With so many things to do in Bristol, it’s easy to see why we decided to enjoy a nice weekend in the UK. Having lived in Bristol for so many years, it was nice to be back, see how the city evolved and immerse ourselves in the local culture once again. We initially organised a quiet weekend but after some consideration, we decided to put our explorer hats on and enjoy a variety of things to do in Bristol, including taking tours, visiting museums and eating some delicious dishes made with locally sourced ingredients. Let us show you our hometown so you can start organising an amazing weekend exploring Bristol.
Things to do in Bristol
We love that Bristol is such soft adventure oriented city. Locals bike everywhere, there are plenty of green spaces and the city itself has various districts, all unique to suit individual preferences. For example, for a hipster breakfast, check out Gloucester Road or for a romantic walk for couples, the Harbourside is simply fantastic. Then, there is Ashton Court, a vast green space with wild deer and hiking paths. Bristol is definitely one of the most interesting, varied and fun cities in the UK.
Here are our favourite things to do in Bristol.
Bristol Museum and Art Gallery
What I love about museums in Britain is that most of the time, the entry is entirely free of charge. You normally have to pay for the special and temporary exhibitions only. If you want to learn more about the history of Bristol, a trip to the Bristol Museum and Art Gallery is a must. You can see many Bristol Blue glassware dating back to the 18th century.
Address: Queens Rd, Bristol BS8 1RL, UK
Brunel’s SS Great Britain
The SS Great Britain was the longest passenger ship in the world from 1845 to 1854. She was designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, the great engineer who also designed the Clifton Suspension Bridge. You can now visit the ship in dry dock at Bristol. The ticket will take you on a journey inside the ship as well as out on its deck. You can visit the ship’s interior and learn more about its history in the dedicated museum. Prepare to be amazed.
Address: Great Western Dockyard, Gas Ferry Rd, Bristol BS1 6TY, UK
Clifton Suspension Bridge
The Clifton Suspension Bridge is a world-famous bridge linking Clifton in Bristol to Leigh Woods in North Somerset. The bridge is built based on various designs by Brunel, William Henry Barlow, John Hawkshaw and Sarah Gruppy. The toll is spent maintaining the bridge. Cyclists and pedestrians don’t have to pay to cross. The bridge is the symbol of Bristol and it has been used as a venue for important cultural events such as the first modern bungee jump in 1979, the last Concorde flight in 2003 and a handover of the Olympic Torch in 2012.
Address: Bridge Rd, Bristol BS8 3PA, UK
The Bristol Cathedral is a Grade I listed building located on College Green, right next to the City Council. The Bristol Cathedral has an array of architectural styles.
It is open for visitors so you can marvel at the stunning interior and the entry is free. In the inside, you can see full height aisles using stone bridges with open transverse arches and ribs.
Address: College Green, Bristol BS1 5TJ, UK
River Avon Cruises
Enjoy a short trip on the River Avon or book a private boat trip to suit your requirements. There are companies offering cruises for any occasion with food and drinks included. If you like this idea, pick one of the romantic cruises from Bristol to Bath and back. The cruise leads you along the beautiful, hilly countryside which is lined with lush, green vegetation. With all the entertainment on board, the fun is guaranteed.
Visit the Bristol Blue Glass Studio
To grab your original Bristol souvenir, visit the original Bristol Blue Glass Studio founded in 1988. You can purchase a variety of beautiful traditional Bristol Blue. You can also see the glassmakers at work and find out how they do these unique pieces.
Address: 357-359 Bath Rd, Bristol BS4 3EW, UK
The Matthew is located on Princess Wharf and it is a replica of a caravel sailed by John Cabot. He used the ship to sail from Bristol to North America. You can get on the deck and take fun pictures. During the summer, you can actually get aboard and take a short trip with this epic caravel.
Address: Princes Wharf, Wapping Rd, Bristol BS1 4RN, UK
Queen Square might seem just another square in Bristol, but during the summer months, this is where a lot of the magic happens. There are several festivals in the city, and some of them will be celebrated in Queen Square. Queen Square used to be a fashionable residential address but now most of the buildings are used as offices.
Address: Bristol BS1 4LH, UK
The Lido Bristol is a historic lido in the Clifton area. The Lido was originally built in 1849 under the name Clifton Victoria Baths. The Lido was purchased by the Bristol Glass Boat Company who restored the pool in 2008. Lido is a residential retreat which is all about offering the locals pure relaxation. We found Lido to be a great romantic opportunity for couples who are interested in a fun weekend spa package. You can use the facilities and the pool combined with other spa treatments and you can enjoy a candlelight poolside tapas bar. The food is fantastic, but if you have any dietary requirements, make sure you call in advance to ask for options. The chef mixed and matched some tapas for us, and made it all delicious plant-based. You can read more about Lido here.
Address: Oakfield Pl, Bristol BS8 2BJ, UK
Ashton Court is one of our favourite spots in Bristol. In fact, I used to live about 10 minutes away from Ashton Court and I loved it, because of the wonderful hiking and walking opportunities. Ashton Court is a large estate with a mansion which belongs to the City of Bristol. The Bristol International Balloon Fiesta is held in Ashton Court with many other leisure activities and fun-fares. The mansion in the Ashton Court is often used for wedding receptions and other corporate events. The grounds are all lush, with plenty of trees and trails. Admire some amazing views over Bristol from Ashton Court. It’s difficult not to love it.
Address: Ashton Court Estate, Long Ashton, Bristol BS41 9JN, UK
Blaise Estate is home to Blaise Castle, a fort built in 1766 near Henbury. We used to live in Henbury for the majority of our time together in Bristol. We used to take daily walks around Blaise Estate, along the river and up towards the castle. The Blaise Estate has a lovely green path lined with beautiful, tall trees.
Address: Bristol BS10 7QT, UK
University of Bristol Botanic Garden
The University of Bristol established a botanic garden back in 1882 and it is now home to a wide variety of plant species. It also has 640 square meters of greenhouses divided into cool, warm-temperate, sub-tropic and tropical zones. This is a must for nature lovers and as you already know, we never shy away from visiting a botanic garden.
Address: Stoke Park Rd, Stoke Bishop, Bristol BS9 1JG, UK
The Bristol harbour, located in the city centre, is often called the floating harbour and referred to as the harbourside. There are lots of shops, restaurants and pubs dotted around the harbour and more and more residential houses are being erected in the vicinity. The harbourside is extremely lively, vibrant and fun during the summer. It’s also great to just walk along the harbourside and enjoy a nice, relaxing afternoon with your loved one. We love walking all the way to the Pump House, a traditional pub which sells great food and ales. On the way back, we often cross to the other side and walk back towards the centre of the city.
Harbourside, Bristol BS1 5UH, UK
Castle Park is a green space in the centre of Bristol. Many office workers come here to have lunch on a sunny day. It’s also great for joggers. There are several festivals which take place in Castle Park including Gay Pride and Love Saves the Day. On the West of the park, you can admire the ruined tower of St Mary-le-Port church.
Address: 12 Union St, Bristol BS1 3XD, UK
Cabot Tower and Brandon Hill
Do you love admiring cities from above? Then you must visit Cabot Tower, a grade II listed building. The tower was built in the 1890s to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the journey of John Cabot from Bristol to the land which later became Canada. You can take the stairs all the way to the top and admire incredible views of Bristol. Brandon Hill is a hilly park and it’s a perfect place to have a romantic picnic at sunset. There are several benches dotted throughout the park.
Address: Brandon Hill Park, Great George St, Harbourside, Bristol BS1 5RR, UK
Have Fancy Cocktails
Lava lamp cocktails? Spectacular fiery drinks? Sparking cocktails which incredible presentation? Then head to Aluna, a new bar in Bristol which serves amazing cocktails. We went there with another couple and had a lot of fun. The prices are a bit high, so best to time your arrival for happy hour.
Address: 4, Broad Quay, Bristol BS1 4DA, UK
You can’t visit Bristol and not take a Banksy tour. Whether you get a local to take you on a Banksy tour or simply take a self-guided street art tour, you need to see the epic Banksy graffiti dotted throughout the city. Banksy is an anonymous England-based graffiti artist, political activist and film director.
Visit Saint Nicholas Market
Saint Nicholas is the oldest and most loved market in Bristol. It is situated in the heart of the old town, along Corn Street. The market has over 60 stalls inside and there are several outdoor stalls. St Nicholas Market was named one of the best ten markets in the UK.
Address: The Corn Exchange, Corn St, Bristol BS1 1JQ, UK
Hot Air Balloon Ride
Bristol is known for its suspension bridge and epic balloons. So obviously we are going to recommend that you enjoy a hot air balloon ride. Remember that flying season is mainly between March and October. The weather can be a bit challenging (you are still in England after all) but the truly gorgeous views of Bristol from above will absolutely worth it. You can enjoy a truly gorgeous view of Bristol from above.
Go partying on Gloucester Road
For Bristol’s most varied, multicultural and crazy neighbourhood, visit Gloucester Road. It sure comes to life after dark, when most restaurants and bars become packed with young locals looking to party. You can pick from bars, through modern restaurants to really nice traditional pubs. Don’t forget that in the morning you can also go to the cafes and vegan restaurants which serve an epic full English breakfast and awesome coffee.
Address: Gloucester Rd, Bristol BS7, UK
Enjoy shopping on Park Street
Park Street is one of the main shopping streets in Bristol. It basically links the city centre to Clifton. You can find the Bristol Museum, the main University Building alongside various shops, restaurants and cafes. It’s a lovely walk up the hill, but make sure to wear your comfortable footwear.
Address: Park St, Bristol BS1 5NT, UK
Have local cider
Bristol has many lovely brews but nothing compares to a nice pint of cider, made from apples grown in the Somerset area. You will notice that in Bristol cider is more popular than beer and pubs have it on tap. Ask your bartender for a sample.
Millenium Square is a popular public area which hosts several markets and festivals. It is home to various restaurants and bars and it features a large BBC screen with sound system. During the summer, many locals come to chill here. The Millenium Square is also known for the UK’s first 3D Planetarium. It’s difficult to miss, look for the large mirror ball.
Address: Canons Way, Bristol BS1 5LL, UK
Go hunting for The Milk Thistle
The Milk Thistle is a prohibition bar hidden in one of the finest historic buildings in the old city. There are an array of drinks to be experienced and you will definitely enjoy their selection of gins. You will need to find it on Google Maps, head to the destination and try to find the right doors for the bar.
Address: Quay Head House, Colston Ave, Bristol BS1 1EB, UK
Visit a British pub
No visit to Bristol is complete without a visit to a traditional British pub where you can order a nice lager or ale. I am a huge fan of Bath Gem, but you can select from a huge range of ales, ciders and lagers. Try to find your favourite but please remember to drink responsibly. You can chat with locals and make yourself at home because a British pub is a great place to make new friends.
The Watershed is a cinema in Bristol which usually shows art movies. It is also known as the digital creativity centre. Watershed opened in June 1982 as the United Kingdom’s first dedicated media centre. You can enjoy foods and drinks in the Watershed as well.
Address: 1 Canon’s Rd, Bristol BS1 5TX, UK
Go to the chippy
The traditional fish and chips shops are also known as the chippy in England. We always order “large chips” with a dash of salt. Traditionally, chips in the UK are eaten with vinegar on top, but since we don’t like that, we skip the vinegar part. Don’t worry, you will be asked if you want it on your chips. If you are feeling adventurous, try it, otherwise, just walk around eating a big bag of freshly made British chips.
Visit the Downs
Visit the Clifton Downs, a large green area, perfect for outdoor lovers. During summer, the Downs become a popular spot for walkers, sports enthusiasts and couples who enjoy a fun picnic in nature.
Before the mid-19th century, Clifton Down was used for grazing. After the mid 19th century, Clifton became a desirable place to live, and large houses were built close to Clifton Down. It is now one of the most expensive areas in Bristol.
Address: Stoke Rd, Bristol BS9 1FG, UK
Enjoy the Bristol architecture
Nothing beats a lovely walk around Bristol to admire the cute Bristolian architecture. We especially love the terraced houses. Bristol has an eclectic combination of architectural styles, ranging from the medieval to 20th-century brutalism and beyond. During the mid-19th century, a style unique to the city emerged, called Bristol Byzantine.
We used to love the pies from Pieminister but since we went plant-based, we were convinced we will never be able to indulge ourselves in a proper British pie ever again. We were surprised to discover their vegan and vegetarian pie options on our last visit. Needless to say that we couldn’t resist the temptation. The pies tasted better than ever.
Address: 24 Stokes Croft, Avon, Bristol BS1 3PR, United Kingdom
Check out the Christmas Steps
Constructed in 1669 Christmas Steps is a historic street in the city centre. There were lots of tradesmen in the area and nowadays you can still find some cute boutiques and a traditional pub. The steps look especially nice during the night time when the place becomes a bit eerie and atmospheric.
Address: Christmas Steps, Bristol BS1 5BS, UK
Have a Full English
A full English breakfast that is, with sausages, hash browns, beans, toast and veg. The good news is that on Gloucester Road you can find several restaurants which offer a vegan Full English breakfast. We were thrilled as we honestly missed this epic morning dish.
Party on a boat
When in Bristol, you cannot miss the great parties which are held on the boats moored at the Bristol Harbourside. This time, we’re sending you to a cool and lively party place called Thekla. Thekla is a former cargo ship which was built in Germany in 1958. It’s more of a student-oriented nightclub, but they also have various events with epic DJs and live music.
And hey, if you just fancy a quiet drink, there are lots of other boats converted to bars or restaurant. Just head over to the harbourside and find your favourite.
We used to love going to the Bristol Aquarium. You can see sharks, rays and a giant octopus. The Bristol Aquarium features an underwater tunnel with Amazonian and tropical fish.
Address: Anchor Rd, Bristol BS1 5TT, UK
Thank you Visit Bristol for providing us with a media pass so we can explore some of the best Bristol attractions. It was lovely to re-live so many experiences and see sights of Bristol we missed so much. Thank you, Lido Bristol, for inviting us to enjoy a romantic tapas dinner. We loved the vegan tapas the chef cooked for us. We LOVED our time in Bristol and we can’t recommend this city enough. With so many things to do in Bristol, this sure is our favourite city in England. All opinions in this article are our own and we would never recommend you a service, partner or destination which we didn’t enjoy.
by You Could Travel