Bristol is a great destination for a family holiday and there are lots of tourist attractions.
Our Bristol Tourist Information guide below lists all the attractions in Bristol with links to OFFICIAL tourism websites.
Bristol is a lively, green and environmentally friendly city in South West England, 105 miles west of London (only 90 minutes away) and just 20 minutes from Bath. Bristol is a perfect destination for a romantic getaway, family holiday or short city break, with extensive shopping facilities, over 450 green spaces, an emphasis on fresh food and mouth-watering restaurants, superb art galleries and museums, and a range of fun days out ideal for all the family.
Bristol is a city rich in the diversity of its geography, people, arts and culture. There are many district of Bristol: Central Bristol, the Old City, Clifton and the West End, Harbourside, South Bristol and Eastside.
Harbourside is Bristol’s historic waterfront where surrounding the modern bars, cafes and nightclubs are tourist attractions such as Brunel’s ss Great Britain (the world’s first ocean liner) and the Arnolfini art gallery. Other popular tourist attractions include At-Bristol and Bristol Zoo Gardens.
Shopping in Bristol
Shopping in Bristol offers plenty of choice for everyone, especially with the creation of the £500 million Cabot Circus shopping centre in 2008. From shopping malls to chic boutiques and independent stores, Bristol ideal for the shopaholic, catering for even the most eclectic of tastes and all budgets.
Cabot Circus is Bristol’s newest city centre shopping area and is a £500 million extension to Bristol’s central shopping area. You’ll find plenty to choose from with over 100 new shops including exclusive stores such as Harvey Nichols and House of Fraser and many other leading names.
In the heart of Bristol’s city centre are Broadmead and The Mall Bristol with over 300 stores. Take your pick from designer labels through to high street fashion, from home furnishings, ornaments and gifts.
On the outskirts of Bristol is The Mall Cribbs Causeway, an ultra-convenient shopping complex with over 135 stores, including the largest Marks and Spencer outlet in the South West, all under one roof. Located just off Junction 17 of the M5 with plenty of free parking, The Mall Cribbs Causeway is the perfect shopping destination and there is also over 17 cafes and restaurants.
Whiteladies Road and Clifton Village
Bristol’s Georgian shopping quarter with its continental feel are where you will find the elegant boutiques and shops of Whiteladies Road and Clifton Village. The shops are ideal for designer clothes, antiques, jewellery, art and crafts, whilst you wander around and admire the Georgian architecture. For something a little different, The Village Pottery specialises in hand-made personalised pottery gifts, or even have a go yourself ? the perfect Bristol souvenir!
Park Street is one of Bristol’s most popular shopping streets, the destination for shoppers seeking funky urban wear and designer goods, with plenty of independent clothes stores, fashion retailers and quirky record shops.
Gloucester Road for an eclectic choice of retro and contemporary clothes, funky gifts and clothes shops, Second-hand books.
St Nicholas Market
St Nicholas Market can be found in the heart of the Old City and offers a unique mix of products, from handmade jewellery, to eco washing balls, bike parts to mint humbugs. Not to mention a mouth-watering selection of food stalls, offering dishes from around the world, as well as some of Britain’s favourites including sausage and mash.
Art Galleries in Bristol
Bristol boasts a diverse culture and arts scene, and Bristol has produced some of the most talented artists in the country over the years. There are many unique venues and galleries displaying works from across the UK and the world around Bristol, exhibitions throughout the year, and many with free entry.
Head to the harbour in Bristol where there are many galleries, including the Arnolfini art gallery, a popular tourist attraction with five free contemporary art galleries. Along the harbour is Spike Island – a unique centre of free contemporary galleries which are also free to enter.
Museums in Bristol
The most famous museum in Bristol is the Bristol City Museum & Art Gallery, at the top of Park Street, and displays outstanding collections of art and archaeology, geology and natural history housed in a magnificent Edwardian baroque building, with free admission. The Egypt Gallery features over 600 objects forming the best Egyptian collection in the south west. Learn about the beliefs, life, death and the afterlife of the ancient Egyptians.
Upstairs the art galleries contain Old Masters, French School, British Collection, Modern Art and a contemporary art gallery. Minerals, ancient fossils and a dinosaur gallery and the World Wildlife Gallery containing many examples of endangered or extinct animals can be found on the ground floor.
There are over 450 green spaces in Bristol, which is more than any other comparable UK city, so it is no surprise it has a status as a ‘green city’ and consideration for ‘Green Capital of Europe’. There is a wonderful selection of parks, gardens and woodland in Bristol, best of all entry is free.
The Durdham and Clifton Downs together form an area of over 400 acres, perfect for a picnic, walk or games and activities. Brandon Hill is one of Bristol’s oldest parks and has its own wildflower meadow and butterfly garden, Westonbirt Arboretum is one of the World’s most spectacular tree gardens, and Ashton Court Estate is perfect for a family day out with rose gardens, deer parks and woodland trails.
Nightlife in Bristol
Bristol has a varied and exciting nightlife, ranging from the popular club scene, to live music, kaeroek, comedy and bars and pubs.
The superb Bristol clubbing scene attracts many visitors and regularly features top name DJs and acts. Bristol’s main nightlife areas are around the harbourside where you will find Oceana with its 5 bars and 2 clubs all under one roof, along Whiteladies Road and Park Street, home to the popular Woods, and Corn Street and the Old City.
For live music Colston Hall, Bristol’s largest concert hall, presents concerts and entertainment by the major names in pop and rock music, classical music, stand up comedy, light entertainment as well as local choirs, orchestras and schools.
St George’s Bristol is famed for its outstanding acoustics and is regarded as one of the UK’s finest live concert venues. Here there are performances for everyone with a programme of jazz, world music, opera and classical concerts.
If Karaoke is your thing, head to Karaoke-Me! in Bristol’s Old City quarter. This unique venue features 7 private karaoke rooms and you can choose from over 5,000 new and classic songs to attempt to sing!
Tourist Attractions in Bristol
We The Curious
We The Curious (which was formerly called At-Bristol) is a science and technology education centre which opened in 2000 in Bristol. Located around Millennium Square, the centre is within a Grade II listed 1906 railway goods shed measuring 165m by 41m. We The Curious uses the very latest hands-on and multimedia techniques to engage people of all ages in a journey of discovery through science. The extensive formal learning programme is directly linked to the National Curriculum from Foundation stage through to post 16, making We The Curious perfect for children of all ages. From interactive shows, storytelling and science drama to meeting the expert sessions, science demonstrations and investigations, there are so many ways of learning.
There are over 300 interactive exhibits and displays in the permanent collection at We The Curious, with regular temporary exhibitions such as ‘Jet set, go!’ and ‘In the jungle’ for the 2009 / 2010 period. We The Curious also uses three sets of 8 portable exhibits which are used in schools that find it difficult to visit the Centre. In addition to exhibition space, We The Curious also hosts an exhibit maintenance and development workshop and has a dedicated education suite including laboratories, classrooms and ICT facilities.
We The Curious has its own 90-seater Planetarium, housed in a spectacular chrome sphere, where visitors can watch presenter-led seasonal night sky shows beneath an immersive domed screen. Since opening in 2000, the Planetarium has become an iconic symbol of Bristol, attracting photographers, film crews and tourists alike.
Official website: www.wethecurious.org
Bristol Zoo Gardens
Bristol Zoo is a zoo in the city of Bristol which opened in 1836 making it the world’s oldest provincial zoo. A visit to Bristol Zoo is a visit into an amazing world of animals, all set within 12 acres of beautiful gardens in Bristol. You’ll meet over 450 species of exotic, endangered and fascinating animals from the four corners of the globe. Among these rare animals are Aye (of which they have bred two so far, with a juvenile on show), Livingstone’s Fruit Bat, a successful breeding group of Western Lowland Gorillas, Okapi, which Bristol was one of the first zoos in the world to breed, Asiatic lion, pygmy hippo and red panda.
The zoo’s mission statement is “Bristol Zoo Gardens maintains and defends biodiversity through breeding endangered species, conserving threatened species and habitats and promoting a wider understanding of the natural world”. Bristol Zoo’s Twilight World was the first of its kind when it opened and it takes you on a weird and wonderful journey through an indoor exhibit where night and day have been reversed. You begin your journey in a dusky desert at sunset – where you can see sand cats, mongoose and the critically endangered Turkish spiny mice. You then follow the path through a nocturnal forest, home to our rare family of aye ayes, owl monkeys, two-toed sloths and a host of other unusual creatures of the night.
Other indoor exhibits include an insect and reptile house and an aquarium, whilst outside there are several aviaries and a seal and penguin enclosure. The Explorers’ Creek exhibit is great fun for the kids too – there are three exciting areas to explore. The first is Splash, a water-play area with streams, dams and the chance to get your toes wet. Next, follow in the footsteps of jungle explorers as you enter Forest of Birds, before feeding nectar to colourful parrots at the Feed the Lorikeets exhibit (note that a small charge applies for nectar).
More adventurous visitors can have a go on the aerial ropes course, ZooRopia, and swing alongside some of Bristol Zoo Gardens’ most popular animals, including gibbons and gorillas, before flying down the zip wire. Don’t forget the daily animal shows or join an expert talk or pit yourself against the best of the animal world with the popular Zoolympics trail?
Official website: www.bristolzoo.org.uk
Brunel’s SS Great Britain
The SS Great Britain was a world first when she was launched in Bristol in 1843 as new technologies were used in a way which transformed world travel. Isambard Kingdom Brunel, the most daring of the great Victorian engineers, conceived the groundbreaking combination of a screw propeller, an iron hull, and a massive 1000-horsepower steam engine.
This uniquely successful ship design meant on her maiden voyage across the Atlantic, the ss Great Britain easily broke the previous speed record. She continued sailing until 1886, and in total travelled thirty-two times around the world and nearly one million miles at sea, before finally being abandoned in the Falkland Islands in 1937 after more than 40 years use as a floating warehouse. In 1970 an ambitious salvage effort brought her home to Bristol, where today she is conserved in the dry dock where she was originally built.
Whatever your age there is so much to discover about the ss Great Britain as you step back in time on board the ship and learn about her conservation, her history, true stories of Victorian passengers and crew and Isambard Kingdom Brunel. Younger visitors can become ship detectives and search for Sinbad the ship’s cat on board ship, descend under the glass ‘sea’ to stand below the magnificent hull and view the state-of-the-art technology protecting Brunel’s ss Great Britain for the next 100 years.
Visit Brunel’s SS Great Britain and you will soon see for yourself why it is a winner of more than 20 national and international awards including UK Museum of the Year. Whatever your interest or passion there is something for everyone at Brunel’s ss Great Britain in Bristol!
Official website: www.ssgreatbritain.org