Bristol, situated in the southwest of England, is a city rich in maritime history, art, culture, and innovation. Famed for its historic harbor’s, iconic suspension bridge, vibrant street art scene, and groundbreaking environmental initiatives, Bristol has something to offer everyone. Whether you’re a history buff, a food lover, a culture enthusiast, or a nature lover, this city will not disappoint. Here are the top 15 must-do things when you visit Bristol.
- Visit the SS Great Britain
The SS Great Britain, designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, was the world’s largest passenger ship when launched in 1843. Today, it stands as a fascinating museum where you can discover the ship’s history, climb the rigging, and even venture under the waterline to marvel at the ship’s hull.
- Explore Bristol’s Street Art Scene
Bristol is the birthplace of world-renowned street artist Banksy, and his work can be seen on walls across the city. Take a street art tour to explore Bristol’s vibrant street art scene and discover murals from many talented artists, both local and international.
- Discover Clifton Suspension Bridge
Another of Brunel’s masterpieces, the Clifton Suspension Bridge, offers stunning views of the Avon Gorge. Visit the visitor centre to learn about the bridge’s history and construction. It’s particularly breathtaking at sunset, with the bridge silhouetted against the changing colours of the sky.
- Delve into History at Bristol Museum and Art Gallery
This museum houses a vast collection of art, nature, and history exhibits. Highlights include Egyptian mummies, Bristol’s own dinosaur, and an impressive selection of artwork, including French, Japanese, and Chinese glass and ceramics.
- Stroll Around Bristol Harbour
Once the centre of Bristol’s shipbuilding industry, the harbour is now a cultural hub filled with museums, galleries, and restaurants. Check out M Shed, a museum detailing Bristol’s history, and the Underfall Yard, where you can learn about the city’s maritime past.
- Visit Bristol Cathedral
This beautiful cathedral on College Green features stunning Gothic architecture and stained glass windows. Be sure to catch an Evensong service for a peaceful end to your day.
- Take a Boat Tour
Take a boat tour along the Avon River or around the harbour to see the city from a different perspective. These tours offer informative commentary about Bristol’s maritime history and key landmarks.
- Wander through Leigh Woods
Escape to Leigh Woods for some tranquility away from the city’s hustle and bustle. Wander among ancient trees, explore the woodland trails, or have a picnic while enjoying the fantastic views of the Avon Gorge and Clifton Suspension Bridge.
- Go Shopping at St Nicholas Market
Housed in a beautiful Georgian building, St Nicholas Market is Bristol’s oldest market. Browse stalls selling a wide array of goods from artisan crafts to vintage clothing, and enjoy a variety of international cuisine from the food stalls.
- Explore the Bristol Science Centre ‘We The Curious’
A fantastic place for families, ‘We The Curious’ science centre encourages curiosity and discovery through interactive exhibits. Highlights include the 3D Planetarium and the live science shows.
- Experience Nightlife at King Street
King Street is brimming with pubs and bars housed in historic buildings. Whether you want craft beer, cider, or cocktails, there’s something for everyone. Plus, you can catch a show at the Bristol Old Vic, the longest continuously running theatre in England.
- Visit Bristol Zoo Gardens
Home to a variety of animals, from red pandas to gorillas, Bristol Zoo Gardens combines conservation with education. Its indoor and outdoor exhibits make it a great outing regardless of the weather.
- Try Bristol’s Food Scene
Bristol’s food scene is a delight for foodies. From ethical eateries like Poco Tapas Bar, to Michelin-starred restaurants like Casamia, to the best of British seafood at The Spiny Lobster, there’s plenty to satisfy your taste buds.
- Take a Balloon Ride
Bristol is famous for its annual Balloon Fiesta, but you can take a hot air balloon ride over the city at any time of year. The view from the sky offers a unique perspective of Bristol’s landmarks.
- Discover Aerospace Bristol
Home to the last Concorde ever built, Aerospace Bristol tells the story of the city’s aerospace industry. The highlight is stepping aboard the iconic Concorde and experiencing a supersonic journey.
Bristol is a city where history meets art, culture, and innovation. Its unique blend of old and new, combined with its commitment to sustainability, gives it a distinct charm that is hard to resist. With an endless list of attractions and activities, Bristol promises a memorable visit filled with discovery, adventure, and enjoyment. Whether you’re planning a day trip or a longer stay, these 15 must-do things offer a snapshot of the best that Bristol has to offer.