BRISTOL TRAVEL GUIDE
I lived in Bristol for six years and it remains my favourite city in the world (and I’ve been to nearly 70 countries!).
Bristol’s energetic hub effortlessly blends its rich maritime history with a vibrant arts and culture scene.
From the iconic Clifton Suspension Bridge to the colourful murals that decorate the city walls, there’s a multitude of faces in this dynamic urban landscape.
At its heart, Bristol is a city driven by creativity.
Its streets are alive with the spirit of innovation, whether it’s the interactive exhibits at We The Curious or the groundbreaking performances at the Bristol Old Vic.
The Harbourside area exemplifies this zest for life, offering a plethora of bars, cafes, and boutiques where you can easily spend a day exploring.
But Bristol isn’t all about modernity; its historical roots run deep.
The SS Great Britain, a marvel of 19th-century engineering, serves as a living testament to the city’s maritime legacy. It’s also worth visiting M shed and learning about the city’s more sombre history – its links with the Transatlantic Slave Trade.
Areas like Stokes Croft and Gloucester Road bring an offbeat, Bohemian charm that’s impossible to resist.
If you’re a foodie, Bristol won’t disappoint. From the artisanal eateries of Wapping Wharf to the diverse offerings at St Nicholas Market, the culinary scene here is as varied as it is delicious.
On this part of the website, I share my intimate knowledge of Bristol’s best features.
Whether you’re into history, food, or art, you’ll love Bristol. I constantly say that Bristol has something for everyone – no matter your tastes or age, it’s worth visiting!
Where is Bristol?
Bristol is situated in the southwest of England, approximately 120 miles west of London.
Located on the River Avon, the city is a central hub for the broader West Country.
It borders the counties of Gloucestershire to the north, Somerset to the south and Wiltshire to the east, while the west is next to the Bristol Channel.
How to get to Bristol
With a well-connected transport system that includes motorways, trains, and even an international airport, Bristol is both easily accessible and a perfect starting point for trips to neighbouring cities like Bath, Cardiff, and Exeter.
The M4 and M5 motorways intersect near Bristol, offering straightforward routes from London, the Midlands, and the North.
If you’re driving from London, take the M4 westbound.
From the north, use the M5 southbound.
Bristol Temple Meads and Bristol Parkway are the city’s main train stations, connecting Bristol to a variety of destinations.
Direct trains run from London Paddington to Bristol Temple Meads; the journey takes about one hour 45 minutes.
Book your tickets in advance to save you money.
National Express and Megabus connect Bristol to various UK cities.
The bus journey from London takes about three to four hours.
Though not as quick as the train, buses are a more budget-friendly option.
Bristol Airport has direct flights to several UK and European cities.
The airport is around 8 miles from the city centre and is accessible by public transport or taxi.
Where to stay in Bristol
Deciding where to stay in Bristol can be a bit overwhelming given the city’s diverse neighbourhoods – each has its own unique flair!
Here’s a quick guide to help you choose:
- Best for Nightlife – Stokes Croft
- Best for Families – Clifton
- Best for Shopping – Broadmead and Cabot Circus
- Most Historic – Old City
- Best for Business Travelers – Temple Meads
- Best for Waterfront Views – Harbourside
- Most Trendy – Bedminster
- Best for Students – Cotham
- Most Picturesque – Redland
- Best for Art Lovers – Southville
Best hotels in Bristol
- Number 38 Bristol
- Avon Gorge by Hotel Du Vin
- Future Inn
- Paintworks Apartments
- Rock & Bowl Hostel
- Bristol Harbour Hotel and Spa
Top things to do in Bristol
Bristol has a plethora of attractions and activities that cater to all sorts of interests. Here’s a list of some top attractions in Bristol:
- Visit the SS Great Britain
- Explore the Bristol Zoo Gardens
- Discover the M Shed Museum
- Walk Across the Clifton Suspension Bridge
- Check out Banksy Street Art
- Enjoy Bristol Harbour Festival
- Attend a gig at the Bristol Old Vic
- Roam around Ashton Court Estate
- See the Bristol Aquarium
- Take a Hot Air Balloon Ride
- Wander through St Nicholas Market
- Relax at Queen Square
- Visit the Bristol Museum & Art Gallery
- Get Active at The Wave Bristol
- Cycle the Bristol to Bath Railway Path
Best day trips from Bristol
While there’s plenty to do in Bristol, you’ll find plenty of day trips just a short drive or train ride away. Here are the best:
- Explore Bath’s Roman Baths and Georgian Architecture
- Hike in the Cotswolds
- Visit the Ancient Town of Glastonbury
- Discover Stonehenge
- Wander in Wells, England’s Smallest City
- Visit Tintern Abbey in the Wye Valley
- Explore the Market Town of Tetbury
- Hike the Brecon Beacons National Park
- Go Bird Watching at Slimbridge Wetland Centre
- Take a Boat Trip to Clevedon Pier
- Discover the Forest of Dean
- Relax at Weston-Super-Mare Beach
When to visit Bristol
Bristol shines in the summer months of June through August, attracting visitors with its numerous outdoor events, festivals, and bustling harborside activities.
The most popular time is perhaps the annual Bristol Balloon Fiesta which takes place at the start of August each year.
However, these months also see increased tourist traffic, making popular spots more crowded and accommodations pricier!
For a quieter yet still vibrant Bristol experience, consider visiting in the shoulder months of May or September. The weather remains pleasant, but the crowds are noticeably thinner.
The winter season, from November to February, is another option if you don’t mind colder temperatures.
While some attractions may have shorter hours or be closed entirely, you’ll enjoy less crowded museums, art galleries, and cafes. Plus, the city offers a different kind of charm with its winter markets and Christmas celebrations.