Image by Bristol-based illustrator Patch D Keys

The Insider Guide to Bristol

Bristol is a hub of alternative culture, the hometown of Banksy, thriving music and spoken word scene, great eateries and a whole lot of community spirit. There’s history aplenty too, from Brunel's SS Great Britain to the Clifton Suspension Bridge. Here’s our insider guide to Bristol.

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The Main Attractions

The Clifton Suspension Bridge crosses the River Avon and Avon Gorge and the gorge is exactly as rugged and dramatic as it sounds. It really is worth a visit. The bridge was designed by the pioneering English civil engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel, and Brunel's SS Great Britain, a historic ship, is a Bristol landmark too. One of the most important historic ships in the world when it was launched in 1843, the SS Great Britain was the first iron steamer to cross the Atlantic Ocean. It was dubbed "the greatest experiment since the Creation" and is still said to have laid the foundations for all modern ships since. You'll find out more about the history of Bristol itself in the M Shed, a museum about the city, its people and places, and of course, the Bristol Museum & Art Gallery and the Bristol Cathedral are classic attractions for a day trip. Honestly, though? The most exciting culture happening in Bristol isn’t the historic one - it’s what’s happening now. Bristol is the only European Green capital winner in the UK too, and the vegan and veggie options are in no short supply, nor are the independent bars and artisan coffee spots. Take in the hipster vibes of Montpelier, Cotham or Clifton and you’ll find plenty of boutique options. Banksy was born in Bristol in 1974 - presumably under a different name, of course - and much of his early work is still splattered on the streets if you know where to look. Don’t leave without checking out the thriving arts community by seeing what's on at the Bristol Old Vic, watching some of the UK’s best spoken-word artists perform or making the most of the booming music scene. Bristol is a city with plenty of heritage, but an even more exciting future.

Neighborhoods in Bristol