From famous bridges to Banksy’s best artwork, there’s plenty to see in South West England’s largest city. But to appreciate all of this, first you need to get there! If you are wondering exactly how to get to Bristol, read on for an assessment of the transport options and our best local advice for travelling to and getting around the city!
How to Get to Bristol
Getting to Bristol from London is incredibly easy. If you want to take the train, you can hop on at London Paddington Station. Trains run throughout the day and evening with regular service, and they cost around £30-£50. The train is the fastest way to get from London to Bristol by far, with direct routes taking a mere one hour fifty minutes.
You will probably want to take a train to Bristol Temple Meads, the biggest station in the city which is in the heart of the centre, but if you are staying in North Bristol you might find it easier to take a train to Bristol Parkway. Sometimes a train will only call at one of these stations, so make sure that you know which station you will be going to when you book your tickets!
Alternatively, take a coach from London Victoria Coach Station. This is a far cheaper option – I have taken Megabuses for a pound before, but it generally costs £5-£10 one way – but takes longer and isn’t as comfortable.
Two bus companies serve Bristol – the Megabus and the National Express. National Express drops customers off in the bus station by the Bearpit Roundabout, and Megabus drop off is on Bond Street, on the approach to the city from the M32, in front of the department store Blacks.
There are also rail and coach links to Bath, Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds, Exeter, Liverpool, Cardiff and many other cities around England and Wales.
If you are driving to Bristol, it is located on junction 19 of the m4 and junction 17 of the m5. It is 2-3 hours from London (depending on where in London you’re driving from and of course, the state of the traffic on the M25 – it has taken me 6 hours from South East London before), 1.5 hours from Exeter, 1.5 hours from Birmingham, 3 hours from Manchester and around 3.5 hours from Leeds. Bath is located just 40 minutes away in a South Easterly direction, and the Severn Bridge, which takes you to Wales, is only half an hour from Bristol centre (Cardiff is just under an hours’ drive).
If you don’t have a car but can drive, consider renting a car to explore the South West. You can rent one in your city of origin or in Bristol itself and use the opportunity to see some of the best hidden spots of the region.
You can also fly into Bristol Airport. I’ve never personally used this airport but it flies to various locations around Europe and is considered to be the South West’s biggest and best. It is generally cheaper to fly into London, however, and road and rail links are normally easier from other UK cities.
How to Get Around Bristol
Most of the best things to do in Bristol can be reached from the city centre on foot. There are some exceptions, depending on where you’re staying and how much you’re cramming into a day.
There are two bus companies servicing Bristol – First Buses and Stagecoach. You can check out First timetables here and Stagecoach here. Stagecoach buses mainly service UWE (the University of the West of England), but are open to anyone. They connect Clifton, the city centre, Fishponds and Filton. First Buses are more widespread and connect the entire city centre. Contactless payment is best.
There are various stations in Bristol, although unless you are particularly near to a station, it is generally easier to use the buses or walk. Regional trains don’t run all that often and the stations are quite spread out.
Bristol City Centre is small, and it’s not an exceptionally fun place to drive in due to traffic. There is a one way system in the Old Quarter, and often a lot of congestion all around the Cabot Circus and Harbourside area. Parking in the city centre is difficult as well; if you are driving to Bristol I would recommend just parking at your accommodation and making use of buses or walking elsewhere.
Uber is available in Bristol and used frequently. It is substantially cheaper than hailing or ringing for a taxi.
I hope this article has helped you work out some ways to get to Bristol and the transport in Bristol to use once you get here!