Things to do near Bristol Airport

With Bristol and Bath close by and the beauty of the Cotswolds within easy reach, Bristol Airport provides a fantastic hub from which to explore south-west England. Serving routes to European hubs for business and leisure travellers with airlines including easyJet, Ryanair and KLM, the award-winning airport is renowned for its top quality customer service and fantastic regional connections.

Your travel options

Regular buses run from the airport to both Bristol city centre and to Bristol Temple Meads railway station, where you can get connecting rail services onto Bath and other destinations. The station is just 8 miles from the airport and is a 15-minute walk from the city centre. Hire a bicycle to explore the city’s many cycle ways, or rely on the extensive public transport network to get around. Buses serve the majority of destinations within the city, while regular ferry services run between the waterfront attractions and locations along Bristol Harbourside.

What you can do

Once you’ve arrived in Bristol, you’ll find an array of fantastic museums and art galleries, eye-catching architecture and inspiring street art, alongside a host of other experiences to get your pulse racing.

1. Brunel’s SS Great Britain

Brunel’s SS Great Britain dominates Bristol’s historic waterfront, having been painstakingly restored to recreate the world’s first luxury liner. The largest vessel at sea when it launched in 1843, SS Great Britain became the first iron steamer to cross the Atlantic in 1845 and you can go back in history to experience the sights, sounds and smells when you step aboard. Discover more about the ‘ship that changed the world’ in the Dockyard Museum, which takes you on a journey through 4 different time zones using dramatic stories and personal objects to bring the incredible ship’s past alive.

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Brunel’s SS Great Britain

2. Street Art – Banksy Walking Tour

As Bristol is the birthplace of the world-famous street artist Banksy, you can find many of his works hidden around the city’s streets. The best way to see his creations is via a Banksy Walking Tour around the city, which takes in the various locations where his works are still found. Others have since been painted over or moved to other locations in Bristol for safekeeping – one of his most famous works, Grim Reaper, which was painted on the Thekla social boat moored in Bristol harbour, is now on long-term display in the city’s M-Shed.

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Banksy's The Girl With The Pearl Earing

3. M-Shed

Telling the story of Bristol and reflecting on its unique place in the world, M-Shed details the city’s history from prehistoric times to the present day. Alongside rare and quirky objects, expect to find an array of film, photographs and interactive displays at the free museum, as well as a range of different immersive exhibitions throughout the year that embrace history and culture.

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M-Shed

4. Clifton Suspension Bridge

Bristol Waterfront at sunset, with the Clifton Suspension Bridge in the distance, North Somerset, England.

Spanning the Avon Gorge for more than 150 years, the hugely impressive Clifton Suspension Bridge is symbolic of Bristol’s Victorian past. The bridge was designed by famed Victorian engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel, although he did not live to see its completion in 1864. A feat of engineering, it still carries road traffic to this day and a visitor centre in Leigh Woods details its rich and exciting history. Next to Clifton Suspension Bridge you’ll find the unique Clifton Village, which is home to an abundance of incredible shops, picturesque passageways, striking architecture and secret hideaways.

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Clifton Suspension Bridge

5. Berkeley Castle

A 30-minute drive from the centre of Bristol, Berkeley Castle dominates the Vale of Berkeley and is steeped in history. The Keep, dating back to the late 12th century, is the focal point and is home to state apartments containing a stunning collection of rare artwork, tapestries and furniture that has been accumulated throughout history by the Berkeley family. The grounds host regular events and historical demonstrations throughout the year, while the tropical butterfly house is home to 42 exotic species from across the globe that fly around freely.

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Berkeley Castle

6. Aerospace Bristol

Embark on a hands-on family flight through aviation history at Aerospace Bristol, where you can test your reaction skills and get to grips with the physics of flight using fun interactive exhibits. As well as helicopters, aeroplanes, rockets and satellites, the centre piece of the museum is Concorde Alpha Foxtrot – the last of the iconic supersonic passenger jets to be built, and the last to fly. As 2019 marks the 50th anniversary of Concorde’s first flight, they’ll also be an abundance of special events throughout the year.

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Aerospace Bristol

7. Bristol Museum and Art Gallery

Housing everything from Egyptian mummies and south-west wildlife to dinosaurs, rocks, paintings, pottery, and more, the Bristol Museum and Art Gallery looks at the last billion years of the Earth’s history. Explore stunning collections of art, nature and history at the free museum and let your imagination build a wonderful picture of life in Bristol, both past and present.

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Bristol Museum and Art Gallery

8. Cheddar Gorge and Caves

Cheddar Gorge is a limestone gorge in the Mendip Hills, near the village of Cheddar. The gorge is part of a Site of Special Scientific Interest now called Cheddar Complex.

At 400 feet deep and 3 miles long, Cheddar Gorge and Caves is one of Britain’s most spectacular natural landmarks – not only is it an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, but it’s also a Site of Special Scientific Interest and a Special Area of Conservation. Just a 50-minute drive from Bristol and you’ll be able to gaze in amazement at its stunning cliffs and delve into its subterranean caves, discovering fascinating secrets about prehistoric Britain as you go. If you long for adventure, try your hand at Adventure Caving or rock climbing. Or for something more exhilarating, book onto the Black Cat Free Fall experience where you can drop into the darkness – safely of course!

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Cheddar Gorge and Caves

9. Bristol Zoo Gardens

Since opening its doors in 1836, Bristol Zoo Gardens has helped to save more than 175 species from extinction and plays a pivotal role in conservation work around the world. Located near Clifton and easily accessible from the city centre via public transport, the zoo is home to more than 9,500 animals and 100,000 plants, including red pandas, gorillas, tree kangaroos and ring-tailed lemurs. You can listen to lion and lemur talks when you visit, watch regular feeding sessions and take part in animal encounters as the animals take centre stage!

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Bristol Zoo Gardens

10. Hot air balloon tours

Hot air balloons over Bristol at the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta.

The Bristol International Balloon Fiesta may only take place on a few days in August each year, but you can still take to the skies on your very own hot air balloon tour through the main flying season. Discover the south west from a different perspective, taking in Bristol’s main sights and casting your eyes over miles of beautiful countryside.

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Hot air balloon tours

11. SUP Bristol – Paddleboarding

An alternative to taking to the skies is taking to the water with the award-winning team at SUP Bristol. Paddleboard your way around Bristol Harbourside and see the sights from a new angle – it’s fun, safe and easy to learn, with taster sessions in the evenings and longer adventures at weekends.

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SUP Bristol – Paddleboarding
11 Apr 2019(last updated)