Things To Do In Bristol, England

Bristol Harbour
Photo By: Harshil Shah on Flickr

Situated along the historic River Avon, the port city of Bristol has played an important part in the history of England.

 

An industrial and trading powerhouse years ago, Bristol is now a bustling town with wonderful coastal activities by its majestic harbour. Sail along the picturesque river to discover traces of astonishing history around every corner.

 

From the former world’s longest ship to a groundbreaking museum unlike no other, Bristol is filled with groundbreaking achievements.

 

Relax by the sea and embark on an invigorating history lesson when you explore one of England’s true treasures!

 

1.

Marvel At The Clifton Suspension Bridge

Clifton Suspension Bridge
Photo By: sagesolar on Flickr

 

For over 150 years, the Clifton Suspension Bridge has inspired residents and visitors alike. Towering above the River Avon, the bridge remains a revolutionary architectural accomplishment of this gorgeous English town.

 

The mastermind of the bridge was the world-famous engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel. Sadly, the completion of the historical feat would drag on for decades and Brunel never lived to see the finished work.

 

Today, Bristol basks in the glory of its most inspiring engineering feat thanks to one of its most noteworthy residents.

 

The stunning greenery of the gorge creates a picture-perfect setting illustrating the natural beauty of Bristol. For this reason, one of the most unforgettable things to do in Bristol is going for a scenic drive across the historic landmark.

 

Crossing the bridge requires a toll of one pound for vehicles but is welcome to cyclists and pedestrians.

 

The bridge has grown to become the most iconic sight of Bristol and it has served as the backdrop for numerous historical events. Notably, the scenic crossing was the site of the first modern bungee jump and an Olympic torch passing.

 

2. 

Behold the Bristol Cathedral

Bristol Cathedral
Photo By: Matthew Black on Flickr

 

The spellbinding Bristol Cathedral in itself makes Bristol one of the best cities in Europe to visit.

 

Established as the Abbey of St Augustine in 1140, the structure is an elegant depiction of European architecture. The Gothic-style church was ahead of its time and became one of the most influential churches in medieval England.

 

Notably, the church’s eastern section provided the world one of the first glimpses of a traditional hall church. The choir and aisles of this astounding cathedral stand at the same height and are overlooked by a towering ceiling.

 

Conversely, the western front of the historic building enthrals locals and visitors with its twin towers and intriguing pinnacles. Many of the enthralling stained glass windows were replaced throughout the 19th century. However, those who know where to look will find some hidden pieces from medieval times.

 

Situated on College Green, the Bristol Cathedral is open to the public to partake in its alluring beauty.

 

3. 

See The Sensational St Mary Redcliffe Church

St Mary Redcliffe Church
Photo By: Robert Cutts on Flickr

 

Holding a special place in the heart of Bristol for roughly 800 years, the Gothic-style St Mary Redcliffe Church continues to amaze visitors with its intricate design.

 

Perched upon on a cliff overlooking the River Avon, the church stood above all other structures during medieval times. To this day, it is one of the most recognizable churches in England and the tallest building in Bristol.

 

Going back to the rich trading history of Bristol, voyagers would begin each trip with a prayer at the church sitting upon the red cliffs.

 

Although the current spire was not built until the late-19th century, much of the framework was crafted in the 13th and 14th centuries. Comparatively, the interior is masterfully decorated with gorgeous stained glass windows, magnificent monuments, and a massive organ.

 

Truly, one of the most jaw-dropping sights you will see in Bristol!

 

4. 

Discover Treasures At The Bristol Museum & Art Gallery

Bristol Museum and Art Gallery
Photo By: Matt Brown on Flickr

 

One of the most captivating things to do in Bristol is admiring the artifacts and exhibits inside this massive museum.

 

Admire the inspiring creations of past human civilizations and the remarkable elements of Mother Nature. Explore all three floors of the museum’s enlightening history that provides one of the best educational opportunities in Bristol.

 

Take a journey back in time before the dawn of humanity and ponder at fossils of ancient dinosaurs. Fast forward to the earliest human civilizations to behold the remnants of Assyrian and Egyptian culture.

 

Next, admire the work of the most talented artists the world has ever known through ceramics, paintings, and more.

 

For history buffs and art lovers, a trip to the museum is simply a must-see while in Bristol!

 

5. 

Relax At Bristol Harbour

Bristol Harbour
Photo By: steelfish on Pixabay

 

Explore the heart and soul of this once-bustling trading port! Spanning back to the 11th century, the docks of the Bristol Harbour are home to a plethora of seaside activities.

 

Set sail on a relaxing ferry boat ride or row out to sea on a vigorous canoe excursion! Pack up your aquatic gear and wander around the docks to fun-filled entertainment to spend the evening. There are endless restaurants, cafes, and bars to grab a bite to eat while the boats coast along the water.

 

The harbourside area is the premier place to learn the captivating history of Bristol being an important maritime city. Similarly, the Matthew is an incredible work of artistry that illustrates the vessel that sailed to Newfoundland in the 15th century.

 

Many other historical and cultural attractions are just a stone’s throw from the docks and the harbour is the perfect place to begin a day of coastal sightseeing.

 

6. 

Witness the Breathtaking Brunel’s SS Great Britain

SS Great Britain
Photo By: David Merrett on Flickr

 

Climb aboard the world’s most advanced vessel of the mid-19th century and marvel at this miraculous engineering masterpiece. The brilliant Isambard Kingdom Brunel designed the magnificent ocean liner to transport worldly travelers on transatlantic voyages to the United States.

 

From 1845 to 1854, the SS Great Britain was the longest passenger ship around the globe and was a true spectacle to behold.

 

Today, it has been transformed into an innovative museum and is one of the most popular things to do in England.

Visitors can gain an incredible glance of what the glorious ship looked like in its prime. Furthermore, the engineering genius of Brunel truly comes to life in this fully restored work of craftsmanship.

 

The ship is full of invigorating activities suited for all age ranges. In particular, the youngsters can enjoy interactive games that provide them with a stunning glance into this treasure Bristol history.

 

7. 

Learn The History of Bristol At M Shed

M-Shed Museum
Photo By: Heather Cowper on Flickr

 

Located along the picturesque harbourside, M Shed tells the captivating historical tales of Bristol. This former dockside shed paints an elegant picture of the remarkable individuals who shaped the formation of Bristol.

 

A truly innovative museum, M Shed bucks the norm for an inquisitive outlook into the past. Steamboats and cranes are among the unique exhibits that provide the Bristol public with incredible history lessons. Also, a magnificent assortment of films tells the city’s role as an important trading post.

 

Although the engineering history of Bristol is on full display, the museum depicts noteworthy contributions to the fine arts. You will certainly find a fascinating treasure of the past in this vast collection of items.

 

Presently, the museum is free to the public and tops the list of fantastic expeditions for history buffs.

 

8. 

Admire Sea Creatures At The Bristol Aquarium

Sealife at Bristol Aquarium
Photo By: Adam Heath on Flickr

 

Discover the depths of the ocean from the comfort of this remarkable facility! Nestled in the quaint harbourside, enrich your knowledge of the amazing animals that live in the deep blue sea.

 

This family-friendly activity displays underwater creatures from all over the world on this aquatic adventure. From local British waters to tropical environments, the mesmerizing beauty of the sea is a spectacular sight to behold.

 

Check out a replica of a sunken ship, amazing coral sea displays, traditional fishing village exhibits, and much more! Sharks, lobsters, rays, tropical fish, and other colorful marine life make this journey one of the most alluring things to do in Bristol.

 

9. 

Embark On A Safari At Bristol Zoo Gardens

Close Up of Gorilla
Photo By: Bristol Zoo on Flickr

 

Feed your wild side and witness the breathtaking wonders of the animal world. Housing several species of endangered animals, the zoo gives you a glimpse of sensational creatures around the globe.

 

Most importantly, visitors gain a valuable educational opportunity to learn about the efforts to protect vulnerable species.

 

The beautiful gardens are home to an eclectic array of creatures including seals, gorillas, and meerkats. The facility includes numerous encounters with exotic animals which will certainly mesmerize curious children.

 

In particular, Splash provides the kids with a fun-filled day playing in the water but includes an interesting twist. Lucky swimmers will have the chance to coast alongside adorable animals of the facility.

 

10. 

Climb Cabot Tower

Cabot Tower
Photo By: Ashley Coates on Flickr

 

Located in Brandon Hill, this majestic tower is dedicated to adventurer John Cabot and his transatlantic voyage. Cabot famously departed from Bristol and claimed to land along the North American coast in the late 15th century.

 

The tower provides enchanting views of the Bristol skyline and is situated on the lush vegetation. Ascending to the top of the tower is certainly one of the most popular free things to do in Bristol.

 

After enjoying the astounding scenery of the city, spend some time in the oldest park in Bristol. Brandon Hill is a gorgeous setting to enjoy a picnic and partake in an afternoon of family fun.

 

11. 

Bird Watch At Chew Valley Lake

Chew Valley Lake
Photo By: Sarah on Flickr

 

Bristol is home to one of the most spellbinding artificial lakes in England. Opened in 1956, this reservoir is an ideal location to spot gorgeous wildlife and embark on an astonishing adventure.

 

This fishing paradise is the perfect getaway in Bristol to enjoy quality trout or fly fishing. Whether you are seeking peace and serenity or a friendly competition between friends, Chew Valley Lake is a picturesque setting to have a fantastic time.

 

Likewise, bird watchers will also have an unforgettable day sailing on a boat or simply gazing at the peaceful surroundings. Hundreds of birds have been spotted in this protected wildlife zone and visitors can take in the tranquil setting along multiple walking paths.

 

12. 

Escape To The Leigh Woods National Nature Reserve

Leigh Woods National Nature Reserve
Photo By: Adrian Scottow on Flickr

 

Just minutes away from the Clifton Suspension Bridge, this magical getaway is perfect for nature lovers. Take in the beguiling scenery of Bristol and the neighbouring Avon Gorge.

 

Embark on a day of outdoor adventures through exhilarating hiking trails and biking paths. Go at your own pace and feel at one with the natural world while Bristol is at your doorstep.

 

The area is teeming with radiant flora and unique trees seen solely alongside Avon Gorge. During your hike through the woodlands, take a peek at the limestone quarries and sweeping valleys from above.

 

13. 

Sample Street Food At St Nicholas Market

St Nicholas Market
Photo By: Monika at Flickr

 

Created in 1743, this bustling market has been the epicentre of mouthwatering street food in Bristol! Dozens of innovative stalls offer delicious cuisine of all varieties and you are sure to find the culinary treat just for you.

 

Voted as one of the premier food markets in the United Kingdom, St Nicholas is one of the best things to do in England for foodies. Whether you come across year-round eateries or temporary stalls, there is always an endless collection of worldly flavours.

 

Specifically, the Glass Arcade is your go-to for permanent fixtures at the market. Tacos, falafels, and noodles are just a handful of the delectable bites to sink your teeth into this area of St Nicholas.

 

On select days, explore the vibrant Corn and Wine Streets for routine visitors to set up shop and provide outstanding gastronomic experiences. Taste everything from locally grown produce to wonderful street food vendors on a sunny afternoon.

 

Discover Bristol Today!

From the engineering feats of Isambard Kingdom Brunel to some of England’s most spectacular churches, Bristol has something for everyone!

 

Bristol has always been a city full of innovation and an adventurous spirit never to be contained. The personality of Bristol is still on full display today with every glance of the Clifton Suspension Bridge or the SS Great Britain.

 

Nevertheless, Bristol screams nature and it boasts a special relationship with the River Avon and gorgeous greenery.

 

Explore this charming maritime city and find out why it is becoming one of England’s must-see cultural gems!

 

Daniel Grenier
All it took was five days exploring the other-worldly landscapes of Iceland to ignite Daniel’s adventurous spirit. A career change was on the horizon! Daniel was determined to leave his job in New York City behind and spend a life on the road and in the sky seeing every beautiful destination imaginable on the planet. Turn the page one year later and he has trekked across the Swiss Alps, hiked the rolling hills of England, and sailed the archipelagos in Sweden. A newfound career as a freelance writer and travel blogger has intensified his desire to discover the world’s wonders. Daniel’s passion for traveling stretches farther than just witnessing breathtaking natural scenery. The chance to meet friendly locals, taste delicious cuisine, and take care of loveable pets abroad are wonderful memories he holds dear to his heart. His goal is to inspire the explorer inside every soul by capturing astonishing landscapes, lively city streets, and thrilling excursions. A handful of the countries sitting atop his bucket list include Norway, Italy, Croatia, Montenegro, Spain, Argentina, Chile, New Zealand, Australia, and an ascent to the mystical Machu Picchu. The journey does not stop until he has stepped foot in every country!

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