Bristol: The hippest city in England? Tips and sights
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London has always had a great attraction for us, so we have visited the city many times. At some point it was time for something new. We quickly became aware of Bristol, which is mainly because the city is still a real insider tip and is known for its spectacular street art. And right off the bat: Bristol simply blew us away with its raw charm. We'll tell you our favorite places and what you absolutely have to do in Bristol. Before that, we would like to give you some useful information to take with you.
- Worth knowing: How to get there, how to get around and more
- Bristol sights
- Street art in Bristol
- Eating and drinking in Bristol
- Excursion tips from Bristol
1. Things to know about a trip to Bristol
Getting to and around Bristol
We flew to Bristol (without the dog, of course) and were really impressed by how quickly you can get to the city with the AirportFlyer. The shuttle bus takes just 30 minutes and costs £13 return (book in advance, otherwise more expensive).
Within the city you can do almost everything on foot, which we found very pleasant. In the port area you can also hop on the ferry (Bristol Ferry Boats) and let it take you from A to B. The fares are calculated according to distance, the great view is free.
Accommodation in Bristol
From large hotel chains to cute B&Bs, you will find lots of cool accommodations that are also very cheap. We recommend choosing a hotel in the city center so that you are independent of public transport.
What's the atmosphere like in Bristol?
Bristol is a rough city with a really cool vibe. Heavy industry meets Georgian architecture. Nowhere else is there so much (significant) street art. And the food scene has it all. In addition, Bristol is not touristy at all and is a real insider tip for England.
How much time does Bristol take?
Three days are ideal to really experience the city. Although it's not huge in terms of area, there's just too much to see to squeeze into one day.
With dog to Bristol
We were in Bristol without a dog, but the city is basically dog-friendly. The English are easygoing with dogs, so many restaurants and pubs welcome them. And being able to do everything on foot is another advantage when traveling with a dog. Incidentally, Bristol is surrounded by beautiful countryside, so excursions into the countryside are also possible.
Enough with the formalities, it's time to dive into the cool city. Here are my favorite places in Bristol.
The Old Town of Bristol
Although the old town is comparatively small, it is extremely well preserved and absolutely worth seeing. In the narrow streets you will find really cool pubs, restaurants and small shops. We also particularly enjoyed St. Nicholas Market, which used to be the site of the old Corn Exchange. The Christmas Steps, which are one of the most popular photo motifs in the city, are particularly picturesque.
Bristol Harbor with hip bars and Brunel's Great Britain
The once important port of Bristol is no longer served by the big ships, but it is now the trendy district of the city. In the restaurants, bars and clubs on Bordeaux Quay you can eat well or go to one or the other party in the evening. In addition, there is a ship with a very special history in the port of Brunel's Great Britain. In its day in the 19th century it was the longest passenger ship in the world and became known as "the ship that changed the world". By the way: the engineer Brunel not only built the ship, but also Bristol's suspension bridge, the Thames Tunnel and the specially designed dry dock.
Cabot Tower and Brandon Hill Park
If you are drawn to the countryside, you will find Brandon Hill Park in the middle of the city. High above is the Cabot Tower, built of red sandstone, which you can climb for free from 8:15 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. From the tower you have a view of the whole city. Better not to do this with a dog, the stairwell is narrow.
Clifton and the Clifton Suspension Bridge
Bristol is a rugged port city, but the Clifton area is a little more picturesque, perched on a hill overlooking the city centre. Characterized by grand Georgian townhouses, this affluent neighborhood is both beautiful and hip. Clifton really blew us away. While Clifton Village is characterized by boutiques and original shops, you will find cool bars and restaurants around Whiteladies Road, which are particularly popular with students.
A very special street in Clifton is the Royal York Crescent. Shaped like a semicircle, it overlooks the whole city. You'll find them just outside Clifton Village. By the way, it is one of the most expensive streets in all of Bristol. Once you're there, you'll quickly understand why. By the way: would you have guessed that Bristol has more Georgian houses than nearby Bath?
The landmark of the district (and the whole city) is clearly the Clifton Suspension Bridge, which you should definitely take a look at. Especially beautiful when hundreds of hot air balloons rise overhead as part of the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta.
Street Art in Bristol: In the footsteps of Banksy
Bristol stands for street art like no other city, and none other than Banksy has his roots here (something people are quite proud of here). So it's no wonder that the Upfest, Europe's largest street art and graffiti festival, takes place here every year. 30,000 visitors will find a food market and the works of around 300 artists, whose creative processes they can follow live. We weren't in town at the time of the festival, but the street art is still omnipresent. We can only recommend taking a guided tour and marveling at the numerous Banksys and getting many insiders about him and his work. And even if Banksy's art is really exciting, the many other works of art deserve our full attention. We have done numerous street art tours and have to say the one in Bristol was by far the best.
Dining in Bristol
There is hardly a city where you can eat as well as in Bristol. This is due to the high density of pubs and restaurants, and there are also incredibly good breweries and cider houses here. We were also very impressed by the many street food markets. By the way: England is extremely vegan-friendly and of course you can see that here too. Vegan options are available almost everywhere. Here are our favorite places to eat and drink in Bristol.
St Nicholas Market
This market (affectionately called St Nick by the locals) is a Bristol institution, having been operating since 1743(!) in the impressive Georgian halls in the heart of the Old Town. You will find classic British food here as well as exotic ones. A visit is an absolute must.
The Harborside Food Market
You can find the Harborside Food Market at the port. Located in one of Bristol's best waterfront areas, this market offers not only great food stalls in a casual industrial setting, but also great views of the harbour. This place comes alive with the city's residents, especially in summer. From pizza and burgers to BBQ, kebabs and salads, there is everything your heart desires (many vegan).
Brewdog opened in 2012 as one of the big players in launching the craft beer revolution in Bristol. You can get insanely good beer and pizza in a great atmosphere at two locations, and Brewdog, as the name suggests, is extremely dog-friendly. For example, at their Pooch Party event, dogs get their own dog beer.
Left Handed Giant
Bristol's breweries are best known for their craft beer and IPA. Not far from the old town you will find the Left Handed Giant St Philips Brewery & Tap Room. Not only is there possibly the best beer in town here, but also incredibly delicious pizza in a unique industrial setting.
The Apple Cider Boat
The Apple is a cider bar on a 1930s Dutch barge. Opened in 2008 at the end of the infamous King Street in Bristol, the Apple offers almost exclusively cider. Here you have the opportunity to try a variety of ciders in an incredibly comfortable environment. We really liked it here.
The Pieminister Bristol
It's a big player now, but it was founded in Bristol. And that's how I noticed the Pieminister here for the first time. Here you get the tastiest pies in countless varieties, many of them vegan. There are three locations in Bristol, including St Nicks Market and Broad Quay.
We love Indian food and when we heard that Bristol has an award-winning Indian restaurant we just had to go there. At Nutmeg there is authentic, but at the same time modern, award-winning food at absolutely fair prices. We ate our way through the menu and are still dreaming of this beautiful evening.
Excursion tips from Bristol
Bristol is just a short train journey from Bath, making it the ideal day trip. Bath is one of the prettiest cities in England and is really worth seeing (although no longer an insider tip).
If you have a little more time, you can catch the train to Weymouth on the spectacular Jurassic Coast and get there in around two hours. We did it like that and spent two wonderful days in nature there. You can find the trip report linked below.
Or you connect Bristol to Wales. By the way, Wales really blew me away and has been my absolute dream destination in the UK ever since. All Wales information is available here.
A small insider tip is actually the Cheddar Gorge, the largest gorge in England. It is just a short drive away.
Also read: Weymouth and the Jurassic Coast
In the south of England, just a two-hour train ride from Bristol, you'll find one of England's most beautiful stretches of coastline. The Jurassic Coast. You can find out why a trip is worthwhile and what you can experience here in the article.
3 fun facts about Bristol:
Finally, I would like to share three exciting facts about Bristol with you:
- Bristol residents hate Brexit. 84 percent opposed it.
- The popular Sherlock Holmes series was filmed in Bristol. There are even opportunities to take an interactive tour of the filming locations.
- In addition to Banksy, Massive Attack, Portishead, Cary Grant and the legendary pirate Blackbeard also come from Bristol.
More UK Adventures
Whether a city trip to London, a road trip through Wales or information about England's beautiful south coast. Here you can find all posts about traveling in the UK..