There are so many incredible things to do in Bristol, you'll love this English city. See Bristol's street art scene, walk over the impressive Clifton Suspension Bridge over Avon Gorge and participate in the Balloon Fiesta. Bristol is like a different world to the rest of England and the perfect romantic break filled with fun activities and top attractions.
Having lived in Bristol for so many years, I'm so excited you decided on visiting Bristol. There are plenty of museums, restaurants, and festivals with awesome live music for you to enjoy. If you love open spaces and are into contemporary art, then this entire city is the perfect place for you.
Here are the top attractions to make your trip to Bristol super exciting and fun.
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Things to do in Bristol
Bristol is ideal for those who are curious about the city's rich history and want to enjoy a lot of outdoors. Many international artists come to perform at the various festivals held throughout the year in the city. Bristol is such a lovely place with great restaurants and historic places, everyone loves it so much, that many come back to visit or even live here. Spend 24 hours in Bristol or a whole month, and you won't get bored with this lively 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.
See the 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.
See the local artwork by local boy Banksy and immerse yourself in the archaeology, geology, and art on display. Discover Egyptian mummies in the permanent exhibition, and don't forget to check the cute gift shop full of souvenirs.
Address: Queens Rd, Bristol BS8 1RL, UK
Take a look at the 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. Visit the ship's interior and learn more about its history in the dedicated museum. There are several interactive exhibits in the ship for children and adults alike.
Address: Great Western Dockyard, Gas Ferry Rd, Bristol BS1 6TY, UK
Cross the Clifton Suspension Bridge
The Clifton Suspension Bridge is a world-famous bridge linking Clifton in Bristol to Leigh Woods in North Somerset. The moment you see it, you won't believe how impressive it really is. This iconic landmark can be crossed on foot or by car.
There is a small toll to cross the bridge, an essential income spent to maintain this masterpiece. Cyclists and pedestrians don't have to pay to cross though.
The bridge is the symbol of Bristol, and it continues to be 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.
Check it out from the Lookout Lectern, then visit the nearby Clifton Observatory and the Giant's Cave.
Address: Bridge Rd, Bristol BS8 3PA, UK
Enter the Bristol Cathedral
The Bristol Cathedral is a Grade I listed building located on College Green, right next to the City Council. This gorgeous, tranquil place dates back to the 1100s. Enter the cathedral and admire its many architecture styles.
Tim Tatton-Brown writes of the 14th century eastern arm as "one of the most interesting and splendid structures in this country".
Most of the medieval stonework is made from English limestone.
It is open for visitors, so make sure to add it to your itinerary as the entry is free. Marvel at the stunning interior and spot the full height aisles using stone bridges with open transverse arches and ribs.
Address: College Green, Bristol BS1 5TJ, UK
Take a Cruise on River Avon
Discover Bristol's waterfront from the comfort of a cruise on the river Avon. There are cruises taking you to the nearby city of Bath and back.
Take your loved one and cruise along the beautiful, hilly countryside which is lined with lush, green vegetation. Most cruises feature a fully licensed bar and also provide food on board.
Want to spend time on the water but not on a boat? Book a stand up paddleboarding taster session and admire the colourful fishing houses on the harbourside from a new perspective.
Visit the Bristol Blue Glass Studio
To grab your original Bristol souvenir, visit the original Bristol Blue Glass Studio, founded in 1988. 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.
For something unique to do in Bristol, have a factory tour to learn more about the original process of making this unique blue glass. There are beginning glassmaking courses, and you can make your own blue glass piece.
Address: 357-359 Bath Rd, Bristol BS4 3EW, UK
Celebrate on The Matthew
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. There are two replicas in the world, one in Bristol and one in Newfoundland. It took two years to complete this replica and was revealed in 1996. In 1997, this replica reconstructed Cabot's original journey on the 500th anniversary of the landmark voyage.
Get on the deck and take fun pictures to celebrate Cabot and his sea voyages. 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
Cross Queen Square
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 is a Georgian park surrounded by trees and cobbled streets. Once a fashionable residential address, it is now mostly used for office spaces. Queen Square was built sometimes in the 17th century and it was marshland before then. The first house in 1699 and in 1700, the square was laid out in its present form.
It's called Queen Square as it was named after Queen Anne in 1702.
Address: Bristol BS1 4LH, UK
Have a romantic day at The Lido
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. Lido is a great romantic opportunity for couples who are interested in a spa weekend package.
Use the facilities and the pool combined with other spa treatments, and enjoy candlelight dinner with special tapas and drinks. The food is fantastic, but if you have any dietary requirements, make sure you call in advance to ask for options.
Address: Oakfield Pl, Bristol BS8 2BJ, UK
Walk and hike in Ashton Court
Calling all hiking enthusiasts here. Ashton Court is a large estate with a mansion which belongs to the City of Bristol. It covers 850 acres of woods and grasslands. Discover the stunning old oak trees and admire the deer graze in the deer park.
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. For something truly unique, take off in a hot air balloon, and soak up spectacular views over the pretty Wiltshire countryside.
Address: Ashton Court Estate, Long Ashton, Bristol BS41 9JN, UK
Spend the afternoon around Blaise Estate
Blaise Estate is home to Blaise Castle, a fort built in 1766 near Henbury. Take a long walk around the estate, stroll along the river then go up to the castle for stunning vista points.
The Blaise Castle House is a Grade II 18th century mansion house. There is some evidence that the estate might have first been inhabited by neolithic farmers. The Blaise castle is a sham castle in Gothic Revival style. On a clear day, you can see as far as South Wales from the hilltop.
Did you know, the Blaise Castle was mentioned by Jane Austen in her novel Northanger Abbey.
Address: Bristol BS10 7QT, UK
Love plants at the 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.
Plan your visit in advance and make sure to check the latest plant collections, with prehistoric plants, local flora and rare native plants.
There are workshops and events throughout the year if you want to learn more about plants, pollinators or understand how to identify plants. Ticket prices for the botanic garden start from £9, but workshops and events have different fees.
Address: Stoke Park Rd, Stoke Bishop, Bristol BS9 1JG, UK
Walk along The Harbourside
The Bristol harbour, located in the centre, is often called the floating harbour. The locals like to call it and referred to as the harbourside.
There are many 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 and coming here for a night out is definitely one of the best things to do in Bristol.
It's also great to just walk along the harbourside and enjoy a nice, relaxing afternoon with your loved one. Walk all the way to the Pump House, a traditional pub which sells great food and ales. On the way back, cross to the other side and walk, admiring the colourful fishing houses perched on the hill.
Harbourside, Bristol BS1 5UH, UK
Relax in Castle Park
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.
Walk to the West of the park, to admire the ruined tower of St Mary-le-Port church, a 14th century tower. Don't miss the sensory herb garden and check out the five birch trees as a memorial to D-Day landing.
Address: 12 Union St, Bristol BS1 3XD, UK
See the city from 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. Sit down and check out how beautiful this city really is.
Address: Brandon Hill Park, Great George St, Harbourside, Bristol BS1 5RR, UK
Have Fancy Cocktails
Lava lamp cocktails? Spectacular fiery drinks? Sparking cocktails with incredible presentation? Then head to Aluna, a chick lounge with avant-garde cocktails and delicious Asian fusion cuisine.
For something even cooler, book a cocktail masterclass and learn the Aluna techniques to make your own show stopping cocktails.
Address: 4, Broad Quay, Bristol BS1 4DA, UK
Take a Banksy Tour
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. His art has an anti-elitist rhetoric.
Visit Saint Nicholas Market
For souvenirs and lovely English treats, head to the Saint Nicholas market, the oldest and most loved market in Bristol. It is right in the heart of the old town, along Corn Street.
The market has over 60 stalls inside, and there are several outdoor stalls for your perusal. St Nicholas Market is one of the best ten markets in the UK, so you know it's going to be good.
Address: The Corn Exchange, Corn St, Bristol BS1 1JQ, UK
Enjoy a Hot Air Balloon Ride
Bristol is known for its suspension bridge and epic balloons. You will want a hot air balloon ride between the flying season, which is 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.
Most of the rides start from Ashton Court. If you just wish to admire many balloons over Bristol, time your visit during the Balloon fiesta, which is one of the best things to do in Bristol.
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.
Pick bars, modern restaurants and traditional pubs. Don't forget that in the morning you can also go to the cafés and vegan restaurants which serve an epic full English breakfast and awesome coffee. Most of Bristol's indie shops are located on this road.
Address: Gloucester Rd, Bristol BS7, UK
Go shopping on Park Street
Shopping lovers, head to Park Street, one of the main shopping streets in Bristol. It basically links the centre to hilly Clifton. But there's more than just shopping here. Visit the Bristol Museum, the main University Building alongside various shops, restaurants, and cafés.
It's a lovely walk up the hill, but make sure to wear your comfortable footwear. The building of Park Street started in 1761, and it's one of the city's earliest examples of hillside terracing.
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 pint of cider, which tastes so delicious and sweet.
Discover the Millennium Square
Millennium 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 Millennium 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. You will need to find it on Google Maps, head to the destination and try to find the right doors for the bar.
Have some fun hunting for the bar, then sit down and enjoy their selection of gins.
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. Try the Bath Gem, a local ale that tastes fantastic.
Bristol has many pubs, but I recommend visiting the Hatchet Inn. The building dates from 1606, and it's a Grade II building. It is the oldest operating pub in Bristol.
Watch a film at Watershed
Visit the Watershed, a cinema in Bristol which usually shows art movies. It is also known as the digital creativity centre with its cool art installations. 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.
The best thing about the Watershed is its location, as this multi-arts venue is in an old warehouse by the harbourside, overlooking the water.
Address: 1 Canon's Rd, Bristol BS1 5TX, UK
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
Photograph the Bristol architecture
Nothing beats a lovely walk around Bristol to admire the cute Bristolian architecture. 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.
Start with the colourful fishing houses on the harbourside, then continue towards Clifton to see affluent houses with gorgeous balconies and landscaped gardens.
Buy souvenirs from the Christmas Steps
Constructed in 1669 Christmas Steps is a historic street in the city centre. There were many tradesmen in the area and nowadays, you can still find some cute boutiques and a traditional pub. The steps look especially nice during twilight when the place becomes a bit eerie and atmospheric.
The Christmas Steps are an ideal place for hunting for souvenirs, antiques, and paintings. There are a couple of pubs and eateries in the area as well.
Address: Christmas Steps, Bristol BS1 5BS, UK
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.
Take the family to the Bristol Aquarium
For something fun with the kids, head to the Bristol Aquarium, a perfect family tourist attraction. See Sharks and rays, as well as a giant octopus. There are underwater tunnels and tropical fish. This is the only aquarium to feature a giant botanical house with exotic plants from all around the world.
You can easily spend a whole morning there, taking many pictures and participating in the interactive events. For cute and unique souvenirs, make sure to visit the souvenir shop. They always sell the cutest aqua plush toys.
Address: Anchor Rd, Bristol BS1 5TT, UK