City Break: 10 best things to do in Bristol

The home to Banksy, a great live music scene, an iconic bridge and some of the best craft ales: Bristol is just about one hour drive from Cardiff. Let’s find out how to make the most of the trip.

Once a busy dock frequented by sailors and merchants, Bristol’s Harbourside is now a buzzing area filled with bars, restaurants, Sunday open-air markets and a whole host of water sports and activities.

People in Cardiff are dreaming of a getaway after a year in lockdown and the summer getting closer. Although, with travel restrictions still in place, we may need to think about local alternatives to the usual international destinations. The city of Bristol, right at the Cardiff doorstep, makes it ideal for people looking to spend a day or two out of town. 

A buzzy arts and music scene, together with local sourced food and drink at the heart of its dining landscape, made Condé Nast Traveller to name Bristol amongst the 12 best English city breaks in 2021

Are you thinking to take a trip? Here, the 10 best things that you should not definitely miss during your visit.  

1. Stroll along the Harbourside

Take a walk along the Harbourside towards Hotwells to admire the ‘colours’ of the city. Here, you will see houses painted with candy and bright colours that form all together a sort of pastel rainbow. Along the way, many bars, restaurants and, if you are lucky, people busking on the streets will definitely enrich your time. 

If you want to boost your experience, take a ferry tour for discovering Bristol directly from its water level. 

2. Look at the city from above the Cabot Tower

At the heart of Brandon Hill, Bristol oldest park, Cabot Tower is a 105ft tower built in 1897 to homage John Cabot’s famous voyage from Bristol to North America. Designed by the Bristol architect William Venn Gough, the tower has been reopened to the public after refurbishment in 2011. 

Climb the spiral staircase and enjoy the panoramic views of the city and its Harbourside. Always open and free to entry. 

The upper part of the hill is a steep park, divided into informal gardens, a small nature reserve and open grassland. It is located close to the city centre, stretching between Clifton and Hotwells areas.

3. Enjoy the view at Clifton Suspension Bridge

You cannot come to Bristol without paying a visit to the iconic Clifton Suspension Bridge. Became the symbol of the city, it has been offering spectacular views of the Avon George since 1864.

Perched on the adjacent hill, you will find a massive park with at the centre the Clifton Observatory.  Here, you can look at the landscape through a camera obscura and make your way down the subterranean passageway leading to Ghyston’s Cave. 

According to its website, it is the seventh most popular place for photos in the whole of the UK. Don’t forget to take the perfect pic when you are there!

4. Deep into Bristol street art

Hometown of Banksy, throughout the city you will find plenty of his works alongside those of others talented artists. Take an organised tour or just walk around its streets to discover and get lost between all these pieces of art. You will find evocative and thought-provoking decorations which led the Independent to name Bristol as one of the best city for street art in 2016

Every summer thanks to Upfest, Europe’s largest street art and graffiti festival, the city fills up with colour and creativity coming from a huge international audience.

5. Have a bite in St Nicholas Market

The 18th-century Exchange building at the heart of St Nick’s market is the last remaining architecture of this kind across the country. Today, it is packed with independent traders alongside a huge variety of food stands offering dishes from across the globe. 

From Caribbean jerk pork wraps to juicy falafel, every taste will be satisfied.

6. Quench your thirst with the best craft beer

Bristol is not anymore just a cider destination. In the latest years, the craft beer revolution has shaped the city offer with an eclectic range of modern local products. Home of some of the best micro breweries of the country as well as of one of the best craft beer festivals of UK, it is worth a visit for any beer enthusiast. 

Amongst our favourite there are: Arbor Ales, Bristol Beer Factory, Left Handed Giant, New Bristol Brewery and Wiper and True

7. Marvel at the coolest art galleries

Bristol art is not just across the walls of the city. There are some cutting-edge galleries that are definitely worth a visit.

Go to Centrespace for discovering the work of some of Bristol’s best up-and-coming artists. 

Facing the Harbourside, Arnolfini is famous for showcasing contemporary installations and exhibitions that are not afraid of pushing the boundaries. Plus, its bookshop and café are ideal to take a little break and recharge your batteries!

8. Discover Bristol Caribbean soul

Bristol Caribbean  community is a big part of Bristol heritage that helped to create the inclusive and diverse vibes that many love about the city. St Pauls is the centre for this community and it is now a multicultural hub hosting one of Bristol’s top attractions, the Jamaican carnival (St Pauls carnival), every summer.
If you feel spicy, go to check out some of the best Caribbean restaurants in town. Then, follow the Seven Saints of St Pauls to get to know more about their contribution to the community. Download this app and start your heritage trail!

The bomb-damaged area of St Pauls provided affordable housing for the newcomers, the so-called Windrush Generation, arrived between the 50s/60s. To this day, the area maintains a strong association with Bristol’s Caribbean communities.

9. Chill at The Downs

Head to The Downs for getting your green fix and take a break for the hustle of the city. Stretching from the top of Whiteladies Road all the way to the Suspension Bridge, it is a massive park where you will always be able to find your social distanced spot. 

Over the summer, Breaking Bread project brings to the park some of the best Bristol’s independent restaurants and bars. Remember to book a table beforehand!

10. Have a G&T directly from the distillery

Bristolians love everything that is local and so should you! Gin is a serious affair here, still riding the wave of popularity. There are several local distilleries where you can enjoy a gin tour or simply pop by for sipping a fresh G&T at the end of your day. 
You should definitely not miss Bristol Dry Gin, Psychopomp Micro-distillery and Bristol Distilling Co.