Are you looking for things to do in Bristol in the rain? There are a surprising amount of attractions – read on for more information!
Bristol is one of my favourite cities in the world and my real home (I lived in London until I was 18, but have lived here for five years since and spent the other five travelling). Despite it being so livable, it has plenty of tourist attractions and really doesn’t get the attention it deserves.
Bristol has an epic suspension bridge, a famous stationary boat, a beautiful harbourside and charismatic suburbs. There are even a tonne of things to do in Bristol in the rain – so don’t let bad weather put you off coming here!
If you’re visiting Bristol and the weather isn’t what you hoped for, don’t fret – this local guide will show you exactly what to do.
Things to do in Bristol in the rain
Check out the museums
There are so many excellent museums in Bristol, some of which are completely free!
- The M Shed is free to enter and tells the story of Bristol and its people – and will help you understand why people here have such a fierce spirit!
- The SS Great Britain is the first stop on many people’s Bristol itineraries. It costs just under £20 to enter, but if you return to Bristol in the next year, you can use the same ticket again. It’s also one of the best museums in the country (in my opinion) – it tells the story of this remarkable ship which changed nautical history. Part of the museum is in buildings around the ship, and the ship itself depicts what the ship was like as a migrant clipper. For social history enthusiasts, the place is fascinating.
- We The Curious is Bristol’s Science Museum – it’s one of the best things to do in Bristol in the rain if you’ve got kids in tow!
- Aerospace Bristol is located in Filton, a northern suburb, and it discusses Bristol’s contribution to the Aerospace industry.
- The Bristol Museum and Art Gallery is a free museum that both focuses on the history of Bristol and has exhibits about the wider world around us.
- The Georgian House Museum depicts, you guessed it, a Georgian house – this is when the city prospered, regrettably on the back of the awful slave trade. It is important to learn about this side of Bristol’s history while here, and the Georgian house is a good place to start (M Shed has a small exhibition about Bristol’s links to slavery as well, and there is also a walking tour which gives more information).
- Glenside Museum is an interesting museum on UWE Glenside campus, that discusses their growth as a health establishment and the work that they have undergone to reduce the stigma of mental health issues.
- The Palestine Museum and Cultural Centre (only open Saturdays and Sundays) is a free permanent exhibition about Palestinian history.
There are so, so many more – I’ll write a post about them all one day, but for now here’s a directory from Visit Bristol.
The Lanes isn’t your average ten pin bowling alley, oh no – it’s a retro bar, pizza restaurant, a vintage shop and bowling alley all in one! If you’re really not sure what to do in Bristol in the rain, the bowling alley is loved by all ages. It’s a great place for families, groups of friends, dates… you name it!
Bristol Escape Rooms
If the weather is making you feel like you want to lock yourself away, why not do just that – and then try to escape? There are actually quite a few escape rooms for a city of its size, the most famous being Locked in a Room in Millenium Square, and Escape Hunt at Cabot Circus.
Locked in a Room has three different rooms; you can choose to escape a jungle, a lab or solve a kidnapping mystery. Escape Hunt has four different games including ‘Blackbeard’s treasure’, a pirate-themed room (with Bristol links!) and ‘Our Finest Hour’, which is WW2 themed. They are some of the best rainy day activities Bristol has to offer!
See Stars at the Planetarium
The Bristol Planetarium is part of We The Curious. It is the only 3D Planetarium in the country, so it’s definitely one of the best things to do in Bristol on a rainy day!
The Planetarium has a few 45 minute shows each day (for latest times, check the We The Curious website), where you’ll be able to soar past planets, through star constellations, and around the moon! If you just want to stargaze, you can visit on their special Planetarium Nights.
The Planetarium is located in Millenium Square near the Harbourside.
Wills Building Tour
At the top of Park Street is the Wills Building, which is often mistaken to be Bristol Cathedral (that’s at the bottom of the same hill!). The Wills Building is a branch of Bristol University, built to commemorate Henry Overton Wills, who initially funded the university. The building is neo-Gothic, and has many interesting features. It is accessible by a guided tour every Saturday at 1pm.
I do think it’s important to note that Henry Overton Wills gained his wealth from the tobacco industry, which was only so profitable because they used slaves. Sadly, a lot of Bristol was built on slavery, and I think it is very important to acknowledge this when walking around the city.
There have been campaigns for the Wills Building to be renamed which haven’t come to any fruition yet, but I will support anything that makes the building – and Bristol – a place where Black Bristolians and visitors feel comfortable.
Bristol is an active city, and even in the rain you can do some adventurous things – how about indoor climbing? There are a few fantastic centres in the city, including Flashpoint (which is better for rope climbing) and Redpoint (which is exclusively for bouldering).
You can book online for just one session – you don’t need to be a member – and it costs around £8 for 2.5 hours. It’s one of the cheapest things to do in Bristol on a rainy day!
Jungle Rumble Adventure Golf
Another way to spend a rainy afternoon is Jungle Rumble Adventure Golf in Cabot Circus. This is one of the best Bristol date ideas if it’s raining, but it’s also perfect for families or groups too. Simply pay to use the courses for a set amount of time. There’s an on-site bar as well.
Tour or watch a play at Bristol Old Vic
Not only does Bristol have the UK’s only 3D Planetarium, it is also home to the oldest continuously working theatre in the English-speaking world! Established in 1766, it nowadays looks very different, but you can tour the theatre to learn about its history.
Or, if you’re looking for things to do in Bristol in the evening when it’s raining, why not see a show? Countless plays have performed there over the years. You could also check out the Hippodrome for plays too.
St Mary Redcliffe Cathedral
Thought to be ‘the fairest goodliest and most famous parish church in England’ by Queen Elizabeth II, St Mary Redcliffe is a large church located near Bristol Temple Meads Station.
It harks back to the 12th-15th century, and demonstrates some beautiful Gothic architecture. Inside, you can marvel at the stained glass windows, ironwork from the 18th century, and a majestic organ.
Enjoy Bristol’s Foodie Scene
Bristol has one of the best foodie scenes in the UK. While British food isn’t as famous (and rightly so) than other cuisines – although we do excel at preparing potatoes – the diversity of the UK and Bristol, especially the food scene is fantastic.
Some of my favourite eateries are:
- Urban Tandoor, which serves up fresh and healthy Indian food.
- Cargo Cantina, located in the Whapping Wharf bar and restaurant quarter, serving up authentic Mexican food (I’m claiming this as someone who has spent a while living in Mexico!).
- The Athenian, which serves mouthwatering wraps – as well as a few meaty offerings, they have halloumi, vegan halloumi and vegan chicken and gyros! The Athenian is also located in Whapping Wharf.
- The Burger Joint, a great burger bar in Southville where you can order customisable burgers.
- Purezza, a vegan pizza restaurant on Gloucester Road.
- Cafe Kino, a hearty cafe in Stokes Croft.
Pubs to shelter at in Bristol
Many people’s solution to a rainy day on holiday is probably the pub – and there are plenty of these in Bristol! Here is a very non-conclusive list of places to shelter in case of sudden downpour:
- The Anchor, Gloucester Road (a huge pub with loads of tables, serves up good food)
- The Bristol Flyer, Gloucester Road (equally huge with a covered garden area at the back)
- No 51, Stokes Croft (more of a bar, but good for the evenings)
- Kings Street Brew House (as the name suggests, brews its own beer and is located on the historic King Street)
- Greenhouse, bottom of Park Street
- The Albion, Clifton (tucked away in the arcade, cosy little pub)
- The Mall, Clifton (it’s got a huge downstairs and good food)
- The Spotted Pig, Bedminster
- The Ashton, an upmarket pub with great food. It is right by Ashton Court, a 10 minute walk from Southville.
Which Bristol rainy day activity will you choose?
Whether you’re visiting Bristol in the rain or the sun, I guarantee that you’re going to love this city. I’ve travelled to 50+ countries, and it’s my favourite place in the world! Hopefully, this list of things to do in Bristol in the rain has helped inspire your trip there – check out the rest of my Bristol posts for more.