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Things to do in Bristol

One of the friendliest cities and heralded as the best place to live in the UK, Bristol has so much on offer - from the quirky harbourside to the vibrant city centre. You'll never run out of things to do, whether you're in town on business or for leisure.

FACT FILE:Bristol

Currency GBP (Great British Pounds)
LanguagesEnglish
TimezoneGMT

From Brunel’s famous suspension bridge in elegant Clifton, to the vibrant harbourside and diverse neighbourhoods dotted with Banksy murals, this historical south west city is regularly named Britain’s favourite place to live. As soon as you arrive, you’ll see why Bristolians are so proud to call the city home.

21st century Bristol has embraced diversity, culture, community, green spaces and eco-friendly living, creating a quirky city that is full of character, fantastic food, lively festivals and vibrant nightlife.

The city may be the gateway to rural Somerset and North Devon, but Bristol’s effortlessly cool and cosmopolitan vibe feels a million miles away – and yet rolling green hills are almost always on the horizon.

Bars and Restaurants in Bristol

Bristol has a huge choice of bars and restaurants, many of them around the harbourside, Park Street and Whiteladies Road, which are the main places to eat and drink if you’re up for mingling with crowds of locals out for a good time.

But it’s worth looking a little further afield for quality food and great pubs – Clifton Village feels like a little corner of West London, with a stylish, relaxed vibe and some of the best restaurants and bars in the city.

Likewise, some of Bristol’s more up-and-coming neighbourhoods like Bedminster, Southville, Cotham and Montpelier have some great hole-in-the-wall indie cafes and restaurants, and a fantastic selection of world cuisines. 

Remarkably, we’ve managed to narrow down our top five restaurants in Bristol, some firm favourites that are bound to satisfy your love of good food.

Spitfire is situated on the pretty harbourside and is a spacious, casual barbecue joint creating its own rubs and sauces for a range of meat-based dishes. Best burger in town? We think so.

The Loche Fyne, situated on Queen Charlotte Street, offers the most exquisite, fresh fish dishes at the highest quality. Although the main attraction is their mouth-watering seafood platters, they also offer a varied range of meat and vegetarian dishes to suit any dietary needs.

The Folly Inn, situated in Emerson’s Green, is a delightful country pub located just six miles from Bristol town centre. A warm, welcoming pub with cosy rooms and a south-facing beer garden, this is the perfect destination for a well-deserved roast dinner, especially in the summer months.

Swoon Gelato, located on College Green, has everything from slick, refined, cutting-edge décor to warm, friendly staff in traditional uniforms. Swoon Gelato is a game-changer in the Bristol dessert scene.

And finally, one for the cocktail lovers, Aluna. Situated practically next door to SACO Bristol Broad Quay, Aluna offers a huge range of cocktails - including 25ml “potions” for the daring.

Shopping in Bristol

Bristol shopping is fantastic and reason alone to visit the city. For big brands, designer labels and department stores, you’ll want to head to Cabot Circus. This huge, glass-roofed shopping centre is a modern and chic alternative to nearby Broadmead shopping centre, and attracts shoppers from far and wide.

If you prefer quirky, independent shops then St Nicholas Market is a Bristol institution - home to the largest collection of independent retailers in Bristol and selling crafts, jewellery, vintage clothing and wonderful world foods.

Gloucester Road is Europe’s longest street of independent shops, with fantastic organic foods, clothes, street art and antiques.  

For boutique shopping, gifts, jewellery and homewares, head to Park Street and Clifton Village, which beautifully blends luxury brands and local boutiques into a little shopping paradise. 

Businesses in Bristol

Bristol’s modern economy has been built on aerospace, defence, media, IT, financial services and tourism. The MOD has its Defence Equipment and Support headquarters at Abbey Wood, and the city is also home to the headquarters of BAE Systems, Lloyds Bank, Bank of Scotland, Aardman Animations, Burges Salmon, Imperial Tobacco and Cameron Balloons.

It’s also the home of SACO Apartments, and a city we all love! 

Things to do in Bristol

Walk on the wild side. The world’s fifth oldest zoo (first opening in 1836), Bristol Zoo Gardens, makes for a lovely day out. It’s set within 12 acres of beautiful, award-winning gardens, and home to over 400 species of animals from all over the world.

Take a walk. Brandon Hill Nature Park, located in the heart of Bristol, is a haven for wildlife. During spring, many flowers start to bloom making the park colourful and vibrant. In the middle of the park stands Cabot Tower, a 105-foot tower providing striking panoramic views of the entire city. A pond is also within walking distance of the tower, where you might spot frogs, newts, toads and various species of birds.

Sample the local cider. When it comes to pubs, Bristol is not lacking. Taking the crown for best pub is The Apple Cider boat, with some of the best ciders around - especially one called The Old Bristolian, a very fine, though very strong cider. It’s the perfect location for a spring/summers day thanks to the large sun-drenched quayside terrace and deck bar that provides superb views of the historic Floating Harbour.

Transport in Bristol

Bristol is an easy city to get to – it’s less than two hours from London Paddington by train, with direct lines to Birmingham, Edinburgh, Exeter and Portsmouth, and an international airport just eight miles from the city centre.

Once you’re here, you’ll find Bristol is a great city to explore on foot, from the historic harbourside to Clifton Village and the beautiful Downs overlooking Clifton Suspension Bridge. Buses cover the whole region, or you can hail one of Bristol’s famous blue taxis from outside your serviced apartment.

If you prefer two wheels, you’ll be delighted to discover that Bristol is considered Britain’s best city for cycling, with a superb network of cycle ways that will take you all over the city - and even out to Bath and the Somerset countryside. Yobikes has also recently been introduced to Bristol, a completely new style of shared-cycling - ‘Get around for just £1.’

Festivals in Bristol

Bristol hosts some brilliant festivals throughout the year – the biggest and best include the Bristol Harbour Festival in July, a free family festival which attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors for amazing food, dance and music.

Then, in August, Europe’s biggest hot air balloon event comes to town – the Bristol Balloon Fiesta runs for four days, with hundreds of balloons taking off every day if weather permits.

Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for music festivals on The Downs and at nearby Ashton Court. 

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