi-style bakery in trendy St Pauls does a mean line in modern viennoiserie (sweet baked goods) and bread made from stone-ground British flour. They consider the whole system of making bread from field to table, and work closely with millers and farmers to make sure it’s as sustainable as possible. Don’t miss their laminated spice buns, a local institution.

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