clifton bridge best things to do in bristol
clifton bridge best things to do in bristol

28 Unforgettable Things To Do In Bristol For The Ultimate Trip

Get ready to uncover the best things to do in Bristol, UK - a city absolutely bursting with history, culture, and stunning scenery. Explore iconic landmarks like the Clifton Suspension Bridge, delve into maritime history at the SS Great Britain, and immerse yourself in the vibrant street art scene. With countless attractions and hidden gems, Bristol promises an unforgettable experience. Don't believe me? Let me change your mind with this comprehensive Bristol city guide. Let's go.

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Welcome to Bristol, the enchanting city in the southwest of England that’s guaranteed to steal a piece of your heart. With its rich maritime history, vibrant arts scene, and irresistible charm, Bristol is a treasure trove of experiences just waiting to be discovered.

As you stroll down the cobbled streets, you might catch a whiff of the adventurous spirit that once led sailors and pirates alike to embark on daring voyages from Bristol’s bustling harbours.

Bristol was also once the starting point for some rather grand adventures, with intrepid explorer John Cabot setting sail from here in 1497. In search of a western route to Asia, he ended up discovering Newfoundland and Cape Breton Island on the North American Coast. 

These days, the city is more likely to seduce you with its delightful blend of modernity and tradition, where past and present harmoniously coexist.

Now, we can’t really talk about Bristol without mentioning its world-famous street artist, Banksy, who has left his thought-provoking marks on walls all around the city. I’m not going to spoil the fun and reveal their locations though – half the excitement is stumbling upon them during your own urban treasure hunt.

Bristol’s creative heart beats strong, with a thriving music scene that has nurtured world-class talents like Massive Attack and Portishead. The city’s eclectic energy and university town vibe spills over into its many festivals, street parties, and cultural events, making it a veritable playground for those seeking inspiration and entertainment.

Ready to embark on your own Bristolian adventure? Let’s explore the top things to do in Bristol for your next visit.

A Brief History Of Bristol

Bristol’s history is a rich tapestry of fascinating milestones, weaving together tales of maritime adventure, industrial innovation, and cultural significance.

Nestled along the River Avon, Bristol’s origins date back to the Saxon era, with the town of Brycgstow (meaning “the place at the bridge”) first mentioned in 1000 AD.

By the 11th Century, Bristol emerged as a thriving port, trading with Ireland and France.

During the 15th Century, John Cabot sets sail from Bristol, marking the beginning of England’s Age of Discovery.

The 18th & 19th Centuries was when Bristol evolved into an industrial powerhouse, with a focus on shipbuilding and trade.

By the 20th Century came the modernization and cultural development in Bristol, from flourishing street art to a music industry revolution

Today, Bristol stands proudly as a beacon of creativity and progress; a city that has expertly blended its historic charm with a forward-thinking spirit. The legacy of its past continues to inspire residents and visitors alike, ensuring that Bristol remains a vibrant and dynamic destination for years to come.

26 Unmissable Things to Do in Bristol, UK

1. Visit the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta

Best For: Families, couples, photographers, outdoor enthusiasts

the bristol international balloon fiesta with hotair balloons in the sky
Photo credit: bristolballoonfiesta.co.uk

The annual Bristol International Balloon Fiesta is a mesmerizing event that paints the sky with a kaleidoscope of colours, as over 130 hot air balloons take flight.

This four-day festival, held at the beautiful Ashton Court Estate, combines stunning aerial displays with lively entertainment on the ground, making it an unforgettable experience for all who attend.

Spectators can marvel at the awe-inspiring sight of mass balloon ascents, watch skilled pilots participate in races and competitions, or simply relax on the grass with a picnic as they enjoy the festive atmosphere.

The fiesta also features a vibrant night glow, where illuminated balloons are choreographed to music, creating a magical spectacle that lights up the night sky.

General Info

Opening times: Annually in August, check website for specific dates and times

Website URL: https://www.bristolballoonfiesta.co.uk/

Entrance cost: Free entry, parking and other attractions may have additional fees

What I Love:

  • Mass balloon ascents in the early morning and evening
  • Night glows featuring illuminated balloons set to music
  • Funfair, food stalls, and live entertainment

2. Discover Banksy's Street Art

Best For: Art enthusiasts, couples, photographers, urban explorers

famous street art fro banksy in bristol
Photo credit: Brian Mason (Flickr)

Bristol is the birthplace of the enigmatic street artist Banksy, and his thought-provoking works are scattered throughout the city.

Exploring Bristol’s streets in search of Banksy’s art is an exhilarating treasure hunt that offers unique insights into the city’s creative spirit and the artist’s social commentary.

As you wander through the city, you’ll encounter iconic works like ‘Girl with a Pierced Eardrum’ and ‘Well-Hung Lover,’ as well as lesser-known pieces hidden in unexpected places.

Each of Banksy’s artworks tells a story, often reflecting on political and social issues, making them not only visually captivating but also intellectually stimulating.

Guided walking tours are available for those who want a deeper understanding of Banksy’s art, while self-guided explorers can use maps and apps to chart their own course.

General Info

Opening times: Public art, accessible at all times

Website URL: https://visitbristol.co.uk/things-to-do/banksy-walking-tour-p1354013

Entrance cost: Free to explore on your own, guided tour prices vary

What I Love:

  • Iconic works like ‘Girl with a Pierced Eardrum’ and ‘Well-Hung Lover’
  • Guided walking tours for a deeper understanding of the art
  • Discovering lesser-known Banksy pieces on your own

3. Explore Brunel's SS Great Britain

Best For: Families, history buffs, couples, engineering enthusiasts

brunels ss great britain ship in bristol docks
Photo credit: Ray Middleton (Flickr)

Step aboard Brunel’s SS Great Britain, an engineering marvel that was once the world’s largest passenger ship.

Painstakingly restored to her former glory, this magnificent vessel offers a unique glimpse into the opulence of Victorian-era travel and showcases the innovative spirit of its creator, Isambard Kingdom Brunel.

Wander through the ship’s beautifully recreated interiors and encounter fascinating interactive exhibits that bring her history to life. Immerse yourself in the sights, sounds, and even smells of the past, as you experience life on board this extraordinary vessel.

Climb the rigging for an exhilarating view of the ship and her surroundings, or venture below the waterline to explore the impressive iron hull that made her a pioneer of maritime engineering.

The on-site museum delves deeper into Brunel’s incredible achievements and offers a captivating look at the man behind the ship, making a visit to the SS Great Britain a truly inspiring experience for all ages.

General Info

Opening times: Daily, 10 am – 5 pm

Website URL: https://www.ssgreatbritain.org/

Entrance cost: Adults £18, Children (5-17) £10, Under 5s free, Family tickets available

What I Love:

  • Interactive exhibits that bring the ship’s history to life
  • Climbing the rigging for an exhilarating view
  • Beautifully recreated Victorian interiors

4. shop 'till you drop at Cabot Circus

Best For: Shopaholics, families, couples, foodies

cabot circus shopping centre in bristol city centre
Photo credit: maggiezh1988 (Flickr)

Cabot Circus is a premier shopping destination in the heart of Bristol, boasting over 120 shops, cafés, and restaurants.

With a wide range of high-street favourites and designer brands, Cabot Circus offers a retail therapy experience that caters to all tastes and budgets, ensuring a delightful day of shopping and indulgence.

The stunning architecture, which includes a dramatic glass roof, creates an airy, light-filled environment that enhances your shopping experience.

If you’re feeling peckish, the diverse food options available will surely satisfy any cravings, from quick bites at popular fast-food chains to leisurely meals at stylish restaurants.

Be sure to check the events calendar, as Cabot Circus frequently hosts exciting events and promotions.

General Info

Opening times: Monday – Saturday 10 am – 8 pm, Sunday 11 am – 5 pm

Website URL: https://www.cabotcircus.com/

Entrance cost: Free entry

What I Love:

  • Shopping for all budgets
  • Food and restaurants serving up super tasty treats 

5. stroll across the Clifton Suspension Bridge

Best For: Families, couples, photographers, engineering enthusiasts

the clifton suspension bridge at dawn
Photo credit: Gary West (Flickr)

Spanning the picturesque Avon Gorge, the Clifton Suspension Bridge is one of Bristol’s most iconic landmarks and a testament to the engineering genius of Isambard Kingdom Brunel.

The bridge’s elegant design and dramatic setting have captured the hearts and imaginations of visitors for over 150 years, making it a must-see attraction for anyone visiting the city.

Take a leisurely stroll across the bridge to soak in the stunning views of the gorge and the city beyond, or venture down to the Clifton Observatory for a closer look at the bridge’s intricate details.

The visitor centre, located on the Leigh Woods side of the bridge, offers fascinating insights into the history and construction of this remarkable feat of engineering, as well as the life and achievements of its creator, Brunel.

General Info

Opening times: Bridge open 24/7, Visitor Centre open daily 10 am – 5 pm (seasonal variations may apply)

Website URL: https://www.cliftonbridge.org.uk/

Entrance cost: Free to cross the bridge, Visitor Centre admission by donation

What I Love:

  • Spectacular views of the Avon Gorge and Bristol
  • The informative Visitor Centre
  • Close proximity to Clifton Observatory and other attractions

6. enjoy a day at the Bristol Zoo Gardens

Best For: Families, couples, animal lovers, photographers

ape in his enclosure at bristol zoo gardens
Photo credit: mma.grappler (Flickr)

Bristol Zoo Gardens, nestled in the charming area of Clifton, is a delightful oasis of wildlife and greenery that has been enchanting visitors since 1836.

Home to over 400 species of animals, the zoo offers an incredible opportunity to get up close and personal with creatures from all corners of the globe.

From the majestic lions and playful meerkats to the vibrant penguins and cheeky lemurs, the zoo’s diverse animal residents are sure to delight and fascinate visitors of all ages.

The beautifully landscaped gardens provide a serene backdrop for your explorations, while the zoo’s commitment to conservation and education ensures that your visit is not only entertaining but also enriching.

Don’t miss the immersive exhibits like the Butterfly Forest, where you can walk among free-flying butterflies, or the Twilight World, where you can observe nocturnal animals in action.

General Info

Opening times: Daily, 9 am – 5 pm (seasonal variations may apply)

Website URL: https://www.bristolzoo.org.uk/

Entrance cost: Adults £16.50, Children (2-14) £10, Under 2s free, Family tickets available

What I Love:

  • Encounters with a diverse range of animal species
  • Beautifully landscaped gardens to explore
  • Immersive exhibits like the Butterfly Forest and Twilight World

7. Visit the magnificent M shed museum

Best For: Families, history buffs, couples

the m shed on the waterfront in bristol
Photo credit: visitbristol.co.uk

Housed in a beautifully restored dockside transit shed, M Shed is a captivating museum that tells the story of Bristol and its people.

With a wealth of interactive exhibits and fascinating displays, the museum offers a unique glimpse into the city’s past, present, and future.

Explore the rich history of Bristol’s maritime, industrial, and social heritage as you wander through the museum’s three main galleries: Bristol Places, Bristol People, and Bristol Life.

Alongside the permanent exhibits, M Shed hosts a variety of temporary exhibitions, workshops, and events that cater to a diverse range of interests.

Don’t forget to step outside and see the impressive collection of working industrial and maritime machinery, including steam trains, cranes, and boats, which provide a fascinating insight into the city’s working past.

It’s one of the most popular things to do in Bristol o make sure this one is on your travel itinerary!

General Info

Opening times: Tuesday – Sunday, 10 am – 5 pm

Website URL: https://www.bristolmuseums.org.uk/m-shed/

Entrance cost: Free entry, charges may apply for special exhibitions and events

What I Love:

  • Engaging interactive exhibits and displays
  • Fascinating insights into Bristol’s maritime, industrial, and social heritage
  • Working industrial and maritime machinery

8. visit the Bristol Museum & Art Gallery

Best For: Families, art enthusiasts, history buffs, couples

inside the bristol museum and art gallery
Photo credit: https://www.bristolmuseums.org.uk

Located in a stunning Grade II listed building, the Bristol Museum & Art Gallery is a treasure trove of art, history, and culture, with collections spanning the ages from ancient civilizations to modern masterpieces.

Discover Egyptian mummies, prehistoric fossils, and beautiful ceramics as you delve into the museum’s rich and diverse collection.

The art gallery showcases an impressive array of works, including Old Masters, British and European paintings, and contemporary art by renowned artists such as Banksy.

The museum also hosts temporary exhibitions and events, providing a constantly evolving program of engaging experiences for visitors.

With so much to see and explore, the Bristol Museum & Art Gallery is a must-visit destination for anyone with an interest in art, history, or simply learning something new.

General Info

Opening times: Tuesday – Sunday, 10 am – 5 pm

Website URL: https://www.bristolmuseums.org.uk/bristol-museum-and-art-gallery/

Entrance cost: Free entry, charges may apply for special exhibitions and events

What I Love:

  • Diverse collection spanning art, history, and culture
  • Impressive array of works in the art gallery, including pieces by Banksy
  • Engaging temporary exhibitions and events

9. explore the picturesque Ashton Court Estate

Best For: Families, nature lovers, couples, outdoor enthusiasts

the beautiful ashton court estate in bristol
Photo credit: Anguskirk (Flickr)

The Ashton Court Estate is a sprawling parkland and historic manor house that offers a tranquil escape from the bustle of the city.

With over 850 acres of picturesque woodland, meadows, and gardens to explore, there’s something for everyone at this magnificent estate.

Enjoy leisurely walks or exhilarating bike rides along the well-maintained trails, take in the stunning views of Bristol from the estate’s elevated vantage points, or try your hand at a round of golf on the estate’s two golf courses.

The manor house, a beautiful example of Gothic Revival architecture, is an impressive backdrop for events and functions, and the estate hosts a number of annual events, including the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta.

Whether you’re looking for a peaceful retreat or a fun-filled day out, Ashton Court Estate has it all.

General Info

Opening times: Open daily, park gates close at dusk

Website URL: https://www.bristol.gov.uk/museums-parks-sports-culture/ashton-court-estate

Entrance cost: Free entry, parking charges apply

What I Love:

  • Over 850 acres of picturesque woodland, meadows, and gardens
  • Stunning views of Bristol from elevated vantage points
  • Home to the annual Bristol International Balloon Fiesta

10. immerse yourself in 'We The Curious' (Science Centre)

Best For: Families, couples, science enthusiasts

we are curious science sentre
Photo credit: Lee (Flickr)

We The Curious is an interactive science centre that invites visitors to embark on a thrilling journey of discovery and learning.

With a wide array of hands-on exhibits, immersive experiences, and thought-provoking displays, the centre is designed to spark curiosity and inspire a love of science in visitors of all ages.

Explore the wonders of the universe in the UK’s first 3D Planetarium, conduct your own experiments in the Test Lab, or delve into the mysteries of the human body in the interactive exhibit, All About Us.

We The Curious also hosts a range of live shows, workshops, and special events, ensuring there’s always something new and exciting to discover.

A visit to this innovative science centre is not only educational but also a whole lot of fun, making it the perfect day out in Bristol for families with kids and science enthusiasts alike.

General Info

Opening times: Tuesday – Friday, 10 am – 5 pm; Saturday – Sunday, 10 am – 6 pm

Website URL: https://www.wethecurious.org/

Entrance cost: Adults £16.95, Children (3-15) £10.95, Under 3s free, Family tickets available

What I Love:

  • Hands-on exhibits and immersive experiences
  • UK’s first 3D Planetarium
  • Live shows, workshops, and special events

11. set Sail on The Matthew of Bristol

Best For: Families, couples, history buffs, maritime enthusiasts

matthew of bristol sailing on the water in bristol
Photo credit: Charles Whittaker (Flickr)

The Matthew of Bristol is a lovingly recreated replica of the 15th-century ship used by explorer John Cabot during his historic voyage to North America.

Stepping aboard this stunning vessel is like stepping back in time, offering visitors the chance to experience life on the high seas during the Age of Discovery.

Guided tours provide fascinating insights into the ship’s construction, history, and the challenges faced by Cabot and his crew.

The Matthew also offers sailing trips around Bristol’s historic harbour, allowing you to enjoy the city’s sights from a unique perspective while savouring the thrill of sailing aboard this magnificent ship.

General Info

Opening times: Vary depending on tours and sailing trips, check the website for details

Website URL: https://www.matthew.co.uk/

Entrance cost: Free entry for ship visits, charges apply for guided tours and sailing trips

What I Love:

  • Authentic replica of John Cabot’s historic ship
  • Guided tours and sailing trips available
  • Unique opportunity to experience life during the Age of Discovery

12. explore supersonic travel at Aerospace Bristol

Best For: Families, couples, aviation enthusiasts, history buffs

concorde at aerospace bristol
Photo credit: Lee (Flickr)

Aerospace Bristol is an exciting museum that takes you on a fascinating journey through the history of British aviation.

With a collection of aircraft spanning more than a century of flight, the museum offers an immersive experience that is sure to delight and inspire visitors of all ages.

The star attraction is undoubtedly Concorde Alpha Foxtrot, the last Concorde to be built and flown, which is housed in a purpose-built hangar.

Visitors can step aboard the iconic aircraft, explore its luxurious interior, and learn about the incredible engineering that made supersonic travel a reality.

The museum also features interactive exhibits, hands-on activities, and engaging displays that bring the story of aviation to life.

Book your tickets in advance here – they often sell out quick!

General Info

Opening times: Tuesday – Sunday, 10 am – 4 pm

Website URL: https://aerospacebristol.org/

Entrance cost: Adults £17, Children (4-17) £9, Under 4s free, Family tickets available

What I Love:

  • Discover picturesque riverside walks
  • Enjoy wildlife and scenic views
  • Visit the charming village of Grantchester

13. Enjoy a show at the Bristol Old Vic

Best For: Theatre lovers, couples, families

the bristol old vic building at night time fun things to do in bristol for couples
Photo credit: University of Bristol (Flickr)

The Bristol Old Vic is the longest continuously running theatre in the English-speaking world, and a visit to this historic venue is a must for anyone with a love of the performing arts.

The beautifully restored Georgian auditorium provides an intimate and atmospheric setting for a diverse program of productions, from classic plays and musicals to contemporary works and experimental performances.

The theatre is also committed to nurturing new talent and frequently showcases productions by emerging artists and companies.

With its rich history, stunning architecture, and exceptional performances, the Bristol Old Vic is sure to provide an unforgettable theatrical experience and a must-visit during your stay in Bristol.

General Info

Opening times: Box office hours – Monday – Saturday, 10 am – 6 pm; Performance times vary

Website URL: https://bristololdvic.org.uk/

Entrance cost: Ticket prices vary depending on the performance

What I Love:

  • Longest continuously running theatre in the English-speaking world
  • Diverse program of productions
  • Stunning Georgian auditorium

14. Visit the Arnolfini contemporary art centre

Best For: Art enthusiasts, couples, families

the arnolfini bristol next to the water
Photo credit: chrisgj6 (Flickr)

Arnolfini is a leading contemporary art centre housed in a striking harborside building in the heart of Bristol.

With a focus on pioneering and experimental works, the centre showcases a diverse range of exhibitions, performances, film screenings, and events that challenge and inspire visitors.

The spacious galleries host an ever-changing program of exhibitions featuring both established and emerging artists, offering a fresh and dynamic perspective on the world of contemporary art.

In addition to visual art, Arnolfini also hosts a variety of live performances, workshops, and talks that cater to a wide range of interests and provide opportunities for creative engagement and learning.

A visit to Arnolfini is also a great date night and one of my favourite things to do in Bristol for couples.

General Info

Opening times: Tuesday – Sunday, 11 am – 6 pm

Website URL: https://arnolfini.org.uk/

Entrance cost: Free entry, charges may apply for special events and performances

What I Love:

  • Leading contemporary art center
  • Diverse range of exhibitions, performances, and events
  • Opportunities for creative engagement and learning

15. climb Cabot Tower

Best For: Families, couples, history buffs, photographers

the cabot tower with views all the way over bristol
Photo credit: Andrew Mclean (Flickr)

Cabot Tower, a striking landmark that stands atop Brandon Hill, offers some of the best panoramic views of Bristol.

Completed in 1897 to commemorate the 400th anniversary of John Cabot’s voyage to North America, the tower is an architectural gem that blends Gothic Revival and Bristol Byzantine styles.

Climb the 109 steps to the top of the tower, and you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking vistas of the city, the harbour, and the surrounding countryside.

The tower is set within the picturesque Brandon Hill Park, which offers a peaceful retreat from the hustle and bustle of the city and features lovely walking paths, ponds, and plenty of green spaces to relax and unwind.

General Info

Opening times: Daily, 8 am – 6 pm (seasonal variations may apply)

Website URL: https://www.bristol.gov.uk/museums-parks-sports-culture/brandon-hill

Entrance cost: Free

What I Love:

  • Stunning panoramic views of Bristol and the surrounding area
  • Architectural gem blending Gothic Revival and Bristol Byzantine styles
  • Picturesque Brandon Hill park

16. Wander through Clifton Village

Best For: Families, couples, shoppers, foodies

shops and restaurants in clifton village
Photo credit: Alaine-Louise (Flickr)

Clifton Village is a historic and charming neighbourhood in Bristol, brimming with independent shops, boutiques, and delightful cafés.

Wander through the picturesque streets, and you’ll discover a treasure trove of unique finds, from artisanal crafts and one-of-a-kind gifts to stylish clothing and accessories.

The area also boasts a thriving food scene, with an array of cafés, restaurants, and pubs offering a diverse range of culinary delights.

Set against the backdrop of elegant Georgian architecture, Clifton Village provides a delightful and leisurely shopping and dining experience that is quintessentially Bristol.

General Info

Opening times: Shop and café hours vary

Website URL: https://visitbristol.co.uk/shopping/clifton-village-p23191

Entrance cost: Free to explore

What I Love:

  • Picturesque streets and elegant Georgian architecture
  • Independent shops, boutiques, and unique finds
  • Thriving food scene with diverse dining options

17. explore the Leigh Woods National Nature Reserve

Best For: Families, couples, nature lovers, hikers

clifton bridhg in the distance from leigh woods national nature reserve
Photo credit: nationaltrust.org.uk

The Leigh Woods National Nature Reserve offers a peaceful escape from the city and a chance to explore scenic trails through ancient woodland, grassland, and veteran trees.

Nestled on the edge of the Avon Gorge, this picturesque reserve is home to an abundance of wildlife, including deer, foxes, and a variety of bird species.

The well-marked trails cater to all abilities and range from gentle strolls to more challenging hikes, providing plenty of opportunities to immerse yourself in nature and enjoy the reserve’s tranquillity.

With stunning views of the Clifton Suspension Bridge and the surrounding landscape, Leigh Woods National Nature Reserve is a must-visit for anyone seeking a serene retreat and outdoor adventure.

General Info

Opening times: Open daily, dawn to dusk

Website URL: https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/leigh-woods

Entrance cost: Free

What I Love:

  • Scenic trails through ancient woodland and grassland
  • Abundance of wildlife and diverse habitats
  • Stunning views of the Clifton Suspension Bridge and surrounding landscape

18. wander through the Royal Fort Gardens

Best For: Families, couples, nature lovers, history buffs

the royal fort gardens in bristol in spring
Photo credit: University of Bristol alumni and friends (Flickr)

The beautiful and historical Royal Fort Gardens offer a serene retreat in the heart of Bristol, where visitors can enjoy lush green spaces, charming pathways, and fascinating remnants of the past.

Once the site of a 17th-century fortification, the gardens now feature intriguing sculptures, such as the striking Hollow installation by Katie Paterson, and impressive architectural elements like the 18th-century Royal Fort House.

Wander through the tranquil grounds, marvel at the majestic trees, and soak up the peaceful atmosphere of this hidden gem.

General Info

Opening times: Open daily, dawn to dusk

Website URL: https://www.bristol.ac.uk/estates/space/grounds-maintenance/gardens/royal-fort-gardens/

Entrance cost: Free

What I Love:

  • Serene retreat with lush green spaces and charming pathways
  • Fascinating historical elements and intriguing sculptures
  • 18th-century Royal Fort House and peaceful atmosphere

19. visit the Bristol Aquarium

Best For: Families, couples, marine enthusiasts, children

visit the bristol aquarium fun things to do in bristol with kids
Photo credit: Mike (Flickr)

Discover fascinating sea creatures and learn about marine conservation at Bristol Aquarium, a captivating attraction that offers a glimpse into the underwater world.

With over 40 themed displays, the aquarium showcases a diverse range of aquatic species, from colourful tropical fish and graceful rays to mysterious sharks and playful penguins.

Interactive exhibits, touch pools, and engaging talks and feeds provide opportunities for hands-on learning and insight into the incredible creatures that inhabit our oceans.

A visit to Bristol Aquarium is a must for anyone looking to explore the wonders of the deep and learn about the importance of conserving these extraordinary ecosystems. Plus, it’s an awesome way to spend an afternoon in Bristol with kids (big or small)

General Info

Opening times: Daily, 10 am – 5 pm (last entry at 4 pm)

Website URL: https://www.bristolaquarium.co.uk/

Entrance cost: Adults £16

What I Love:

  • Over 40 themed displays showcasing diverse aquatic species
  • Interactive exhibits, touch pools, and engaging talks and feeds
  • Focus on marine conservation and hands-on learning

20. cycle or stroll along Bristol Harbourside

Best For: Families, couples, walkers, cyclists

train tracks along the bristol harbourside
Photo credit: Gary West (Flickr)

Take a leisurely stroll or bike ride along Bristol’s scenic Harbourside, a vibrant and picturesque area that offers a perfect blend of modern developments and historic charm.

The Harbourside is home to an array of attractions, such as the M Shed museum, Brunel’s SS Great Britain, and the iconic Matthew replica ship.

Along the way, you’ll find bustling markets, inviting pubs and restaurants, and beautiful waterfront views.

The Harbourside also hosts numerous events throughout the year, including the Bristol Harbour Festival and the International Balloon Fiesta, making it an ever-evolving and lively destination for both locals and visitors.

General Info

Opening times: Open 24/7

Website URL: https://visitbristol.co.uk/things-to-do/areas/harbourside

Entrance cost: Free to explore

What I Love:

  • Scenic waterfront views and historic charm
  • Array of attractions, markets, pubs, and restaurants
  • Lively events and festivals throughout the year

21. go food shopping at St Nicholas Market

Best For: Families, couples, foodies, shoppers

busy st nicholas market
Photo credit: Hugi Olafsson (Flickr)

Savour culinary delights from around the world at St Nicholas Market, a bustling and vibrant hub in the heart of Bristol.

This historic market, established in 1743, is home to an incredible array of food stalls, offering everything from gourmet burgers and artisanal pizza to fragrant curries and mouthwatering falafel.

In addition to the delicious food offerings, the market also features numerous independent retailers selling unique gifts, vintage clothing, and handmade crafts.

General Info

Opening times: Monday – Saturday, 9:30 am – 5 pm (Food stalls: 11 am – 3 pm)

Website URL: https://www.stnicholasmarketbristol.co.uk/

Entrance cost: Free to explore

What I Love:

  • Diverse culinary delights from around the world
  • Independent retailers selling unique gifts and crafts
  • Historic market with a lively atmosphere

22. visit St. Mary Redcliffe Church

Best For: Families, couples, history buffs, architecture enthusiasts

st mary redcliffe church in bristol
Photo credit: Tristan Martin (Flickr)

Admire the Gothic architectural splendour of St. Mary Redcliffe Church, a stunning masterpiece that has stood in Bristol for over 800 years.

The church is renowned for its beautiful stained glass windows, intricate carvings, and soaring vaulted ceilings.

A place of worship, reflection, and inspiration, St. Mary Redcliffe Church offers visitors a chance to experience the rich history and architectural beauty of this magnificent structure.

Don’t miss the impressive organ, which has been played by Handel, and the unique medieval wall paintings that adorn the walls of this awe-inspiring church.

General Info

Opening times: Monday – Saturday, 9 am – 5 pm; Sunday, 8 am – 5 pm

Website URL: https://www.stmaryredcliffe.co.uk/

Entrance cost: Free, donations welcome

What I Love:

  • Stunning Gothic architecture and intricate carvings
  • Beautiful stained glass windows and soaring vaulted ceilings
  • Impressive organ and unique medieval wall paintings

23. catch a film at Watershed

Best For: Families, couples, film enthusiasts, digital creatives

the watershed fun things to do in bristol for adults
Photo credit: David Fisher (Flickr)

Catch a film or attend an event at the Watershed, Bristol’s cultural cinema and digital creativity centre.

Located in a converted warehouse on the Harbourside, the Watershed showcases a diverse program of independent films, world cinema, classic movies, and documentaries.

In addition to its three cinema screens, the Watershed also houses a lively café-bar, flexible event spaces, and the Pervasive Media Studio, a cutting-edge research and development space for digital media projects.

With its rich and varied offerings, the Watershed is a vibrant hub for film, culture, and digital creativity in Bristol.

General Info

Opening times: Daily, 10 am – late (Cinema hours vary)

Website URL: https://www.watershed.co.uk/

Entrance cost: Cinema ticket prices vary, event costs vary

What I Love:

  • Diverse program of independent films and world cinema
  • Cutting-edge research and development space for digital media projects
  • Vibrant café-bar and flexible event spaces

24. explore the stunning Blaise Castle Estate

Best For: Families, couples, history buffs, nature lovers

blaise castle estate at dusk
Photo credit: Dafydd Penguin (Flickr)

Visit the historic Blaise Castle Estate, a stunning 18th-century mansion set within a picturesque landscape garden. The estate, encompassing 400 acres of parkland, offers a perfect combination of natural beauty, architectural elegance, and fascinating history.

Wander through the enchanting gardens, take in the panoramic views from the castle’s lookout tower, and explore the mansion’s museum, which houses an eclectic collection of objects from Bristol’s past.

The estate’s expansive grounds also feature a play area for children, making it an ideal destination for a family day out in Bristol.

General Info

Opening times: Park open daily, dawn to dusk; Museum open Tuesday – Sunday, 11 am – 4 pm

Website URL: https://www.bristolmuseums.org.uk/blaise-museum/

Entrance cost: Free

What I Love:

  • Stunning 18th-century mansion and picturesque landscape garden
  • Panoramic views from the castle’s lookout tower
  • Eclectic collection of objects in the mansion’s museum

25. venture through the Redcliffe Caves

Best For: Families, couples, history buffs, adventure seekers

inside the redcliffe caves
Photo credit: axbridgecavinggroupflickr (Flickr)

Explore the eerie beauty of the Redcliffe Caves, a man-made sandstone cave system with a history that dates back to the 17th century.

Originally excavated for their valuable red sandstone, the caves have served various purposes over the years, including housing a glassmaking factory and providing shelter during World War II air raids.

Venture deep into the labyrinth of tunnels and discover the fascinating stories that lie within these mysterious caverns.

Guided tours are available, providing insight into the geological and historical significance of this unique attraction.

General Info

Opening times: Tours available during special events and open days

Website URL: https://bristolopendoors.org.uk/events/redcliffe-caves/

Entrance cost: Tours priced at £6 per person, children under 12 free

What I Love:

  • Man-made sandstone cave system with a rich history
  • Fascinating stories of the caves’ various uses
  • Guided tours offering insight into geological and historical significance

26. visit the Wills Memorial Building

Best For: Families, couples, history buffs, architecture enthusiasts

wills memorial building towering over the streets in bristol
Photo credit: F. Ihlefeldt (Flickr)

Take a guided tour of the historic Wills Memorial Building, an iconic symbol of Bristol’s rich past. Constructed between 1915 and 1925, this neo-Gothic masterpiece was built to commemorate Henry Overton Wills III, the first chancellor of the University of Bristol.

The building’s impressive tower stands over 215 feet tall, offering stunning views of the city from its top.

The guided tours provide an opportunity to learn about the building’s history, architectural features, and its role within the University of Bristol.

General Info

Opening times: Guided tours available on Saturdays at 1 pm

Website URL: https://www.bristol.ac.uk/wills-memorial-building/

Entrance cost: £5 per person, proceeds go to charity

What I Love:

  • Iconic neo-Gothic architectural masterpiece
  • Stunning views of the city from the tower
  • Informative guided tours exploring the building’s history and features

27. visit the Underfall Yard

Best For: Families, couples, history buffs, engineering enthusiasts

the underfall yard on the waterfront
Photo credit: Nick (Flickr)

Get up close and personal with Bristol’s industrial heritage at the Underfall Yard, a historic boatyard and working dockyard that played a crucial role in the city’s maritime history.

Situated on the Harbourside, the yard offers a fascinating glimpse into the world of traditional boatbuilding, engineering, and dock maintenance.

Explore the Visitor Centre to learn about the yard’s history, the ingenious Victorian engineering that powered the dock, and the ongoing restoration projects.

General Info

Opening times: Tuesday – Sunday, 10 am – 5 pm

Website URL: https://www.underfallyard.co.uk/

Entrance cost: Free entry to the Visitor Centre, guided tours at £6 per person

What I Love:

  • Fascinating insight into Bristol’s maritime and industrial heritage
  • Traditional boatbuilding, engineering, and dock maintenance workshops
  • Informative guided tours and engaging Visitor Centre

28. wander through Stokes Croft creative quarter

Best For: Families, couples, art enthusiasts, urban explorers

walk through stokes croft creative quarter in bristol
Photo credit: Nick (Flickr)

Immerse yourself in the vibrant street art and alternative culture of Stokes Croft, Bristol’s bohemian and creative quarter. Known for its eclectic mix of independent shops, galleries, and eateries, Stokes Croft is a hotbed of artistic expression and social activism.

As you wander the streets, you’ll discover striking murals and colourful graffiti, including works by renowned street artist Banksy.

The area’s lively atmosphere and thriving arts scene make it a must-visit destination for anyone looking to experience the cutting edge of Bristol’s cultural landscape.

General Info

Opening times: Open 24/7

Website URL: N/A

Entrance cost: Free to explore

What I Love:

  • Vibrant street art, including works by Banksy
  • Eclectic mix of independent shops, galleries, and eateries
  • Lively atmosphere and thriving arts scene

28 Top Things To Do In Bristol

  1. Bristol International Balloon Fiesta
  2. Discover Banksy’s Street Art
  3. Brunel’s SS Great Britain
  4. Cabot Circus
  5. Clifton Suspension Bridge
  6. Bristol Zoo Gardens
  7. M Shed
  8. Bristol Museum & Art Gallery
  9. Ashton Court Estate
  10. We Are Curious
  11. Matthew Of Bristol
  12. Aerospace Bristol
  13. Bristol Old Vic
  14. Arnolfini
  15. Cabot Tower
  16. Clifton Village
  17. Leigh Woods National Nature Reserve
  18. Royal Fort Gardens
  19. Bristol Aquarium
  20. Bristol Harbourside
  21. St Nicholas Market
  22. St. Mary Redcliffe Church
  23. Watershed
  24. Blaise Castle Estate
  25. Redcliffe Caves
  26. Wills Memorial Building
  27. Underfall Yard
  28. Stokes Croft

FAQs

 

Is Bristol worth a day trip?

Absolutely! Bristol is a vibrant city with a rich history, diverse cultural offerings, and stunning scenery. A day trip to Bristol allows you to explore some of its top attractions, including the Clifton Suspension Bridge, the SS Great Britain, and the vibrant street art scene. While you may not be able to cover everything in a day, you’ll certainly get a taste of what makes Bristol such a unique and exciting destination.

 

Is 2 days enough in Bristol?

Two days in Bristol will give you a good amount of time to explore the city’s highlights and delve deeper into its attractions. While there’s always more to discover, spending 2 days in Bristol will allow you to visit key landmarks, museums, and parks, as well as experience its bustling food scene and nightlife.

 

How do you spend an afternoon in Bristol?

To spend a perfect afternoon in Bristol, consider exploring the Harbourside area, where you can visit the M Shed museum and the SS Great Britain. Alternatively, you could take a stroll through the charming Clifton Village, walk across the Clifton Suspension Bridge, and enjoy a leisurely picnic in Ashton Court Estate or Royal Fort Gardens. For art enthusiasts, an afternoon wandering around Stokes Croft and checking out the street art is a must.

 

Is Bristol a cheap city?

Bristol is relatively affordable compared to other major UK cities like London. While it’s not the cheapest city in the UK, you can find reasonably priced accommodations, dining options, and attractions. Many of Bristol’s top attractions, such as the Clifton Suspension Bridge, Blaise Castle Estate, and the street art scene, can be enjoyed for free, making it a budget-friendly destination.

 

Is Bristol a walkable city?

Yes, Bristol is a walkable city with many attractions located within walking distance of each other, especially Bristol’s city centre and the Harbourside areas. The city also has excellent public transport options, including buses and ferries, to help you reach attractions further afield. Walking is a great way to experience Bristol’s unique atmosphere, charming neighbourhoods, and vibrant street art scene.

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