If you’re like me, you might never want to leave Bristol… but there are so many day trips from Bristol that you can take to see more of South West England.
With spectacular British countryside, charming towns and villages, and historic buildings and sites, you’re spoiled for choice when it comes to attractions near Bristol!
Whether you want to visit the majestic Gloucester Cathedral, explore some of England’s prettiest villages, spend a day at the sea, or go hiking, this list of epic day trips will inspire you!
You will need a car for some of these Bristol day trips. If you wish to rent a car, try SIXT who have an office in Bristol.
The Best Day Trips from Bristol
Located a mere 13 miles from Bristol Temple Meads, and easily cyclable on the Bath-Bristol cycle path, Bath is the perfect day trip from Bristol.
It’s a beautiful city dotted with historic landmarks, including charming Georgian buildings and an enigmatic Medieval Abbey.
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, 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 Somerset attractions!
It’s the largest gorge in England and is home to a dramatic cliff-top walk and enigmatic caves – which means that it is undoubtedly one of the best hikes near Bristol!
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 real feasible option to reach Cheddar Gorge; it takes about 40 minutes from Bristol.
Cardiff is Wales’ capital city and it is located not too far from the UK/ Wales border – around an hour’s drive from Bristol!
Cardiff is a 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!
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, quaint villages and rolling hills; and it is 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.
Cotswold towns and villages near Bristol include Malmesbury and Tetbury, and from here it’s possible to head north through local villages to the spa city of Cheltenham or to Gloucester, home to a beautiful Gothic Cathedral. If you start early, you can stop everywhere on this route in one day!
Or you could start driving earlier and see more places in the eastern Cotswolds. Lacock Village is largely considered to be one of the prettiest villages in the Cotswolds, and it’s a must for Harry Potter fans, as some Hogwarts scenes were filmed in the Abbey and other scenes were filmed around the town.
There is also the picturesque village of Bourton-on-the-Water which is known as the ‘Venice of the Cotswolds’, and Stow on the Wold, which is home to a unique 15th-century church.
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.
The Mendip Hills is an AONB, a collection of limestone peaks surrounded by the Chew Valley. Stretching from Weston Super Mare in the West to Frome in the East, the Mendip Hills is one of the loveliest rural areas of Somerset.
The pretty English village of Blagdon is only half an hour’s drive from South Bristol, and is home to two reservoirs.
You can also go on a tour of Butcombe brewery or do one of the many walks in the hills. You could hike to Black Down and take in spectacular views from the top, or stroll through Three Priddy Droves admire the stunning countryside around you. Cheddar Gorge is on the edge of the Mendip Hills, so you can combine the two in one day trip.
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 made England’s first AONB back in 1956.
Walking is the best way to enjoy the Quantocks. My favourite walk is the Staple Plain route which offers beautiful views over Somerset’s coastline, and I also love walking along the coastline itself at Klive 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.
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.
Just the other side of the Quantock Hills (so it’s possible to do both on a weekend trip!) is Exmoor National Park. These moorlands are bordered by the sea, and there are plenty of places to enjoy nature in the region, 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, such as the charming village of Lynmouth which is home to the UK’s only water-powered railway.
Minehead is the beginning 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 weekend, but you could enjoy a day hike along the Exmoor coastline.
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 both be easily be visited in one day. 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 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, 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.
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 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!
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 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 and amusement arcades.
If you’re looking for a coastal town to visit for the day, Weston Super Mare is only 30 minutes drive from Bristol.
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?