Are you looking for the best Bristol walks? Here’s a list of 26, some of which you can start in the city, and some that are a quick drive or bus ride away.
I’ve spent the last 10 months living back in Bristol, which means that I’ve been doing a lot of walking. Hiking is my exercise of choice, so I’ve tried out pretty much every walk around Bristol that you could think of!
So, I’ve decided to share all of the walks that I’ve tried in the last year and before. From self-guided tours of the city centre to spectacular nature areas, here are the best walks in Bristol.
Nature Walks in Bristol
These walks are either within the boundaries of Bristol or are walkable from Bristol city centre.
Avon Gorge and the River Avon Trail
The River Avon trail starts near Ashton and traverses all the way up to Avonmouth. I’ve hiked the trail to Pill, which is a village about 3/4 of the distance to the sea. From here, you can either turn around and return the same way or cross over a footbridge by the M5 and walk back the other way.
When doing this hike, you’ll walk right underneath the suspension bridge and get some of the finest views of the Avon Gorge. On a sunny day, it’s an absolute beauty.
The Clifton and Durdham Downs
The Clifton and Durdham Downs are among the best spots for walks in Bristol, encompassing a massive area to the northwest of Clifton and stretching up to Stoke Bishop and Westbury. They’re another popular spot for BBQs and picnics, but as there are so many walking trails, they’re great for hiking – especially if you’re based in Clifton.
You can start at the Suspension Bridge, where you can enjoy picturesque views across the gorge. If you follow the downs north, you’ll be able to walk through the grassland the whole time until you reach Durdham.
Leigh Woods is a vast woodland area that is managed by the National Trust. This nature spot is easy to reach from Southville and Ashton, with an entrance on the Avon Cycle trail (Google maps location here). It’s also easy to access from Clifton – just walk over the Suspension Bridge and walk about 10 minutes to the entrance (Google maps location here).
Leigh Woods is a beautiful woodland area with loads of nature trails – some that are perfect for hiking and others are favoured by mountain bikers.
Leigh Woods manages to be reasonably quiet even on hot, sunny weekend days – so it’s definitely worth visiting if everywhere else is too busy! You can end the walk by strolling over the Clifton Suspension Bridge and taking in the beautiful views of the Avon Gorge.
Ashton Court is also, unsurprisingly, near Ashton and Clifton. The two main entrances are near UWE Bower Ashton Campus (Google maps location here) and just down the road from the Somerset side of the Clifton Suspension Bridge (Google maps location here).
Ashton Court is an expansive estate with woods, two deer parks and a stately home. The stately home is not open for visitors, but there is a cafe on-site and a few gardens to explore. From various points in Ashton Court, you can look down and see an epic view of Bristol and its coloured houses.
There are lots of walking trails around Ashton Court – you can take a number of them and enjoy the estate, or you could walk from the Ashton entrance to the entrance near the suspension bridge (or vice versa). Because there is so much to see at Ashton Court, visiting it is one of my favourite Bristol dates.
Located in North Bristol, Snuff Mills is a park and wildlife area. It’s a great local walk if you live in Frenchay, Fishponds or Eastville – or if you are driving to Snuff Mills from elsewhere in Bristol, there is a large car park – Google Maps location here.
These ancient woodlands run alongside the River Frome, and there’s a combination of parkland and forest areas. You might even be able to go wildlife spotting – foxes, bats, owls, heron, kingfisher, and deer all live around Snuff Mills.
Oldbury Court is close to Snuff Mills – this is a historic estate that was mentioned in the Domesday Book. Snuff Mills also connects to the Frome Valley Walkway.
Frome Valley Walkway
The Frome Valley Walkway is an 18-mile hike that starts in Castle Park in Central Bristol and spans the length of the Frome River. The Frome River is a tributary of the Avon, and its source is in the Cotswold Hills.
The Frome Valley walkway passes through Snuff Mills and Oldbury Court, as well as Eastville Park, Frenchay Moor, Bury Hill Fort, Winterbourne Viaduct, and Frome Acqueduct. As it leaves the city, there’s plenty of beautiful scenery and lots of wildlife.
To get back to Bristol from the end of the trail, you can take a bus from Old Sodbury to Bath and then a train to Bristol.
Bristol to Bath Cycle Path
The Bristol to Bath Cycle Path is predominantly for cycling – but there’s no reason why you can’t hike along the path too! It’s a 13-mile flat stretch that connects the two cities – so you can hike one way and take the train back if you get tired!
This is one of the best Bristol walks because there are some pubs en route – so if you’re looking for things to do in Bristol with friends, or even a unique date idea in Bristol, how about a boozy hike to Bath?
Or, you could leave early and spend some time in the beautiful city of Bath before heading back. There are plenty of attractions here, like the Roman Baths, Thermae Bath Spa, and the stunning Bath Abbey.
Eastwood Farm Nature Reserve
The Eastwood Farm Nature Reserve is a lovely place for an afternoon stroll very close to Bristol centre. It’s located in Brislington, on the edge of the River Avon. Here, you’ll have the chance to stroll through woodland and enjoy vast open space, as well as look out for animals like kingfishers, herons, swans and squirrels.
Click here for the Google Map location of Eastwood Farm Nature Reserve. You can also get here by taking the ferry from Beese’s, a lovely cafe on the other side of the river or by taking the number 1 bus from the city centre.
Blaise Castle is another popular estate in Bristol. It’s located in the Westbury area, a short drive from Bristol’s centre via Clifton.
Blaise Castle itself is a modern-style castle, and it’s very small – but the main highlight of the estate is the extensive grounds. There’s a beautiful stream, as well as a few walking paths that go through the woods.
If you’re visiting Blaise Castle at the weekend, get here early – it’s very popular with families, and the car parks often get full! There is also a bit of nearby free parking on the street, but the later you arrive, the longer you will have to walk to reach the estate.
Arnos Vale Cemetery
It might seem a bit strange to go on a walk around a cemetery – but this is no ordinary graveyard.
It’s a Victorian garden cemetery that also acts as a heritage site. This means that while it is a graveyard, it also has huge historical and cultural significance and plenty of beautiful natural features. The Arnos Vale Discovery trail takes you around the cemetery and tells you more about this extraordinary place.
Landmarked by the protruding Cabot Tower, Brandon Hill is a favourite hangout and BBQ spot for Bristolians. It’s not huge, but there’s enough space here for a short walk. If it’s open, you can also climb Cabot Tower and marvel at the fantastic views of Bristol’s Harbourside from the top.
Brandon Hill is the ideal hike from Bristol City Centre, as it’s only a ten-minute walk away! From the Harbourside, walk along the river in a westerly direction until you get to a big roundabout (Google maps location here). Then, turn right, and you’ll see some steps on your left – these lead up to Brandon Hill.
You can also access Brandon Hill from Clifton – walk to the Clifton Triangle, and find Upper Byron Place, which is off Triangle South. Walk down this road until you reach Brandon Hill.
Urban Bristol Walks
These walks are around some of the best parts of Bristol.
The Harbourside is the beating heart of Bristol and is one of the must-visit places in the city, whether you’re living in Bristol or just spending a weekend here.
Obviously, one of the best Bristol walks incorporates the Harbourside. You can do a loop around the area to take in all of the sights. You can start this loop anywhere, but for reference, I’ll begin at the Pump House pub.
From the Pump House, walk towards the city centre, staying as close to the water as possible. You’ll go past the following attractions:
- The Balmoral, an interesting boat which featured in many films, including the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (part of which was filmed in Bristol!).
- A view of the SS Great Britain, a famous ship that sailed around the world, and has since been a model for other boats.
- Millennium Square and the Bristol Planetarium.
- Peros Bridge, named after a Black servant who lived in Bristol in the 18th century.
- Queen’s Square is a large, leafy square framed with historic buildings. Adjacent to the square is King’s Street, which is one of the oldest streets in Bristol and has lots of historic pubs like the Llandogner Trow, which is where Thomas Defoe got the inspiration for Robinson Crusoe.
- The Hole in the Wall. This pub is named so because publicans used to look out of the Hole in the Wall for press gangs who used to kidnap drunkards and force them to work on ships.
- Thekla, a historic ship turned nightclub.
- Views of Bristol’s iconic coloured houses.
Guided Walk about Bristol’s Slavery History
When visiting Bristol, it’s imperative to learn about its sombre history. Bristol was built on slavery, and I think it’s essential for everybody – whatever their race – to recognise this. By learning more about its terrible past, non-Black people can begin to recognise the enormity of what it means to Black Bristolians and visitors and move forward into the future together.
One way to learn about this is by doing a guided walk about Bristol’s slavery history. It will take you around notable points in Bristol’s harbour and beyond, detailing what each place meant for Bristol and slavery. It’s a horrific part of history to learn about, but it is very important.
Street Art Guided Walk
One of the many things that Bristol is so famous for is its street art – and even if you’re just spending a weekend in Bristol, it’s something that you’ll notice.
You’ll find street art all over the city, but it is particularly apparent in Stokes Croft and Southville, which also happen to be two of my favourite areas to stay in Bristol. This is definitely one of the most alternative walks around Bristol!
If you want to walk through the street art at Stokes Croft, start at St James Barton roundabout, which is more affectionately known as ‘The Bear Pit’ due to its depressed centre. (There used to be a statue of a bear at the roundabout which got removed, which many Bristolians are still sore about, but that’s a story for another day.)
Take the Cheltenham Road exit (between the exits for Park Row and the exit towards the M32). You can cross the roundabout by walking under the underpasses and through the centre of the ‘bear pit’.
From the start of Cheltenham Road, you’ll see some fantastic artwork. My favourite is Banksy’s ‘the mild, mild west’ which is on the side of the Canteen.
This street art continues for around 2 kilometres. Then, you can either walk back, take a left and eventually reach Whiteladies Road and Clifton or continue upwards and enjoy Gloucester Road – which has the longest stretch of independent shops in the country.
Alternatively, you could also walk around Southville, which is also adorned in street art. Begin at ALDI, where there is a massive mural of Greta Thunberg reminding you to use your reusable bags. Then, walk in an easterly direction, and you’ll see tonnes of interesting murals and art pieces.
Bristol Street Art Tour
If you want to learn a little more about Bristol’s street art, why not take a guided tour? There are plenty of guided tours around, such as this one here.
Or, you can do a self-guided tour with Where the Wall. Click here for more information.
St Pauls – Guided Walk about Black History
Another really great guided walk to do in Bristol is around St Pauls. This walk focuses on Black history, and tells the stories of many people who’s voices have been suppressed throughout the centuries.
I found it really interesting to learn a little more about the Windrush generation and Black culture in Bristol; I learned a lot of interesting things about the culture of Black Bristolians. It was also vital to educate myself on injustices that the Black community have faced and are still facing; doing this made me think about how I could be more actively anti-racist.
Walks Near Bristol
There are so many breathtaking walks near Bristol – the city is completely surrounded by jaw-dropping countryside!
From the rolling hills and quaint villages of the Cotswolds to the beginning of the South West Coast Path, all of these walks near Bristol are easy to access and perfect for a day trip.
If you’re looking for longer hikes near Bristol, there are a few multi-day options as well!
The Quantocks are a series of hills near Taunton in Somerset – around 1 hour 30 minutes drive from Bristol. These beautiful hills and coastline are a wonderful rural getaway from Bristol – you can take it all in in the Coleridge Way, a 51 mile trail through the Quantocks and Exmoor.
However, if you just want a day walk near Bristol, there are plenty of other options in the Quantocks too. One of the most amazing walks that you can do in the area is around Klive Beach. As well as the fantastic views of the sandy beaches in the area, you’ll also have the chance to see Somerset’s own Jurassic Coast and marvel at the historic cliff faces.
There’s also a pleasant route through Staple Plain and up to Beacon Hill. This is one of the best walks in the Quantocks on a clear day – from the top, you’ll see some picturesque views that stretch all the way to Weston-Super-Mare and into Exmoor. See the circular walk directions here.
There are many more walks in the Quantocks – check out their website for more information.
There are a few walks that you can do around the Bristol channel. You could simply walk around the coastal areas, around the Severn Beach and Avonmouth, or you could drive further south and walk from Western Super Mare to Uphill or from Brean to Burnham on Sea.
There’s also Offa’s Dyke, a long-distance hiking trail that runs along the English-Welsh border. This route takes around two weeks to complete, but most people break the hike up into shorter sections. The nearest part to Bristol is its starting point at Sedbury Cliffs near Chepstow. You can see more information about Offa’s Dyke here.
The Cotswold Way
The Cotswold Way is one of the best long-distance hikes near Bristol – it spans 102 miles from Chipping Camden to Bath.
Most hikers complete it in 6-10 days. As well as spectacular nature around the region, you’ll also get to enjoy various market towns and charming Cotswold villages.
If you don’t want to do the whole thing, there are a few circular walks that encompass part of the Cotswold Way.
Tyntesfield is a National Trust property – a Victorian Gothic Revival house. You can enter the house itself, but many guests visit just to stroll around the premises – it’s one of the best places to walk near Bristol.
There’s a pleasant route around the grounds which takes in the gardens and woodland, and there’s also a cafe on site.
Exmoor is a large national park in Somerset and Devon. The nearest part is around 1 hour 30 minutes from Bristol – so you can easily visit it for a day hike near Bristol, or you might want to camp in the area.
Porlock Weir is one of the most popular walks in the area. This hike takes you around the sandy beaches of Porlock, where you can enjoy the views and learn about the local fishing culture.
Another excellent trail is Dunkery Beacon. This is the highest point in Exmoor and Somerset – from the top, you can see the Quantock Hills, the coastline, and far into Devon. The trail is steep in some places, but it is reasonably manageable. There is a car park at the bottom of Dunkery Beacon (Google Maps location) or you can park in Wheddon Cross, a nearby village and follow OS maps to take you through the fields to the hill.
You can also hike along the Exmoor coast trail. This is part of the South West Coast Path, widely regarded as one of the most amazing walks in the UK. The Exmoor section of this trail goes from near Porlock in the East to the Valley of the Rocks which is near Lynmouth and Lynton in the West.
The Mendips is a hilly area that spans from near Weston Super Mare in the West to near Frome in the East. Trails in the Mendips are some of the best walks around Bristol.
You could hike the Mendip Way, one of the most popular hikes near Bristol; this is a 50-mile walking route that takes in the best of the hills. However, if you are only looking for day walks close to Bristol, try out some of the following.
Black Down Hill is the highest point in the Mendips. There is a pleasant route up to the summit from the nearby Burrington Ham car park (Google maps location here), taking in some beautiful heathland. From here, there are striking and picturesque views of the entire region as well as the coastline. To return, you can follow the same trail or walk a little further and loop back.
Three Priddy Droves
Three Priddy Droves is another popular walking trail in the Mendips, starting in the village of Priddy (there is free parking here).
This is a circular walking route that goes between the droves. It isn’t signposted, but there are good directions here.
You’ll go through a few field paths while walking in the droves, so wear suitable shoes.
The Mendip Way
This is one of the most amazing walks in South West England, an 80km trail that encompasses the very best of the Mendip Hills.
Walking away from the sandy beaches of Somerset’s Western coast, the trail will take you to the foothills of the Mendips and then over the hills themselves, through charming Somerset villages, before coming out the other side of the hills.
You could just do a section of the hike if you are pressed for time – I recently hiked from Weston Super Mare to Bleadon Hill and returned the same way. This was a nice mix of seaside and hills!
This trail is very easy to reach from Bristol – it’s only around a 20-minute drive from the south of the city, making it one of the best walks near Bristol. You can park on the road by the visitor’s centre (Google maps location), and you’ll see the lake in front of you – there is a trail going all the way around it. You’ll walk around the lake and through the lakeside woodland before completing the circuit and coming back to your car.
Cheddar Gorge is the largest gorge in the country and one of the most popular walks in Somerset. There are actually a few routes that you can take from the town itself – a popular trail is Jacob’s Ladder, but there are many more. Once you get to the top, you’ll be able to enjoy epic views over Cheddar town and gorge – it’s undoubtedly one of the best hikes near Bristol!
You can also enjoy all of the best things to do in Cheddar while you’re in town, including Gough’s Cave, Dreamweaver’s Cave, the Museum of Prehistory, and trying Cheddar cheese and local cider!
Glastonbury to Wells
Glastonbury and Wells are just outside of the Mendips, but the route connecting them is one of the most amazing walks in the area because it passes such epic scenery. Glastonbury is most famous for its festival, but you can also spend some time here learning about the myths and legends that shaped the town, visiting alternative shops and exploring the ruins of Glastonbury Abbey!
There is a trail that goes up Glastonbury Tor; you’ll have an amazing view of Somerset from here. You can take various walking routes through the countryside to reach Wells, which is about 6 miles North East.
Wells is the smallest city in the UK, but the Cathedral is anything but underwhelming. There’s also Vicar’s Close, which is the oldest residential street in the UK, and the famous Bishop’s Palace.
Amazing walks and hikes near Bristol
I hope that these walks around Bristol have inspired you to get out and see a bit more of the lovely city and surrounding counties! Part of Bristol’s charm is its interesting, diverse and historic city centre, but also its breathtaking surrounding nature. This list of walks close to Bristol should have shown you just how spectacular and interesting a place it is!