Discover the Best Things to Do in Bristol

Editorial Team
Editorial Team
September 7, 2023
Last updated:
March 7, 2024
Clifton Suspension Bridge as drawn by an artist.

Bristol, a vibrant city in the southwest of England, offers a multitude of activities for visitors to enjoy. From its rich history and iconic landmarks to its thriving arts scene and outdoor adventures, there is something for everyone in this diverse and captivating city. In this article, we will explore the best things to do in Bristol, from immersing yourself in its fascinating history to indulging in its culinary delights and shopping at its unique independent shops and bustling markets.

Unveiling Bristol's rich history

Bristol is a city steeped in history, and exploring its past is a must for any visitor. Begin your journey through time by visiting Bristol's iconic landmarks. These include the stunning Clifton Suspension Bridge, designed by the legendary engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel. The bridge offers breathtaking views of the city and is a testament to Bristol's engineering prowess.

But there is so much more to Bristol's rich history than just its famous bridge. Let's delve deeper into the fascinating stories that have shaped this vibrant city.

As you wander through Bristol's historic streets, such as the charming Old City, you'll find yourself immersed in a tapestry of architectural styles. The medieval, Georgian, and Victorian buildings stand as silent witnesses to the city's evolution over the centuries. Each facade tells a story, from the grandeur of the Georgian townhouses to the intricate carvings on the medieval churches.

Take a leisurely stroll down King Street, one of Bristol's oldest thoroughfares. This cobbled street is lined with centuries-old pubs, each with its own unique character and tales to tell. Step inside the Llandoger Trow, a pub that dates back to the 17th century, and you'll be transported back to a time when sailors and merchants gathered to share stories of their voyages.

Continue your exploration of Bristol's history by venturing into the narrow alleys that crisscross the Old City. These hidden passageways, known as "snickleways," are like portals to the past. Imagine yourself walking in the footsteps of Bristolians from centuries ago as you wind your way through these atmospheric lanes.

One such snickleway leads you to St Nicholas Market, a bustling hub of activity that has been a focal point of Bristol's social and commercial life for centuries. The market is a treasure trove of independent stalls, where you can browse through a myriad of unique items, from handmade crafts to vintage clothing. The aroma of delicious street food fills the air, tempting you to indulge in a culinary adventure.

As you explore the market, take a moment to appreciate the stunning architecture that surrounds it. The glass-covered Exchange Hall, with its soaring columns and ornate decorations, is a testament to Bristol's prosperous past as a trading city. This grand building has witnessed countless transactions and negotiations, echoing with the voices of merchants from around the world.

So, whether you're gazing at the Clifton Suspension Bridge or getting lost in the labyrinthine streets of the Old City, Bristol's rich history will captivate you at every turn. Each step you take reveals another layer of stories waiting to be discovered, making your visit to this remarkable city an unforgettable journey through time.

Bristol's vibrant arts and culture scene

Immerse yourself in Bristol's live music scene, which has long been a hotspot for emerging talent. From intimate venues like The Louisiana to larger spaces like Colston Hall, there are plenty of opportunities to catch a live performance in this city of music. Whether you're into indie rock, jazz, or electronic music, you're sure to find something that suits your taste.

Bristol is also famous for its unique street art. Take a stroll through the streets of Stokes Croft and witness the incredible murals created by local artists. Each piece tells a story and adds a vibrant splash of color to the city's landscape. You can even book a street art tour to learn more about the artists and their work.

But Bristol's arts and culture scene is not just limited to music and street art. The city is also home to a thriving theater community. The Bristol Old Vic, one of the oldest continuously operating theaters in the English-speaking world, offers a diverse range of performances, from classic plays to experimental productions. Attending a show at this historic venue is a must for any theater enthusiast.

If you're more interested in visual arts, Bristol has a multitude of galleries and museums to explore. The Arnolfini, located on the harbourside, showcases contemporary art and hosts exhibitions by both local and international artists. The Bristol Museum and Art Gallery, housed in a beautiful Edwardian building, is home to an extensive collection of art and historical artifacts, including works by renowned artists such as Banksy.

For those with a literary inclination, Bristol has a rich literary heritage. The city has been home to many famous writers, including the renowned poet Thomas Chatterton and the author of "Treasure Island," Robert Louis Stevenson. You can visit the Writers' Room at the Bristol Central Library, where you can immerse yourself in the world of literature and discover the works of Bristol's literary legends.

When it comes to performing arts, Bristol offers a wide range of options. The Bristol Hippodrome, a grand Victorian theater, hosts touring productions of West End musicals, ballets, and operas. The Tobacco Factory, a converted tobacco warehouse, is known for its innovative and thought-provoking theater productions. No matter what your taste, you'll find a performance that captivates and inspires you in Bristol.

And let's not forget about the city's festivals. Bristol is known for its vibrant festival scene, with events taking place throughout the year. The Bristol International Balloon Fiesta, held annually in August, is one of the largest balloon festivals in Europe. The Bristol Harbour Festival, a celebration of the city's maritime heritage, features live music, street performances, and a spectacular fireworks display. These festivals bring the city to life and showcase its diverse cultural offerings.

In conclusion, Bristol's arts and culture scene is a vibrant tapestry of music, street art, theater, visual arts, literature, performing arts, and festivals. Whether you're a music lover, an art enthusiast, a theater buff, a bookworm, or simply someone who enjoys a good festival, Bristol has something to offer you. So, immerse yourself in the city's creative energy and discover the countless treasures that await you.

Outdoor adventures in Bristol

If you're a nature lover, Bristol has plenty to offer in terms of outdoor activities. Start by exploring the city's beautiful parks and gardens. One such gem is the Bristol Botanic Garden, which houses an impressive collection of exotic plants from around the world. Take a leisurely stroll through its tranquil pathways and be captivated by the beauty of nature.

As you wander through the Bristol Botanic Garden, you'll be greeted by a kaleidoscope of colors and scents. The vibrant blooms of tropical flowers will transport you to far-off lands, while the towering trees will provide shade and a sense of tranquility. Don't forget to stop by the Japanese Garden, a serene oasis where you can find peace amidst the hustle and bustle of the city.

For a more exhilarating experience, head to Bristol's harbourside and embark on thrilling water activities. From kayaking and paddleboarding to sailing and powerboating, there is no shortage of adventures to be had on the city's waterfront. Soak in the stunning views as you navigate the Bristol Floating Harbour and discover a different side of this maritime city.

As you glide through the calm waters of the Bristol Floating Harbour, you'll be surrounded by the rich history of the city. Admire the iconic Clifton Suspension Bridge from a unique perspective, as you paddle beneath its majestic arches. Feel the cool breeze on your face as you pass by the historic SS Great Britain, a testament to Bristol's maritime heritage.

If you're feeling adventurous, why not try your hand at sailing? Bristol's harbourside offers sailing lessons for beginners, allowing you to learn the ropes and experience the thrill of harnessing the power of the wind. Feel the adrenaline rush as you hoist the sails and navigate the waters, guided by experienced instructors who will teach you the art of sailing.

For those seeking a more leisurely activity, paddleboarding is a great option. Glide across the calm waters, feeling a sense of serenity as you stand on the board and soak in the panoramic views of the city. Keep an eye out for wildlife, as you may spot ducks, swans, and even the occasional seal.

After a day of outdoor adventures, take a moment to relax and unwind at one of Bristol's waterfront cafes. Enjoy a cup of locally roasted coffee or indulge in a delicious meal while overlooking the bustling harbourside. Watch as boats sail by and people go about their day, feeling a sense of contentment after a day spent in nature.

Bristol's culinary delights

No visit to Bristol would be complete without indulging in its local cuisine. From traditional dishes to international fusion, the city's food scene is diverse and exciting. Savour Bristol's local cuisine at one of the many fantastic restaurants scattered throughout the city. Whether you're craving mouthwatering cider-infused pork belly or a hearty plate of fish and chips, you're guaranteed to find a dish that satisfies your taste buds.

To truly experience Bristol's food culture, make sure to explore its bustling food markets. From the famous St Nicholas Market, where you can feast on a variety of global cuisines, to the Tobacco Factory Market, which showcases local produce and crafts, these markets are a food lover's paradise. Sample a range of delicious treats and immerse yourself in the lively atmosphere as you wander through the stalls.

Shopping in Bristol

Bristol is a haven for those who love to shop. Discover the city's independent shops, where you'll find unique treasures and support local businesses. Head to areas like Gloucester Road and Stokes Croft, which are known for their quirky boutiques and vintage stores. Whether you're on the hunt for handmade jewelry, vintage clothing, or one-of-a-kind gifts, you're sure to find something special in Bristol.

If you prefer a more traditional shopping experience, Bristol also boasts popular shopping centres like Cabot Circus and The Mall at Cribbs Causeway. These modern retail destinations offer a wide range of high street and designer brands, all conveniently located under one roof. So, whether you're looking for the latest fashion trends or searching for the perfect souvenir, Bristol has it all.

In conclusion, Bristol is a city that has it all. From its rich history and iconic landmarks to its vibrant arts scene and outdoor adventures, there are endless opportunities for exploration and discovery. Immerse yourself in Bristol's fascinating past, indulge in its culinary delights, and shop till you drop. You're guaranteed to have an unforgettable experience in this captivating city.

Why Hybr?

Check Mark
Hybr have a broad range of homes in popular areas.
Check Mark
Hybr is free for students and young graduates.
Check Mark
Hybr has trustworthy customer support, with a 4.8 Trustpilot rating.
Check Mark
Hybr offers support throughout your tenancy.
Check Mark
Hybr puts you first.
View properties

Get new property updates to your inbox

We'll use your university email to contact you about relevant homes and news.

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.