Bristol is a charming city, brimming with culture, history and stunning architecture. This part of the South West is well worth a visit at any time of the year, but if you find yourself there this summer, born and bred Bristolian Melissa Arancio has the lowdown on what not to miss
Visit the landmarks
Home of the SS Great Britain and the Clifton Suspension Bridge, Bristol is a great place to discover unique and exciting landmarks. You could easily spend a whole day jumping from one to the next. For shopping, head to Cabot Circus, a large shopping centre built in 2008 with an impressive design. If you’re looking for something more relaxing, spots like the Bristol Hippodrome and the Bristol Old Vic, which is the oldest working theatre in the English-speaking world, are fantastic places to catch a show. Or for family fun you can visit Bristol Aquarium.
For places to eat and drink, head to the Bristol Harbourside. Bursting with luxurious restaurants and cool hangout spots, there really is something for everyone in this lively part of town.
Take in some culture
If you’re looking for creativity and colour in your trip, where better to get it than the birth place of graffiti artist Banksy. The infamous artist has some of his most renowned work dotted around the city. If you’re interested in seeing his art in person, you can find an itinerary for a self-guided walking tour on the VisitBristol website.
Not a fan of graffiti? There are plenty of other ways to get your cultural fix. If you’re at the Harbourside, you can visit We The Curious, an interactive science and arts centre with over 300 exhibitions. Or you can see what exhibitions are on over at the impressive Bristol Museum and Art Gallery.
Immerse yourself in history
To immerse yourself in fascinating history, step aboard the SS Great Britain, the world’s first great ocean liner that was built in 1843 by Isambard Kingdom Brunel. For a mix of rich history and dramatic architecture, head to either Bristol Cathedral, a cathedral that dates back to the 12th Century, or St Marys Redcliffe Church, an 800-year old church that’s regarded as one of the most beautiful in England. In more recent history, why not plunge yourself into the world of aviation and step inside the last Concorde to fly at the Aerospace Bristol.
Take a trip out of Bristol
With areas like Bath and Somerset just a short drive away, it’s worth keeping some hours free to explore a little further out. For fans of the seaside, coastal towns like Portishead, Clevedon and Weston-Super-Mare are all under an hour away and well worth a trip. Alternatively, just a hop, skip and a drive away from Bristol you’ll find the Cotswolds. There, you can visit several of its most enchanting towns like Castle Combe, Bourton-on-the-Water and Stow-on-the-Wold all in under a day.
Go to an event
If you know you want to visit Bristol, but you’re not sure when to go, you can coincide your trip with some of the events taking place over the summer. This July, the 50th Bristol Harbour Festival will be running their annual “celebration of Bristol”. In August, Bristol’s Balloon Fiesta is being held: a popular yearly festival with opportunities to drink, eat, listen to live music and take an unforgettable hot-air balloon ride.
And while football and rugby matches might not be on over the summer, you can book to watch a cricket game at Gloucestershire County Cricket Club.
Take a walk on the wild(life) side
For the more relaxing parts of your trip, Bristol has an abundance of beautiful nature walks. The shortlist? Leigh Woods is a National Trust woodland within easy walking distance from the Suspension Bridge, and it’s a great place to catch some gorgeous views. Or there is Frome Valley Walkway, a pathway that follows the River Frome from Bristol all the way to The Cotswold Hills.
For more information, see www.visitbristol.com