Bristol in the South West of England is one of the country’s most populous cities and it is often over looked for other cities such as London and Edinburgh. But the city has so much to offer from its colourful houses near the harbour to the excellent eateries. I might be a little bit biased as it is my home town but it wasn’t until last year when I started exploring Bristol more I realised how much the city had to offer.
It is home to one of the worlds most admired bridges the Clifton suspension bridge which is often the backdrop for anything highlighting Bristol and must be the most iconic sights for the city. Not only can you appreciate the beauty and the engineering of the bridge but you can have a free tour and just walking over the bridge to feel it move in the wind can be a cool experience. To get one of the best views of the bridge climb Observation hill and for a small fee you can also visit the Camera Obscura and Giant’s Cave at Clifton Observatory.
A great way to get around the city is either on foot or to explore more you can use the local buses, you can get a daily pass which means you can use any of the main buses which are operated by First Bus company the current price is £4 and as Bristol is quite a vehicle congested city this would be the best way to get around. Or if you are by the water try one of the local ferries which also offer tours and booze cruises which are popular with birthday, stag, and hen parties at the weekend.
Featured photo credit: Velodenz on Flickr licensed through Creative Commons.
Fun things to do in Bristol
The SS Great Britain
The SS Great Britain has been voted the best attraction in Bristol. It’s amazing how they have managed to restore the ship which is now 174 years old after being originally launched in 1843. It is like stepping back in time going on this ship. There is so much history and the artefacts and the information provided is excellent. I enjoy how you can get so close to the items and the mock-up of how the cabins would look back in the 1800’s. The SS Great Britain has many cool events during the year so worth checking out their website to see what they have on offer.
Check out some street art
Bristol is home to the famous street artist Banksy but it also attracts many other talented artists and the city is full of vibrant art work. The city has many legal walls for street artists to showcase their talent without the fear of prosecution so it can be very interesting to walk around the city to see what you can spot. You can do a tour with WheretheWall which is a fun way to see what street art the city has on display. I never noticed the street art until I did this tour now I keep an eye out for tags so I can see who has done the piece. What I loved about this tour was the guide actually knew some of the artist so telling us personal things about the creators really brought the art work to life.
Bristol also holds a yearly Upfest event where the top street artists from around the world come to showcase their art work around the city. During this event in July the walls of the city get a cool makeover. (link https://www.upfest.co.uk/)
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Happy Hallowe’en! The Attic Bar was all prepped for the weekend with this new work by @inkiegraffiti . #inkiegraffiti #atticbar #atticbarbristol #stokescroft #boogiedownbristol #bristolgraffiti #graffitibristol #bristolstreetart #streetartbristol #streetartUK #streetart #urbanart #creative #rsa_streetview #urbanandstreet #igersbristol #bestofbristol #bristol247 #bristollifemag #visitbristol #bristollife #Bristol #brizzle #bristol247 #ilovebristol
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Take a Hot air balloon ride
Bristol holds the International Balloon fiesta every year in August. It is the largest European display of hot air balloons. Even if you don’t visit at the time of the year when the Fiesta is on its quite common to see hot air balloon over the city in the summer. I live on the outskirts of the city and during the lead up to the event I am often woken up by the noise of the gas burners as they fly low over our backyards.
A great way to see panoramic views of famous landmarks such as the Brunel suspension bridge would be in a hot air balloon with Bristol Balloons.
Go shopping in St Nicholas Market
Known as St Nicks market locally it’s a covered market show casing some of the best local independent retailers. Open Monday to Saturday 9-5 you can find quirky gifts and try some of the best food that Bristol must offer. It also houses a local farmers market on a Wednesday 9.30am to 2.30pm and a Friday food market 10am to 4pm. The smells and sights you will see at the market are not what you are going to find in the normal shops in the city. I love having a look around here to support the independent retailers.
If you’re looking for some cute cafes, check out this list of top Brunch spots in Bristol.
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A favourite haunt of GFB's is @ahhtoots in St. Nick's Market. Their Devil's Food Cake is to die for and it tastes as amazing as it looks. We're yet to have a bad experience with @ahhtoots and we will definitely be heading there for a weekend treat tomorrow! Their delicately, and sometimes rather extravagantly, decorated cakes really make you feel like you're buying yourself a reasonably priced cakey gift. Good Food Bristol recommend a trip to St. Nick's Market any day of the week (apart from Sunday's), but be sure not to miss Ahh Toots amongst the hubbub of the stalls and eateries. #ahtoots #stnicksmarket #stnicholas #bristol #cake #cakestall #devilsfoodcake #bristolfoodrating #bristolfoodreview #foodreview #foodreviewbristol #foodporn #chocolate #chocolatecake #honestreview #bristolfoodie #goodfoodbristol #GFB #POTD #cakeygoodness
Sign up for a food tour
I have lived in Bristol for 17 years and I never really appreciated the food scene until I went on food tour and realised the city has so many great eateries. I did a food tour with EatWalkTalk Bristol (http://www.eatwalktalkbristol.com/). This food tour is an excellent way to see what is on offer and even as a local I got to see some of the hidden gems so would recommend this if visiting Bristol. Not only do you get to try some delicious food but the guide is very knowledgeable of local information and will give a guided tour of the city. He pointed things out that I had never noticed and I walk past them regularly.
Bristol doesn’t really have any regional dishes but does have some great local producers. One of the things Bristol is known for is the Cider and a cool place to have a refreshing pint is the Apple Cider Boat (http://applecider.co.uk/) a popular place with locals at the weekend or on a nice sunny day as it’s by the water and has outside seating.
Walk along The Harbourside
The harbourside used to be a busy working dock the gateway to Bristol but now it’s been turned into a development with shops, restaurants, bars, and hotels.
There are festivals throughout the year including the largest free event in Bristol normally held in July which attracts performers, musicians, eateries from all over. It is a great event and a lot of the locals visit during this time as well as tourists. If you are looking for something more energetics you can have a go at paddle boarding, rowing, and yachting.
Residents tend to head to this area on a weekend for a few drinks so it can get lively. Wapping Wharf in the harbour area is Bristol Vibrant Indie Food scene with some very interesting eateries including
- The Wild Beer Co is a Somerset-based brewery which challenges people to ‘Drink Wildly Different’ and aims to change people’s perceptions on what beer is, how it is made and how it can taste.
- Chicken Shed a dirty chicken joint with heart and soul. Sourced from the highest welfare organic farms.
- Bristol Cider Shop another chance for a bit of local cider stocking Bristol’s over 100 types of local artisan cider.
- Little Victories for coffee and cake
- Pigsty a family-run business in pursuit of creating the perfect range of porky treats such as hog roasts and sausages.
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⚓️All ready at Bristol Harbourside- come and see all the wonderful stalls here ❤️ #bristol #harbourside #theharboursidemarket #harboursidebristol #stainedglass #stainedglassguitar #fusedglass #art #crafts #artisan #england #uk #westofengland #foofighters #vw #glass #market
Swim outside at Lido
You might think this is a bit strange in a country where we get about 3 days of sunshine a year. OK I might be over exaggerating a little there but we don’t have the best weather and to swim outside I would at least want the sun to be shining. However, there is an outside swimming pool called the Clifton Lido which is open all year round. I have been told that the pool feels warmer when the temperatures outside are cold making it harder to get out. Aswell as the outside swimming pool you can have spa treatments, a spot of lunch or just chill and relax.
Where to stay in Bristol
Budget places to stay
Full Moon Hostel – http://www.fmbristol.co.uk/
The cheapest place to stay in Bristol with a young, fun vibe.
Mid-Range places to stay
Brooks Guest House – http://www.brooksguesthousebristol.com/
This hotel is in the heart of the city overlooking St Nicholas Market. Its quirky décor and caravans on the roof make is a really different experience.
Luxury places to stay
Hotel Du Vin – https://www.hotelduvin.com/locations/bristol/
Guest Post Author Bio
Jenni is writer and founder of www.traveltorecovery.com A travel blog where she shares tips, advice and information based on experience from her own travels. She has a passion for travelling, seeing new places, tasting new foods, or just relaxing by the sea. Due to her own mobility issues, she mentions accessibility travel and promotes travel as a way of recovering from anything from illness to breakups. Follow here on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.