30 incredible day trips from Bristol (2024 local guide)

Are you searching for the best day trips from Bristol? I’ve put together this comprehensive local guide with something for everyone.

Whether you want a trip to the beach or to experience some of the most cultural destinations in South West England, read this guide for travel tips on all the best places to visit near Bristol!

The city of Bristol certainly pulls you in.

I lived there for four years when I was at university, and then moved back for another year as a young professional – it was only the extortionately expensive housing that meant that I didn’t buy my first property there!

While Bristol has so, so many draws – the incredible street art, the diverse culture and food scene, the range of neighbourhoods, the looming Clifton Suspension Bridge and the seafaring history, it’s also an excellent West Country base for some of the best day trips in the region. 

From Bristol, you can drive south to Somerset and Devon, north to Gloucestershire, west to Wales and east to Wiltshire; there’s a plethora of beautiful places to explore in less than a two-hour drive from the southwest’s biggest city. 

So, what are the best day trips from Bristol?

Throughout my five years living in the city, I visited all of the places listed below, some of them numerous times.

Whether you want to explore the best of the British countryside, step back into the nation’s history or just find somewhere to relax on a beach, you can do all of that near Bristol!

Below I’ve listed the best places to visit near Bristol, including information about how to get there, what to see and when to visit.

What are the best day trips from Bristol? 

As someone who’s spent a lot of time in the city, here’s my list of the best Bristol day trips: 

  1. Bath
  2. Cheddar Gorge
  3. North Cotswolds
  4. South Cotswolds
  5. Mendip Hills
  6. Quantock Hills
  7. Exmoor
  8. Glastonbury and Wells
  9. Stonehenge
  10. Tyntesfield
  11. Weston-super-Mare
  12. Exeter
  13. Exmouth
  14. Chepstow and the Wye Valley
  15. Hay on Wye 
  16. Port Enyon
  17. Brecon Beacons
  18. Gloucester
  19. Blackdown Hills AONB
  20. Dartmoor National Park
  21. The Jurassic Coast
  22. Teweksbury and the Malvern Hills
  23. Shepton Mallet and Somerton
  24. Hereford
  25. Longleat Safari Park 
  26. North Devon
  27. Torbay
  28. Lacock
  29. Portishead
  30. Oxford

I’ll go into them all in more detail below! 

The Best Day Trips from Bristol

The best day trips from Bristol include the historic and beautiful city of Bath, the rolling Mendip Hills and especially Cheddar Gorge, seaside towns like nearby Weston-super-Mare or places on the Jurassic Coast in Devon and Dorset and the enigmatic Stonehenge in Wiltshire. 


The looming Bath Abbey, dating back to Medieval times, is just one landmark of the city of Bath.

Walking around the city is like stepping through layers of history, as you explore the Roman era with the baths and delve into Georgian history at The Crescent and The Circus

Bath’s the perfect day trip from Bristol, as it sits less than 15 minutes away by train; or you can even hike or cycle here! 

I lived in Bath for a year too – you can read all my top places to visit in Bath here – but the general highlights are:

  • The Abbey: This was where the first King of all of England was crowned in 973 AD, and remains an enchanting and fascinating historic building to explore .
  • The Roman Baths: The Roman Baths made use of Bath’s natural thermal waters to create a spa complex; here you can see the ruins of them and learn about Roman history. 
  • Georgian Architecture: The Circus and the Crescent are the most famous examples – Bath’s Georgian terraces will have you feeling like you’re on the set of Bridgerton! You can even do a Bridgerton tour to see some of the filming locations – click here for more information.
  • Bath Skyline Trail: This trail runs above the city, taking in some incredible views of Bath while enjoying its surroudning nature.
  • Kennett and Avon Canal: Another excellent place for a walk, the Kennett and Avon Canal consists of colourful boats floating on the water – when I lived here, I used to jog here a lot. 
  • Museums: Bath has an abundance of museums, including the newly opened Mary Shelley’s House of Frankenstein, the Jane Austen Museum and the Fashion Museum. 
  • The Thermae Spa: Soak in this naturally-heated spa after a day’s exploring – don’t miss the heated rooftop pool where you can look over the city! 

How to get there

Bath is reachable by train (just 10 minutes from Bristol Parkway and 15 from Bristol Temple Meads), bus (about an hour) or driving (about 40 minutes from Bristol). 

There isn’t much parking in Bath City Centre (and it has a clean air zone) but there are park and ride car parks or free parking available on suburban streets. 

It’s also connected to Bristol on the Bath to Bristol cycle trail. 

Cheddar Gorge

Cheddar Gorge in Somerset

One of Britain’s most remarkable natural phenomena, Cheddar Gorge is like nothing you’ll have seen in the country before, which definitely makes it one of the best Somerset attractions!

It’s the largest gorge in England and is home to a dramatic cliff-top walk (definitely one of the best hikes near Bristol) and enigmatic caves. 

You can also learn about the history of Cheddar Man here. Cheddar Man is the Mesolithic remains of a man dating about 10,000 years that were found in the nearby Gough Cave.

After hiking around, you can drive through the gorge to the town of Cheddar, which is famous for its cheese and cider.

How to get there

Driving is the only feasible option to reach Cheddar Gorge; it takes about 40 minutes from Bristol. If you want to hire a car, SIXT has an office in Bristol.

Day trip to Glastonbury, Wells and Cheddar

You could also consider a day trip that involves Cheddar!

This tour initially stops in the city of Wells and town of Glastonbury and then visits at a Somerset cider farm – so you can sample the county’s favourite drink!

The tour finishes in the village of Cheddar – while you won’t have the chance to explore it entirely, you’ll see a little of the village along with other Somerset highlights.


Cardiff, the capital of Wales

Cardiff is Wales’ capital city and it is located not too far from the southern England/ Wales border. 

It’s smaller city than Bristol, but it has some iconic landmarks including the open-air museum of St Fagans, Cardiff Castle and Castell Coch.

There’s plenty of beautiful scenery in the area, and the city has got a completely different atmosphere to Bristol, so it’s worth checking out. 

Plus, a Cardiff day trip is a good chance to say you’ve been to Wales!

Activities and tours in Cardiff

There are lots of things to do in Cardiff that you can book before your day trip! 
Click through to any of the below tours, all of which are powered by Get Your Guide.

How to get there

It’s an hour’s drive on the M4, or 45 minutes on the train. Coaches also connect the two cities, and are cheaper than trains.

North Cotswolds

An evening view of Yew trees growing around the north door of St. Edwards Church in the market town of Stow-on-the-Wold, Gloucestershire, UK.

The Cotswolds region of England is famous for beautiful, quaint villages that look like they belong in a fairytale and gentle rolling hills.

The area stretches from Cheltenham to Bath and across into Oxfordshire. 

The North Cotswolds are the furthest part from Bristol, but they’re still only just over an hour’s drive. 

For a day trip itinerary to this part of the region, I’d recommend visiting Bourton-on-the-Water which is known as “the Venice of the Cotswolds”.

It has charming canals leading through the village, which is lined on either side by historic cottages, many occupied by restaurants and cafes with some of the most scenic views in Gloucestershire!

Then, head to Stow on the Wold, home to a unique 15th-century church and one of the UK’s oldest pubs. 

Finish your North Cotswold day trip by visiting Winchcombe, a tiny village that’s home to Sudely Castle, a 1,200 acre privately owned estate that was home to Queen Katherine Parr, Henry VIII’s sixth wife – and she was buried in the grounds.

The castle is open to visitors in the summer season. 

Other Cotswold Tours

If you’re visiting London on the same trip, you might find it easier to do a day tour of the Cotswolds from London. Click through to see the following tours on Get Your Guide.

How to get there

Cars are the only sensible option for this road trip route!

South Cotswolds

Old Town Bridge in Bradford on Avon, South West England

The South Cotswolds is marginally closer to Bristol, but only just – the drive from the city to Tetbury is about 40 minutes. 

Tetbury is a must-visit – it’s fit for a King, after all!

Charles owns Highgrove House which is close to the town, although since he ascended to the throne he spends less time in the village. 

Westonbirt Arboretum is another nearby must-visit; it encompasses 15,000 plants and 2,500 species of trees, with a whopping 17 miles of walking paths leading through them all. 

Don’t miss Castle Combe, which is possibly the most quintessentially British village in the entire country, home to terraces of cottages leading up a cobbled road ascending a hillside.

Parts of War Horse and Downton Abbey have been filmed here. 

I’m also a huge fan of Bradford-on-Avon.

Sitting on the Kennet and Avon Canal – you could technically cycle from Bristol to Bath and then to Bradford – this town has a ramshackle tearoom (when I visited once, the owner described it as “the building that looks like it’s falling down” – but I mean this in a charming way!), historic features like a “lock-up” (where they used to detain drunks) and plenty of cafes and bars sitting along the river. 

How to get there

Again, a car is the best way to get around the Cotswolds – but if you’re just exploring Bradford-on-Avon, you could take the train or cycle. 

Tour from Bristol to Cotswolds and Stonehenge

Don’t have a car? No problem!

There’s a fantastic day trip that leaves Bristol and spans to the Cotswold villages of Castle Combe and Lacock, where parts of Harry Potter were filmed.

This tour also visits ancient Stonehenge, which is another of Wiltshire’s best places to visit.

Mendip Hills

Mendip Hills

The Mendip Hills AONB is a collection of limestone peaks surrounded by the Chew Valley

It’s nowhere near as well-known as the Cotswolds or places like Exmoor and Dartmoor – but it’s one of the loveliest rural areas of Somerset and one of the easiest day trips from Bristol – the northern edge is just a 20 mintue drive away!

The hill stretch from Weston-super-Mare in the west to Frome in the east, and encompass sites like the pretty village of Blagdon, Black Down (the hills’ highest point which is a lovely afternoon hike), the Chew Valley reservoir and Three Priddy Droves, a delightful hike.

The pretty English village of Blagdon is only half an hour’s drive from South Bristol and is home to two reservoirs.

Cheddar Gorge is on the edge of the Mendip Hills, but I’ve separated them for this post as there’s quite a lot to do in both locations! 

How to get there

Car is the best way, but the 41 bus goes to Lower Langford (via Bristol Airport) or the hills can be accessed from Weston-Super-Mare. As the region is so close to Bristol taxi is also an option.

Quantock Hills

Beautiful Quantock Hills

Nestled in South West Somerset, close to the Devon border, you’ll find the mesmerising Quantock Hills, which were made England’s first AONB back in 1956.

Despite them being the oldest AONB in the UK, they’re not very well known – but this means that they’re usually fairly quiet! 

Walking is the best way to enjoy the Quantocks, which gently slope down to the North Somerset coastline

My favourite walk is the Staple Plain route which offers incredible views over Somerset’s coastline, and I also love walking along the coastline itself at Kilve Beach.

There are also charming villages to explore, including Crowcombe and its Grade I listed Church of the Holy Ghost and Holford which is on the 51 mile Coleridge Way Walking Route.

Check out my full guide to the Quantocks by clicking here.

How to get there

It’s best to get to and travel around the Quantocks by car, as it is about a 90 mile trip from Bristol and the towns around the region are quite small, without long-distance buses.

Exmoor National Park

Exmoor park

Sitting just the other side of the Quantock Hills (it’s possible to do both on a weekend trip!),  you’ll find the sprawling Exmoor National Park

Moor is the main highlight here, but Exmoor is also bordered by the sea, and there are plenty of places to enjoy nature in the moorland, which spans across West Somerset and over the border into Devon.

Minehead is the closest town to Exmoor, but there are plenty of villages dotted over the moor, including the charming village of Lynmouth which is home to the UK’s only water-powered railway.

Minehead’s also the beginning of the South West coastal trail, which extends from Somerset all the way around North Devon and Cornwall and down to Studland Bay in Dorset! 

Of course, you won’t be doing the whole path in a weekend, but you could enjoy a day hike along the Exmoor coastline; I’ve done the Minehead to Porlock and Porlock to Lynmouth hikes, which are both incredible but very tough! 

For an easier hike, tackle Dunkery Beacon which is the highest peak in the area. 

How to get there

Again, car is by far the easiest option from Bristol – any other transport would take too long.

Glastonbury and Wells

The charming town of Glastonbury and Wells, one of the UK’s smallest cities, are doable on a day trip from Bristol; you can visit one first to enjoy all of the attractions and then head to the other! 

Both are located around a 90-minute drive from Bristol, and they are about 10 minutes from each other.

Wells is the smallest city in England, and is home to Vicar’s Close which is thought by some to be the oldest street in the UK, next to its beautiful cathedral. 

It has the buzzing atmosphere of a Somerset town with artisanal markets, food stalls, and plenty of quaint old buildings.

Glastonbury, on the other hand, is a wonderful place to visit for fans of the weird and wonderful.

There are lots of independent shops in the city, where you can buy everything from tarot cards to one-off fashion pieces.

Take a climb up Glastonbury Tor and enjoy the view of the county from the top, and try some of the refreshing Glastonbury water that is said to have healing properties.

Check out my full list of things to do in Glastonbury.

How to get there

Driving from Bristol takes just under an hour to reach either, and it’s about 15 minutes between towns.

The 376 Mendip Xplorer direct bus goes to both Wells and Glastonbury. To Wells, it takes 1 hour, and to Glastonbury, it takes 1 hour 20 minutes.

Bristol to Glastonbury day trip

Another alternative is taking a day trip from Bristol to Glastonbury and Wells.

This tour includes stops in Wells and Glastonbury and finishes at a Somerset cider farm, where you can try some of the local favourite beverages – which is fantastic as you won’t be driving!

The tour finishes in Cheddar, where you can sample the rich local cheese.



Situated on the side of the A303 on Wiltshire’s Salisbury Plain is Stonehenge, a sight of great Pagan significance. 

Nobody’s exactly sure how the stones got there, as they aren’t native to the area, and their purpose has been hotly debated throughout the centuries.

What we do know is that the circle is from the Neolithic Age and is between 3500-5000 years old. Pretty impressive…

At Stonehenge, you can see the circle and the historic area, as well as learn about the significance of the site at the visitor’s centre. 

It’s not the cheapest Bristol day trip, at £19 for adult tickets and £11.40 for kids, but it’s a bucket list item for many people!

You can visit Stonehenge for free if you have an English Heritage or National Trust membership (the ruins are run by the English Heritage but the land’s owned by the National Trust).

Take a look at my English Heritage vs National Trust blog post by clicking here.

You won’t spend all day seeing Stonehenge, so I’d also recommend a trip into Salisbury, home to the majestic Salisbury Cathedral.

Or, you could visit other, less-touristy neolithic sites in the area, such as Woodhenge or the nearby Avebury Stone Circle

Here’s my full guide to Stonehenge.

How to get there

Driving is by far the best option; it takes about 1 hour and 10 minutes by car along the A36.

There is a public transport option, although it will take a lot longer; trains leave from Bristol to Salisbury and buses from there to Stonehenge Visitors centre. 

The website Connecting Wiltshire has great up to date information about public transport in the county.

Day trip from Bristol to Stonehenge and Cotswolds

From Bristol, you can embark on a day trip to see the ancient wonder of Stonehenge and the picturesque villages of the Cotswolds.

This tour visits the quaint Castle Combe and stunning Lacock, which has Harry Potter connections.

It’s a wonderful way to see the highlights of the county of Wiltshire in an easy Bristol day trip!


Charlesy : Shutterstock.com

Tyntesfield is one of the closest National Trust properties to Bristol. 

It’s a Victorian Gothic Revival manor house with a rich history, that has been repurposed to show an accurate historical representation of life in the era.

There are also beautiful gardens, including woodland and a walled herb and vegetable garden, that are perfect for an afternoon stroll out of the city.

National Trust-owned Tyntesfield is so close that it can be a half-day trip from Bristol, or it can be combined with a drive around the Mendip Hills.

How to get there

The X6 bus leaves Bristol City for Tyntesfield and takes around 25 minutes. It’s also possible to walk there using an OS map, or cycle via The Festival Way. 

Visitors arriving by bike, on foot or on public transport get a 20% off voucher in the cafe and shop.

Otherwise, it’s an easy drive from Bristol centre – parking costs £3.00 or is free for national trust members.

Weston Super Mare

Weston-super-Mare is a traditional British seaside town and one of the best summer day trips from Bristol.

It’s famous for its long pier and vast beach and has lots of family-friendly activities like parks, the biggest climbing wall in the southwest and amusement arcades.

This part of the Bristol Channel has the second-largest tidal difference in the world (second largest to only Canada), which makes it not ideal for swimming.

However, if you’re looking for a coastal town to visit for the day and want to enjoy some classic British seaside culture, Weston-super-Mare is only 30 minutes drive from the city – in fact, it’s one of the easiest beaches to reach from Bristol.

How to get there

Either take a train, drive or take a bus from Bristol to Weston-super-Mare.


House that moved and church exter

With Roman, Medieval, Georgian and WW2 history, Exeter’s one of the most historically dynamic cities in the UK. 

Its history is relatively unknown; cities like Bath and Oxford often overshadow Exeter, but step into the culture and you’ll be entranced at its tales. 

Exeter was the centre of the woolen cloth trade in the Medieval period, which meant that it grew and prospered as an industrial town

This was when the cathedral was created, which remains one of the most impressive in the country and has the longest uninterrupted gothic vaulting in the world. 

Exeter Quay is also a delightful area, with watersports opportunities and restaurants lined along the canal front.

The city was tragically bombed heavily in WW2, so nowadays you’ll see Medieval buildings in between quickly-built houses from the 1960s.

Do a Red Coat Walking Tour to learn about Exeter’s fascinating history, or pop into the RAMM Museum

You can check out the best things to do in Exeter here; I live close by in Exmouth so I visit the city all the time! 

How to get there

 It’s an easy train journey from Bristol to Exeter, taking just over an hour. It should take you around an hour and a half to drive. 


Stunning sunset over a small beach in Exmouth with the colourful marina in the background

With a two-mile-long golden beach stretching from the town to the cliffs of the Jurassic Coast, Exmouth is a watersports hub.

Grab a stand-up paddleboard or kayak from Sideshore, the beachfront watersports rental centre and take to the water – it’s one of the best days out near Bristol in the summertime! 

Once you’ve had your fill of the water, head up to the cliffs.

Exmouth is the start of England’s only UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Jurassic Coast.

The cliffs here are actually Triassic, dating back 250 million years. 

On a clear day, you can see much of the South Devon coastline from here, along with the beach and estuary that makes up Exmouth. 

I’ve started doing guided walking tours of Exmouth, where I take small groups of tourists through the beach and town centre, detailing fascinating stories about the town along the way. Click here to read more about these!

There are plenty of other things to do in Exmouth, too – walk along the Exe Estuary (it’s a popular spot for birdwatchers), check out the rolling Woodbury Common (another fantastic walk in Exmouth!) or visit the many indoor attractions like Exmouth Museum and Excape Escape Rooms

I live in Exmouth (I moved here from Bristol a few years ago) and it’s a wonderful place to spend a day – or longer! 

How to get there

Exmouth is around an hour and a half drive from Bristol to Exmouth, or you can take a train to Exeter St Davids and hop on the branch line to Exmouth – I’ve taken this route reguarly, in the past from Bristol to Exmouth and now from Exmouth to Bristol! 

Chepstow and the Wye Valley

View of the Wye Valley from high up on a vantage point, with trees on either side.

Head over the Welsh border on this day trip, where you’ll enjoy the charming town of Chepstow (home to a wonderful castle that sits right on the English/ Welsh border) and head to the majestic ruins of Tintern Abbey, dating back to 1131 and looking out over the River Wye

There are a few walks that you can do on the Wye Valley, taking in the gorgeous vistas over the river; some of this is part of Offa’s Dyke, a national hiking trail that follows the English/ Welsh border.

This was the setting for the popular Netflix show Sex Education – you can even take trails to see some of the houses! 

Or, head to the town of Monmouth, which is also home to a wonderful castle – there are so many epic castles in Wales!

Symonds Yat Rock is also worth visiting. This was featured in Harry Potter and offers a mesmerising vista over the rural area of the River Wye

How to get there

Chepstow is one of the easiest day trips from Bristol – it’s just a half-hour drive away! Public transport is a little more complicated, as you’ll need to change trains in Newport.

Monmouth sits a half-hour drive from Chepstow (or a one-hour bus ride), and other Wye Valley attractions are in between. If you want to visit Tintern Abbey and other attractions, you’ll probably need a car. 

Hay on Wye 

HAY ON WYE, WALES – FEBRUARY 25, 2013: Hay on Wye Booksellers. Hay on Wye is a town in Wales on the border with England famous for the annual book fair.

Another Welsh gem is the book town of Hay on Wye

Situated on the Welsh side of the Wye River, this is a tiny village with a big history – it’s brimming with bookstores (it’s one of the best places in the country to pick up novels!) and had an eccentric “king”, Richard Booth, who declared the village to be independent! 

There’s a castle to check out, along with charming cobbled streets and beautiful views over the Brecon Beacons.

You can add this to a Brecon Beacon road trip!

How to get there

It’s an hour and a half drive from Bristol to Hay on Wye; unfortunately, public transport isn’t feasible. 

Port Enyon

View over Port Enyon, which looks out over the craggy coastline of the Gower Peninsula in South Wales.

A little further into Wales, past the charming town of Swansea, is the Gower Peninsula

There are a few coastal trails to explore here, but one of the most charming areas is Port Enyon

This is a holiday resort area and small village; there’s a sweeping beach here along with an epic part of the Welsh coastal path

I visited this part of Wales for a friend’s birthday and loved relaxing on the beach and hiking to the cliffs – there’s even a smuggler’s hideaway at one part! 

How to get there

You can easily take a train from Bristol to Swansea, but then public transport becomes a bit more challenging (when I went, I asked a friend to pick me up in Swansea!). Driving is the best way to reach The Gower! 

Brecon Beacons

A view of the Talybont reservoir from the slopes of Tor y Foel hill in the Brecon Beacons, UK

Around 25 miles north of Cardiff, the Brecon Beacons mountain range, one of Wales’ three national parks, starts to rise before its pinnacle at Pen y Fan, which is the highest mountain in South Wales. 

You can hike Pen y Fan mountain, which takes around 4-6 hours to walk the circular route; definitely doable on a day trip from Bristol in the summer.

Alternatively, hikes like the four waterfalls walk are flatter and less challenging! 

How to get there

Driving’s the only feasible way; it takes around 1 hour 30 minutes from Bristol. 


Gloucester, United Kingdom - August 14, 2015: Gloucester Docks at dusk a cloudy day. The wharfs, warehouses and the docks fell into disrepair until their renovation from 1980s. Boats on foreground moored

Basking in the shadows of an 11th-century cathedral is the pretty city of Gloucester, which sits to the north of Bristol. 

While the cathedral’s the main landmark, there’s also the bustling Gloucester Docks, home to a range of restaurants and shops sitting on the waterfront. It’s also home to the National Waterway Museum, which boasts an impressive array of exhibitions about British waterway history. 

There’s also the enigmatic Blackfriar’s Priory, which dates back to the 13th century and is one of the most intact Dominican black friaries in England.

Tie it all together with a trip to the Gloucester City Museum and Art Gallery, with exhibitions on the city’s past and present. 

How to get there

Gloucester’s one of the best day trips from Bristol by train; the rail line takes just 50 minutes to connect the cities, or it’s also around a 50 minute drive. 

Blackdown Hills AONB

View west to Dartmoor from the top of Hembury hill fort on the Blackdown Hills Devon west of England UK

Straddling the border between Devon and Somerset, the Blackdown Hills AONB is a West Country hidden gem – many visit the much more touristy national parks, but these hills are equally as stunning. 

I always drive through the Blackdown Hills when I travel from Exmouth to London, and they’re so enchanting and alluring – the perfect entry to or exit from Devon! 

There are a variety of excellent walks that you can enjoy in the Blackdown Hills; head to Chard, one of the main towns in the area, and enjoy a variety of these circular walks from the town.

How to get there

It’s a one hour 10 minute drive from Bristol to Chard. Unfortunately, there are no feasible public transport links.

Dartmoor National Park

Girl walking across Dartmoor, one of the best day trips from Bristol, to reach Wistman's Wood which is in the middle of the moorland.

Sitting in the middle of Devon, Dartmoor National Park is England’s largest and one of the UK’s most impressive. 

This rolling moorland is famous for its tors, which are large rock outcrops with stones on top – many with historic spiritual significance. 

Dartmoor also has plenty of reservoirs and even some temperate rainforests – I love Wistman’s Wood, although at the moment it’s closed due to the moss and fern needing to regrow. 

You could also check out Lydford Gorge.

Dartmoor’s also home to a few indoor attractions, including the Dartmoor Prison Museum in Princetown, Castle Drogo which was the last castle to be built in England and The Highwayman Inn, which is known as Britain’s quirkiest pub

How to get there 

Driving’s the best way to see all of Dartmoor’s attractions (as they’re quite spread out).

However, if you don’t have a vehicle, there’s a new train that runs from Exeter to Okehampton, which sits on the edge of Dartmoor.

You’ll need to take a train from Bristol Temple Meads to Exeter St David’s first, and then you can connect! 

The Jurassic Coast

Vistas over the beautiful Jurassic Coast around Branscombe.

Spanning 95 miles along the East Devon and Dorset coastlines, the epic Jurassic Coastline starts in Exmouth and ends in Studland Bay

It’s England’s only natural UNESCO World Heritage Site, awarded so because it’s the only place where you can walk through the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous periods; these eras make up the Mesozoic era, and it’s the world’s complete collection of this period. 

You’ll see the red sandstone cliffs of East Devon first, then the Cretaceous sandstone and chalk cliff near Studland Bay

Highlights include Durdle Door, the Isle of Purbeck, Corfe Castle (which is just north of the coastline) and east Devon villages like Beer and Branscombe

How to get there

To do a Jurassic Coast road trip, you’ll need a car (obviously!).

I’d recommend driving to Exmouth and seeing how far you can get from there, or you can drive down to Weymouth (just a two-hour drive south of Bristol) and explore around there – or take a train to Weymouth and explore the coastline here! 

Tewkesbury and the Malvern Hills

Tewkesbury Abbey

The gorgeous town of Tewkesbury sits about an hour’s north of Bristol. 

On the edge of the Cotswolds, this Medieval market town is brimming with historic architecture and is notably home to Tewkesbury Abbey

This religious building has an enchanting history spanning back 900 years; the buildings were nearly lost after the dissolution of the monasteries, but they were ultimately saved by the townspeople rallying together! 

From Tewkesbury, you can pop to the nearby Malvern Hills, a selection of gently sloping hills that cross the border from Worcestershire to Herefordshire.

It’s a rural area, known for its wonderful walks and charming towns. 

How to get there

If you don’t have a car, you can take a train from Bristol Temple Meads to Ashchurch for Tewkesbury; from here, it’s a 50 minute walk to the town or an 8 minute taxi ride.

If you want to explore the Malvern Hills, you’ll need your own set of wheels! 

Shepton Mallet and Somerton

Small building in Somerton, one of the most historic towns in Somerset. The sky is clear and roads are rural looking.

A day trip I cobbled together when I was living in Bristol was Somerton and Shepton Mallet for the Shepton Mallet prison

Somerton is a lesser-visited town in rural Somerset; while it’s quite small and not touristy at all, it’s a remarkably historic place

The town gave Somerset its name; it was here where a meeting took place in 949 of the Witan, who was an Anglo-Saxon parliament. 

It grew as an industrial town, but during the industrial revolution when many other spots around the country’s industry grew, Somerton’s faded away. 

You can learn all about its extensive history with a self-guided walking tour of the town (click here for instructions). I did this when I visited and it was fascinating! 

After soaking in the history of Somerton, head to Shepton Mallet.

This market town is most famous for its prison, and it’s here that you’ll be visiting! 

Dating back to 1610, the prison was the oldest one in the country when it closed its doors in 2009. 

Tours offer a look into prison culture in the UK from 17th century onwards, with a focus on the Victorian age when some prisons began to get more humane (I also learned about this in Bodmin Jail in Cornwall). 

You’ll also walk through some more recent cells and learn about some of the prison’s most notorious inmates such as the Krank Twins

How to get there 

Taking a car is the only real possibility for this day trip, as there’s not much public transport around Somerton. 


Cathedral Hereford, Herefordshire, England, UK, Western Europe

Hereford’s often overlooked as a UK city break destination, but it boasts one of the country’s best cathedrals and is part of the wider Welsh Marches region, which is full of fascinating history. 

The cathedral dates back to the 11th century and is home to the Mappa Mundi, which is a famous Medieval map of the world. 

For more history, visit Old House, which is a 17th century building with rooms restored to how they looked during this era. 

There’s also the Hereford Museum and Gallery, which is located in a Victorian building. 

The city is lined along the River Wye and there are some beautiful strolls to enjoy that are walkable from the city centre.

The Welsh Marches region boasts lots of delicious products, including cider (I know it may be void saying this to Bristol day trippers, but it’s worth trying to see the difference!) and lots of local cheese. 

How to get there

Train is possible, but you’ll need to change at Newport and it takes around 1 hour 40 minutes. Otherwise, it’s an hour and a half by car – we easily found car parking just outside of the city centre. 

Longleat House and Safari Park 

Longleat Safari Park with light cloud coverage in background

One of the best family day trips from Bristol, Longleat Safari Park was the first safari park outside of Africa when it opened in 1966, and offers children and adults alike the chance to see animals like lions and zebras up close. 

I’m always in two minds about safari parks, but I do like that they give people the chance to get an education about these creatures – and they certainly give animals a lot more space than zoos. 

Once you’ve driven around the safari park, enjoy the stately homes and gardens, which span over 900 acres.

The house dates back to the 16th century – a priory originally stood there but it was demolished during the dissolution of the monasteries – and it was the first stately home in Britain to be opened to tourists! 

How to get there

It’s about an hour and 10 minutes to reach Longleat, which is located in Wiltshire, close to the Somerset border.

Public transport is possible, but you’ll need to take a train to Westbury, then Frome, and from here take a bus (total journey time is around two hours). 

North Devon 

ILFRACOMBE, DEVON UK – JULY 24: Harbor at sunrise on 24 July 2017 in Ilfracombe, UK. The Damien Hirst statue Verity was erected in 2012

Head to North Devon, some two hours 20 minutes from Bristol, to enjoy some of the UK’s best beaches, a laid-back surf culture and a real holiday atmosphere. 

The best places to visit on a North Devon road trip include Croyde, Woolacombe, Westward Ho!, Clovelly and of course, Exmoor National Park (although most visit this as a standalone day trip). 

Croyde and Woolacombe are two of the best beach destinations in Devon (in fact, Woolacombe was voted the best in the country and one of the best in Europe!).

Westward Ho! Is great for surfing and Clovelly is a charming fishing village. There are a few things to do in Barnstaple too, and I love the village of Appledore near Westward Ho! 

How to get there

Driving is the only real feasible way; you could technically take a train to Exeter St David’s, connect to Barnstaple and then take some regional buses, but this would take quite a long time and wouldn’t really be feasible for a day trip. 


View of Torquay, Devon, from Red Rocks of Paignton, Torbay, England

Around a two-hour drive from Bristol, you’ll find Torbay.

This is one of the oldest seaside resorts in the UK – and while nowadays it feels a little dated (I’m biased, but I think that Exmouth Beach is much nicer!), the area shines when it comes to family-friendly attractions and a diverse array of things to do. 

For starters, visit Splashdown Quaywest Water Park, which sits in Paignton and is the UK’s largest outdoor waterpark (do bear in mind that it’s really not that big – it gets the title because the UK doesn’t have that many outdoor waterparks!).

I visited last summer and had a few thoughts on it – you can read my full review here – but for a family who wants to find somewhere to cool off in the summer heat, it’s a worthwhile attraction. 

Other places to visit in Torbay include the fascinating Kents Cavern Caves, the 900-year-old Torre Abbey, the heritage family attraction Bygones, the fun-packed Paignton Pier, the Babbacombe Cliff Railway which descends down to Oddicombe Beach and the Babbacombe Model Village

Of course, there are some beautiful beaches on the English Riviera; if you want to avoid the crowds, I’d steer clear of Paignton and Torquay beaches, but Oddicombe and Meadfoot are beautiful and usually quieter.

If you fancy a hike, the South West Coast Path spans all of Torbay

Pick your favourite attractions and have a fun family day out in Torbay! 

Check out the best things to do in Torquay by clicking here.

How to get there

Driving’s the easiest way – it takes around two hours to reach Torbay from Bristol. Alternatively, take a train to Exeter or Newton Abbot and change lines. 


Cloister at Lacock Abbey, Wiltshire

Largely considered to be one of the prettiest villages in Wiltshire, Lacock is a must for Harry Potter fans, as some Hogwarts scenes were filmed in the Abbey and other scenes were filmed around the town. 

The Abbey dates back to the 13th century and has a chequered history of being used for a monastery, school and home. There’s also the sprawling Lacock Estate and a 14th-century Tithe Barn in town. 

How to get there

It’s a 40 minute drive from Bristol to Lacock; you can also take a train from Bristol to Chippenham and then hop on the X34 bus.


Lighthouse in Portishead sunset

If you’re seeking the easiest day trips from Bristol, I bring you Portishead, which sits just 10 miles from the town.

Looking out over the Severn Estuary, Portishead is technically a beach town, although the tidal difference stops many from swimming in the sea here. 

However, there is an outdoor swimming pool and beautiful marine, perfect for an afternoon stroll.

You’ll also find a Victorian Pier here, although, unlike its counterpart in Weston-super-Mare, it’s not open for visitors and is merely used by fishermen for angling.

There have been campaigns to reopen it in recent years, however!

How to get there 

Driving takes 20-30 minutes, depending on traffic, or you can take the X1 excel bus. 


Aerial view of Oxford city, city center area during twilight

One of the UK’s most popular and historically significant cities, Oxford sits on the other side of the Cotswolds – but it’s still feasible to visit on a day trip. 

Most famous for Oxford University which dates back to 1096, the city’s grown as an educational and literacy hub over the years. 

Tours are available around various campuses or kick back in some of its historic pubs.

The Bear Inn has a history back to the 13th century (although today’s building dates back to the 17th century) and the Eagle and Child was a popular spot for meetings between JR Tolkien and CS Lewis!

How to get there

The train is a possibility, although there’s no direct line; you’ll need to change at Reading. Otherwise, it’s an hour and a half drive. 

Can I visit Cornwall on a day trip from Bristol? 

Large cave on the golden sandy beach at Holywell Bay Cornwall England UK Europe

I make no secret of the fact that I absolutely love Cornwall – you can see all my Cornwall travel guides here. However, I wouldn’t recommend visiting on a day trip from Bristol. 

You could technically drive there – the east of Cornwall is about 2.5 hours away from Bristol and west Cornwall is 4.5 hours – but it’s a long drive and there’s so much to see and do in Cornwall – it’s probably best to visit on a day trip! 

Can I visit London on a day trip from Bristol? 

Looking out over Tower Bridge, which spans the River Thames and is one of London's most famous landmarks.

It’s possible to visit London on a day trip from Bristol – the train is less than two hours (check out my GWR first-class review if you’re interested in travelling in style!).

This means that it’s easy to enjoy London attractions like Westminster Abbey, St Pauls Cathedral and the London Eye – you can even head north to the Harry Potter Warner Bros Studio tour (advance booking for this is essential – one of my best tips for Harry Potter World London is to book as early as possible!).

However, I try to keep my recommendations local to the west of England and Wales, presuming that most people looking for day trips have already visited London! 

Other Bristol blog posts

Love Bristol with me sitting in heart

As I lived in Bristol for years, I’ve covered the city extensively on this blog. 

You can check out my list of the best things to do in Bristol (featuring street art, food, the Clifton Suspension Bridge, the SS Great Britain and much more!), my local’s guide to where to stay in Bristol, tips for how to get to Bristol and my full Bristol travel guide.

Amazing Bristol Day Trips…

With jaw-droppingly beautiful nature at every turn, it’s well worth getting out of Bristol and exploring its neighbouring counties: Somerset, Gloucestershire, Wiltshire, and Devon.

One of the beauties of Bristol is that you really don’t need to go far to find some nature, as you can see in most of these Bristol day trips.

However, there are plenty of villages, breweries, farms, and even a few small cities to check out too!

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