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Enjoy Forty-Eight Hours in Bristol England

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Things to do in Bristol on a short stay

 

 

 

 

Nestled between the Cotswolds and rural Somerset in South West England, the city of Bristol has a rich history and a wealth of visitor attractions to match. One of Europe’s most fascinating and historic maritime cities, Bristol’s Harbourside was once a busy dock where sailors and merchants would trade goods and set sail on voyages of discovery.

Today, this redeveloped quarter is abuzz with restaurants, bars, museums and a lively Sunday market. One of the greatest Britons ever to have lived, the renowned engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel left his mark on the city: with his iconic Clifton Suspension Bridge and his revolutionary steam ship ss Great Britain.

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Bristol is also a hotbed of artists and activists. There’s a vibrant street art scene, led by now world-famous street artist Banksy, born in Bristol in 1974. A number of Banksy original pieces are located throughout Bristol – and another could pop up at any time! Alongside street art, Bristol developed a thriving underground music scene throughout the 1990s, becoming especially associated with trip hop, acid jazz, and electronic artists including Massive Attack, Portishead and Tricky.

A culturally diverse city, major annual events include Bristol LGBT Pride, Upfest(urban paint festival), Bristol Harbour Festival, Bristol International Balloon Fiesta, Bristol Shakespeare Festival and Make Sunday Special – so there’s definitely something for everyone, with many events free to attend.www.visitbristol.co.uk

Hotel du Vin Bristol Suite Big Loft

Time to Check in:

Set in a collection of restored 18th-century sugar warehouses, 4-star Hotel Du Vin Bristol has 40 loft-style rooms with industrial features such as exposed brickwork, high ceilings and roll top baths. There’s also a cosy bar and an informal French-style bistro. www.hotelduvin.com

Housed in a 1970s listed building on the redeveloped Harbourside, The Bristol is a contemporary boutique hotel with 187 stylish rooms and a popular River Grille restaurant overlooking the quay. www.doylecollection.com/hotels/the-bristol-hotel

An affordable waterfront option, YHA Bristol is a stylish hostel with a bustling bar in a restored redbrick grain house. With 133 beds, there’s a choice of dorm rooms or private rooms, some of which are en-suite. www.yha.org.uk/hostel/bristol

Day One

10:00 Step back in time onboard an epic and historic ship

Bristol’s redeveloped Harbourside is home to numerous visitor attractions. Dominating this waterfront quarter is Brunel’s ss Great Britain. The largest ship in the world when launched in 1843, this impressive feat of engineering by Isambard Kingdom Brunel is a forerunner of all modern shipping. Designed for the emerging trans-Atlantic luxury passenger trade, she now lies in the original Great Western Dockyard where she was built. Exploring the ship is a real step back in time: the cabins have been painstakingly restored to recreate life on the world’s first great luxury liner, while the engine room retains the evocative smell of oil and coal. www.ssgreatbritain.org

11:30 See more of Bristol’s maritime heritage

Continue your voyage through Bristol’s seafaring history with a visit to Underfall Boatyard. This historic working boatyard is home to a number of thriving businesses. It’s part of a trust whose aim is to preserve Bristol’s maritime heritage, and is fascinating to explore. A new visitor centre and café opened March 2016. Another maritime attraction, The Matthew is a full-size replica of John Cabot’s ship that discovered North America in 1497, offering popular harbour tours.www.underfallboatyard.co.uk www.matthew.co.uk

Bristol’s Harbourside attractions are easy to explore on foot, but to truly immerse yourself in the waterfront experience why not travel between attractions using Bristol Ferry Boat. www.bristolferry.com

13:30 Enjoy an award-winning pie for lunch

You’ll find their award-winning pies for sale throughout Britain, but the very firstPieminister pie kitchen and shop opened in Bristol in 2003. A real Bristol institution, their newest eatery in Bristol opened in March 2016 on Broad Quay. For a quicker lunch, grab a tasty pie to go from their stall on Bristol’s Harbourside Market.www.pieminister.co.uk/restaurants/bristolbroadquay

14:30 Take a glimpse underwater – or into space

With Britain’s only 3D planetarium, At-Bristol Science Centre is a family favourite. Located in Bristol’s Harbourside, this hands-on science centre has interactive exhibits, live science shows, plus a gift shop stocked with gadgets and quirky curiosities. Another popular family attraction hereabouts is Bristol Aquarium. A finalist for the ArtFund Prize for Museum of the Year 2016, Arnolfini is Bristol’s centre for contemporary arts, and a must-see for art lovers. www.at-bristol.org.ukwww.bristolaquarium.co.uk www.arnolfini.org.uk

18:00 Refresh your taste buds with the best locally-made cider

Named Britain’s Independent Cider retailer of the Year 2015, Bristol Cider Shop is a specialist cider and perry shop – everything they stock is made within 50 miles of the shop by the very best craft cider makers. Book a tasting session and sample 10 different ciders, from traditional ‘scrumpy’ to champagne-style cider to cider brandy.www.bristolcidershop.co.uk

19:30 Grab a slice of British pizza plus local cider

Specialising in British pizza and craft cider, The Stable has over a dozen pizza, pie and cider bars throughout Britain – but their Bristol venue is the biggest. Housed in a Harbourside warehouse with exposed brick walls, they bake pizzas with inventive, locally-sourced toppings. Try a West Country Porker (award-winning local chorizo, tomato sauce, mozzarella, rocket) or Avonmouth Angler (smoked mackerel, smoked salmon, marinated spinach, fresh parsley). www.stablepizza.com/locations/the-stable-bristol

21:00 Feast your ears with an array of live music

Bristol has a thriving music scene. Number 1 Harbourside is an excellent choice for food and top-notch live music. For live jazz and blues, seek out the legendary Old Duke – other pubs along King Street are also worth checking out for their real ale and ambience. Afterwards, enjoy a gig or club night at Thekla, an award-winning music venue on a boat. www.no1harbourside.co.uk

www.theoldduke.co.uk www.theklabristol.co.uk

Day Two

9:30 Visit a holy landmark – and an iconic filming location

Dramatic Bristol Cathedral was a filming location for the television series Wolf Hall, adapted from Hilary Mantel’s bestselling historical novel. Visitors to the cathedral may follow the Wolf Hall Trail – download this and other suggested trails from the website. Sherlock is another popular series to be filmed here. www.bristol-cathedral.co.uk/visit-us/wolf-hall-trail

11:00 Get inspired by street art

Bristol has developed a vibrant street art scene – it is, after all, the city where Banksy hails from. WhereTheWall offer Bristol Street Art Tours every Saturday and Sunday at 11am. Lasting 2 hours, this informative guided walk tells the story of Bristol’s incredible creative culture and art scene from the 1980’s to the present day. www.wherethewall.com

13:00 Eat healthy and ethically in Bristol’s alternative quarter

Known as Bristol’s creative quarter, Stokes Croft is anchored by the independent cafés and shops of Gloucester Road. Dining options here include Café Kino, an community space and workers’ co-op that serves tasty vegan food such as homemade burgers, falafel, fresh salads and cakes. Another ethical organisation, The Arts House Café is an arts space and café serving panini’s, salads and shareable platters. Try the “Banksy” Panini (Serrano ham and mozzarella) – others are named after iconic artists from Bristol’s electronic music scene such as Massive Attack, Portishead, Kosheen and Tricky. A place to enjoy pub food as well as gigs by up-and-coming bands, The Full Moon is also a 70-bed backpacker hostel. www.cafekino.coopwww.theartshousecafe.org www.fmbristol.co.uk

14:00 Go swimming in a restored Victorian lido

Located just a 5 minute drive from the centre, Clifton Village is a charming suburb of Bristol, tucked away from the hubbub of city life. One of its many Victorian treasures isClifton Lido. Dating from 1850, it’s one of Britain’s oldest surviving lidos and is a wonderful place for a swim. Re-open to the public since 2008, this beautifully restored lido retains its Victorian charm, with the addition of modern floor to ceiling windows allowing great views of the outdoor pool. Its restaurant and poolside bar serve breakfast and a la carte lunch and dinner. Spa treatments are also on offer. www.lidobristol.com

16:00 Take afternoon tea overlooking a spectacular suspension bridge

As well as providing unbeatable views of world famous Clifton Suspension Bridge,Clifton Village boasts many independent shops, cafés and delis, and a Victorian shopping arcade, so it’s a great area to explore. For afternoon tea with a view, head forBridge Café. Located within the Avon Gorge Hotel, it has floor to ceiling windows opening out onto a terrace, providing excellent vistas across the gorge to Bristol’s landmark bridge. www.discoverclifton.co.uk www.theavongorgehotel.com

16:45 Traverse an iconic and historic suspension bridge

Spanning the Avon Gorge and the River Avon, the world famous Clifton Suspension Bridge dates from 1864. Considered one of the world’s greatest bridges, renowned engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel began building it when he was just 23 years old. A brand new Visitor Centre (admission: free) tells of its fascinating history, including the daredevil bridge builders who worked 75 metres above the high tide mark to secure its vast suspension chains across the Gorge.www.cliftonbridge.org.uk

19:30 End the day with steak and classic cocktails

A bastion of top-notch British fayre, The Ox is considered Bristol’s best steak and cocktail restaurant. In addition to the original Ox in the city centre, a new branch opened in Clifton in November 2016. Afterwards enjoy more classic cocktails at the vintage, speakeasy-style Hyde & Co. www.theoxbristol.com www.theoxclifton.comwww.hydeand.co

How to get there:

Bristol is in South West England, just 1hr 45mins by train west of London. Bristol Airport is served by low-cost airlines including easyJet, Ryanair, Wizz plus international airlines including KLM and Aer Lingus.

[Source: Visit Britain-Media Relations]
[Photo credits: featured image: The River Avon flows through the centre of Bristol, England. – By Adrian Pingstone (Photographed by Adrian Pingstone) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons]
[Intext photos: inserted by openeyeopinion.com (credits embedded)

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