- For other places with the same name, see Bristol (disambiguation).
Bristol is a city in the West Country of England. Famous for its maritime history it also offers a great and diverse range of attractions, hotels, bars and events. Bristol is one of England's top visitor destinations, and the best time to visit is in the summer when major festivals are held in the city.
Although cursed by some horrible post-war buildings, Bristol is nevertheless an amiable, grooved, laid-back city whose mellow vibe is reflected in the music of Massive Attack, Portishead and Tricky that perfectly captures the sultry, lean burn atmosphere of a warm summer's evening in this historic and cultured city.
Bristol is the United Kingdom's eighth most populous city (approximately 466,000 in 2020) and the most populated city in South West England, making it a core city in England. It received a Royal Charter in 1155 and was granted county status in 1373. From the 13th century, for half a millennium, it ranked among the top four English cities (after London and alongside York and Norwich) until the rapid rise of Liverpool, Birmingham and Manchester during the Industrial Revolution in the latter part of the 18th century. Bristol borders the counties of Somerset and Gloucestershire and is near the historic cities of Bath to the southeast, Gloucester to the north and Cardiff, the capital city of Wales, to the northwest. The city was built around the River Avon, and has a short coastline on the estuary of the River Severn where it flows into the Bristol Channel.
Although often overlooked as a tourist destination, Bristol has a lot to offer of its own and is an excellent base for exploring the West Country, with relatively inexpensive accommodation compared to some of the main ‘tourist traps’ and a huge choice of bars, restaurants and shops. It is one of the most culturally vibrant cities in England, hosting a wide variety of visual arts, theatre, speciality shopping and live music.
Young people have flocked to Bristol thanks to the city's stunning and brilliant music scene - the likes of Massive Attack, Portishead, Tricky and Roni Size have contributed some of the most outstanding back catalogue of albums in the history of British music - not bad for a city which even in the early 1980s was considered a backwater of the British music scene. Indeed, in 2010 it was voted Britain's most musical city. The success of the Bristol music scene began in 1991 when Massive Attack released their magnificent opus Blue Lines which included "Unfinished Sympathy" and social critiques such as "Safe From Harm" and "Daydreaming". Blue Lines was partly recorded at the Coach House studios in Clifton (now defunct). The album, and particularly the track "Lately," captured the atmosphere and vibe of the city. This track, with vocals by Shara Nelson, so perfectly captured the atmosphere of a summer's evening in Bristol — particularly on the Clifton Downs — that with its warm, laid-back vibe it is practically a signature song for the city.
Bristol is a large city with various areas in its centre; a map is helpful to get to know the layout. The free map given away at the Tourist Information Centre at the Harbourside is excellent for this. At Bristol's core is the Floating Harbour - a stretch of water that snakes along the city centre which looks like a river in places but which is actually a dock. For centuries the Floating Harbour was where ships docked, bringing trade and prosperity to the city. It was created by diverting the River Avon in the early 19th century to the New Cut to the south, and by using various locks to create a non-tidal dock. Today, the industrial shipping has mostly gone and the Floating Harbour is a home for leisure, pleasure craft, upmarket waterfront apartments, and the occasional visiting sailing ship.
It's easiest to think about city locations as where they are relative to The Centre, or Central Promenade. (It's called "The Centre" as it used to be the "Trams Centre", until Bristol's tram system was scrapped in the 1940s after bomb damage. Now it's more of a bus centre.) The Centre is a broad avenue running north-south with fountains and trees and shops, and traffic, reaching the Floating Harbour at its southern end. The Centre is a major interchange for most city bus routes - you can ask a bus driver for a ticket to "The Centre" from anywhere in the city and you'll get back there.
To the east of The Centre is the core of historic Bristol - the Old City. Here major streets include Queen Square, King Street, Baldwin Street, and Corn Street. It has wonderful Victorian and Georgian buildings, historic and charming pubs, and many places to shop, drink and eat. To the north-east of the Old City is Bristol's main shopping area - Broadmead, centred on the Broadmead itself and related streets such as the Horsefair, Union Street and Penn Street as well as The Galleries shopping centre. At the east end of the Broadmead is the major shopping centre at Cabot Circus and a related development of more boutique shops at Quakers Friars. If you go east of Cabot Circus and across the dual carriageway you get to the less affluent area of Old Market, while if you go north of it you get to the St. Paul's area, which is a hotbed of culture but is best visited during the day.
To the north of The Centre are areas occupied by the city's hospitals, the bus station at Marlborough Street, and the University of Bristol.
To the west of The Centre is the Harbourside area, much of which has been a scene of heavy urban regeneration since 2000 and includes parts of what used to be called Canon's Reach. Here you'll find eateries in converted warehouses, Millennium Square with its attractions such as At-Bristol, and offices and smart apartments in new developments. It's a great place to spend time by the water. It continues to the south of the Floating Harbour at the M Shed museum of Bristol life, along to the SS Great Britain.
To the north-west of The Centre, and up Park Street, you head for the West End with its smart independent shops, the City Museum and other attractions, and if you keep going along Queen's Road you get to the upmarket Clifton area, known for its suspension bridge and elegant Georgian architecture.
The Tourist Information Centre can be found in the Watershed, a converted warehouse just off The Centre, just on the west side of the inlet of the Floating Harbour (St. Augustine's Reach). Walking south down The Centre, where the dock begins head to your right and under the colonnade. The Tourist Info Centre is a little way along.
- 1 Bristol Airport (BRS IATA) (8 mi (13 km) south-west of Bristol city centre). It offers scheduled flights from major European cities. It is a major base for budget airlines Easyjet and Ryanair, with nearly 80 destinations including: Amsterdam also with KLM, Paris also with Air France, Barcelona, Berlin, Brussels, Dublin, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen, Lisbon, Madrid, Milan, Rome, Prague, Kraków, Bratislava, Kaunas and Riga (but not London).
There is no train link between Bristol's airport and the city, but there is a very useful bus service (bus A1) that takes about 35 min and has a frequency of up to every 10 min. It costs £11 for an adult return ticket (the second part of which can be used up to a month after the first), £7 for a one-way to the city centre, and £23 for a family return if booked online. Onboard fares are £1-2 higher. There are student discounts on this service if you are a member of one of the local universities. The Flyer bus is useful because route A1 takes you to Temple Meads station, then to the bus station at Marlborough Street.
There is also the cheaper, less frequent 121 bus to the centre, and a cheaper Falcon service by Stagecoach (£5 return). The Falcon service terminates at Bond Street.
- Heathrow Airport (LHR IATA) is about two hours drive straight down the M4 (westbound) motorway. The RailAir express bus service (running every 20 minutes) connects with the main London to Bristol rail service at Reading rail station; expect the total journey to take slightly over two hours. Another possibility is to use the Heathrow Express service to London Paddington and then take a train to Bristol Temple Meads from there, which is more expensive and slightly longer than the route via Reading, but possibly more convenient. There are also direct National Express and Megabus coaches from Heathrow to Bristol, which take about two to two and a half hours (depending on whether they depart from Heathrow Central Bus station or T4/T5) and are often cheaper than a rail fare, especially during (rail) peak times. National Express coaches terminate at Marlborough Street coach station in the city centre whilst Megabus services terminate at Bond Street near McDonald's and Cabot Circus.
- Birmingham Airport (BHX IATA) is within quicker (and cheaper) reach of Bristol than London's two other airports, Gatwick and Stansted. By car it takes about 2 hours and you'll be avoiding the congestion-prone M25. Rail services connect Birmingham International to Bristol every 30 min at peak times with a change in Birmingham New Street. The journey takes 2-2½ hours.
- Gatwick Airport (LGW IATA) is about 3 hours drive away via the M23 (northbound), M25 (clockwise) and M4 (westbound) motorways. Gatwick has its own built-in station and you can take a train from Gatwick to Reading where you change to take a train straight to Bristol for a rough total of £50 (although you can get relief by using a railcard and booking in advance). If you're on a budget, it can be cheaper to get the Gatwick Express train to London Victoria and from the nearby Victoria Coach Station take a bus to Bristol. There are also coach services provided by National Express and Megabus that take 3½ hours between the airport and Bristol.
- Stansted Airport (STN IATA) is about 3 hours drive away via the M11 (southbound), M25 (anti-clockwise) and M4 (westbound) motorways. By train you must catch a Stansted Express train to London Liverpool Street station, the tube to London Paddington station, then follow the directions below; expect the total journey to take around 3½ hours. If you're travelling on a budget you can also take Route Express Bus A51 to from Liverpool Street Station to Stansted Airport. Costs £9 for a single, and only takes about 10 minutes longer than the train.
- Cardiff Airport (CWL IATA) is about one hour west of Bristol, going northbound from Culverhouse Cross, to J33 of the M4, then Eastbound, to Bristol. Or take the train direct from Cardiff Airport, to Cardiff Central Station, then take another train to Bristol Temple Meads Station.
When coming from London, the cheapest way is generally by coach or rail.
- See also: Rail travel in Great Britain
- 2 Bristol Temple Meads station (about 15 minutes walk from the city centre). Has regular inter-city and regional train services from Bath, Birmingham, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Exeter, Glasgow, London Paddington, Plymouth, Southampton, Swansea, York, and many other UK towns and cities. Great Western Railway and CrossCountry provide all train services. If you have luggage or are too tired to walk, and need to get to the city centre or Clifton, take bus no. 8 from the bus stops at the station forecourt, or a taxi.
- 3 Bristol Parkway station. The second main railway station which is several miles north of the city centre deep in suburbs. Although this station also has frequent services to many of the same locations as Temple Meads, it is principally aimed at suburban residents and is unlikely to be useful to visitors.
From London, you travel from Paddington station. There are several through trains an hour, the fastest of which takes 1 hr 10 min. Train times (from any location) can be found on the National Rail Planner or by calling ☏ from anywhere in the UK.
National Express operate services to Marlborough St Coach station in the city centre, from cities throughout the UK including London. The journey from London to Bristol takes about 2 hr 30 min. Tickets are much cheaper if booked in advance online.
MegaBus also operate budget coach services from London Victoria coach station to a stop outside Black's Bond St. Tickets must be booked online and fares are demand responsive but can be very cheap (£1.50 if you book far enough in advance). The journey to London takes about 30 min longer than by National Express.
South West Falcon operates a service connecting Bristol, Taunton, Exeter, and Plymouth. A single fare from Plymouth to Bristol is £28. Tickets can be booked online in advance, but reservations are not strictly required.
- Snap. Long distance coach services to and from Bristol, with destinations including Birmingham (£5-7), Oxford (£5-7), and London (£8-12).
The Bristol-Bath Railway Path is part of the National Cycle Network (R4) and provides a cycle corridor between the city centres of Bristol and Bath. Travel time is about 90 minutes. The path is relatively flat, and has only 2 road crossings, making it very safe. In the morning and evening it is a busy commute route, so it may be advisable to avoid these peak hours.
The M5 and M4 motorways intersect near Bristol and the M32, a motorway 'spur', brings traffic directly into the city centre. The M4 links London with Bristol with a driving time of less than 2 hours.
The city also has 3 Park and Ride facilities, A4 Portway, Long Ashton and A4 Bath Road sites, for more information see the Bristol City Council website.
Visit Bristol, the official tourism website for Bristol has free maps of the city for visitors. Distinctive blue A3 tourist maps which cover the city centre, the Harbourside and Clifton, are available for free from the Tourist Information Centre on the harbourside and also from locations such as libraries, shops, Temple Meads railway station, hotels and the YHA hostel. These really are excellent maps and you should obtain a copy or two. They indicate main streets, attractions, hotels and areas of the city in the central area and in Clifton.
You can also buy commercially produced maps before you leave from sites such as Amazon. The pocket-sized "Bristol Pop-Out Map" is useful, as are the pocket-sized A-Z maps.
Bristol is also home to a branch of Stanfords, a very large supplier of maps and tour guides (e.g. their store at Covent Garden in London is the largest such store in the world). Maps of Bristol with all the city centre street names and destinations marked sell from £1.50. Stanfords can be found at 29 Corn Street, and the staff double as local travel experts.
Most locations in central Bristol (the Harbourside and Old City areas) are reasonably easily walkable, and there are plenty of attractive walking routes along the quaysides and in the pedestrianised central streets. The main rail station (Bristol Temple Meads) is a little further (about 15 min walk) but still accessible by harbourside walkways or by bus.
The city has an e-scooter hire scheme operated by Voi. To use a Voi e-scooter, a smartphone with mobile phone number and internet access is needed, and drivers must be at least 18 years old and hold a provisional or full drivers licence.
Bristol has plenty of bike paths and routes and is at the centre of the National Cycle Network. Sustrans, which manages the network, is based in the city, and has a shop and information centre on College Green, next to the Marriott Hotel. The staff can provide information on cycle routes throughout the UK. Free cycling maps for the Avon Cycleway, Bristol and surrounding council regions (South Gloucestershire, North Somerset, Bath and North-East Somerset) can be obtained from the four councils' cycling website, BetterByBike.info.
There is an app-based cycle hire scheme YoBike available in the city, which costs £1 for one hour, or £5 for a day's hire. A smartphone with internet connection is required to use it.
Bristol is a very cyclable city, but unless you're limiting your stay to the Floating Harbour and the Avon valley, hills are never far away. A mountain bike is highly recommended over a city bike, even if you don't plan to go off-road. Mountain bikes can also cope easier with the numerous potholes and generally deplorable state of a large part of the Bristolian road network. Litter, most annoyingly broken glass bottles, are a threat to inner tubes so the choice for a mountain bike with thicker tyres will reduce the chance of running flat as well. Especially in the inner city (Park Street, Baldwin Street) glass shards often plague cycle paths and crossings.
Bicycle theft is unfortunately relatively common in Bristol, so if you're hiring a bicycle, check that a decent D-lock or U-lock is included.
Several bicycle rental services are available in the city:
- 1 Cycle The City, No.1 Harbourside, 1 Canon’s Road, ☏ , email@example.com. closed Mondays. Bicycle rental service near the waterfront, they provide a bicycle, helmet and lock. ID card required for rental. £16/day.
- 2 Bristol Tandem Hire, 3 Holmesdale Road, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Rental service for tandems and bicycles, with pick up and drop-off points in around Queen Square, Victoria Park, and Temple Meads.
- 3 Cycle Shack, 25 Oxford Street, Temple Quay, BS2 0QT, ☏ . Bike repair and rental under the railway passage behind the Temple Meads train station. Bike rental costs £40 for 3 days.
If you run flat, almost all bicycle shops in Bristol can fix your tyre for £8-15, although some will do it while you wait.
- 4 Briscycle, 151 Wick Rd, BS4 4HH, ☏ . M 6:30-8PM; Tu Th-F 9:30AM-3PM, 6:30-8PM; F 9:30AM-4PM, 6:30-8PM; Sa 10AM-4PM. Bicycle repair shop in Brislington. Getting a flat tyre fixed will set you back £15.
- 5 Halfords, Eastgate Centre, Eastgate Road, BS5 6XX, ☏ . M-F 8AM-8PM, Sa 8AM-6PM, Su 10AM-5PM. One of the largest bicycle shops in Bristol, with many spare parts for self service and repair kits in stock. They also have a repair service while you wait.
6 station offers direct trains to many UK cities including London (Paddington). Local train services include the Severn Beach Line, and stopping services which serve Bedminster, Parson Street and Filton Abbey Wood.
The Severn Beach Line passes through Lawrence Hill and Stapleton Road in the East of the inner city, and then, Montpelier, Redland and Clifton Down in the north before heading north-west to Avonmouth and Severn Beach. The line has been voted one of the most scenic in the world by Thomas Cook. The line has two fare zones: Temple Meads to Clifton Down, and Clifton Down to Severn Beach. Trains run M-Sa at approximately 40-minute intervals from 6AM to 10PM, with a reduced Sunday service. Normally only one train in three goes to St Andrews Road (which is a request stop) and Severn Beach, with most terminating at Avonmouth. See council website on train services for more info.
Clifton Down railway station is close to Bristol Zoo and the Clifton shopping district. Beyond here, the line runs in a tunnel under Durdham Down, emerging in the Avon Gorge. You can see one of the tunnel's chimneys on Durdham Down. The station at Sea Mills is next to the River Trym and the remains of a Roman harbour, and is also a good place to start walks. The line later runs through Avonmouth Docks, and beyond that alongside the River Severn Estuary. At Severn Beach, you can walk along the banks of the Severn and see the picturesque suspension bridges - the Severn Bridge and the Second Severn Crossing. All other stations along the line are in primarily residential or industrial areas.
CitySightseeing offer open top bus tours with commentary during the summer months. 24-hr and 3-day passes are available. The circular route takes in most of the major visitor destinations including the Clifton Suspension Bridge, Bristol Zoo, City Docks, Temple Meads, old city and city centre.
Most bus services in Bristol are operated by First Bristol. By and large the buses are unreliable, so if possible check the bus times on the First website as the times on bus stops may be dated and incorrect. As most of Bristol's hotels and places to visit are near the city centre or are in the upmarket suburb of Clifton, First Bristol's number 8 is probably the most useful for visitors. It follows a route from Temple Meads station to Clifton, passing through the main shopping area (Broadmead), the city centre (also handy for the harbourside) and the West End on the way. Single-trip tickets vary but for short journeys (e.g. Clifton to The Centre; Temple Meads station to The Centre) it will be about £1.50 to £2.00 and if your stop is within three stops, you can pay as little as £1.00. Further discounts are available to students. The zones can be confusing; ask the driver. First buses in Bristol give change and now accept contactless Visa and Mastercards on selected services but the company is encouraging passengers to download its mobile ticketing app and activate a mobile ticket before boarding the bus (single tickets must be scanned within five minutes of activation).
Because of the way the city centre is intimately interwoven with the old 'floating harbour', a boat is a good way of getting around and of seeing a lot of interesting sites. Bristol Ferry Boat runs several ferry services around the harbour, stopping at various quays on route, and providing a commuter service between the city centre and the main rail station. Tickets must be purchased from the skipper directly and cost £2.50.
The Bristol Packet offer city docks tours with commentaries daily during school holidays and at weekends throughout the year. They also run regular excursions to riverside tea gardens on the Avon towards Bath and Avon Gorge cruises under the Clifton Suspension Bridge to Avonmouth and back.
Number Seven Boat Trips also offer a ferry service during the summer months.
Bristol is quite a hilly city, but if you don't mind walking up hills the walk can be pleasant on a fine day.
Driving is probably the best way of seeing the surrounding region. A couple of the routes into Bristol during peak hours operate a car pool lane for cars with more than one occupant.
The centre of Bristol follows a one way city system, which can be frustrating and confusing for those not used to it. However, with patience and practice and a lot of circling around the same areas numerous times, it does become easier.
There are plenty of NCP car parks, and street parking. The cheaper street parking is in short supply in the centre, however Queen Square can usually be counted on to have a few spaces at off-peak times.
Park and Ride
There are three Park and Ride schemes operating in Bristol, with an additional Park and Ride for the busy Christmas period based at the University of the West of England (UWE) in Frenchay. The main park and rides are at Brislington, on the A4 opposite St Brendan's school. Another is in Shirehampton and a third is at the end of the A370 Long Ashton Bypass. These are recommended due to their cheaper fares and ease of access to the busy city centre.
For more information, see the Bristol City Council website.
Due to the heavy traffic, taxis in Bristol can be quite expensive – and don't forget to allow extra time on your journey when taking a cab. There are about 700 licensed taxis (Hackney Carriages) and these can be distinguished as they are all painted a distinctive blue. Meters charged at a rate set by the council. There are a similar number of private hire vehicles (without roof signs) that need to be pre-booked. All legitimate taxis and private hire vehicles should have a predominantly yellow council-issued plate at the front and back of the vehicle. More information on taxis and private hire vehicles and a cab rank map can be found at Taxis and Minicabs in Bristol [dead link].
Bristol is a very diverse city. From the historic Old City and Harbourside to Georgian Clifton, there is something to be found for everyone. Every neighbourhood has its own attractions and sights.
- Street Art. Street artist Banksy is from Bristol and some of his works can be seen around the city.
- 1 Bristol Blue Glass, 357 Bath Road, BS4 3EW (take bus X39 direction Bath and get off at ). Glass workshop producing traditional blue glass, a local specialty since the late 18th century. Cobalt oxide and lead oxide are mixed into the molten glass, giving it its characteristic deep blue colour. The glass workshop can be visited on request with a tour along the furnaces. It also includes a shop where glassware can be purchased.
- 2 Whitchurch Airport (Old Bristol Airport), Hengrove Park. 24/7. Former airport of Bristol, operating from 1930 until 1957. It played an important role during the Second World War as air bridge between the UK and neutral Portugal, and other territories such as Gibraltar. From the early 1950s the airport became too small to accommodate scheduled services, and expansion was limited by surrounding housing estates. It remained in use for some years for short flights to the Channel Islands, Isle of Wight and the Isle of Man, but flying ceased from 1957 onward. It was reopened in 1959 as a racing circuit, but most of the former airport grounds have been redeveloped since. The main runway still exists and can be visited. Free.
- 3 Aerospace Bristol, Hayes Way, Patchway, BS34 5BZ, ☏ , email@example.com. W-Su 10AM-4PM. Bristol has a rich history in aerospace, starting with the design and production of the first British biplanes in the First World War. In the past century, the Filton aerodrome designed and manufactured numerous aircraft for military and civil applications, guided missile systems, and satellites. The history is told in great detail with replicas, scale models, and about a dozen original aircraft and helicopters, of which a complete Bloodhound missile system and the last Concorde to have ever flown are the crown pieces of the collection. A complete tour takes about 3 hours and features interactive exhibits to keep kids busy as well. They also have a good cafeteria with excellent burgers and crispy fries for £8, which is better than what you'd find in the city centre. £17.
- 4 Cheese Lane Shot Tower, Passage Street. 24/7. Historic drop tower used for the production of lead shot (the "hail" used in shotgun shells) by dropping molten lead through a zinc sieve into a tank of cold water 35 m lower. The original tower was built in 1782, the first of its kind if the world, but was demolished in 1968 as part of a road widening project. Thus, the current tower was constructed in the architectural style of 1969, around 400 m from where the original tower stood. It continued producing lead shot until the late 1980s when lead was phased out for environmental concerns. The tower was scheduled to be demolished because it isn't particularly flattering to the city landscape 50 years after its construction, but as one of the only 3 remaining historic shot towers in England, it was conserved as a Grade II listed building. A new development was built around it in 2005, incorporating it into the redeveloped neighbourhood. The tower's interior isn't accessible to the public. Free.
The floating harbour is the jewel in Bristol's crown, and many of its attractions are on or close to the harbour:
- 5 Brunel's SS Great Britain, Great Western Dockyard, Gas Ferry Rd, ☏ , fax: . Open daily from 10AM (except Dec 24 and 25 and Jan 10 2011) Closing times: 4:30PM (to Mar 26) 5:30PM (Mar 26 to Oct 31). Last entry one hour before closing. The world's first iron hulled, screw propeller-driven, steam-powered passenger liner, built by Brunel in 1843 and now preserved in a dry-dock alongside the floating harbour. Winner of the Gulbenkian Prize for Museum of the Year 2006 — the biggest arts prize in the UK. The "Being Brunel" exhibition alongside opened in 2018 and is included in the ticket price. Adult £19.50; Student £16.50; child (16 and under) £12,00; child (4 and under) free. Various family tickets available..
- 6 We The Curious (formerly @Bristol), Anchor Road, Harbourside, ☏ , fax: . M-F 10AM-5PM; Sa Su 10AM-6PM. Science-themed interactive museum opened in 2017, with as stated goal to make science accessible to all. It features numerous labs for engineering (including robotics) and life sciences, a makerspace with 3D printers, and a planetarium. It is closed after a fire on its roof in April 2022. A re-opening date has not been announced as of January 2023. Adult (16+) £15.95; child (3-15) £10.50; free entry for the youngest.
- 7 Bristol Aquarium, Anchor road, Harbourside, BS1 5TT (In The City Centre), ☏ . Daily 10AM-5PM. From the hidden world of UK waters, this amazing new aquarium transports visitors to the spectacular 'underwater gardens' of the Mediterranean and stunning beauty of tropical waters - home to everything from seahorses and puffer fish to living corals and tropical sharks. Adult £15.30; child 3-12 years £10 (must be accompanied by an adult); seniors & students £13.50; family of 4 £49.50 (2 adults and 2 children), all tickets 10% off if booked online but there is a £1.25 charge per transaction.
- 8 M Shed Museum, Princes Wharf, BS1 4RN. Tu-Su 10AM-5PM. History of Bristol Free entrance.
- 9 Arnolfini Gallery, 16 Narrow Quay, BS1 4QA. Tu-Su 11AM-6PM (open to 8PM on W). A modern art gallery, shortlisted for Museum of the Year 2016. free.
- 10 Pero's Bridge (Shrek's Bridge). 24/7. Bridge over the Harbour, known for the iconic counter weights of the lifting section which resemble the shape of movie character Shrek, hence its popular name with the locals. Its formal name Pero's Bridge is a reference to Pero Jones, a Caribbean slave who arrived in Bristol through the harbour channel below the bridge in the 18th. Although the bridges hydraulic mechanism allows it to open and close swiftly, it only does so rarely because the ferry was designed explicitly to pass under the bridge without it needing to be lifted. Free.
- The Matthew, ☏ . Dec-Apr: Sa Su 10AM – 4PM; Apr-Nov: Tu-Su 10AM – 4PM. The Matthew of Bristol is a replica of the 15th-century caravel that John Cabot sailed from Bristol to Newfoundland in 1497. In 1997 she sailed across the Atlantic to mark the 500th anniversary of the historic voyage. You can buy tickets for its occasional special voyages. Free.
Within walking distance from the bustling shopping district of Broadmead, is old town Bristol where the town originated from. You'll discover old buildings and hidden alleys whilst walking along cobbled streets. Highlights include:
- 11 Corn Exchange & The Nails, Corn St. Exterior always open. The Palladian Corn Exchange, built in 1743, boasts a clock on its frontage that ingeniously tells time both in the new-fangled GMT and the old Bristol time. In front are nails (in reality Bronze pillars) over which the local merchants did business; from these come the expression 'cash on the nail'. Free.
- 1 St. Nicholas Market, Corn St. M-Sa 9:30AM-5PM. All under a glass arcade and is a great place to grab some deliciously different and cheap food. Choices include, local cheeses, The Bristol Sausage shop, famous Pie Minister Pies, and food from around the world such as Portuguese, Italian, Moroccan or Caribbean and Turkish.
- 12 Castle Park & St Peters Church. St Peters Church is closed to the public; the park is freely accessible. It is difficult to imagine now, but this large harbour-side park was a network of busy streets and shops until it was bombed out during the second world war. Within the park are the excavated ruins of Bristol Castle, and the ruined St Peter's Church preserved as it stood after the bombing as a memorial to those killed. Free.
- 13 King Street. King Street is now the heart of Bristol's theatre-land (see 'Old Vic' below) but it once lead down to the docks at Welsh Back, where the old sailing trows (a type of sailing barge) used to dock after their journeys from South Wales. The street has changed little since those days.
- 14 The Llandoger Trow, King Street. Supposedly the meeting place of Daniel Defoe and 'Robinson Crusoe', Alexander Selkirk. It is also rumoured to be Robert Louis' Stevenson's inspiration for the Admiral Benbow pub in his work Treasure Island. The pub is a 17th-century Grade II listed building. Unfortunately it closed as a pub in 2019, but you can still look at the facade.
- 15 Bristol Museum and Art Gallery, Queens Road, West End, BS8 1RL, ☏ . Daily 10AM–5PM. Bristol's major museum and art gallery houses an outstanding and diverse range of objects, from sea dinosaurs to magnificent art. A visit to the region's largest museum and art gallery is guaranteed to inspire! A range of subjects can be found. From Archaeology to History and Art. It also has a cafe. free.
- 16 The Georgian House, 7 Great George St, BS1 5RR, ☏ . Apr-Dec: Sa-Tu 11AM–4PM. Built for merchant and plantation owner John Pinney in 1790, also the former home of Pero Jones, a slave brought to Bristol from Nevis, by Pinney. It is displayed as it might have looked in the 18th century and provides an insight into life above and below stairs. Free. The book Pero, the Life of a Slave in Eighteenth-Century Bristol (C Eickelmann and D Small) is for sale at the museum. free.
- 17 Red Lodge, Park Row, BS1 5LJ (behind the Bristol Beacon (former Colston Hall) and next to Trenchard car park, off Lodge Street (look for the red door)), ☏ . Sa-Tu 11AM–5PM. The house was built in 1590 and then altered in 1730. It has fine oak panelling and carved stone chimney pieces and is furnished in the style of both periods. The garden has now been laid out in Elizabethan style. Free.
The old and up-market suburb of Clifton contains several more places of interest, and much of the city's student population:
- 18 Bristol Zoo Gardens, Guthry Road, Clifton, ☏ . Summer 9AM-5:30PM; winter 9AM-5PM; closed Dec 25. It was the 5th oldest zoo in the world and the oldest outside of a capital city. It was awarded ‘Zoo of the Year 2004’ by the Good Britain Guide. £13 (adults); £11.50 (students & senior citizens); £8 (children 3-14).
- 19 Clifton Suspension Bridge, Bridge Rd, Leigh Woods, BS8 3PA, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Bridge: 24 hr, Visitor centre: 10AM-5PM. Possibly the city's most famous landmark, Brunel's 19th-century suspension bridge spans the spectacular Avon Gorge at a height of 75 m. A visitor centre is on the other side of bridge. There are free tours from the Clifton toll booth at 3PM every Saturday/Sunday from Easter Sunday until October. To walk across: free, to drive over: £0.50, visitor centre: free.
- 20 Clifton Downs and Observatory, BS8, ☏ . The Downs provide a huge open space within Bristol, with great views over the Avon Gorge and the suspension bridge. On top of the downs, right by the bridge is the Observatory, housing a camera obscura and a cave leading down towards an observation point within the 250-foot sheer cliff face of the gorge.
- 21 Clifton Lido, Oakfield Place, Clifton, ☏ . A Grade II* listed building. The Lido and pub are separately managed, the historic Lido having closed in 1989, completely refurbished and reopened in 2008. The Victoria freehouse pub stands in one corner of the site; it was created in 1851 to provide the funds to rescue the Lido the first time, and was saved from closure in 2006.
Bristol's Eastside is the multicultural centre of Bristol and offers visitors a refreshing alternative side of the city, made up of a colourful collection of neighbourhoods that boast independent retailers from all around the globe. The wonderful thing about this side of town is simply walking around it - and most of the good things to do and see are free!
Easton is possibly the most multicultural area in Bristol where people of all nationalities rub shoulders. Here you can find anything from anywhere in the world - black hair and beauty, saris, Moroccan and Somalian cafes. You name it, you'll find it in Easton! This area is quite rightly home to the World On Your Doorstep festival held every June on Stapleton Road. For fantastic cafes and specialist shops (including the locally-famed Bristol Sweet Mart selling a large range of south-Asian foods and ingredients) head to St Marks Road.
Stokes Croft/Montpelier, (pronounced Mont-pelly-err, rather than the French-accented Mon-pell-ee-ay!), the bohemian heart of Bristol and home to artists and musicians of all descriptions. The streets are often canvases themselves and you'll find work by famous graffiti artists around every corner. Great music, cafes, an independent cinema, and a treasure trove of vintage clothing.
- 22 St Pauls. The Afro-Caribbean centre of Bristol and home to the world famous St Pauls Carnival. It still suffers from the negative reputation of having been home of the St Pauls riots in 1980 but visitors today will find it a colourful, friendly area with fantastic reggae pubs and clubs and a great street art scene. Host to an Asian supermarket on Ashley Road next door to Teoh's pan-Asian cafe.
- 23 St Werburghs. The alternative quarter and a green oasis in the heart of the city. Filled with allotments, a city farm, eco-housing and lively pubs including the award-winning The Duke of York in Jubilee Road and The Miner's Arms in Mina Road. The most recent addition to the area is the multi-million pound Eastgate Oriental City complex which features a large Chinese supermarket and Chinese restaurant.
Avonmouth used to be a small village on the outskirts of Bristol. Today, it is dominated by the massive Avonmouth Industrial Estate and large wholesale and retail superstores catering for the greater Bristol area. Activity at the port, which first opened in 1877, is now focused on the import of fruit, vegetables, coal, animal feeds, grain and cars.
- 24 St Mary Redcliffe Church, Redcliffe Way, ☏ . M-F 9AM-5PM; Su 8AM-7:30PM. A short walk from Bathurst Basin. Described by Queen Elizabeth I, as "the goodliest, fairest and most famous parish church in England." Free.
- 25 Bristol Cathedral (Church of England/Anglican), College Green, ☏ . Daily. Built as the abbey of St Augustine founded in the Norman era, and extensively rebuilt in the 16th and 19th centuries. The seat of the diocese of Bristol. Free, donations are welcome.
- 26 Clifton Cathedral (Roman Catholic), Clifton Park, Clifton (Consult a map to find it as it's on the suburban streets of Clifton), ☏ . Open Daily. A striking modernist design completed in 1973, with an equally modern interior and spire. It was constructed of reinforced concrete faced with granite. Worth a look. Free, donations are welcome.
Bristol has many open spaces reasonably accessible from the city centre. The more notable include:
- 27 Clifton and Durdham Downs. Adjacent to the Avon Gorge, the Suspension Bridge and Bristol Zoo, 400 acres of grassland, with views towards the Severn Estuary and the Mendip Hills.
- 28 Brandon Hill & The Cabot Tower, Off Park Street (about 10 minutes walk up a steep hill from the centre of Bristol), ☏ . This attractive and hilly park is worth visiting, if only for the views over Bristol from the hill-top. Even better views can be gained by climbing the narrow spiral staircase within the Cabot Tower atop the hill. Open every day from 8AM to 30 min before dusk. The tower is now open again after being closed for significant structural maintenance.
- 29 Cabot Tower (Turn off Park Street at Great George St or Charlotte Street, and walk through Brandon Hill park. You can't miss the tower.), ☏ . Daytime. This dramatic Victorian tower occupies a prominent hilltop in Brandon Hill park, seen from much of the city. If you climb up the spiral staircase, you get a great view of the whole city from the top. There are signs which show you what you are looking at. It's a great way to get acquainted with the city and oriented to where you are. Free.
- 30 Ashton Court Estate, Long Ashton, BS41 9JN (2 miles from the city centre to the west), ☏ . 850 acres (340 hectares) city park, less than 2 mi (3.2 km) from the city centre, with a mix of meadow, woodland, deer park, golf course, site of the Balloon Fiesta, the KIte Festival and the former Ashton Court Festival.
- 31 Leigh Woods (near Bristol), ☏ , email@example.com. A wilderness of beauty and tranquility set against the breathtaking backdrop of the Avon Gorge and Brunel's world famous suspension bridge (National Trust).
- 32 Blaise Castle Estate. 650 acres (260 hectares) of park and woodland on the northern fringes, with a folly, the gorge of the River Trym and a small museum in Blaise House.
- 33 Oldbury Court. Woodland and riverside paths alongside the Frome, with historic parkland and children's play facilities, approx 3 mi (4.8 km) north east of city centre.
Details of other city parks can be found on the city council website.
- 34 Queen Square. A 2.4 ha garden square in the centre, originally laid out outside Bristol's city walls in an area known as the Town Marsh. Its planning started in 1699 and construction finished in 1727, being named after Queen Anne. It has seen a turbulent history, with much of the north and west side buildings being destroyed during the riots of 1831 and subsequently rebuilt. From 1937 to 1992 the square was scarred by a dual carriageway road crossing it diagonally, which created a lot of traffic to flow through the area. After this became unbearable by the 1990s, the road was closed and demolished by the late 1990s, and the garden restored to its pre 1937 glory. Although originally a residential neighbourhood, the buildings surrounding the square are nowadays used as offices, and many are listed under heritage protection. The centre of the square hosts the iconic statue of William III, a sculpture by John Michael Rysbrack who cast it in 1733 in brass and erected it in 1736 to signify the city's loyalty. Free.
- 35 Quakers Burial Ground, Redcliffe Hill. 24/7. Original burial ground for the Society of Friends, better known today as the Quakers. They were a religious society, split away from the Church of England, and formed a closed community with a complex social and economic structure spanning from Europe to North America and the Caribbean in the 18th century. Many Quakers lived and worked in Bristol. They became the first group to oppose slave trade in 1760, a remarkable point of view considering many Quakers owed their wealth directly or indirectly to the slave trade in Bristol. Free.
- 36 Tyntesfield, Wraxall, BS48 1NX (7 miles west of Bristol. (Bus X6 stops at end of driveway, 1.3 km walk to house)), ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. A Victorian Gothic Revival house named after the Tynte baronets. Large spectacular private chapel.
- Ferry Boat Co., Welsh Back (Ferry stops all around the city), ☏ . Throughout the day. Catch a ferry and enjoy the exciting world of Bristol's Historic Harbour for a round trip tour, hop-on and hop-off, or getting from A to B; and to many of the harbourside attractions. Timetables are available online and at many places in the city.
- Pirate Walks, Meet at Millennium or Anchor Square., ☏ . Join Pirate Pete for a 1-hour guided walking tour of Bristol's historic harbourside. Walking tours of Bristol's 16th-, 17th- and 18th-century Maritime History of discovery, trade, slavery and piracy (always call before visiting). Adults £6.00, children £3.50.
- Jump, 22 Concorde Road, Cribbs Causeway, BS34 5TB, ☏ , email@example.com. Daily 10AM-6:30PM; school holidays 9:30AM-6PM. Bristol Jump has enormous adventure play-frames: a space zone, a galleon and an enchanted castle. At 22,000 sq feet it is the largest dedicated indoor soft play centre in England and it is tucked away in the back of Cribbs Causeway! There are also huge inflatables, an indoor football pitch, ten-pin bowling and an enormous zone just for toddlers. They also offer themed party rooms, a café and different activities every day. Babies: £1.00; 1 to 3 years: £5.50; 4+ years: £6.50; adults: £1.75; OAPS: £1.00 (on production of a bus pass).
- 1 Undercover Rock, Mina Road, BS2 9YT St. Werburgh's (St.Werburgh's Church, look out for the tower), ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. M-F 9:30AM-10PM, Sa Su 9:30AM-6PM. Climbing centre housed in the former church of St. Werburgh's, with numerous climbing walls of varying difficulty levels. Training for beginners is available as well. It's not possible to climb the tower, but the interior of this historic building will definitely leave you speechless while dangling on a rope! £7-9.
- 2 Leigh Woods (cross the Suspension Bridge and turn right at Ashton Court Gate, continue 800 m, the 4 visitor centre is signposted). 24/7. National nature reserve with a history that dates back to a hill fort in the Middle Ages. The woods have hiking trails and mountain biking circuits (from moderate to advanced difficulty levels) signposted. It's possible to descend into the Avon Gorge on the north side of the woods, although you'll need dry weather for this — after rain the trails turn into a mud swamp. Free.
- Bristol City, Ashton Gate BS3 2EJ (southwest edge of the city). City play soccer in the Championship, the second tier. Their home ground Ashton Gate has a 27,000 capacity. The women's team play in the Women's Championship, their second tier, at Twerton Park in Bath.
- Bristol Rovers, Memorial Stadium, Filton Ave, Horfield, BS7 0BF (in the north of the city off A38). Rovers were promoted in 2022 so they play in League One, the third tier. Their home ground has a 12,000 capacity.
- Bristol Bears play Rugby Union in the Premiership, the game's top tier. Their home ground is Ashton Gate, shared with Bristol City.
- Cricket: 3 Gloucestershire CCC, Nevil Rd B37 9EJ (A mile north of centre). The county team were relegated in 2022 and now play cricket in Division Two of the County Championship.
Bristol has a widespread range of festivals throughout the year. The most significant include:
- St Paul's Carnival. July (only some years). African and Caribbean arts festival.
- Bristol Balloon Fiesta is held on Ashton Court Estate (see above) in August, with mass ascents, night glows and a funfair. The next is 11-14 Aug 2022.
- [dead link] Bristol Open Doors Day. weekend in early September. See a variety of buildings open on this weekend, including places which are not normally open to the public. You can just turn up for most of the more than 100 buildings, but a few require advance bookings. free.
- [dead link] Venn Festival.
- Festival of Ideas.
- Bristol Harbour Festival. 3 days in mid-July. Festival of music, dance and maritime events. free.
- Bristol International Kite Festival.
- Slapstick Silent Film Festival. a few days in January. A festival of vintage films.
- Encounters Short Film Festival.
- Wildscreen Film Festival.
- Bristol Vegfest.
- Great Bristol Run: 25 September 2022, email@example.com. 10K and half marathon races passing by many of the city's iconic landmarks including the Clifton Suspension Bridge. £44 to enter; free to spectate. (date needs updating)
There are various websites publicising these events, but probably the best thing is to pick up a copy of Venue Magazine (analogous to London's Time Out) from a stockist. Venue is no longer weekly and paid, but has been merged with the Folio free monthly lifestyle magazine, and new editions are usually available on the last Friday of the month.
Saturday's edition of the Bristol Evening Post has a free pull-out supplement called Seven that lists much of what is on offer in the city during the following seven days. Alternatively you can check out Bristol Music & Theatre listings online on Bristol Music which also has contact details for all local venues and music contacts and reviews.
Headfirst is a local website and mobile app that offers detailed listings of what's going on in many of the bars and late night venues around the city, with an emphasis on live music.
- Watershed, Canons’s Rd, ☏ . The primary hub for art-house film in the city centre with a lovely (WiFi enabled) cafe too.
- Cube Microplex, Dove Street South. Hidden away not far from the bus station, this small non-profit making co-operative venue is housed in a beautifully shabby 1960s theatre. It's run entirely by volunteers and specialises in experimental film, music and performance. A unique experience.
- Odeon Cinema, Union St, ☏ . Three-screen mainstream cinema located in the centre of Bristol
- Vue Cinemas. There are two of these Warner Village cinemas in Bristol, one near the Mall out-of-town shopping centre at Cribbs Causeway (near the M5/M4 junction) and the other in Longwell Green, off the A4174 Ring Road. Both are modern multiplex type cinemas with approx 10 screens.
- 4 Showcase Cinema, Avonmeads, St Philips Causeway, BS2 0SP (Avonmeads Retail Park). Bristol's first multiplex cinema, the Showcase has been open since at least the mid-1990s. Rarely busy, so you always have plenty of seating choice. £7.95.
- Cineworld, Hengrove Leisure Park, Hengrove Way (off the A4174 Ring Road in the outskirts of the south of the city). Notable for showing at least one Bollywood film per week.
- Arnolfini. Right on the water's edge at Narrow Quay, this contemporary arts centre includes a cinema showing alternative and arthouse films. And the quayside is a great place to soak up the sun with a beer from the cafe!
- 5 Showcase De Lux, Glass House Ln (Cabot Circus), ☏ . Newest multiplex in the Cabot Circus shopping centre next to the Broadmead commercial district.
- 6 Tobacco Factory Theatre and Brewery Theatre, North St, ☏ . A hidden gem outside the city centre, in the Southville area of town. Well known for being involved in some of the most cutting-edge theatre in the city.
- 7 Bristol Old Vic, King St, ☏ . Bristol's main repertory theatre, located in the city centre.
- 8 Hippodrome, St Augustines Parade, ☏ . Theatre hosting opera and musical events. Seats can get expensive so reserve early in advance, grab an afternoon ticket on a weekday if possible which are significantly cheaper than evening and weekend tickets (often half price or less).
- Alma Tavern Theatre, 18-20 Alma Vale Rd, ☏ , (reservations). Theatre on the first floor of the Alma Tavern & Theatre pub in Clifton, a short walk from Whiteladies Road. The theatre seats 50, with the bar on the ground floor.
- Redgrave Theatre, Perceval Road, Clifton, ☏ . 320-seat theatre hosting amateur drama, Bristol Old Vic Theatre School productions and concerts.
- 9 Wickham Theatre, Cantocks Close, ☏ . University of Bristol's theatre, hosting student and professional performances.
- Kelvin Studios, 253b Gloucester Rd, ☏ . Home to the Kelvin Players Theatre Company, an amateur theatre group on Gloucester Road.
- Victoria Rooms, Whiteladies Rd, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. The University of Bristol's Department of Music. A wide range of music is presented in their free Wednesday lunchtime concert series, often given by established professional performers. Other [evening] concerts include the universities' symphony and chamber orchestras. Times and prices vary, contact the department for more information.
- Bristol Beacon (formerly Colston Hall), Trenchard St, ☏ . Wide variety of concerts, gigs and performances.
- St George's, Great George St (off Park Street), ☏ . Wide variety of acoustic music including classical, world and jazz.
- Bristol (O2) Academy, Frogmore St. Large gigs and club nights
- SWX, Nelson St. Club nights, often with famous guest DJs.
- Anson Rooms (University Union), Queens Rd. From comedians to live music, many renowned artists and the universities' students often perform here.
- The Fleece, St Thomas St. Free on Monday and Tuesdays.
- The Trinity Centre, Trinity Rd, ☏ .
- Thekla, East Mud Dock. The famous club on a boat, sporting a Banksy graffiti work and prime location by Queens Square.
- Bristol Bierkeller, All Saints St.. Rock, Metal, Punk, Goth, Alternative.
- Full Moon & Eclipse, North St./Stokes Croft. Formerly an important Metal and Punk venue but has now become a backpacker hostel with some music events targeted at their guests.
- The Croft, Stokes Croft. The croft has a policy of supporting new music of every style and scheduling mainly homegrown talent. Free M-W before 10PM, and then a charge on Th-Su.
- The Louisiana, Wapping Road/Bathurst Terrace. Bands that have played here include Coldplay, the Whitestripes, Kings of Leon, and Keane.
- The Old Duke, King St. Jazz, Blues
- Black Swan, 438 Stapleton Rd, Eastville, ☏ . A pub that regularly hosts alternative liberal, electronic dance, rave music events.
Pubs offering live music of some sort are extremely numerous in most areas of the city.
- The Comedy Box. Usually hosted above the Hen and Chicken pub on North Street, Southville but sometimes at the nearby Tobacco Factory (especially for more popular acts). Has hosted a number of major stand-up acts, including Mark Thomas, Sue Perkins, Ed Byrne and Marcus Brigstocke.
- The Lanes, 22 Nelson Street, ☏ . Live stand-up every Friday and Saturday night.
- Oppo Comedy, Channings Hotel, Pembroke Rd. Su from 8:30PM, hosted by Mark Olver £2+.
- [dead link] Thunderbolt Pub, Bath Rd. Occasional events
- [dead link] Bristol Improv, 31-35 Cotham Hill, BS6 6JY. Bristol University's only improv troupe put on free and paid shows each month, with a regular show at The Hill
The Bristol to Bath Railway cycle path
This showcase cycle path runs on a disused railway line from central Bristol to Bath. With its traffic free tarmac, gentle gradients, and only two minor road crossings on its 22 km stretch, it is ideal for cycling. At a leisurely pace the journey to Bath takes a good 2 hr through green suburbs and some attractive countryside. If you are too tired to cycle back, you can take your bicycle free of charge on one of the frequent trains from Bath Spa to Bristol temple meads station. The journey takes 10-15 min.
From Bath, you can continue cycling along the towpath of the Kennet and Avon Canal all the way to Bradford on Avon, taking another hour or so. Though not paved and somewhat narrower than the Bristol to Bath cycle path, the towpath is still traffic free and the scenery even more beautiful. There are two or three places to stop and eat or drink on the way. The aqueduct at Avoncliff is worth seeing. From Bradford too there are direct trains back to Bristol that carry bicycles.
- 10 Hengrove Park Leisure Centre, Hengrove Promenade, BS14 0DE, ☏ . M Tu Th 5:30AM-8:30PM, W 5:30AM-10PM, Sa Su 06AM-7:30PM. Gym, olympic swimming pool, 4 court sports hall, dance studio, health suite, and an 8-m climbing wall to the south of Bristol. Swimming: £4.60 for adults, £3 for kids; Gym £6.70 for adults and £3.50 for kids.
- 11 Diamonds, 363 Bath Rd, 3EW (next to Bristol Blue Glass), ☏ . M-F 10AM-8PM, Sa Su 11AM-8PM. Massages in a friendly atmosphere, nice for days with miserable weather. Reservation well in advance required. £60.
The largest independent employers in Bristol are the two universities, the Orange telecom company, Airbus, Rolls Royce, Hewlett-Packard/Compaq, AXA and various media companies including BBC Bristol (famed for its natural history department), ITV West Country and Endemol. The Ministry of Defence has a large site employing around 5000 people in Filton towards the north of the city.
Casual work, usually supermarket, call centre, bar and restaurant work is fairly easily available in Bristol. Many employment agencies are in the city centre. Bristol has the second highest job ratio of the eight English core cities (after Manchester) making it very good for employment opportunities.
Malls & shopping centres
Broadmead and Cabot Circus are the two major precincts in the city's central shopping district.
2 Cabot Circus, Central, ☏ . A large and architecturally impressive shopping centre in central Bristol, opened in 2008. The name was chosen by public vote after it was decided that the name 'Merchants Quarter' brought with it too many connotations to Bristol's slave trade past. It is a large, and mostly under-cover shopping centre, containing over 120 shops including House of Fraser, Harvey Nichols, Apple, Hollister, Boss, Ted Baker, Fred Perry, and a Cinema Du Lux.
Broadmead remains a pretty dire indictment of post war planning and architecture; it contains The Galleries, Bristol's city centre mall. It is large and has a good range of shops, although many chains have moved their premises to Cabot Circus. Most of the major department stores can be found in the streets outside. Department stores in Broadmead include Primark and Debenhams. Other high street stores include Lush, Next, New Look, River Island, Marks and Spencers, Waterstones, HMV, Currys, H&M, Miss Selfridge.
- 3 The Mall Cribbs Causeway, Kessels Rd, Patchway, BS34 5DG. An out of town mall off junction 17 of the M5. This has a large John Lewis and Marks and Spencer as well as lots of other fashionable shops. The surrounding area of Cribbs Causeway is also home to large stores such as TK Maxx and furniture stores, with The Venue – including the Vue cinema complex, and chain restaurants such as Frankie & Benny's, Chiquitos and TGIF's.
- Avonmeads. Between St Philips and Brislington, Avonmeads has a few out of town shops, restaurants, Showcase cinema and bowling. Shops include Boots, Currys, Brantano, Outfit, The Range, and M&S Simply Food. A short distance away is Sainsburys.
- 4 ASDA, East St, Bristol BS3 4JY, ☏ . Large supermarket in Bedminster, south of the Bristol city centre. One of the cheapest supermarkets in Bristol, ASDA is the best choice for travellers to restock on food and drinks. They also carry SIM card top-ups for the major UK carriers and necessary tools to make repairs to equipment (duct tape, etc.)
- 5 Sainsbury's, St Philips Causeway, Bristol BS4 3BD, ☏ . M-Sa 7AM-10PM, Su 10AM-4PM. Large supermarket close to Bedminster, a bit more expensive than ASDA in Southville, but offers a variety of prepared take-away foods such as salads and prepared noodle dishes that can be eaten cold. Don't forget to pick up a pack of plastic spoons or forks if you don't have any along, you'll find them in aisle 31.
- Park Street, Queens Road and The Triangle (marketed by the local traders as Bristol's West End) has a good range of fashionable clothes shops, book shops, restaurants, takeaways, record shops.
- Clifton Village contains a wide variety of smaller, more expensive boutique style shops, as well as some nice cafes and restaurants.
- Whiteladies Road has some small department stores, takeaways, restaurants, bars, Clifton Down shopping centre, electrical stores, bookshops, gift shops.
- Old Market Street/West Street is home to several of Bristol's massage parlours, along with a few adult shops several gay bars and a gay club called Flamingos. Nearby on Midland Road is The Club, and on Alfred Street, The Elite Retreat; both good massage parlours, although Central Massage on Old Market Street is the cheapest, and Adam & Eve on West Street is open 24/7.
Bristol also has quite vibrant district shopping centres. The best of these are probably:
- Christmas Steps area, mainly independent shops including many boutique type shops, including bookshops, hairdressers, vintage clothing stores and some bars.
- North St and East St, in Bedminster in the south of the city. A wide range of independent shops, also supermarkets, greengrocers, butchers, bars, cafes, delicatessens, charity shops.
- Gloucester Rd/Cheltenham Rd in the North, which offer a lot of cafes and restaurants, a number of instrument shops, many hardware stores and a good selection of independent butchers, bakers and greengrocers. At night, the restaurants and pubs attract lively nightlife.
- Fishponds Rd and Staple Hill in the East. Asian restaurants, thrift shops, bakers and independent stores.
- St Mark's Rd in Easton, in the east of the inner city, which is particularly noted for its mainly South Asian food shops and restaurants. It is also home to a modern vegetarian/vegan restaurant (Café Maitreya) that has won national acclaim.
There are also a number of markets in and around the city. St Nicholas Market [dead link] in the centre, near Corn St. is a permanent fixture and has stalls selling jewellery, books, CDs and fresh food. It also hosts the 'Nails' market on Fridays and Saturdays, a Flea Market on Fridays, and various special markets around the end of the year. There are a number of farmers markets (and similar events) held at different venues around the city. These include:
- Corn St.. Bristol Farmers Market on Wednesday mornings 9:30AM-2:30PM. Local producers from a 40-mile radius sell a massive range of food from cheese, fish, honey, cakes, vegetables to meat, game and poultry at this award-winning market. All the produce is grown, reared, caught, brewed, pickled, baked or smoked by the stallholders.
- St Nicholas Market, Corn Street. Covered market M-Sa 9:30AM-5PM. Historic covered market, established in 1743, with about 50 stalls. Outdoors there is a Nails Market on Fri, Sat; Farmers Market on Wed; Food Market on Fri.
- Straits Parade, Fishponds. Straits Parade is a grassy open space right alongside the busy Fishponds Road. Here the Market has come to its customers. Held on the Second Thursday morning each month it is gaining a strong local following. Good bus links to Emersons Green and Downend.
- Sunday Market at theTobacco Factory, Southville. 10AM-2:30PM. It has around 30 stalls and leans strongly towards eco-friendly, fair trade and local products.
- Slow Food Market. 10AM-3PM. Corn St. on the first Sunday, hrs. It is the largest food market in Bristol, with the widest choice. Although it is the largest food market, Slow Food Bristol and Bristol City Council are committed to increasing its size and range further. They are aiming by next year to see the market going international with visits from food producers from France, Germany, Portugal, Spain and, of course, Italy.
- Whiteladies Rd.. Due to its popularity with both stallholders and shoppers it is now fortnightly, alternating Fridays 8:30AM till 1PM, and Saturdays, 9AM till 2PM, at the corner of Whiteladies Road and Apsley Road.
Bristol has a huge choice of bars and restaurants to suit all tastes and budgets. There are many around the Harbourside and the West End's Park Street and Whiteladies Road, but do not be dissuaded from trying those outside the centre as many are superior to those that attract passing trade due to their location. After a night out, or if your hotel allows food delivery, you will also be able to find many takeaways in Bristol, with different varieties of food.
- 1 St Nicholas Market, The Corn Exchange, Corn St. There is a food aisle within the glass arcade at St Nicholas Market. Many international cuisines are represented, including Italian, Indian, West Indian/Caribbean, Moroccan and Portuguese. Can be a bit chilly, depending on the weather, so keep your coat on!
- 2 Beirut Mezze, 13A Small St., BS1 1DE, ☏ . M-Sa noon-11PM, Su noon-10PM. Lebanese restaurant serving authentic food in sizeable portions. Their £5 meal deal (July 2019) features 6 different specialities including hummus, grilled chicken, and minced lamb.
- 3 Falafel King, 6 Cotham Hill, Bristol BS6 6LF, ☏ , email@example.com. M-Sa 10:30AM-10:30PM, Su 10:45AM-7:30PM. Middle-Eastern food with an emphasis on couscous and falafels, the Falafel King offers a wide range of salads and prepared dishes for budget travellers. Perfect place to explore new flavour combinations with mint, cumin, etc., without plundering your wallet. Portions are larger than you'd expect for the money you're paying. Limited seating available, so reservation is recommendable on busy days.
- 4 Falafel King, Narrow Quay, at the Centre Promenade. M-Sa 11AM-7PM, Su 11AM-5PM. Snack stands in the centre, conveniently next to the bus stops! Excellent falafel customised to just about any preference. £6 (April 2019).
- 5 Matina, The Glass Arcade, St Nicholas St. Stunning Middle-Eastern food, all made fresh in front of you and quick. Really yummy wraps. Very friendly staff at the shop.
- 6 Portuguese Taste, St Nicholas Market, 43 The Glass Arcade. Amazing Portuguese food and great people running the shop. Offers delicious home cooked comfort food. Pasteis de Nata is amazing. Very friendly staff.
- 7 Taste of Napoli, 32 The Horsefair. Welcoming staff, delicious food. Plenty of choice for vegetarians and vegans alike. Authentic Italian pizza, snacks (arancini, fried breaded mozzarella, etc ) and sandwiches.
- 8 Tortilla Bristol (Cabot Circus), Concorde St. Amazing Mexican restaurant, great food, incredible staff. Tasty burritos.
- 9 Rana's Dhaba, Avon House, 1 The Haymarket. Very nice food, brilliant service. It's almost impossible not walk by and not get something as it smells so good. Best veggie samosa. Great veggie options all in all.
Around the University of Bristol:
- 10 Fresh Takeaway, 124 Saint Michael's Hill, ☏ . 10:30AM-10PM. Small Chinese takeaway restaurant, serving traditional Cantonese food. There is no indoor seating available. Try their fried pork rice for £5.30 (Jan 2019)! They have a daily lunch offer for £4.80 (Jan 2019).
- 11 Taka Taka, Queens Row, 1 Queens Rd, BS8 1QE, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. M-Sa 11AM-4PM, Su noon-midnight. Greek comfort food restaurant, with seating inside or takeaway. Decent sized portions of kebabs, souvlaki etc. served with Greek bread and/or chips, tzatziki, and a vegetable mix. £8.50 (July 2019).
- 12 IKEA Restaurant, Eastgate Shopping Centre, Eastgate Rd, Bristol BS5 6XX, ☏ . M-Sa 9:30AM-8:30PM, Su 10AM-4:30PM. Bristol's IKEA restaurant serves a mix of UK, Swedish and international food at low cost, starting at £4.50 for a main dish, £1.50 for soup and £1.75 for a dessert (April 2018). Don't expect culinary excellence or large portions here, but if you're on a tight budget, the IKEA restaurant is the place to be to fill your belly with minimal impact on your wallet. There are only a few dishes to choose from (among which usually a vegetarian one), but don't expect too many vegan or gluten-free options. Self-service restaurant, well suited for families with kids.
- 13 Golden Spiced, 88 Mina Rd, Bristol, BS2, ☏ , email@example.com. Daily 5:30PM-11:30PM. Take-away Indian restaurant with an extensive menu. Tikka Lamb starting at £7.50 (April 2018), but also many entries and vegetarian options available. Wait time usually around 10 minutes. Take-away only, no seating.
- 14 Lodekka, Tramway Rd, BS4 3DS Brislington (on the corner of Bath Rd and Tramway Rd), ☏ . Daily 10AM-11PM. Grill restaurant aiming to provide the best value, translating in large portions of average quality grilled meat. The mixed grill for £11.49 (Aug 2018) is very good for its price. A great place for families or dinners with friends, not such a great choice for vegetarians. Indoor and outdoor seating available, and a playground for kids. You need to order food at the bar with mention of your table number and pay up front to the bartender, food is then delivered to your table. £5-11.50 (Aug 2018).
- 15 Pizza Factory, 200 Bloomfield Road, BS4 3QU Brislington, ☏ . Tu-Th 5-11PM, F-Su noon-11PM. A small privately owned fast food restaurant run by a family of highly motivated Indians. If you expect a wood-fired pizza oven here you'll be disappointed, but it will be hard to find better tasting pizzas for the price anywhere else in Bristol. Huge selection of toppings to choose from, the best opportunity to compose your own pizza. They also have a selection of drinks and desserts. Stay away from the chips, they're nothing special. No seating available, take-away only. £7-£9 (Oct 2018).
- 16 Parsons, 35 Sandy Park Rd, BS4 3PH, ☏ . M-F 7:30AM-4PM, Sa 8AM-3:30PM. Family run bakery in the Sandy Park commercial district of Brislington. Sells a wide range of baked goods, sandwiches, donuts, and assorted snacks.
- 17 Loki Poké, 127 Albert Rd. Just what Bristol was crying out for, Hawaiian street food. (Like vertiginous pre-European Hawaii had anything so flat as streets?) Opened in 2021 and serving W-F 5:30PM-9PM and Sa Su noon-9PM.
- 18 Good Taste, Unit 4, St. Annes Village Centre, Wyatts View, St. Annes Park, BS4 4WW (get off the bus at ), ☏ . M W-Th 5-10PM, F Sa 5-11PM. Chinese, Malaysia and Thai take-away. Delicious food in large portions. No seating available, take-away only. £7.50 (Sept 2020) for a meal package.
- 19 Thali Montpelier, ☏ . York Road, Montpelier, and also in Easton, Clifton, Totterdown, and North Street in Southville. The Thali specialises in vegetarian Indian food and in terms of volume of food, must be one of the best bargains in the city! Loads of courses for very little outlay. On Sundays there is normally live music and bargain thalis on a first-come-first-served basis (no reservations taken).
- 20 wagamama bristol clifton, Queen's Road. A professionally run, good-value Asian noodle bar. Main courses are filling and of consistent quality. Walkable from the centre, or take a bus from St. Augustines Parade/College Green up Park Street.
- 21 Sonny Stores, 47 Raleigh Rd, Southville. opened in 2021 serves Italian. It's open Tu-Sa noon - 10PM.
- 22 Chris and Jo's Kitchen, 122 St. Michaels Hill, BS2 8BU, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Very cosy restaurant next to the University campus and a popular choice for casual lunch or dinner. Requires a hike to the top of St Michaels Hill! The interior is simple and the restaurant looks nothing special from the outside, but it's worth a visit.
- 23 Tare, Unit 14, Cargo 2, Museum Street, BS1 6ZA, ☏ . Tiny restaurant in a shipping container at Wapping Wharf. Making advance reservations is a necessity.
- 24 The Lock Up, 182 Church Road, BS5 9HX, ☏ . British and European cuisine. Great venue for a Sunday lunch or family event.
- 25 Eat Your Greens, 156 Wells Road, BS4 2AG, ☏ , email@example.com. Simple restaurant serving British food, with plentiful vegetarian and vegan options.
- 26 [formerly dead link] Ironworks Supply Co, 51 Broad Street, BS1 2EP, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Great for breakfast, including pancakes!
- 27 The Clifton Sausage, 7 Portland Street, BS8 4JA, ☏ , email@example.com. Simple but delicious British pub food.
- 28 The Bank, 8 John Street, BS1 2HR, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. British pub serving typical Sunday roast, Yorkshire pudding included!
- 29 Chili Flake (Raj Mahal City), 69 Clarence Rd, BS1 6RP, ☏ , email@example.com. Daily noon-2PM, 6PM-midnight. Indian restaurant with seating for over 180 people, also offers take-away service. from £7.95 for mains.
- 30 Mud Dock Café. Restaurant above a bicycle repair shop, with view over the harbour. Excellent food, with daily fresh fish. £12 - £17.
- Bell's Diner, 1-3 York Rd, ☏ . Open Tu-F noon-3PM; M-Sa 7PM-10:30PM. Montpelier. A very well respected Bristol institution for those who know, Bell's serves up some of the most unique menus in the city, including their 'taster' menu where you get to work your way around everything. £18-35.
- Hotel du Vin, The Sugar House, Narrow Lewins Mead, ☏ . This hotel has a wonderful Bistro with a great atmosphere. Food and service is of excellent quality. Starters about £7, main course £15 and dessert around £7. Walkable from the centre.
- Cafe Maitreya, St. Marks Road, Easton, ☏ . Tu-Sa 6:45–9:45PM. Nationally acclaimed vegan/vegetarian restaurant. So good, even many omnivores enjoy it too! £16-20, excluding drinks.
- Bordeaux Quay, V-Shed Canons Way, ☏ . Bordeaux Quay is a harbourside venue with an upmarket restaurant upstairs, a casual brasserie, bar, deli downstairs, with a bakery and cookery school - all under one roof. They aim to offer the very best in regionally sourced organic food and drink, while it tries to maintain environmental sustainability, energy consumption, minimalism waste and reducing food miles. Grab a coffee and freshly baked pain au chocolat for breakfast, or indulge in succulent mussels for dinner.
- River Station, The Grove, ☏ . The restaurant aims to be carbon neutral with naturally generated air-conditioning. Great location on the harbourside looking towards Redcliffe. Fresh locally sourced menu with a lean towards Mediterranean seafood.
- 31 Casamia, The General, Lower Guinea Street, ☏ . W-Sa 6:30PM-8:15PM, F Sa 12:15PM-1:30PM; book 1-3 months ahead. This Italian restaurant was awarded a Michelin star in 2009, and has moved to a more central location. from £98.
- 32 [dead link] Glassboat, ☏ . On a converted river barge next to Bristol Bridge, this up-market restaurant was furnished with reclaimed materials from the surrounding city, and has been under the same ownership since the end of the 1970s. Mains range from £15-25, with an early bird menu before 7PM allowing for 3 courses for £20.
- 33 Wilks Restaurant, 1B Chandos Road. W–Su 6:30PM–9PM, Th–Su noon–2PM; book a couple weeks ahead. Michelin star restaurant. £25 - £78.
- 34 Bullrush, 21 Cotham Rd S, Bristol BS6 5TZ. Michelin star restaurant.
- 35 Swoon Gelato, 31a College Green, BS1 5TB (across from the Cathedral), ☏ . 10AM-10:30PM daily. Regarded as the best ice cream in the city, although not cheap. Fairly posh interior, with indoor seating or take away. £4.5 for 2 scoops in a cone.
- 36 BOX-E, Unit 10, Cargo 1, Wapping Wharf, BS1 6WP, firstname.lastname@example.org. Tiny restaurant in a shipping container at the Wapping Wharf. Their wines are lovely, but an advance reservations are a must.
- 37 Pasture, 2 Portwall Lane, BS1 6NB, ☏ , email@example.com. Steak house with some vegetarian options as well.
- 38 Bulrush, 21 Cotham Road South, BS6 5TZ, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Th-Sa 12:30-14:30, Tu-Sa 18:30-20:30. Fine dining restaurant with a Michelin star.
- 39 The Ashville, 15 Leigh Street, BS3 1SN, ☏ , email@example.com. Steak house also known for its burgers. £10-£25.
- 40 Wilsons, 24 Chandos Road, BS6 6PF, ☏ . Fine dining restaurant with a 7 course tasting menu.
- 41 Adelina Yard, Welsh Back, BS1 4SL, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Posh fine dining restaurant near Queen Square.
- 42 Chomp, 10 St Nicholas St, BS1 1UQ, ☏ , email@example.com. Some of the best burgers in town.
The fact that it's the home to around 44,000 students probably says a lot for the quality of the city's nightlife. Surprisingly, though, it's relatively expensive, with prices similar to those in London. Mainstream nightlife centres around 3 main areas - Corn Street in the 'old city', Park Street/Whiteladies Road, and the Harbourside. These areas get extremely busy, if not rowdy, at weekends, however there are plenty of places in Bristol where you can have a good time without mixing with more student type crowds. Venue magazine is a good source of information. The eastern end of King Street in the old city provides a slightly more relaxed, but popular, outdoor drinking area on sunny summer evenings, surrounded by historic pubs such as the 17th-century Llandoger Trow (reputed to have been the haunt of pirates and the model for the Admiral Benbow in Robert Louis Stevenson's novel "Treasure Island").
Amongst the hundreds of brilliant venues in the city, there are four outstanding areas:
- St Nicholas' Market, including Baldwin Street: on and around Corn Street, you'll find several chain bars, including Wetherspoons' the Commercial Rooms on Corn Street which was once a meeting place for Merchant Ventures. Other reliable venues include the Slug & Lettuce and Vodka Revolution on St Nicholas Street, All Bar One and Walkabout on Corn Street and O'Neill's and Reflex on Baldwin Street. However, those looking to get away from the familiar will definitely enjoy Start The Bus at the bottom of Corn Street, an established indie pub-come-club; also, Mr Wolf's on St Stephen's Street offers noodles and live music.
- Harbourside area: the regenerated waterside is a great place to drink, especially on summer afternoons. On Welsh Back, there's the famous Old Duke jazz pub and, opposite it, the famous Lladngoer Trow - plus, the Apple, a floating cider bar. Bristol's famous bar on a boat, the Thekla, is around the corner, and there are plenty of big chain and independent bars on Canon Road. Millennium Square has lots of chain restaurants and bars centred on the impressive mirrored 'Imaginarium' and fountains. The Waterfront by the hippodrome can be rowdy of a weekend and is best avoided.
- Park Street, Park Row, Clifton Triangle and Whiteladies Road: Whiteladies Road runs from the Downs on top of Blackboy Hill, past Clifton on one side and Cotham and Redland on the other; at the Triangle, traffic runs around the eponymous island of shops and bars before pushing down Park Street to the centre of Bristol. There are hundreds of bars and clubs along this busy thoroughfare: popular venues include the Tube, the Woods, Embargo, Brown's, The Jersey Lily and the Black Bear.
- Stokes Croft and Gloucester Road: the anarchic area of Stokes Croft is home to Bristol's big independent clubs, Blue Mountain, Lakota and Clockwork. Whilst not in Stokes Croft, Club Motion, hidden behind Temple Meads station is a relatively new addition to the Bristol scene, hosting similar nights and acts as these venues. A skate park by day, this huge (by any standards) club has become one of Bristol's most popular, is internationally known, and is well worth a visit for seasoned clubbers; after these monoliths, there are live music venues, pubs and bars to please the alternative crowd. Highlights include the Pipe and Slippers, the Croft, the Bell, the Flyer and the Prince of Wales.
If you're a tourist in Bristol, you may enjoy visiting one of the city's pubs and bars with historic and literary connections.
- Abolitionist the Reverend Thomas Clarkson stayed in the Seven Stars in Redcliffe while he researched the British slave trade in 1787.
- Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Robert Southey used to meet in the Rummer Tavern to talk about emigrating. An earlier pub on the same premises, known as the Greene Lattis, was the first pub in Bristol to get a license, back in 1241.
- Actor Cary Grant often stayed in the Avon Gorge Hotel, which has a terrace bar opening out onto Clifton's best view of Brunel's suspension bridge.
- Pioneers of the Bristol sound, Massive Attack, established the Tube, a bar/club at the foot of Park Street.
City Centre pubs
- The Hatchet, 27 Frogmore Street, BS1 5NA, ☏ . Bristol's oldest pub is favourite of many various 'alternative' sub-cultures and is sometimes the venue for related club- and live-music events in upper room. Due to its proximity to the Bristol Academy venue, it's convenient for pre-gig drinks. Open until 2AM on weekends.
- Goldbrick House, 69 Park Street, BS1 5PB, ☏ . The bar is laid out over the top floor of a traditional Georgian building and spans four interconnecting rooms. It has a great intimate vibe as it creates the feeling that you are drinking, not in a bar but in someone’s house. The décor reflects this mood as there are contemporary yet comfy armchairs and sofas dotted around.
- The Apple, Welsh Back, BS1 4SB, ☏ . A floating cider bar. A converted old Dutch Barge where the decks have been transformed into seating areas where you can sit and lull with the water whilst enjoying some of the West Country’s finest ciders. A really unique place to grab a drink. Just be wary of what cider you are drinking as some are rather lethal and could lead to a man-overboard situation.
Stokes Croft and Gloucester Road pubs
- The Hillgrove Porter Stores (The Hillgrove), 53 Hillgrove Street North, BS2 8LT, ☏ . Winner of the CAMRA Bristol pub of the year in 2007, a freehouse with ten real ales and cider, perry. A wide mix of customers, good food and heated beer garden, open Su-Th 'til midnight, F & Sa 'til 1AM.
- The Miner's Arms, 136 Mina Road, St Werburghs, BS2 9YQ, ☏ . This pub is the type of large, multi-roomed community local that is increasingly rare. Declared the Best Pub in Bristol by Venue Magazine in 2005, it has mirrored the resurgence of this vibrant community.
- Duke of York, 2 Jubilee Road, St Werburghs, BS2 9RS, ☏ . Winner of CAMRA's Best Pub in Bristol 2008, has a friendly atmosphere and quirky décor.
- The Green Man (formerly The Bell), 21 Alfred Place, Kingsdown, BS2 8HD, ☏ . Opened in September 2008 as the first 'organic' pub in the city. The pub used to be the Georgian-built 'The Bell'. Notably, all the alcoholic drinks are organic and the freshly-prepared food is all organic or free range. Two of the six real ales are served on gravity from the barrel.
- The Highbury Vaults, 164 St Michael's Hill, St Michael's Hill, BS2 8DE, ☏ . Winner of the CAMRA Bristol pub of the year in 2003, the Highbury Vaults is a classic traditional pub with 8 real ales available on cask. Popular with students and older customers alike, and with a large heated garden. Open until midnight.
- Cosies, 34 Portland Square, ☏ . Don’t let the location (St. Pauls) of this amazing place put you off. The best way to describe it, is an underground cave. You walk down some steps on the street and enter through one small door straight up to the bar. The first half of the bar is relatively open, by this there are a few windows, but as you turn the corner you enter the ‘cave’ . A low ceiling, arched brick room with a DJ booth in the corner. On weekends it gets rammed as the beer is cheap, the music is pumping and the wide range of people from the students and middle aged couples to the Rastas in the corner, are all bumping and grinding with one another, leading to one hell of a night.
- The Portcullis, 3 Wellington Terrace, Sion Hill, Clifton, BS8 4LE, ☏ . Freehouse near Brunel's Suspension Bridge. A Grade II listed Georgian building, it has been a pub since the 1850s. On two levels, the bottom bar and main entrance is one of the smallest pubs in Bristol.
- The Victoria, 2 Southleigh Road, Clifton, BS8 2BH, ☏ . Freehouse is part of the Grade II* listed Clifton Lido site.
- The Coronation Tap, 8 Sion Place, Clifton, BS8 4AX, ☏ . A small West-Country cider house in Clifton, famous for its Exhibition cider - sweet, innocent looking but lethal. Gets rammed at weekends.
There are a number of traditional pubs located around the City Docks, such as The Cottage at the Hotwells end of the Floating Harbour, Grain Barge and the Nova Scota. These pubs can be accessed by foot or by harbour ferry.
- 1 Dundry Inn, Dundry, BS41 8LH (less than a mile from the city boundary), ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. A small, friendly pub with cask ales opposite the church. Also 2 en-suite double rooms. Ambitious, home-cooked menu £5-15.50.
Bars with live music;
- Mr Wolfs, St Nicholas St. 6PM-3AM. Live music venue and noodle bar which has live music every night of the week from local bristol artists.
Bristol's a gay-friendly city, on the whole, with a rounded and rich gay scene. Flamingo's on West Street is probably Bristol's biggest gay club with a 900-person capacity. The Pineapple on St George's Road is a sociable and well-established pink pub, and just down the road, the QueenShilling on Frogmore Street is a long-standing club that holds the Bristol heats of Mr Gay UK. And Club Wonky, held at Warehouse on Prince Street on the last Friday of the month where sleazy electro hits are cut with pop classics.
- The Big Banana Juice Bar. Great juice bar in the centre of town at St Nicholas's Market on Corn Street. Fruit juices and organic wheatgrass. Into health and wellbeing. Juice promotions and promotional events.
- Blue Juice, 39 Cotham Hill, Cotham. Also serves wraps and salads.
- Shakeaway, The Arcade, Broadmead. Will make a milkshake out of pretty much anything, including Haribo, Mars Bars and Oreos.
- Racks Bar & Kitchen, St.Paul's Road, BS8 1LX, ☏ . M-Th 7AM-11PM; F Sa 8AM-midnight; Su 8AM-10:30PM. In an old wine cellar (hence the name), Racks has been established as a go-to bar in Clifton for over 30 years.
- 2 Boswell's, Broadmead (The Galleries), ☏ . A café in The Galleries, similar to Starbucks, offering a large variety of coffee, tea and hot chocolate flavors. Comfortable seating with power sockets and internet access, this is an excellent venue for travellers to recharge laptop and phone batteries.
- 3 You & Meow, 22 Denmark Street. Noon-7:15PM. Pub filled with friendly people and free-roaming cats. A true heaven for cat-lovers!
- 4 Brace & Browns, 43 Whiteladies Road, BS8 2LS, ☏ , email@example.com. Trendy bar and restaurant next to the BBC building. Selection of decent food in good portion sizes, fairly priced. Not suitable for kids. Reservation in advance is recommended if you want to be sure of indoor seating.
- 5 Mocha Mocha, 139 Saint Michaels Hill, BS2 8BS, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. M-F 07.45 - 17.00. Small coffee shop specialising in hot beverages, snacks and breakfast. Their Cinnamon Latte for £3.40 is delicious!
- 6 Doms Coffee House, 23-25 St Augustine’s Parade, BS1 4UL, ☏ , email@example.com. M-F 7:30AM-7:30PM, Sa 9:30AM-7:30PM, Su 10AM-4PM. Cold and hot beverages, and a selection of cakes, sandwiches and other snacks. Alcohol only sold together with food items. The ground floor is pretty small, but there is huge indoor seating on the first floor with a great view over the Centre in a Victorian setting. The globe in the far corner opens up and reveals a chess set!
- 7 Gin & Juice, 47 Park St. noon-11PM daily. A charmingly decorated pub with nearly endless varieties of gin to try out, and freshly pressed juices and smoothies.
There are a lot of hotels and guest houses in the Bristol area. A selection is listed below.
- The Washington Guesthouse Bristol, 11-15 St Paul's Rd, BS8 1LX, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-in: 2PM, check-out: 11AM. A good value budget hotel in heart of Clifton with full English breakfast included in the price. £20/single or £20/double when booked more than 6 weeks in advance.
- 1 Youth Hostel, 14 Narrow Quay, BS1 4QA, ☏ , email@example.com. A modern, clean and very central YHA youth hostel located in the Harbourside area; now with a newly revamped cafe on the quayside. Open every day all hours. £15/dorm bed, £39/private room..
- Bristol Backpackers, 17 Saint Stephen's Street (in Old City), ☏ . Reception hours 9AM-11:30PM. Dorm rate £14 per person per night
- Full Moon Eco Hostel, 1 North St, Stokes Croft, BS1 3PR (near the '5102' apartments, opposite the large roundabout behind Debenham's department store and the bus station), ☏ . Check-in: 3PM-10:30PM. This hostel is next to two of Bristol's biggest nightclubs with music going on until 5AM. Reception is closed from 11AM-3PM. £17.50/dorm bed.
- Rock N Bowl Motel (at The Lanes), 22 Nelson St, BS1 2LE, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-in: 3PM, check-out: noon. A youth hostel above a bowling alley, which doubles as a bar/nightclub, in a converted 1930s primary school. Perfect location in the Old City. Can be a bit noisy at weekends, but they offer free earplugs, and their indie-ish atmosphere means that the music's usually good and often live. From £10/dorm bed, £45/double.
- The Clifton Hotel, St Paul's Rd, BS8 1LX, ☏ . A good value budget hotel in heart of Clifton that has its own restaurant/bar. from £20/single or £25/double when booked more than 6 weeks in advance.
- Clifton Short Lets, 5 Westbourne Place, Clifton, Bristol, BS8 1RZ, ☏ , email@example.com. Check-in: 3PM, check-out: 10AM. Flexible, short term accommodation in the Clifton area of Bristol. Various room type to suit specific needs.
- Arnos Manor Hotel, 470 Bath Road, Arnos Vale, BS4 3HQ, ☏ . Check-in: 2PM, check-out: 11AM. Built in 1760 as the luxurious home of wealthy Bristol merchant William Reeve, this historic building boasts many original Georgian Gothic features. From £45.
- Holiday Inn, Bristol - Filton, Filton Road, Hambrook, ☏ . A 211-room hotel 15 minutes from the centre on 11 acres of land. It has its own fishing lake and free parking! From £60.
- Premier Inn, The Haymarket (near the Bus Station), ☏ . Standard rooms, nothing fancy, has everything you need as a reasonable price. Not ideal for long stays as could get a bit depressing. £50-90.
- The Berkeley Square, 15 Berkeley Square, ☏ . If your visit takes you nearer to Clifton, this could be useful, just off Park Street (where all the best independent shops in the city are). The hotel is a lovely old 3* Georgian house; staying here also gains you access to the exclusive members-only bar in the basement. Rooms from £60.
- Brooks Guesthouse, Exchange Ave, St Nicholas Market BS1 1UB, ☏ . Bright and compact B&B with 23 rooms in a former office block. But the quirk is up on the roof, with four Airstream caravans parked on the astroturf. Assistance dogs only. B&B double from £100.
- SACO Serviced Apartments, ☏ . An alternative to staying in a hotel. 150 well-equipped apartments throughout the city in seven locations with friendly staff. From £65.
- 2 The Rodney Hotel Bristol, 4 Rodney Place, Clifton, Bristol, BS8 4HY (Clifton Village), ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-in: 2PM, check-out: 11AM.
- 3 DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Bristol City Centre, Redcliffe Way, BS1 6NJ, ☏ , email@example.com. Check-in: 3PM, check-out: noon. 206 guest rooms and free Wi-Fi. There's a restaurant onsite, and meeting space for up to 300 attendees.
- 4 Berkeley Suites Bristol, 6 Berkeley Crescent, BS8 1HA, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-in: 3PM, check-out: 11AM. These 5-star apartments offer the services of a top end hotel. Guests can enjoy complimentary use of Nuffield Health & Fitness Centre during their stay.
- Cadbury House Hotel, ☏ . This 4-star hotel is suitable for both relaxation and corporate visits.
- Marriott Royal, College Green, ☏ . 4-star hotel, the most famous in the city. From £75.
- The Brigstow, Welsh Back, ☏ . A modern, contemporary hotel in the centre of all the action, near Broadmead/Corn Street. Overlooks a very attractive stretch of the floating harbour. £89-250.
- Hotel du Vin, The Sugar House, Narrow Lewins Mead, ☏ . Walkable from the centre. Has spacious rooms and a restaurant and winery.
- Avon Gorge Hotel (Clifton Village), ☏ . Spectacular panoramic views of the Avon gorge and the Clifton suspension bridge. They have their own bar and restaurant on site. From £115.
- Mercure Bristol Brigstow Hotel, Welsh Back, BS1 4SP, ☏ , H6548@accor.com. On Welsh Back with riverside frontage. Comfortable, modern bedrooms and there's a plasma-screen TV in the bathroom.
- Mercure Bristol Grand Hotel (formerly the Thistle), ☏ . In the centre of Bristol, about a 2-minute walk from Corn Street and St. Nicholas's Market. It has its own health and leisure club.
- 5 Mercure Bristol Holland House Hotel & Spa, Redcliffe Hill, BS1 6SQ (next to the St. Mary of Redcliffe church), ☏ , H6698@accor.com. Very posh hotel, with 4 star amenities and view over the floating harbour and city centre. Luxurious rooms, with indoor swimming pool and gym. Not at all cozy though, so considering the price only suitable for business travellers. £150.
- 6 Number 38 Clifton, 38 Upper Belgrave Road, Clifton BS8 2XN, ☏ . Elegant B&B with 12 rooms in Georgian merchant's house looking onto Clifton Downs. No children under 12 or dogs. B&B double £130.
- 7 Backwell House, Farleigh Rd, Backwell BS48 3QA (A370 seven miles SW of city), ☏ . Country house hotel with 9 rooms, a few lapses but most visitors enjoy good service, comfort and dining. No children under 12 or dogs. B&B double £100.
Like many other big cities in the UK, Bristol has its rough areas. Use common sense while getting around.
Isolated drunken brawls can occur in the centre of town on Friday and Saturday nights as pubs and clubs close, especially near the waterfront area, the Centre, taxi queues and fast food joints. This has been reduced somewhat by a heavy police presence and security guards monitoring the taxi queues.
Avoid Baldwin Street at the 11PM and 2AM kickout times. Go somewhere else to hail a cab from some of the smaller, less busy ranks.
There are also specific areas that have a reputation after dark. The inner city districts of St Pauls and Easton are said to be rife with drugs and gangs but should not pose any danger to people outside the narcotics trade. The areas are as safe as anywhere else during the day. Pay attention to what is around you, and you should encounter no difficulties.
Also, some outlying suburbs such as Southmead, Knowle West and Hartcliffe have a bad reputation, but it is unlikely that a visitor to the city would travel to these parts.
The main problem is beggars as many will approach you on the street to ask for money.
Also, you may find people offering to sell you drugs. Those people have no drugs and will instead give you a bogus parcel (such as balls of cellophane or matches wrapped in newspaper) and run off with your money. They often have knives so avoid the people in the first place.
Be careful on matchdays especially when the Bristol derby(Bristol City and Bristol Rovers) are playing. Unfortunately fights are very common between the two teams. If you are extremely concerned about your safety, stay away from the stadium they are playing, don't go to pubs or at best, stay out of the city. Don't wear a City shirt in North Bristol and don't wear a Rovers shirt in the southern suburbs and the city. At least, you will get dirty looks. Unfortunately at worst you might get involved in a fight sometimes resulting being severely beaten up for wearing the wrong kit in the wrong place.
- NHS Direct, ☏ 0845 46 47 (non-geographic number).
- Bristol Royal Infirmary Queens Building, Marlborough Street provides treatment for minor illnesses and injuries, assessment by an experienced NHS nurse, advice on how to stay healthy, and information on out-of-hours GP and dental services, local pharmacy services and other local health services. There is also a NHS Walk-in Centre at Knowle West Health Park, In the southern part of the city, For Opening times contact NHS Direct.
- Southmead Hospital Emergency Department and Minor Injury Unit open 24 hours every day
- Bristol Eye Hospital is a specialist hospital for eye conditions and has an accident and emergency[dead link] department with limited opening hours for eye conditions only.
- Bristol Dental Hospital provides the full range of Dental Specialties including Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, Oral Medicine, Restorative, Orthodontics and Paediatric Dentistry.Emergency service[dead link] for dental conditions only (opening hours 8AM-10AM).
- NHS 111 operate a 24-hour helpline available by phone on 111 (free call). For all serious and possibly-serious complaints, they will probably refer the caller to a local General Practitioner or Accident and Emergency department.
As of March 2022, Bristol has 5G from all UK carriers. Free wifi is available in many public places.
The city libraries all have internet points and may allow brief guest use by non-members.
Towns and cities
- Bath, with its famous Regency terraces, Roman remains and spa facilities, is 12 mi (19 km) drive or 15 minutes train journey away, and makes an excellent day trip from Bristol.
- Wells, with its beautiful cathedral, is an hour's coach ride from Bristol.
- Portishead, the nearest sea-side resort town with plenty of nature, heritage, and outdoor attractions.
- Weston-super-Mare, resort with a sandy beach and plenty of entertainment suitable for young families. An adult day return from Bristol Temple Meads is £7.50. If possible, taking the train to Weston-super-mare as an adult day return from the bus station will cost upwards of £8.
Two popular rural tourist destinations that are both an hour from Bristol:
Further afield the following are possible day trips and worthy destinations:
|Routes through Bristol|
|END ←||Bristol London||→ Bath → Paddington|
|Plymouth ← Taunton ←||Plymouth Glasgow||→ Cheltenham → Glasgow|
|Cardiff ← Newport ←||Cardiff Taunton||→ Weston-super-Mare → Taunton|
|Newport ← Severn Beach ←||NW SE||→ Bath|
|Cardiff ← Caldicot ←||W E||→ Yate → London|
|Plymouth ← Weston-super-Mare ←||SW NE||→ Thornbury → Birmingham|
|ENDS AT AVONMOUTH ←||W E||→ Bath|
|ENDS AT THREE LAMPS ←||N S||→ Shepton Mallet → Yeovil|
|Mendip Hills ←||SW NE||→ Thornbury → Berkeley|