Situated inland on the River Avon and with access to the Bristol Channel, Bristol has an illustrious history as one of England’s oldest ports. It was a favorite port of departure for the New World after John Cabot’s voyage to North America in 1497. To celebrate this event, the Cabot Tower in Brandon Hill Park was erected on the 400th anniversary of Cabot’s voyage. Bristol was also a trading center and Royalist headquarters during the English Civil War. Shipbuilding has been a mainstay of Bristol’s economy for centuries, reaching its peak with I. K. Brunel’s SS Great Britain. Built in 1838, she was the first steamer to make regular crossings of the Atlantic. In addition to the design of the famous suspension bridge covering the Avon Gorge, Brunel was also the engineer responsible for completing the Great Western Railway between London and Bristol.
Bristol’s tourist attractions include 30 art galleries and many parks. For families, there is Bristol Zoo and At-Bristol, which are specially designed to engage young minds. Ashton Court Estate offers a wide range of outdoor activities. Between all of this and an out-of-town day trip to Cheddar Gorge, you’ll find plenty of things to do while in Bristol.
9 Top Tourist Attractions in Bristol
1 – Bristol Harbour
Bristol’s old port on the River Avon has been given an imaginative new lease of life, with its many quays and warehouses restored or converted to contemporary uses. Traditionally known as the Floating Harbor, the area is now home to museums, galleries, exhibitions, the Bristol Aquarium, the At-Bristol Science Center, and the visual arts, music, and performance center Arnolfini. M Shed is a museum that focuses on the city’s history from prehistoric times to the present day. Outside the M Shed, you can see locomotives and the Fairbairn Steam Crane, the oldest surviving of its kind in Britain, which worked around the clock during World War II, serving amphibious craft. Four other goods lifts are a reminder of the city’s commercial boom in the 1950s.
Traveling in Bristol is made easier by Bristol Ferry Boats, which operate five ferries on the River Avon. Affordable passes allow you to hop on and off.
Location: Underfall Yard, Cumberland Rd, Bristol
Official website: www.bristolfloatingharbour.org.uk
2 – St. Mary Redcliffe
When Queen Elizabeth visited Bristol in 1574, she described St. Mary Redcliffe as “the most beautiful parish church in England.” Built in the 13th century and extensively renovated in the 15th century in Baroque style, the church is located on the south side of the floating harbor and takes its name from the red cliffs on which it stands. With slender, grouped pillars and a net vault, a hexagonal porch, and an ornate doorway, it perfectly showcases the wealth of Bristol’s wealthy merchants. Great Triptych, Sealing the Tomb, designed and made for the high altar by William Hogarth, is now in the offices of Bristol & Region Archaeological Services in the former St. Santa. Noteworthy is the memorial plaque and grave of Admiral Sir William Penn, father of William Penn, who founded Pennsylvania.
Address: 10 Redcliffe Parade West, Bristol
Official website: www.stmaryredcliffe.co.uk
3 – Brunel’s SS Great Britain
The SS Great Britain, the world’s first iron-hull passenger ship, was based in the same harbor from which this great ship was launched in 1843. The work of the famous engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel, was also the first use of ship propellers on a ship. This ship is located in Bristol’s Great Western Harbor, a testament to Brunel’s engineering ingenuity. Today, you can stroll the ship’s upper decks or explore the decks and peek into the luxurious First Class cabins.
The site is also home to the Brunel Institute and David MacGregor Library, an archive of thousands of books, documents, blueprints, and items relating to England’s greatest engineer and inventor.
Address: Gas Ferry Rd, Bristol
Official website: www.ssgreatbritain.org
4 – Llandoger Trow
The famous three-winged half-timbered building of the Llandoger Trow in King Street, built in 1664, is where Alexander Selkirk is said to have told the story of his shipwreck to Daniel Defoe, who immortalized the story in Robinson Crusoe. The Llandoger Trow was also the model for Admiral Benbow, an inn frequented by Long John Silver on Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island. Carefully restored in 1991, the building is connected by an underground passage to the Royal Theatre, home to the Bristol Old Vic and the oldest cottage in England to have been in continuous use.
Address: King Street, Bristol
Official website: http://www.brewersfayre.co.uk/pub-restaurant/Bristol/Llandoger-Trow-Bristol.html
5 – Clifton Suspension Bridge
Another work by the famous British engineer IK Brunel, the Clifton Suspension Bridge, features the 260-foot Avon Gorge on the west side of a limestone plateau called Clifton Down and Durdham Down. Measuring 702 feet between its piers, the bridge was completed in 1864, 33 years after Brunel first laid down his ambitious plans. Stop at the visitor information center to learn more about the bridge’s construction, or join a weekend behind-the-scenes tour. Watch out for peregrine falcons flying over Clifton and climb Observatory Hill in Clifton for a bird’s eye view of the bridge. Clifton Observatory is also home to the Camera Obscura and Giant’s Cave.
Address: Bridge Road, Leigh Woods, Bristol
Official website: www.cliftonbridge.org.uk
6 – Bristol Old City
Bristol Old City is a maze of historic buildings from the city’s long history. Church of St. Stephen on St. Stephen’s Avenue is Bristol’s parish church and dates from 1476. Look inside the tomb of Martin Pring, the explorer of Cape Cod Bay, Massachusetts, and the colorful effigy of George Snygge. Medieval St. John on the Wall is nearby, the last of many churches once built into the city wall. Its vaulted crypt and interactive displays added in 2016 are noted. It is close to St. John, originally part of the old city wall, famous for the figures of Brennus and Belinus, the mythical founders of Bristol, Christmas Steps, an ancient alley paved in 1669 and now lined with antique and gift shops.
On the corner of Broad Street and Corn is the Neoclassical Old Council House, built in 1827. Across Corn Street, the Palladian-style Exchange (built 1743) is noted for its four outdoor tables, the brass “nails” on which Bristol merchants settled their transactions and gave rise to the expression “paying by the nail.” Covered St. Patrick’s Square Mikołaja, with over 60 stalls, is adjacent to the Stock Exchange at Św. Mikołaja Street. On Wednesdays, the Farmers’ Fair is held on Corn and Wina Streets.
Official website: http://bristololdcity.co.uk/
7 – Blaise Castle Estate Park In Bristol
The castle on top of the hill in Blaise Hill Park is an interesting attraction in this part of Bristol. Of course, children have the most fun. It is for them that historical meetings are organized there, and thematic classes are conducted.
The building and all the activities that take place inside it receive no money or subsidies. All activities are based on the work of volunteers who carry out various, sometimes original didactic, and educational projects there.
The castle is open only a few hours a week, but the city that currently owns it is open to any suggestions and ideas. So if you would like to use this place to implement your own interesting ideas, there should be no problem with obtaining permission.
8 – Bristol Museum & Art Gallery
Another major attraction is the Museum & Art Gallery in Kingsdown, which is full of unusual exhibits. The museum has a small but very interesting collection of Egyptian artifacts. Besides, there is a botanical department and a rich collection of Chinese art. You will also find exhibitions of paintings and ceramics here.
Thematic exhibitions are often organized here. Some time ago, on the occasion of the Chinese New Year, meetings with representatives of the Chinese community were held in the museum halls for several days. You could try traditionally prepared tea and watch the performances of the masters of eastern martial arts.
Walking through the exhibition halls, it is easy to see how great the influence of the British Empire was during its heyday. Most of the collection comes from places that were subject to the British Crown. Also, here, children will feel like a paradise intended for them.
Many attractions have been prepared especially for them. In each of the departments, there are corners with curiosities and places where you can creatively play games related to a given department.
9 – Cheddar Gorge
Just 18 miles from Bristol, Cheddar Gorge makes an excellent day trip. Highlights of this National Wildlife Refuge include its dramatic 450-foot-tall bluffs and stunning dripstone caves. Other highlights include the spectacular Gough’s Cave, with its hidden chambers, as well as the soaring chambers of “St Paul’s Cathedral” and the soaring towers of “Solomon’s Temple.” You need some fitness to navigate some parts of the gorge, including 274 steps up from the gorge and 48 more up the Observation Tower. The entry includes a cliff-top walk and the Cheddar Man Museum of Prehistory.
Official website: www.cheddargorge.co.uk
Other Attractions In Bristol
Not far from the museum described is a small but very interesting zoo (at the moment it is being moved to another location just outside the city. Soon we will tell you more about this extraordinary place) and a botanical garden. On the other side, the Clifton district is full of Victorian buildings.
The beautiful cathedral, which dates back to the 11th century, is quite close by. Concerts and recitals are often held there. There is a choir with great traditions at the cathedral.
Events And Cultural Events In Bristol
In addition to attractive places, the city offers many events held annually.
The most famous is the Baloon Fiesta organized every year around August. Balloonists come from all over the world to organize flights over the city within a few days. To see how impressive the over a hundred balloons hanging over the city are, you have to see it.
Another big event is the Kite Bristol Festival. Enthusiasts from almost all over the world release real miracles into the sky. The most recent hit was a life-size whale floating in the wind.
In addition to professionals, the shows can be attended by guests who will report their willingness to participate at the right time. If you can build an interesting kite and want to show it off, you have to be here around September.
Transportation In Bristol
Transport in the city works well and work still being done to improve it. City buses appear at stops on time and quite often.
A very convenient hop-on and offline works. We pay for a ticket for the whole day or several days and just jump on or off the bus as we please. The vehicles are traditional double-decker buses with an open second floor. Sitting on the bus, we can listen to stories about the places we pass.
A day ticket costs £15 and children pay £9. You can save some money by buying your ticket online.
In addition to buses, you can get around the city center by water routes. Ferry Service boats run regularly between various points in the harbor. It’s nice to see the city from this perspective, and we don’t stand in traffic jams.
Summary of Information About Bristol
This is a blog article only, not a city guide, so I can’t describe everything that awaits you in Bristol. In the future, I will often return to our city to tell you more about all its nooks and crannies. If Michał helps me, legends will also appear. But that’s over for today.
Readers who know the city may be offended by the fact that I have omitted so much. As I wrote above, there is no place for all the attractions here, and there are probably places that even we have not seen yet.
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