Despite being the largest city in the south west of the UK, Bristol remains quite compact and easy to navigate. The area boasts one of the warmest climates in the UK, and the city has plenty of activities to offer visitors of all ages. Home to the Bristol Old Vic theatre and school, the city is bursting with cultural events to be enjoyed by its visitors.
The Clifton Suspension Bridge is one of Bristol’s iconic landmarks and is well worth a visit to take in the surrounding views. The bridge spans the Avon Gorge and the River Avon and was opened in 1864. It was based on the designs of Isambard Kingdom Brunel and has been named as a Grade I listed building. Bristol is also the birthplace of Ribena, Banksy, Wallace and Gromit and Fry’s Chocolate among other things.
In 2015, the city became the first UK city to win the European Green Capital award. As part of the programme a 30-metre long Blue Whale will be found in the pedestrian area at Bristol’s Harbourside. The Blue Whale Project, made predominantly of recycled plastics, will be a ‘walk-in’ sculpture, with a host of audio-visual exhibits inside for visitors to enjoy.
There are plenty of ways to get around Bristol, and some say that leaving the car at home is the best way to explore this city. Buses run regularly through the city centre and there are three park and rides in the area. In 2008, Bristol was named as the UK’s first cycling city, and there are various places around the city to hire bikes such as Cycle the City. If buses and bikes aren’t your cup of tea, how about taking a trip on one of the city’s ferry boat services? The boats run regularly throughout the day and you can either buy a single ticket or a day pass for unlimited access.
Looking for the best place to stay in Bristol? For peace and quiet just outside the city, try The Greenhouse, an award winning B&B with free car parking in Southville, just a ten-minute drive from the city centre. Brooks Guest House is a boutique guest house right in the heart of Bristol’s old town by the St Nicholas Market. It offers boutique rooms at affordable rates as well as a collection of airstream-style caravans on the rooftop which are available for hire as double rooms at B&B rates.
Number Thirty Eight in Bristol offers luxury townhouse accommodation in a recently refurbished Georgian merchant’s house at the top of the city. It’s the perfect place to spend a few quiet nights and you can even enjoy a drink on their rooftop terrace which overlooks Clifton.
If you’re looking for budget accommodation while staying in Bristol, look out for the YHA Bristol situated on the harbour. The 133-bed hostel is set in a magnificent building in a great location and offers affordable rates. Another similar option is Bristol Backpackers in the old city, which offers dormitory accommodation and self-catering kitchens. The hostel is popular with backpackers and those in the UK on working holidays.
Bristol travel tips
1. Pay a visit to the SS Great Britain, a former passenger steam ship that is now installed as a museum piece in the Great Western Dockyard where she was built. The ship was designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel for passage between Bristol and New York; she first crossed the Atlantic in 1845. The site offers a unique learning experience for both children and adults. Tickets to the SS Great Britain are valid for a year and include free and unlimited return visits within that time.
2. Discover the Georgian House Museum. Open from April until October, it is a display of typical late 18th century living. The town house has been converted into a period museum where visitors can view ‘life above stairs’ and ‘life below stairs’; the typical everyday lives of the family of the house and their servants.
3. Explore M Shed, a museum which tells the history of Bristol. The museum is housed in a 1950s transit shed and aims to challenge the perception of living in Bristol over the centuries. It’s free to visit and is home to over 2000 years of Bristol’s history. The museum is split into three sections: Bristol Places, Bristol People and Bristol Life. As well as visiting the actual museum, you can also take a look around L Shed, which houses the overflow pieces from the museum.
4. Take a stroll along Nelson Street. Previously a bleak city back street, this area has been transformed in recent years and now plays host to an incredibly adventurous and permanent street art project. See No Evil was created with the support of the City Council. Ten multi-storey buildings have been completely transformed to show inspiring displays of colour and design at the hands of street artists from all over the world. While you’re taking in Bristol’s street art scene on Nelson Street, make sure to keep an eye out around the city for Banksy’s work, such as the Girl with the Pierced Eardrum just along from M Shed on Harbourside.
5. Home to the largest collection of independent retailers in the city, St Nicholas Market on Corn Street, in the old city, is full of interesting stalls selling a wide range of products. There are also several street markets in and around the Corn Street area, alongside The Exchange Building, that are worth visiting such as The Nails Market and the Bristol Farmer’s Market. The market is the perfect place to drop in and find something for lunch, or pick up some gifts and trinkets to remember your trip by.
The best Bristol has to offer, from TripAdvisor users