Nestled in the southwest of England, the city of Bristol straddles the River Avon. It has a rich maritime history, and is one of England’s oldest ports. Today, the city has a big reputation as a creative and multicultural hub. With a strong art scene, unique attractions and tons of places to eat and drink, there’s no time to be bored in Bristol.
Here at Plum Guide, we’re experts when it comes to curing your boredom. We know what to do and where to stay. In fact, we’ve got a brilliant selection of homes handpicked by our experts, if you’d like to start looking at English accommodation today.
We also have all the insight on the best places to visit in Bristol. Check out our guide below.
Clifton Suspension Bridge
Ask anyone from Bristol about a must-see spot and they’re sure to mention the Clifton Suspension Bridge. And it’s easy to see why this is one of the best places to visit in Bristol. A remarkable piece of engineering by the famous British engineer I. K. Brunel, the bridge spans the 260 foot deep Avon Gorge. If you want to learn more about the bridge’s construction, stop by the Visitor Information Centre or join a behind the scenes tour.
The Clifton Suspension Bridge, Bristol, UK
Not quite reached those heights of bridge obsession? You can also walk and drive across the bridge, or simply sit on the surrounding parkland and soak up the views. If you find yourself on the Clifton side, keep your eyes peeled for peregrine falcons. Pop by the Clifton Observatory to see the Camera Obscura and Giant’s Cave.
Or, even better, you could admire the views right from the comfort of our home The Brunel. This three bedroom house is set on the edge of Clifton Village, with unrivalled views of the bridge. Inside you’ll find high ceilings, pretty furniture and plenty of natural light.
If you’re a culture vulture, then you absolutely must pay a visit to Watershed. This is an innovative events space which features a whole range of film, music, theatre, design and visual art. You’ll find a lively programme of independent films and events, live music and festivals. With three cinema screens, you won’t run out of things to watch.
If your visit to Bristol is based around all things art and culture, there’s no better place to stay than Not A Cloud In Sight. The Watershed and other cultural institutions are right on your doorstep. You’re also surrounded by cafes, restaurants and bars so a great night out is never too far away.
Another great stay is our home Silver Grey which is also centrally located. Tastefully decorated, the home provides a peaceful and comfortable haven after a long day of exploring.
To see what the city is really about, one of the most exciting places to visit in Bristol is the harbourside. Once a busy dock, the old port has been injected with new life. The many wharfs and warehouses have been converted to restaurants, cafes, shops, galleries and museums. Art lovers should definitely pay a visit to the Arnolfini, one of Europe’s leading contemporary arts centres. There’s a whole wealth of exciting museums and institutions to choose from, including We The Curious, Bristol Aquarium and M Shed.
Arnolfini, Bristol, UK | Image by heatheronhertravels is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0
The harbourside is also home to the SS Great Britain, one of the most important ships in the world and Bristol’s number one attraction. Climb aboard to discover why it was so important (no spoilers here). Explore the different cabins - we recommend nosing round the First Class Cabins to see how the rich and wealthy travelled in Victorian times. Not quite as good as Plum Guide accommodation but, not bad either.
There’s plenty of things to do for the more active amongst us too. The harbourside is a great opportunity to get onto the water. You’ll find activities like yachting, paddle boarding, cycling and rowing – perfect if you've got overactive children and are looking for things to do in Bristol with kids. Prefer to take things easy? Sit back with a cold beer at one of the many waterside pubs and watch the boats bobbing by.
University of Bristol Botanic Garden
If you’ve got a green thumb, you won’t want to miss a visit to the University of Bristol Botanic Garden. The garden is home to 4,500 plant species spread across five acres. If you can’t make it to far-away places around the globe, this is the next best thing. Visit the glasshouses where you can head on an adventure to the Amazon rainforest and the Highveld in South Africa. Spot the Giant Amazon Waterlily as well as the UK’s largest collection of the Sacred Lotus.
There’s a full programme of events to get involved in, including jazz performances, science picnics, art and science exhibitions. The gardens are also a great place to learn, with a wide range of courses including garden design, vegetable growing, gardening for wildlife, tree identification and botanical painting. Definitely one of the more wholesome things to do in Bristol.
When it comes to outdoorsy places to visit in Bristol, you can’t go wrong with Cheddar Gorge. While it’s not technically in Bristol (it’s a 40 minute drive away), it’s totally worth the journey. And no, it’s not a giant landform of cheese. We know, we were disappointed too.
An aerial view of a road winding through Cheddar Gorge, Somerset, England, UK,
Cheddar Gorge is a limestone valley in the Mendip Hills. At 400ft deep and three miles long, the cliffs form England’s deepest canyon. There are different ways you can go about exploring the millions of years of history within the cliffs. Go caving and discover the stalactites and stalagmites, or visit Gough’s Cave which was once home to prehistoric man. There are also plenty of climbing, cycling and hiking routes in the surrounding area. Take a cliff top walk and make sure to stop by Jacob’s Ladder and the Lookout Tower for some breathtaking panoramic views.