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Top 5 Things to Know Before You Visit Bristol

Posted on 19 Dec 2022


If you ever have a chance to visit Bristol, you should definitely take it. As one of the most famous cities in England, Bristol has a lot to offer. From its vibrant creative atmosphere to its awe-inspiring architecture and inventive food scene, the list of reasons to visit Bristol could go on and on. Not only that, but Bristol has some of Britain’s best attractions on its doorstep. It’s the perfect base from which to explore the West Country and beyond. If you’re planning a trip or looking forward to visiting Bristol, here are some of the top things to know before you go.


Table of Contents:

How to Get to Bristol

If you’re planning to visit Bristol, it’s easy to get there by train, plane, car or bus. The city is very well connected, making the journey easy no matter which mode of transport you choose.

1. Visit Bristol by Train

Bristol has two main train stations - Bristol Temple Meads and Bristol Parkway. Bristol Temple Meads is the more central of the two, about a 15-minute walk away from the city centre. Trains between Bristol Temple Meads and Bristol Parkway run very frequently throughout the day and journeying between the two stations only takes about 13 minutes.

Travel to Bristol Temple Meads:

  • Direct trains from London to Bristol Temple Meads usually depart every 30 minutes and the journey lasts around 1 hour and 45 minutes
  • Direct trains run between Manchester and Bristol Temple Meads and take approximately 3 hours
  • You can also visit Bristol by a direct train between Bristol Temple Meads and Edinburgh with the journey taking about 6 and a half hours

Travel to Bristol Parkway:

  • A direct train from London to Bristol Parkway usually runs every hour and the journey takes an hour and 20 minutes
  • You can also travel by a direct train between Bristol Parkway and Cardiff with the journey lasting about 50 minutes

Taking the train is a quick way to visit Bristol and if you book in advance, ticket prices can be very reasonable.

2. Visit Bristol by Plane

Another way to visit Bristol is to fly into Bristol Airport (IATA code: BRS). There are regular flights to and from other major cities in the UK as well overseas to Europe.

  • Direct flights between Bristol and Edinburgh take 1 hour 15 minutes
  • Direct flights between Bristol and Dublin take 1 hour 10 minutes
  • Direct flights between Bristol and Belfast take 1 hour 10 minutes
  • Direct flights between Bristol and Madrid take 2 hours 15 minutes
  • Direct flights between Bristol and Lisbon take 2 hours 30 minutes

The Bristol Flyer bus service makes it easy to travel between the airport and the city centre with shuttles running every 10 minutes or so.

3. Visit Bristol by Car

It’s possible to drive into Bristol though it’s well worth checking their clean air zone charges before doing so.

  • From central London, driving to Bristol takes about 3 hours
  • From Oxford, driving to Bristol takes about 1 hour and 45 minutes
  • From Manchester, driving to Bristol takes about 3 and a half hours
  • From Cardiff, driving to Bristol takes about 1 and a half hours

Once you've arrived in Bristol some of the cheapest car park options are Trinity Centre and Bristol First Hotel Car Park. Both of these are within the city centre.

4. Visit Bristol by Bus

Regular buses run in and out of Bristol to many nearby towns and cities. The main Bristol Coach Station is located on Marlborough Street and is an easy walk to the city centre. Buses or coaches run between Bristol and:

  • London
  • Bath
  • Cardiff
  • Weston Super Mare
  • Birmingham
  • And more

Hopping aboard a bus to visit Bristol is an easy and affordable option.

When Is the Best Time to Visit Bristol?

There is no best time to visit Bristol in our opinion. The city is brilliant all year round. In summer, you can enjoy the lovely green spaces of Brandon Hill Park or the Clifton Downs. In the British winter time, the city is lit up with magical lights and Christmas markets.

Top Things to Do in Bristol

Bristol is home to countless things to see and do. In fact, it can be quite overwhelming to know where to start. To help you out, here are five top places to visit in Bristol:

The Clifton Suspension Bridge. The world famous Clifton Suspension Bridge is an icon of the city. It’s almost a crime to visit Bristol and not see it. Designed by the great Victorian engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel, the bridge dates back to 1831. Visitors can walk across and marvel at the city below or climb up to the Clifton Observatory to admire the bridge and its gorgeous setting across the Avon Gorge.

We the Curious. Adults and children alike can enjoy We the Curious on a visit to Bristol. It’s an utterly fascinating interactive science centre filled with mind-blowing exhibits where you can perform experiments yourself. Visitors can also explore the galaxy in the planetarium or learn more about the animation of the classic British films like Wallace and Gromit.

The Bristol Lido. Visit Bristol and take a plunge into the Bristol Lido. This beautiful outdoor pool is a peaceful urban oasis. And you’ll be happy to hear the water is heated. Enjoy a swim, treat yourself to a spa treatment, and have a delicious meal all in this romantic setting.

The Theatre. Bristol has an incredibly impressive theatre scene. The Bristol Hippodrome is one of the largest theatres in Britain and often shows large hit musicals. Or try the newly revamped Bristol Old Vic which is celebrated for its wonderful performances from experimental theatre-makers. The Wardrobe Theatre offers a whole range of shows from comedy to family shows in an intimate, heartwarming setting. Try and fit a show in during your visit to Bristol.

The Harbourside. At the heart of Bristol is a dock and floating harbour. The area is surrounded by funky bars and restaurants, cool shops and intriguing attractions. Hop aboard a ferry to take in the scenery whilst you explore the different offerings along the Bristol Harbour - from the Spike Island art gallery to the SS Great Britain. Whilst you are enjoying the area, take a moment to reflect on its sombre origins. Bristol was built on the slave trade and the docks and harbour that remain today were a key port.

Best Places to Eat in Bristol

Bristol has a very inventive and cutting-edge food scene. You can find something to satisfy every palette in this city. Bristol is also very vegan friendly, drawing on multiple cultural influences with simple delights through to fine dining options. Here are five of the best places to eat at in Bristol:

Souk Kitchen. Offering food inspired by the eastern mediterranean and middle east, Souk Kitchen is sure to impress. Their menu changes seasonally and makes the most of local ingredients in colourful dishes that will leave you wanting to lick the plate. It’s almost worth visiting Bristol just for Souk Kitchen’s alone.

Oowee Vegan. Oowee Vegan opened its first store on Picton Street in Bristol in 2016. Since then, these dirty burger specialists have been so successful they’ve already opened four more restaurants. Plant-based and utterly delicious, this is food everyone can enjoy.

Bosco Pizzeria. If you like Italian food at a reasonable price look no further than Bosco Pizzeria. Their wood-fired Neaopolitan style pizza says goodbye to all pretentiousness and lets simple quality ingredients do the talking. You’ll struggle not to adore a meal here.

Paco Tapas. A Michelin-starred tapas bar, Paco will transport you from Bristol to spicy southern Spain. The outstanding menu includes classics like patatas bravas as well as special dishes like Spanish hams carved to order. It would be a shame to visit Bristol and miss this truly amazing dining experience.

Box-E. Part of the fantastic Wapping Wharf scene, Box-E is a miniscule eatery in a converted shipping container. Offering seasonal menus, you can find some of the best in modern British cooking here. If you’re planning to visit Bristol, try and book one of their seven-course tasting menus for a memorable meal you won’t want to stop talking about!


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Places to Visit Near Bristol

Bristol is a wonderful city in itself but it’s also brilliant for its connections to the rest of south-west England. There are a whole host of incredible destinations just a short journey away from Bristol. Here are five of our favourite places to visit near Bristol:

Bath. The city of Bath was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987 and it’s not hard to see why. The city is home to ancient Roman baths, Grand Georgian architecture and the impressive Bath Abbey. It’s easy to visit Bristol and Bath in one trip as they are only about 12 miles from each other.

The Cotswolds. It doesn’t get much more picturesquely English than The Cotswolds. Charming little villages dot the gorgeous rolling hills in this designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. On a day trip from Bristol, you could see Bourton-on-the-Water, a village nicknamed “Venice of the Cotswolds.” Or visit Lacock Abbey, another iconic Harry Potter filming location alongside Alnwick castle. Check out our new tours from Bristol.

Cheddar Gorge. Just 20 miles from Bristol, Cheddar Gorge should be on everybody’s bucket list. Boasting awe-inspiring cliffs and extraordinary subterranean caves, Cheddar Gorge is not just an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty but it’s also a Site of Special Scientific Interest. Try rock climbing, uncover secrets about our prehistoric ancestors or just enjoy the views. It’s all possible on a visit from Bristol, such as our 1-day Flavours of Somerset & Glastonbury tour.

Devon. Stunning Devon is one of England’s most popular areas to visit. Known for its dramatic coastline, sweeping sandy beaches and vast green spaces, the natural beauty of Devon is mesmerising. Check it out on this 4-day tour.

Berkeley Castle. Just north of Bristol is the imposing 12th-century Berkeley Castle. One of the best castles in England, Berkeley Castle was built to defend England from the Welsh. It’s still lived in today by the Berkeley family but you can spend a day exploring its amazing rooms and grounds.

Visit Bristol and Beyond

The United Kingdom is home to many treasures and Rabbie’s are making it easier than ever to explore them all. We offer small group tours around England, Ireland and Scotland. Book a tour now or sign up to our newsletter to hear the latest updates about new tours and departure points.

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