Bristol, a city that often wears its history on its sleeve, has far more to offer than meets the eye. In the heart of the West Country lies a vibrant city rich in diversity and creativity.
Often overshadowed by its larger counterparts, however, it is not to be underestimated. Bristol is one of the few cities in the UK that perfectly balances the hustle and bustle of the cityscapes with the calmness of the countryside.
The city offers famous street art and a vast music and art community to regenerative initiatives, and more brunch spots than you could ever ask for. Briston has an alive yet relaxed, and friendly atmosphere, making it a popular destination for tourists and a great place for residents too.
Join us as we move through the streets of Bristol, exploring the best unique ways to spend the day.
1. Clifton Village
As the sun sets over the Clifton Suspension Bridge, casting a golden glow on the Avon Gorge, Bristol’s one-of-a-kind air becomes palpable. From the laughter echoing through those cobbled alleyway roads to the aroma of international cuisines mingling in the air. The vibrant strokes of street art come alive as the sun falls upon its walls.
Bristol is more than a city; it’s the living canvas of an ever-evolving story that is waiting to be discovered by those who visit.
We start our meander through Bristol in Clifton Village. A postcard-worthy neighbourhood where Georgian architecture meets tree-lined streets. Wandering through Clifton Arcade feels like stepping back in time; its Victorian charm draws you in, inviting you to explore boutique shops and quaint tearooms. It's the perfect place to start the day and enjoy some light retail therapy and a mid-morning tea and cake break!
Don't forget to marvel at the Clifton suspension bridge that looms majestically overhead, as an icon of Bristol's modern-day engineering prowess. Come back in the late afternoon for a photographer’s dream at sunset.
2. St. Nicholas Market
Moving on into the heart of the old city, you will find St. Nicholas Market. Set in the historic Corn Exchange, it is a hubbub of action bursting with colour and aromas. Open every day except Sunday, it is the perfect place to stop for lunch and will no doubt be able to satisfy any cravings you may have.
As you make your way through you’ll find yourself surrounded by the busy excitement of food enthusiasts, and artisans of all trades busy at work. From exotic spices to locally crafted cheeses, the market is full of flavours to try. Don’t miss the Glass Arcade, where the air is infused with the scent of freshly baked bread and the spices of every international cuisine you can think of! It's a food lover's paradise.
Next time you’re there, try stopping by Matina for a Kurdish wrap filled with an assortment of deliciousness. The queues may be long but they are oh-so worth it!
3. Queen Square
Hidden amidst the bustling city centre, Queen Square is a tranquil retreat and a well-deserved break from the hustle of the busy markets.
Bordered by elegant Georgian townhouses and overlooked by towering trees, it's a space where locals unwind and visitors find solace. It's a great place for a break from running around the city.
Grab a book and bask in the dappled light of the mid-afternoon sun, or simply enjoy the gentle ripple of the fountain. Let time slow down, and take a moment to enjoy your holiday, allowing yourself to appreciate the simple joys amidst the sometimes chaotic nature of the city.
4. Wapping Wharf
Wapping Wharf, once a maritime hub, is now one of Bristol's trendiest quarters, a wonderful place to stroll along the harbourside in the late afternoon sun as you enjoy the views.
Within Wapping Wharf you will find Cargo, a collection of shipping containers repurposed into stylish eateries and boutiques, perfectly showcasing the classic Bristolian spirit of innovation.
Once again you’ll find yourself on a culinary journey around the world, where food trucks dish out gourmet delights and craft beer flows on tap. As the sun sets, the twinkling lights and vibrant atmosphere make Cargo the perfect spot for an evening of laughter, delight, and debauchery.
Some local favourites you can expect to find there:
- Root: a restaurant that focuses on seasonal, local, and sustainably sourced vegetables. They offer a creative and delicious menu, perfect for vegetarians and anyone looking for innovative plant-based dishes.
- Bertha’s Pizza: known for their wood-fired sourdough pizzas, Bertha’s Pizza offers a delicious menu of pizzas made with locally sourced ingredients. The cosy atmosphere and the aroma of freshly baked pizzas make it a popular choice among locals.
- Beer Necessities: is a micro bar known for its variety of delicious craft beers. Priding themselves with attentive and thoughtful service, you can relax by the harbourside with a beer in hand as the sun glistens on the water.
5. The Arnolfini Art Gallery
Just a hop skip and a jump away, past the buskers that provide a soundtrack to your exploration, you will find The Arnolfini Art Gallery. Situated in a historic building on Narrow Quay, near Bristol’s Harbourside. Its location offers stunning views of the waterfront that features a café bar where visitors can relax, enjoy refreshments, and discuss the art they’ve seen. Visiting Arnolfini provides an opportunity to immerse yourself in contemporary art and experience the dynamic cultural landscape of Bristol. Keep in mind that specific exhibitions, events, and programs may vary, so it’s a good idea to check Arnolfini’s official website for the latest information before planning your visit.
Image source Visit Bristol
6. We The Curious Museum
Other great spots along Bristol's harbourside include; We The Curious, We The Curious is a hands-on science museum and interactive center. It’s perfect for families and anyone interested in exploring science, technology, and the natural world through interactive exhibits and experiments.
7. The Watershed
The Watershed is a cultural venue that includes a cinema, café, and event spaces. Whether you’re interested in watching independent films, exploring digital creativity, attending events, or simply enjoying a cup of coffee in a creative atmosphere, The Watershed provides a multifaceted experience for visitors interested in the arts and innovation.
Be sure to check out their website ahead of time for an up-to-date list of all the exciting things happening there.
On that note of innervation and artistry, you will find a world of creativity and forward-thinking at Sparks, a hub for sustainability and education found in the heart of Bristol.
Their mission is a greener, fairer and more creative society. It has a wonderful positive atmosphere with community values running deeply. Here you will find educational and interactive art installations, bookshops and stalls selling vintage and upcycled clothes. An experience not to be missed!
So, fellow travellers, when you find yourself in Bristol, don’t just follow the guidebooks; wander down the narrow lanes, sip coffee in hidden courtyards, and let the city surprise you.
Bristol’s beauty lies not just in its landmarks but in the uncharted corners, the little hideaways, and the welcoming spirit of its people. Come, be a part of Bristol’s unique story; a story you won’t soon forget.