If you’ve not yet been to Bristol, you’re in for a real treat. The city is a multi-cultural, creative and vibrant place. It is also an extremely environmentally conscious and ethical winner of the European Green Capital award back in 2015; being the only UK city to have done so.
The city has various areas and hotspots, each of which boasts its own unique atmosphere. For example, Stokes Croft is packed with independent cafes, street art, vintage shops and lively bars. Clifton is quaint and home to the famous suspension bridge and is packed with high-end brasseries and concept stores. Look too at North Street in Bedminster which is up and coming and hosts the Upfest art festival. And of course, Bristol is the home of Banksy and you can see the artist’s work across the city, including Well Hung Lover on Park Street.
Brunel’s fantastic Clifton Suspension Bridge is an obvious attraction and one of the best examples of Victorian engineering anywhere in the country. There are also plenty of wonderful art galleries and museums to see. Check out the M Shed on the harbourside and the Arnolfini contemporary art space. Independent films are shown at the Watershed on the waterfront which is perfect if you enjoy indie cinema. In fact, the Waterfront is generally a beautiful spot to explore when the weather is fine. Enjoy an artisan tea or coffee at one of the many terrace cafes, stop for a brunch and sit in the sunshine and watch the world go by at this bustling meeting point.
As a green city, there are various outdoor attractions to enjoy too. Head to St Werburgh’s which features a wonderful city farm with free entry. Try Wild Place too, which is a 150-acre conversation park that is home to the new Bear Wood attraction, home to a series of brown bears, wolves, wolverines and lynx. For additional outdoor activity, you could try the inland surfing lake of The Wave, or take your bike out to ride the trails of the Bristol and Bath Railway Path.
The Balloon Fiesta takes place every year at Ashton Court Estate and brings together 150 hot air balloons in the world’s largest open-air festival of its kind. You need simply be in the city at the time to see the aerial extravaganza in all of its colourful glory. After Notting Hill, St Paul’s Carnival is one of the most renowned and long-standing carnivals in the UK, celebrating Bristol’s vibrant Caribbean community in a riot of music, dancing, great food, parades and more.
Food and drink
If you enjoy exploring different cuisines, then head to St Nick’s Market for delicious fare from all over the world at incredibly competitive prices and with a wonderful atmosphere. The city is packed with restaurants, brasseries and other foodie outlets, with plenty of vegan and plant-based options to choose from amongst the usual posh burger joints and international-themed restaurants. Just wander the back streets and spot somewhere new to try.
The same applies to bars and coffee shops. This is a city which takes its gastronomy seriously and you’ll find plenty of exceptional coffee bars, tea shops and real ale pubs, not to mention wine and cocktail bars.
The city centre is packed with all the big brands and high street heroes you could hope for and there are also plenty of exciting indie brands with their own retail outlets, including plenty of sustainable fashion brands. Find hundreds of shops in the attractive Cabot’s Circus Shopping Centre, with lots of food, drink and relaxation spots to take in along the way. If you’re in the city over Christmas, the annual Christmas market in the shopping quarter is also a must-visit. There are dozens of stalls packed with sellers from across Europe, selling mulled wine, festive food, gifts, plants and plenty more.
Head out of the city centre and you’ll find plenty of enticing and independent bars, coffee shops, cafes, gastropubs, restaurants and other attractions, all with large groups of hipsters and other trendsetters hanging out and setting fashions. Some of the most popular neighbourhoods include Clifton, North Street and Gloucester Road, where the Bristol housing market is particularly buoyant.
So if you’re looking for an entertaining, cultural and friendly break in one of the UK’s most affordable and accessible cities, then it’s time to check out Bristol for a weekend break, or longer. It’s a city you’ll never cover in one visit, so expect to return time and time again as you discover yet more of this historic and culture-packed tourist destination.