Top 10 things to do in Bristol

Bristol is a city small enough to get around on foot, but large enough to keep you entertained. Its distinctive character mixes together some of the best parts of England’s South West – a thriving live music and club culture, a fascinating maritime history, an eco-friendly outlook and a varied and vibrant arts scene.

Spot the Banksys

Banksy graffiti at Bristol city street. Image credited to VisitBritain and Guo Ping

No talk of Bristol would be complete without mentioning Banksy, the Bristol-born street artist who is today a global phenomenon. Keep your eyes peeled for his originals around Bristol! If you want to discover more of Bristol's art scene join a street art tour - they're  now established as not-to-be-missed cultural experiences. 

 

Explore the elegant neighbourhood of Clifton

Clifton is just the place for a walk. Take in the elegant Victorian, Georgian and Regency buildings, stop for tea in a cosy café, and enjoy the gentle pace of life in a charming neighbourhood that will give you some amazing views of the city.

 

Visit Clifton Suspension Bridge

Hot air balloons floating above the city of Bristol and the Clifton Suspension Bridge during the Bristol Balloon Fiesta. Image credited to VisitBritain and Eric Nathan

Bristol is built across a series of hills, so the city is quite literally on many different levels. At the top there’s Clifton Village, where you’ll find famed engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s spectacular Clifton Suspension Bridge across the plunging Avon Gorge, so get your camera ready: it’s one of Bristol’s most photogenic spots. (For a more modern, and equally spectacular feat of engineering, head just out of Bristol to the Severn Crossings).

 

Tune into Bristol’s cool music scene

Famous as the birthplace of trip-hop in the 1990s, with acts Massive Attack and Portishead among the best known, Bristol still has a rich music offering, with everything from drum and bass to house, hardcore, psychedelic rock and metal on offer in its cool clubs.

 

Climb the rigging at the SS Great Britain

Mother and daughter at the wheel of Brunel's ss Great Britain, Bristol, south-west England. Image credited to the British Tourist Authority.

Explore Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s famous steamship, the SS Great Britain. A world first in its day, discover the story of its construction, its sea routes and the restoration that brought it to where it is today. Then climb the main mast to a viewing platform 26 metres above ground level, and look out over Bristol from a unique perspective!

 

Cycle the Bristol to Bath Railway Path

Cycle the route of a former railway line through the gorgeous countryside between Bristol and the nearby city of Bath. Take in the woods and hills of the landscapes, and if you’re too tired to cycle back, you can always jump on the train (with your bike!) back to Bristol!

 

Unwind by the water

The ferry at Bristol waterfront in south-west England - image credited to VisitEngland and Destination Bristol

Bristol’s harbour is a great place to walk and take in the sights, or just stop by a pub and unwind with a drink harbourside. You’ll also find the Bristol Aquarium here, independent film and events at venue Watershed and, for something a little different, dine on the Glassboat Restaurant, which is on a converted barge!

 

Get to know your local ciders

The south west of England is well known for its cider – an alcoholic drink made from apples. While in Bristol, be sure to have a taste: the Bristol Cider Shop holds tastings and sells a wide selection of artisan ciders made in the local area. Many pubs in the city will also sell good cider, so ask the bar staff for recommendations.

 

Hit the museums, galleries and alternative cinemas

Statue of John Cabot outside Arnolfini, Bristol, south-west England. Image credited to Iain Lewis.

In Bristol’s city centre you’ll find some of England’s top galleries and museums, including Bristol’s popular centre of contemporary arts, the Arnolfini, and the family-friendly science museum @Bristol. Don't miss the Cube, Bristol's local-artist-run cinema, which, as well as featuring films, hosts music events, air-guitar competitions and all kinds of art events.

 

Take a pirate tour in the hometown of Blackbeard the Pirate!

Bristol is rich in maritime history: the famous phrase ‘shipshape and Bristol fashion’ comes from here and refers to Bristol’s reputation for building extra-strong ships to cope with a peculiarity of the tides in its harbour. Be sure to take a tour of the city and harbourside where you can learn all about Blackbeard, one of history’s most notorious pirates.  

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