Top 10 things to do

If you are only spending a short time in Bristol you may be wondering how best to spend your time. Here are a few ideas to start you off:

The M shed

No doubt a "must do" for visitors – a visit to the new flagship museum the M shed will give you a real feel for the roots of this city. As you wander through this modern, well laid out museum you hear the voices of Bristol inhabitants relating their own unique life stories. Interactivity is encouraged; on my last visit children were clambering aboard the Bristol made double-decker bus and playing "ticket inspector". Don’t be surprised to find a local resident crawling around the gigantic floor map of the city trying to find their home street. Best of all this museum is free to visit although donations are welcome.

Explore Brunel’s ss Great Britain in Bristol

Enjoy exploring this beautifully restored Victorian ocean liner, the world's first iron-hulled, steam powered, ocean going ship that was built in Bristol by Brunel and launched in 1843. Whatever your age you will find much to discover on board Brunel's ss Great Britain in Bristol. Select an audio companion to guide you on your voyage either as a first class passenger, a steerage passenger, a maritime archeologist or as Sinbad the ship’s cat. Families can have fun by each choosing a different audio companion and comparing notes at the end of the journey. You can even experience the heat and smell of the fully operational Engine Room and inspect the hull of the ship under a glass ceiling. You don’t have to see everything in one day, as your ticket is valid for a full year.


Discover At-Bristol

Discover science at the award winning At-Bristol science centre. Here it is all about being interactive and having fun while you learn. With hundreds of exhibits and activities to choose from there is something for all the family. Become an animator with Morph and his friends, create your own TV show, feed a skeleton and find out how the food runs through his body, see the human brain exhibit, learn about the night sky in one of the fantastic shows in the planetarium and much, much more. A day to remember!

Visit Bristol Cathedral

Bristol Cathedral is one of the most popular attractions in Bristol. There has been a church on this site since medieval times when the Abbey of St Augustine was founded in 1148. The abbey was dissolved in 1539, the nave destroyed and the remaining building formed the beginnings of the Cathedral. Today it boasts stunning architecture and a spectacular interior reminiscent of a grand hall. Cathedral tours are run on most Saturdays at 11.30 am and 1.30 pm throughout the year. Visitors are warmly invited to join in the everyday worship of the Cathedral.

Climb Brandon Hill

On a clear day the short climb up Brandon Hill is rewarded by magnificent views of the city that are even better if you make the extra effort to climb Cabot Tower on the brow of the hill!  Cabot Tower was opened in 1897 to commemorate John Cabot’s voyage to Newfoundland on the Matthew, the top is reached via a narrow and very steep staircase. In the park there is a small nature reserve, miniature ponds and some informal gardens. Take a picnic and relax a little but watch out for the numerous grey squirrels who are only too glad of an extra morsel. Tip - there is less of a climb to the summit of the hill if you enter the park from the Clifton area – see map for details.

Walk across Clifton Suspension Bridge 

Clifton Suspension Bridge is the symbol of Bristol. With a height from the deck, of 76 metres  above high water level it affords spectacular views of Avon Gorge – don’t look down if you suffer from vertigo!  Attributed to Isambard Kingdom Brunel the bridge was the dream of a Bristol wine merchant who left a legacy to build a bridge over the Gorge over 150 years ago. There is a Visitor Centre at the Leigh Woods end of the bridge if you want to learn more about the construction of the bridge. In the evenings the illuminated bridge provides an impressive sight especially when observed from a distance.

Bristol Aquarium

Bristol Aquarium is a "must see" attraction for lovers of the marine world. Watch native species such as North Sea fish and Deadly Weaver fish swim around a sunken ship’s hull. Step into the glass underwater tunnel running through the centre of a coral reef and come face to face with sharks, rays and other colourful species. Visit Velcro the Giant Pacific Octopus. Journey through the Amazon on the multi level walkway and see Turtles, Stingray and other freshwater species. Time your visit to coincide with a "talk and feed" session to experience the Amazon coming to life.

Bristol Zoo Gardens

Bristol Zoo Gardens houses an impressive variety of animals and reptiles for you to see and learn about, but a visit to the zoo will introduce you to a great many more fun filled activities.  Children over 5 (and adults) can climb on ZooRopia and traverse the centre of the zoo at gorilla height, get to grips with face-painting in the activity centre, run wild in the adventure playground, paddle around in the Splash area and feed the parrots in the walk through feeding area. Tip – if you want to save money it is permitted to take a picnic into the zoo.

Shop 'till you drop

Shopping in Bristol is a joy for the retail junky.  Your retail cravings will be satisfied at the recently built Cabot Circus and Broadmead area, where you will find all the well-known British high street outlets. Head for Harvey Nichols, a branch of the famous London Store, if you are looking for designer goods at top prices - or if you simply want to gaze and wish.  For up to the minute fashion at rather lower prices make a beeline for Top Shop, Zara or House of Fraser. Of course Marks and Spencer, the British institution, is represented in Bristol and has a branch in Broadmead where you can find fashion and food.

Browse round St Nicholas Market

Market lovers in Bristol head for St Nicholas Market on Corn Street where you can easily while away a morning browsing through the wide variety of goods on offer. From music and books to candles and vintage clothing and much more there are delights in store round every corner. Treat yourself to a spot of lunch from one of the many eateries selling food from all over the world. I recommend trying a local Pieminister pie from the pie shop – try it with mash, peas and onion gravy.

Photographs by N. Hindmarch