Located in the South West of England, Bristol is a colourful and vivid city, with a long and prosperous maritime history. Very popular among the youth, Bristol is a multicultural place with an emphasis on its varied music scene, arts and cultures.
I lived in the Bristol for the past five years and I'm yet to meet another soul who doesn't love it. Here, you can enjoy either a stroll through the forest, a visit to the museum, a walk to the Zoo or an exceptionally fun evening out.
When I first arrived in Bristol, I was very keen to learn everything about it. I spent most of my weekends walking around aimlessly hoping to discover something new and exciting. Even after so many years of living here, there are parts of this ever-changing city which I'm yet to explore and learn more about.
If you're bored, Bristol will always have some secret up its sleeve and wow you. For example, when you're hungry, you can go for ANY type of food you can imagine..thai, indian, chinese, greek, japanese, cantonese, traditional pub food, even nepalese. Want to dance? Pick your music and Bristol will have a night just for your liking. Fancy a pint? Have it in your local pub, on a boat or in a secret gin bar. Whatever you want, Bristol has it. Whatever you end up doing, you're guaranteed to have the time of your life.
When you're ready to escape the urban aspect of Bristol, just walk around its beautiful harbour side towards the Avon trail, venture through Leigh woods if you want to mountain bike or stroll on Bristol's chocolate path.
My very first experience in Bristol was the world famous Ballon Fiesta. I came down south for an interview and I stayed right in the city centre, at the Raddison Blue hotel. I still lived in Manchester at the time. Well, little I knew that I happened to have arrived in Bristol right during the Ballon Fiesta. It was a late afternoon and the sun was shining bright above Bristol. The views from the hotel were amazing, I could see a great deal of the city's roof top. Everybody likes a view, right? I went on my laptop to write a few things and when I checked out the window again, surprise: there were tens of hot air balloons filling up the skies. It was about the most amazing view ever. Just like a dream, it looked so beautiful. That was the tipping point for me, the moment I fell in love with Bristol and decided to move here no matter what.
The second amazing experience was walking towards the Clifton Suspension Bridge. New to the city, everybody kept telling me how much I need to go and see this impressive construction. I was absolutely not excited about the idea of a bridge. I mean, seriously...what can be so spectacular about a suspension bridge?!
When I finally got to see Brunel's greatest achievement, I finally understood that when you visit Bristol, you must absolutely see this. Once you catch your first glimpse of the Clifton Suspension Bridge, you start feeling minuscule and dizzy. To this day, the Clifton Suspension Bridge is the most impressive bridge I have ever seen. I say the word bridge a lot, I know, just make a drinking game out of it. Bridge!
Walking or cycling on the Clifton Suspension bridge (shot!) is free, however you need to pay something like 50p if you want to cross it by car. I of course recommend you taking your best camera gear and going there on foot. Spend your hours and marvel at the Bristol gorges, the beautiful river Avon, the city's landscape. It's really mesmerising and impressive.
Since you are in the area, make your way towards the Leigh Woods or Ashton Court. You can either take a trail through the forest or stroll around Ashton for a few hours. Even nowadays I go to Ashton Court and mountain bike there. It has some pretty fine trails for beginners and more experienced cyclists alike.
When mum came to visit Bristol, I took her to see the Aquarium and the Zoo. The Bristol Aquarium costs £14.50 per adult or just under £13 if you buy your tickets online. There are plenty of wonders in there, from colourful fishes, to beautiful rays. This is the only aquarium in the UK to showcase exotic plants and several tree species. You are welcome to read more about it on their official website.
The Bristol Zoo is relatively tiny, but features many cute and endangered animals from all over the world. They have a sloth, a vast amount of super lovely penguins and a butterfly forest. The tickets are £14.45 per adult. For more details and how to plan your visit, check out their website.
If you like non conventional, modern art, Bristol is definitely the place for you. We are lucky to have Banksy as a Bristolian artist. There's a great amount of graffiti and street artwork awaiting to be discovered. You can walk around Bristol and discover a lot of political messages through a unique manifesto, created by the one and only street artist, Banksy. Here's the map.
If the weather is challenging, you can find shelter in one of Bristol's independent cafes, right on Gloucester Road. You are guaranteed to find friendly people, who will prepare the best organic beverage and serve you a hearty sandwich, made with local produce.
Bristol is not just a city, Bristol is a community, where locals respect each other and welcome visitors with open arms. The Clifton Suspension Bridge, the harbour side, the small fairytale cobble streets, the parks, the museums, the street art, the cycling culture, the hip bars, the independent cafes, the festivals and the forever fun Gloucester road, all make Bristol into one of the best English cities which has to be visited at least once in this life time.