Who wouldn’t want to head to Bristol for a long weekend? This beautifully unique city truly encompasses everything it means to be British – from its hardworking routes to its love of food and culture, we’re firm believers that even in hail and rain, you could still have a brilliant time visiting.
When to visit Bristol
Any season is amazing in Bristol, but summer is when the city truly comes alive. The weather is best then, and people really make the most of the harbourside and city parks.
Love Saves The Day, May: Who doesn’t love a good ol’ music festival? While Bristol is just a stone’s throw from festival powerhouse Glastonbury, Love Saves The Day is the perfect warm-up act to get you in the festival spirit for summer.
Bristol Harbour Festival, July: While you might’ve missed the 2019 festivities, there’s always next year. This three-day festival has been running for nearly 50 years and shows no sign of stopping. It brings together over 250,000 people each summer to celebrate Bristol’s rich maritime history whilst showcasing some of the city’s best musical talent and entertainment.
Bristol International Balloon Fiesta, August: This might just be one of the most famous things about Bristol, other than the Clifton Suspension Bridge of course. Marvel at the skies as more than 100 balloons take to the sky together to create a spectacular view.
Bristol isn’t the biggest city, but there are plenty of options to ensure you get a great night’s sleep. Much like its residents, hotels in Bristol are all different, unique and beautiful, with such a variety of options – from beautiful countryside B&Bs to rooms with a view or even stays in famous movie locations – whatever the type of break you’re after, there’ll be somewhere that suits your needs to a T.
For a truly unique stay, why not take a peek at Brooks Guesthouse? This is truly glamping in style, high living. And by high living, we mean you’ll be staying on the rooftop of a boutique guest house in American-style caravans.
Or if you fancy a more water-based experience that won’t break the bank, how about the Kyle Blue? This floating hostel in Bristol’s Floating Harbour breaks the mould on budget accommodation, with deluxe cabins with beautiful views across the water.
If animals are your thing then look no further, as we’ve got the perfect accommodation for you, The Lodge at Bristol Zoo Gardens. No, we don’t mean slumming it in the penguin enclosure – although how cool would that be? You can now stay in the zoo gardens in a lodge that caters up to four people, delivering an experience that for any animal lover will be hard to beat. With a terrace view of the zoo itself, a four-course meal prepared by your own private chef, and exclusive after-hours tours and animal feeding experience – where do we sign up?
Change your currency – this city is unique. So unique, in fact, that it has its own currency, the Bristol Pound. You might think we’re joking, but we promise you, it’s 100% true. If you want to get your hands on some of this unique currency just head to the Tourist Information Centre and swap your sterling for the beautifully designed Bristol Pound. Just remember, it’s only a valid form of currency in Bristol, so you might want to use it before you head home.
Head to Clifton Suspension Bridge – no visit to Bristol would be complete without visiting the iconic Clifton Suspension Bridge. While it might not be the Sydney Harbour Bridge or the Golden Gate Bridge, it’s world-famous and a true symbol of Bristol, boasting picturesque views of the Avon Gorge that’ll leave your Instagram followers in envy.
Check out the city by boat – Bristol is a city that was built on the trade at its docks and floating harbour. So, what better way to experience this than on the waters that provided the city life. While you might not be able to get right into the city by boat, you can definitely get a real feel for the city by its waterways.
Check out the latest artwork – by artwork we don’t mean the art galleries, we mean graffiti. Bristol is covered in graffiti, for good and for bad – from fiercely protected murals on shop fronts to ill-judged tags on vans and windows – you can’t walk down the street without coming face to face with a spot of art.
Be curious at the We The Curious Science Museum – for the inquisitive, this interactive science museum removes the boundaries between science, art, people and ideas, leaving your mind spinning with all the different experiments and exhibits you can interact with. Young, old and the in-between are all guaranteed to come away having had a great time.
Catch a show – theatre lovers are spoiled for choice in Bristol, the Old Vic, the oldest continuously working theatre in the English speaking world, and the Hippodrome are two of the biggest theatre venues in town and always have something good on to watch. From travelling West End shows to small independent companies touring the UK, there’s always something on that’ll take your fancy.
Watch a gig at one of Bristol’s music venues – who doesn’t love listening to live music? Well, a visit to Bristol definitely won’t leave you disappointed as the city has quite the varied music scene. It’s not just the summer months that put on some great festivals, the city boasts some legendary music venues where you can find great music any night of the week.
Check out the drinking scene – what with there being two universities in Bristol, it should come as no surprise that there’s quite the variety of pubs and bars dotted around the city. From quaint little pubs serving west country cider to trendy bars serving up the latest cocktail creation to the some of the biggest and loudest clubs in the country, Bristol certainly has a place that’ll be right up your street.
Visit the Old City – the cobbled streets of the old city are now home to pubs, bars, and restaurants, but the whole area still echoes an air of the past. The streets continue to be in their old medieval layout, and walking around this part of Bristol literally feels like stepping back in time 500 years.
eatchu – if you’re a fan of the grab-and-go Japanese street food with immense flavours, then stroll on down to the Old Mess Room at St Nicks Market as eatchu is the perfect place for you. While the menu is limited to just gyoza dumplings, that shouldn’t put you off – these award-winning gyozas are another level of tasty that’ll set your taste buds alight with this authentic Japanese street food experience.
Oowee Diner – burger lovers unite. The Oowee Diner serves up the juiciest and filthiest burgers to ever roam the streets of Bristol, and possibly even the UK. These deliciously dirty burgers will leave you feeling satisfied for weeks – their burgers are so good, even the vegans are heading there in their masses to sample their plant-based offerings too.
Bosco Pizzeria – pizza, the staple to any good diet. Well, in our opinion anyway. One thing’s for certain when you visit Bosco’s…you’re unlikely to have a better pizza experience outside of Italy. While their staple dish might be a pizza, don’t be confused that that’s all they can do well. These guys know how to cook, so if you’ve got a craving for an Italian, Bosco’s will deliver the goods.
Lido Bristol – you can’t really beat alfresco dining, especially when there’s a view involved too. Lido Bristol is unique, serving up mouth-watering food in a watery setting, overlooking the Clifton outdoors swimming pool, creating a uniquely buzzy yet chilled out setting.
The Cauldron – if you’re after ethically and locally sourced dishes with a creative flair, then The Cauldron should be high on your list of places to eat when in Bristol. Like all things Bristolian, The Cauldron doesn’t oblige to society’s norms…their kitchen features no gas. Instead, they use, you guessed it…cauldrons (as well as a few fire pits)! It takes inspiration from cooking methods from many different cultures around the world to deliver a truly unique dining experience.
So, there you have it…all the best things to do when you visit Bristol in one place! We hope you’ll have a fun-filled stay whilst you’re visiting. Enjoy!
If you’re planning a road trip to Bristol and are on a tight budget, have a look at our guide to planning a road trip on a budget. You never know, it might give you a few tips on how you can save a bit of cash to spend when you arrive.