If you’re like me, you might never want to leave Bristol… but South West England is a wonderful part of the world, with spectacular countryside, charming towns and villages, and historic buildings and sites. There are plenty of places to visit in Bristol if you want to get out of the city for a bit, and the most beautiful thing is that you don’t need to go far at all to get into some of the country’s best nature spots.
Check out this list of the best 10 day trips from Bristol for some ideas!
Due to the continuing situation with COVID-19, some of the activities, especially in towns or cities, may be closed or have reduced hours. Remember your mask for any indoor activities and to use plenty of sanitiser and keep your distance from people!
10 Day Trips from Bristol
Located a mere 13 miles from Bristol City Centre, and easily cyclable on the Bath-Bristol cycle path, Bath is the perfect place for a day trip from Bristol to see another quintessential South-Western city.
I lived in Bath for a year too – you can read all about it in my things to do in Bath article – but the general highlights are:
- The Abbey, where the first King of all of England was crowned in 973 AD
- The Roman Baths, where you can learn all about Baths origins
- The Georgian architecture, like the Circus and the Crescent
- The Thermae Spa, perfect to soak in after a busy day of exploring!
How to get there: If you don’t fancy cycling, Bath is reachable by train (just 10 minutes from Bristol parkway), bus (about an hour) or driving (about 40 minutes from Bristol). There isn’t much parking in Bath City Centre, but there are park and ride car parks or free parking available on suburban streets.
Known as one of Britain’s most remarkable natural phenomenons, Cheddar Gorge is like nothing you’ll have seen in the country before, which definitely makes it one of the best day trips from Bristol. It’s England’s highest inland gorge and is home to a dramatic cliff top walk and enigmatic caves.
Learn about Cheddar Man, the Mesolithic remains dating about 10,000 years that were found in Gough Cave here. After exploring the area, you can drive through the gorge to the town of Cheddar, which is famous for its cheese and wine.
How to get there: driving is the only real feasible option to reach Cheddar Gorge; it takes about 40 minutes from Bristol.
Just over the Severn Bridge is Wales and Cardiff, its capital city, is not far from the border. Cardiff is a smaller city than Bristol, but it has some great attractions 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, plus a Cardiff day trip is a good chance to say you’ve been to Wales!
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.
The Cotswolds is a region of England that is famed for beautiful, old-timely villages and rolling hills; and they are one of the most popular day trips near Bristol. The area stretches from Cheltenham to Bath and across into Oxfordshire, so there are plenty of spots to visit close to Bristol.
Towns and villages near to Bristol include Malmesbury and Tetbury, and from here it’s possible to head north through local villages to the spa city of Cheltenham or Gloucester; if you start early, you can stop everywhere in one day! Or you could start driving earlier and see more places in the eastern Cotswolds, like Bourton-on-the-Water, Stow-on-the-Wold and up to Stratford-on-Avon (where Shakespeare was born!) and Leamington Spa.
How to get there: Cars are the only real sensible option for road tripping the Cotswolds, especially getting around to all the smaller villages. However, if you want to visit Cheltenham or Gloucester, there are trains available that take 50 and 40 minutes respectively.
An AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty) in Somerset, Mendip Hills are limestone peaks surrounded by the Chew Valley. Stretching from Weston Super Mare in the West to Ston Easton in the East, the start of the Mendip Hills is just 7 miles from Bristol. Visit beautiful towns like Blagdon, go on a tour of Butcombe brewery, or do one of the many walks in the hills. The Mendip Hills can be combined with a visit to Cheddar Gorge, as they are quite close to each other.
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.
Nestled in South West Somerset, close to the Devon border, are the mesmerising Quantock Hills. They were England’s first AONB, given the status back in 1956. There are plenty of planned walks available in the region, and charming villages to explore. These include Crowcombe and its Grade I listed Church of the Holy Ghost, and Holford which is on the 51 mile Coleridge Way Walking Route.
How to get there: It’s best to get to and travel around the Quantocks by car, as it is a little way from Bristol and the towns around the region are quite small, without long-distance buses.
Just the other side of the Quantock Hills (so it’s possible to do both in a weekend trip!) is Exmoor National Park. These moorlands give out to the sea, and there are plenty of places to enjoy nature in the region, which spans across west Somerset and over the boarder into Devon.
Minehead is the closest town, but there are plenty of villages dotted over the moor, such as the charming village of Lynmouth which is home to the UK’s only water-powered railway.
It’s also part of the South West coastal trail, which extends from the Bristol Channel all the way around Cornwall and down to Bournemouth in Dorset! Of course, you won’t be doing the whole path in a day, but it’s easy to do a segment of it here in Exmoor.
How to get there: Again, car is by far the easiest option from Bristol – any other transport would take too long.
Glastonbury and Wells
I’ve put these two together because they can easily be visited at once – around a 90 minute drive from Bristol are these two very unique, but incredibly interesting, settlements. Wells is the smallest city in the UK, and features what is thought by some to be the oldest street in the UK (Vicar’s Close) next to its beautiful cathedral. It’s also got the buzzing atmosphere of a Somerset town, with artisanal markets 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 delicious Glastonbury water that is said to have healing properties.
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.
Situated on the side of the A30 on Wiltshire’s Salisbury Plain is Stonehenge, another great spot to learn about spiritual traditions; it’s a site of great Pagan significance. Nobody’s exactly sure how the stones got there, as they aren’t native to the area, and the purpose of them has been hotly debated throughout the decades. 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!
How to get there: Driving is by far the best option; it takes about 1 hour 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.
Tyntesfield is one of the closest National Trust properties to Bristol. It’s a Victorian Gothic Revival house which 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.
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: Buses leave from Bristol City for Tyntesfield, 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.
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 also plenty of villages, breweries, farms and even a few small cities to check out too!
Check out my other Bristol posts
Where will you visit when you Go South West?