What you need to know if you are visiting Bristol
If you are planning a trip to Bristol, and you are looking for places where to go, what to do and alternative spots of the city, you are in the right place.
I have visited Bristol a few days ago, for a short city break, and the city has left me positively surprised. If you relate Bristol to its bridge and the University only, you are really limiting your idea of this flamboyant city.
So, let me give you a few directions and must-do, to better enjoy your visit to the city.
This was a crucial city point in the past, when it used to be a dock where sailors and merchants were trading goods and set sail for new discoveries. Today Bristol’s Harbourside is a vibrant, modern spot lined up with restaurants, bars, shops, and hotels.
Local people and tourist gather together to enjoy the river Avon, tasting the food at one of the many restaurants by the harbuor or at any stalls of the Sunday Street Market. You can find the market right beyond the Neptune’s monument.
The options are diverse: a river cruise (provided by Bristol Packet boat Trips), relax with food and drinks at one of the many restaurants/bars, sit down by the river simply reading a book, stroll underneath the arches looking for some unique gift to buy from one of the local vendors or just walk through the harbour to discover hidden corners and funny pieces of art such as “Bill and Bob” and “The Beetle“. If you are visiting over the weekend or for a bank holiday you can also get entertained by glittering carousels.
You can also come back later for a “Happy hour” or for a night out dining and hitting the dance floor at one of the many clubs. My favorite? Clearly Revolucion de Cuba: salsa dance hall till Midnight every weekend.
This Cathedral is among the most beautiful Cathedrals in the World. Yes, I have said it! Walking from the Harbour towards the Marriot hotel, you will soon see the Church’s medieval walls rising above the city with proud.
Originated as an Augustinian Abbey, the Cathedral has also a Romanesque style, with carved patterns in the wall, and the central nave ceilings all at the same height. Today the church is also used for important community events.
At the entrance, you will be great with a detailed brochure (several languages are available), that will help you through your visit getting to know more about the history of the Cathedral itself.
Whether or not you are a Church’s fanatic, you will love the majestic building, with all its rooms and most of all, the hidden garden. You must reach the garden: a beautiful well taken piece of nature just on the rear of the Cathedral. You have nothing else to do than take a seat and smell the plants and herbs surrounding you.
Fore more information about Bristol Cathedral visit their website.
For the old fashioned street lovers, “Christmas steps” is a must stop. The steps are hosted by one of the most picturesque streets in town with its “Sedilla” *stone seats”.
Why it is called Christmas Steps? Well, the stories and rumors have been many, and I invite you to read this deep in details article, to know more “The history of Christmas Steps in Bristol and the surprising reason behind its name”
Just on top of the steps, you will find at your left side the Chapel of the Three Kings of Cologne. Furthermore, crossing the road above the steps, you will reach Perry Road and Colston Street, interesting for their very unique Kimono, Japanese art, Antiques and Violin shops.
Street art and Vintage shop at Stokes Croft
What generally guides do not tell you about Bristol, is called “Stokes Croft”. Decadent artistic hub of Bristol and the perfect spot for music events and nights out.
Reaching Stokes Croft, feels like being in both Shoreditch and Camden in London, yet keeping its unique style. As soon as you reach the area, you will find a 2 floors Vintage Market. The owner inside will be happy to welcome you and show you around. Walking up Stokes Croft, you will lead to Jamaica street: independent area of Graffiti.
Enjoy a cold drink at one of the local Bistro or indulge in some shopping, finding the perfect handcrafted accessory to take home with you.
Also, you can stroll through the Market at The Moon every first Saturday of the month, or visit the Stokes Croft Museum.
The real hidden gem of Stokes Croft is in Backfields: “Stokes croft Beerhouse“. Is a lovely garden bar designed into an old deconsecrated church. It is not always open to the public, although you will find the gate to enter the garden always open. Just pop in to relax before to take on another walking tour around this alternative and interesting area.
Victoria Square and the residential Clifton suburb
To me, when I travel to a new city, it’s vital to get to know the suburb and residential areas. It does not matter the social status of the area, you will always find out interesting corners and if you are lucky you will also meet local people happy to take you around.
Having my Airbnb in Clifton, I have decided to take a stroll through the area and see what it was hidden from me. With big surprise, I have to reckon that Clifton and its green spot “Victoria Square” are very pleasant at sight and perfectly done for a nice afternoon walk.
Just by Victoria square you can enter “Clifton Arcade“. A unique vintage and handcrafted market, where to find everything from Chinese antics to quirky jewellery.
The Clifton Suspension Bridge
Last but not least, in my list, we have Bristol Suspension Bridge: one of the most iconic symbols of the United Kingdom.
The Bridge links Clifton to Leigh Wood and it rises above the river Avon, overlooking Avon’s Gorge. Opened in 1864, the bridge has always got a toll to be paid by motorists and drivers.
There are several options to enjoy the bridge: you can either watch it from the Observatory or you can hike down to the river to have a view from the bottom. The observatory is not free of charge, but the view from the outside is pretty much the same as from the inside. Mind the the observatory is up to an hill
You can also visit the Ghyston’s cave, to have the chance to walk into a cave facing the bridge suspended at half height. Note that there are 130 steeps to tackle down and then up to the cave. For price and opening times check here.
Now you can walk through the bridge, hanging on top of river Avon and breathing fresh and crispy air .
Finally, you can also have some proper fun here. By the observatory there is a fence, to be crossed over with caution, where you can then slide down to a slippery rock, in front of the bridge.
I hope that reading this article, you have been tempted to book your next trip to Bristol soon. If you like what you read, don’t forget to share with your family and friends.