I love Bristol and I think after London, is the second best city in England. I remember my first ever day spent in Bristol when I came down from Manchester for a job interview. It was love at first sight. Bristol is a very interesting city, different than other in England. Why? Because it has different scenes for different personalities: from underground music concerts, through deep forests for outdoor lovers, to colourful neighbourhoods which were once just fishing houses. Still unsure about visiting Bristol? Add a street full of restaurants and cafes, a great network of art galleries and museums and you have the perfect recipe for one of the coolest travelling experiences in an English city. So would exactly would I spend 24 hours in Bristol? To answer your question, I'm going to go back in time and tell exactly what I did, on my first ever day in Bristol.
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When to visit Bristol
If I could recommend one day for your visit, it would definitely be in August, around the International Balloon Fiesta. This is a great time to see hot air balloons flying all over Bristol, a rather dreamy a beautiful sight. I first unknowingly arrived in Bristol on the weekend of the Balloon Fiesta.
Just as I came back to my hotel from the interview, to change my clothes and have a cup of coffee, a myriad of colourful hot air balloons took me by surprise, as they invaded the skyline of Bristol. Beautiful didn't even cover it. I took all that as a sign that I have to move to this city. And as later on I found out, it was indeed a sign, as moving to Bristol was one of the best decisions I've made.
Harbourside Walk and the Clifton Suspension Bridge
Start your morning with a walk alongside the Bristol harbourside and towards the Clifton Suspension Bridge. I would start very early in the morning to enjoy the fresh crisp air. Besides, you will enjoy a nice colourful sky at the sunrise. If you beat the morning rush, the Clifton Suspension Bridge is quiet and you can take your time, admiring the landscape, taking lots of pictures and writing in your travel journal. At least, this is exactly what I did. The views are truly outstanding. If you haven't had breakfast already, have a morning picnic on one of the benches near the suspension bridge. It's a great place for it.
Bristol Park Street
From the Clifton Suspension Bridge make your way back towards the Bristol city centre, but this time take the small streets around Clifton and take the Park Street route. Park Street is a road located on a steep hill, dotted with boutiques and cafes. At the top of the hill, you have the University of Bristol, a beautiful gothic building worth photographing. On the bottom of the hill, you have College Green.
Bristol College Green
Buy a coffee from one of the nearby indie cafes and take a sit on the grass located in front of College Green. That's where the City Hall is and the Bristol Cathedral. During sunny days, this patch of grass gets quite busy at lunch time, where all students and office works come for a fresh breath of air and a nice picnic with their colleagues. It's a great place to relax.
Bristol Brandon Hill
I'm now sending you back up towards Brandon Hill, a beautiful park located West of Park Street. Make your way to Cabot Tower, for some impressive views over Bristol rooftops. Once you descend from the tower, take a seat on one of the benches overlooking the city from up the hill. For years, I used to come here with my journal and camera.
Bristol Millennium Square
From Brandon Hill, it's time to make your way to Millennium Square, where you can have lunch in one of the nearby restaurants. There are quite a few to choose from so grab a bite of whatever you fancy the most.
Bristol Cabot Circus
From the Millennium Square, take the route towards Queen Square and towards Castle Park. Cross Castle Park on your way to Cabot Circus, the city centre shopping star attraction. If you don't fancy window shopping, just spend some time exploring St. Nicholas Market, Corn Street and Broad Street.
Bristol Gloucester Road
End the evening on Gloucester Road, where you will find a variety of shops, restaurants and cafes. I recommend having dinner here. I often visit Dain Korea, a place which sells good sushi and chilli squid.
Where to sleep in Bristol
There are great hotels I can recommend in Bristol, although bear in mind that they are quite pricey. However, most accommodation in this city is pretty expensive, hence you might as well spend on quality. On my first ever night in Bristol, I stayed in Raddison Blu. It was great, as I had fantastic views over the harbourside. I also recommend the Bristol Marriott Royal Hotel, because of its outstanding architecture and luxurious rooms. A more budget option is Novotel close to the Temple Meads train station, a great option if you are planning a trip back to London on the very next day.
I've been living in Bristol for 5 years now and I am still just as in love with it as on the very first day I got to visit it. It turns out that I needed to study in Manchester, so I can get a job in Bristol, to find what I want to do with my life and meet my future husband. I guess things really have a way of working themselves out if you follow your heart and pay attention to the tiny little signs the universe throws at you.
Over to you now. Leave a comment and tell me why you would want to visit Bristol and which part you would love to see the most.