Are you planning a weekend in Bristol? This itinerary covers two days in Bristol (which could be Saturday and Sunday, but nearly all of these activities aren’t weekend specific), detailing the very best things to do in the city.
I lived in Bristol for four years and have been a Bristol local once again since June 2020, so I know exactly where the best spots to eat, drink, and the best attractions of the city are – loved by locals and tourists alike!
This Bristol itinerary will give you some great ideas for your trip, and hopefully inspire you to learn more about this fascinating city. Bristol isn’t a super touristy city, but I think it deserves many more visitors.
Bristol has a long and complex history, but modern Bristol is diverse, arty, and forward-thinking. It was the Green Capital of Europe in 2015, and is somewhere where new and creative ideas come together. Bristol really is a special place. Just a warning – after 2 days here, you might be planning on packing up everything and moving to Bristol!
So, let’s delve into this 2 days in Bristol itinerary!
Arriving in Bristol
I’ve written a full blog post about how to get to Bristol, so you can check that out for detailed train, road and bus information.
You’ll probably either arrive by road on the M32, into Bristol Temple Meads Station or into the coach station on Park Row.
These are all fairly central locations – if you have a car, obviously just follow your Sat Nav to your hotel, but from the bus or coach station it might be walking distance, or there are buses and taxis available.
Where to stay in Bristol
There are lots of different Bristol neighbourhoods to consider staying in – so many that I’ve written a full where to stay in Bristol guide. But my three neighbourhood recommendations are:
- Stokes Croft, if you want somewhere central-ish that’s kind of hipster, with a student population, and has lots of bars and restaurants. This is the best place to stay in Bristol if you want to party!
- The Harbourside/ Waterfront area, if you want to be in the heart of the action, walking distance to most of Bristol’s attractions, have lots of bars and restaurants nearby. This area of the city is great for families and younger couples.
- Clifton, if you are looking for somewhere a little more upmarket. It’s up a large hill, but it’s the best place to stay in Bristol for older couples and some families may prefer it.
Hotels in Stokes Croft
The Full Moon Backpackers is attached to the Full Moon Bar and is a fun place for budget travellers and people looking to party to stay. Click here for more information.
Or, check out Hampton by Hilton City Centre, in an ideal location on the Bear Pit roundabout. It has spacious, modern rooms, and an on-site bar. Click here for rates and to reserve your spot.
Hotels in Bristol Centre
The Bristol Hotel is a highly rated hotel in Bristol with friendly staff, river views, beautiful rooms with excellent furnishings and amenities, and a restaurant on site. Click here for more information.
Brooks Guesthouse offers boutique rooms or rooftop metal caravans with eco-heating, en suite bathrooms and LED disco lights! Or opt for the rooms with city views and modern facilities. Click here to read more.
Hotels in Clifton
The Clifton Hotel prides themselves on their exceptional customer service. Their en-suite rooms are comfortable and heated well – the perfect place to come back to after exploring the city. Click here to read more.
The boutique-style Number 38 Bristol has modern yet classic rooms, and offers sweeping views over Clifton Downs. The entire hotel feels luxurious, and a full English breakfast is offered to patrons. Click here for more information.
2 Days in Bristol Itinerary – Day One
Breakfast on North Street
Your first stop on this Bristol itinerary is my local hangout – North Street. About a half hour walk from Bristol City Centre, this street has tons of independent eateries and shops, and plenty of street art that is oh so charismatic of Bristol.
My two favourite breakfast places on North Street are The Malago and The Lounge. Visit either for a delicious fry up with plenty of vegetarian/ vegan/ gluten-free options – the perfect start to your 2 days in Bristol!
SS Great Britain
Once you’re suitably fuelled, it’s time for one of Bristol’s best attractions – the SS Great Britain. This boat was once the largest cruise liner in the world, and after a chequered history involving taking emigrants to New York and Australia, a brief stint as a warship and getting abandoned in the Falkland Islands, it was returned to Bristol in 1970.
The SS Great Britain has now been remade to look like it did as an emigrant clipper, so you can experience all the separate classes, and even some areas like the kitchens and the engine! There’s a museum all about the boat, and a separate building focusing on Brunel.
It’s a fascinating place, done excellently, and it will take you 2-3 hours to go all the way around.
Wills Building Tower Tour
This is one of the only weekend-specific activities on this Bristol itinerary. The Wills Building is part of Bristol University, and it has some rather grand buildings such as this one, constructed by Wills.
You can take a tour of the tower every Saturday at 1pm. For more information, book here.
Lunch on Park Street or the Waterfront
After all that touring, it’s time for some lunch! You’ll be in the Park Street area, so here are some of my top recommendations (tried and tested by myself, many many times).
- Yakinori does delicious Japanese food such as ramen, katsu, sushi and more. It’s kind of similar to Wagamamas, but is a small business – it’s only branches are here in Bristol and in Birmingham.
- If you just want to grab and go, try Taka Taka for delicious Mediterranean rolls and other goods. You can choose falafel, halloumi or meat fillings and plenty of sauces and salads!
- Just down the hill, The Stable offers delicious pizza and over 70 ciders – and when you’re in Bristol, you’ve gotta have a cider!
- Also by the harbourside is Pieminister. This is a chain, but they originated in Bristol – so if you’ve never tried their delicious pies, now’s the time!
- For street food, head to St Nicholas Market which has plenty of stalls and also sells lots of local produce!
There are dozens of other restaurants in this area, so if none of these take your fancy I guarantee you’ll find others while walking to your next stop!
Bristol Cathedral and College Green
If you watch Skins, you might recognise College Green – it’s the field where their college is based. Nearby is Bristol Cathedral – this isn’t as famous as other cathedrals in England, but it’s what makes Bristol a city – so it’s worth a look!
It’s free to enter and is open to the public most days – unless there’s a service or graduation ceremony on.
M Shed or the Bristol Museum
There are tons of other museums in Bristol, and if you want to learn more about this city, or if it’s raining, you might decide to pop into one after lunch.
M Shed is wholly focused on Bristol – it’s past, present, and future. It goes into detail about Bristol’s neighbourhoods, has portfolios on many of the people who have made Bristol the city that it is today, and what it is about the city that people love so much.
Or, you could visit the Bristol Museum and Art Gallery. This has some other exhibits about other areas of the world, including a great display about Egyptian Mummies, but also features wildlife in the South West and other exhibitions.
Both of these museums are free to enter, so you can dip in and out as you please!
SUPing or a boat tour along the river
If it’s a summer’s day, why not go Stand Up Paddleboarding along the River Avon? It’s a novel way to see the city, and is incredibly fun! Click here to purchase tickets.
If you don’t fancy paddleboarding, cruises leave year-round from The Bristol Packet and will guide you along the harbour, detailing many of Bristol’s quirky little tales along the way.
Virtual tour about Bristol’s slave history
While modern Bristol is a very forward-thinking city, it does have a sombre past – something that I think is important to recognise while visiting the city. Bristol was one of the main cities where the slave trade was administered, and this means that a lot of the city was built on slavery.
It’s an important aspect of history to learn about – educating ourselves in past atrocities is a first step to understanding the structural racism that is still present in the UK today. Therefore, I would recommend setting aside a couple of hours at the end of your day for this free virtual tour.
You’ll learn a little more about the slave trade as a whole and Bristol’s involvement, and what we can do in the present day to treat this part of history respectfully.
This walk covers many parts of the Old City including Queen’s Square, King’s Street, the plinth where the statue of the slave trader Colston once stood, and Park Street. It contains some upsetting content, but it’s important to do. Click here for the tour directions.
The virtual tour finishes at Brandon Hill. From here, you can look out over the harbourside and surrounding suburbs – it’s a great sunset spot and is one of the best places in the city for a short stroll! If it’s open, you can also climb up Cabot’s Tower for an even more epic vista from the top.
Dinner on the Harbourside
Stick in the centre of Bristol (the harbourside area) for dinner. You could head to one of the restaurants I recommended for lunch, or here are some more ideas:
- Urban Tandoor, which is the best Indian restaurant in Bristol and possibly the country – it’s slightly pricier than others, but the food is out of this world.
- Cargo Cantina, which offers Mexican street food in a shipping container! It’s part of the Whapping Wharf area, home to bars, restaurants, and small shops, all in shipping containers.
- Chilli Daddy, authentic Chinese hotpot and dumplings.
- Oowee Vegan, one of the most popular vegan restaurants in Bristol where you can enjoy dirty fries, delicious plant-based burgers, and more. This restaurant is takeaway only.
Drinks in Bristol
There are plenty of places to drink in this area too – it very much comes alive at night! Whether you’re looking for a date night or spending a night on the town with your friends, you’ll find some great bars here. Two areas that I recommend are:
- Kings Street, which is the oldest street in Bristol. Some of these buildings date back to the 1600s, but it is now a very popular drinking street. If you haven’t had your cider fix yet, try The Apple for delicious Somerset ciders, check out King Street Brewhouse for delicious beers and other drinks, or enjoy a spot of live music at The Old Duke. If you fancy a boogie, Kongs on King Street is open til late and has a dance floor.
- The Harbourside area is home to a variety of pubs and bars, including Cuban cocktails at Revolution de Cuba, craft ales at Greenhouse, and along the river slightly, one of my favourites, The Grain Barge.
2 Days in Bristol Itinerary Day Two
Walk Through Ashton Court
One of the best things about Bristol is how close it is to the countryside – Somerset, Wiltshire, and Gloucestershire are all a stone’s throw away. Ashton Court is actually in North Somerset, but can easily be walked to from Clifton or the Harbourside.
It’s a great way to appreciate that while Bristol is a sizeable city, its nature is only a short distance away. Make sure that you look out for the deer!
Cross the Clifton Suspension bridge
If you exit Ashton Court at its north east end, you’ll be a short walk from the Clifton Suspension Bridge. Along with the SS Great Britain, this is one of the icons of Bristol.
It was also designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel – he entered a competition to design the bridge, and after a few attempts (he entered 4 times, was rejected with all the other entries as the judge decided he would design the bridge, but then the competition opened again and Brunel re-entered) he successfully designed this unique bridge.
It’s high up – you’ll get amazing views over the Avon Gorge and city – and it’s an engineering marvel, so do spend some time enjoying the views of the bridge and beyond.
You can also visit the Clifton Suspension Bridge Visitors centre to learn more about it.
On the other side, there’s the Clifton Observatory, for even more epic views of the city and beyond.
Then, have a stroll around charming Clifton. This suburb was mostly built in the 1800s, and has been one of the most affluent areas of Bristol since its conception. It’s almost reminiscent of Bath, with lots of buildings from the same era and its own crescent, Royal York Crescent.
Lunch in Clifton
Clifton is the perfect place for lunch! There are a few chain restaurants here, but also plenty of independents. Whiteladies Road is on the way to your next stop, so I’ve included some restaurants here as well.
- Bosco Pizzeria serves up delicious sourdough pizzas in Clifton Village and Whiteladies Road.
- 99 Queens is a popular breakfast, lunch, and brunch cafe serving up Bristolian classics.
- Racks Bar and Kitchen opens for lunch and offers delicious burgers, fish and chips, and plenty of other wholesome British food.
- The Burger Joint is a Bristol burger institution with another restaurant on North Street. You can completely customise your burger to your tastes!
- Bento Boss offers traditional Japanese Bento on Whiteladies Road.
Walk to Gloucester Road/ Stokes Croft
It’s about a half hour walk from Clifton Village to Gloucester Road – if you stop at Whiteladies Road for lunch, that’s about halfway.
You could, of course, take an Uber to cover the distance if you don’t want to walk! Alternatively, the 72a bus connects these two parts of the city.
Gloucester Road is the largest stretch of independent businesses in Europe, and it’s a buzzing place with a great community atmosphere.
Once you get here, you’ll probably want to spend some time looking in the vintage shops, taking in all of the street art, and maybe even stopping in one of the road’s quirky cafes.
Do A Black History Tour
This is another free virtual tour, and it discusses Black history in Bristol, as well as the contributions that many of these citizens have made to the city.
It explores the St Pauls area which is home to large African and Caribbean populations and discusses areas that have been pivotal to the citizens’ lives here as well as certain stand-out characters. Click here for the tour.
Dinner on Gloucester Road
After the tour, head back to Gloucester Road for dinner. There are tons of restaurants here – here are a few suggestions, but they are by no means conclusive!
- Purezza serves up delicious vegan pizza
- Atomic Burger does great burgers with a whacky 80s theme
- Pub food at the Gallimaufry
- Mezze food at Persian restaurant Koocha
- The Caribbean Croft, for authentic Caribbean food in Stokes Croft.
Drinks on Gloucester Road/ Stokes Croft
There are also oodles of places to grab a beverage on Gloucester Road and Stokes Croft, a perfect end to your 2 days in Bristol. Here are some of my favourites:
- The Bristol Flyer, a huge pub with a great outdoor area.
- The Anchor, which is a bit further up Gloucester Road but is again, absolutely huge.
- The Hobgoblin, a cosy pub with great ales.
- Number 51, a fun bar which serves up delicious cocktails.
- The Full Moon, a bar where you can drink and dance the night away!
More things to do in Bristol
If you’ve got more time to spend in Beautiful Bristol, check out some of the other fantastic things to do in the city!
Tour Bristol Old Vic
Bristol is home to the longest continually operating theatre in the English speaking world. Located on King Street (the old street with all the pubs), the Bristol Old Vic is located in the Theatre Royal, which was constructed between 1764 and 1766. You could catch a show there, or take a guided tour around the building. Click here for more information.
Street Art Tour
Where the Wall do street art tours around Bristol, finishing in Stokes Croft. I haven’t done one of these yet, but they do come highly recommended. They normally only operate on Saturdays at 11am. You can find out more information here.
If you want to do this street art tour and are only spending a weekend in Bristol, I strongly advise that you omit either M Shed/ Bristol museum or the harbour boat tour from your Bristol itinerary and visit the SS Great Britain in the afternoon. The SS Great Britain is a Bristol must-do.
If you’re not in Bristol on a Saturday, you could do this street art tour from Get Your Guide.
Visit St Mary Redcliffe Church
This parish church sits near Temple Meads Station and was called ‘the loveliest church in England’ by no other than Queen Elizabeth I. It’s free to enter and look around, and is also a beautiful sight from the outside.
We the Curious
Bristol’s science museum, We The Curious is one of the best things to do in Bristol with kids. There are lots of hands-on exhibits here, with fascinating explanations of science. It’s good for kids, but equally great for adults!
Walk Down a Colourful Street
Bristol is known for its colourful streets – but where exactly are they? Try Church Lane in Cliftonwood or Richmond Street in Totterdown. You can, of course, get glimpses of these roads all over the city, but if you want some photos of the streets themselves, add visiting these roads to your Bristol itinerary!
If you want someone to tell you more about Bristol, it’s rich culture and fascinating history, this like a local walking tour is just the ticket! This tour can be completely customisable to your interests, and it’s fantastic value for a private tour!
Cycle to Bath
The Bristol to Bath cycle path is a 13 mile stretch that connects the two cities. Of course, if it’s your first time in the south west, Bath is well worth visiting – it’s an iconic British city and there are so many amazing things to do there.
If you don’t fancy cycling, the train only takes 10 minutes and driving takes 40. Or, you could do this half day tour from Bristol, which will show you around the city’s highlights.
Day Trips from Bristol
If you have extra days in the West Country, there are so many amazing day trips from Bristol that you can take. I’ve wrote a full list, but here are some ideas:
- The scenic Cheddar Gorge, which is where cheddar cheese comes from. Other things to do in Cheddar include visiting caves and learning about Cheddar Man, an ancient skeleton that was found nearby.
- The Bristol coastline – Weston Super Mare, Portishead, Clevedon and Burnham on Sea.
- The stunning Cotswolds and its many picturesque villages.
- Quirky Glastonbury and Wells, the smallest city in Britain.
- Beautiful Exmoor national park.
2 days in Bristol itinerary
Hopefully, this Bristol itinerary has proven useful for anybody planning a trip to my favourite city! Do let me know if you have any questions – I know this city like the back of my hand and would love to help 🙂