Tag Archives: Bristol

Top Things To Know About Visiting Bristol

The top things to know about visiting Bristol are not only interesting, but can also help you prepare for your trip in West Country’s unofficial capital.  Bristol remains one of England’s top tourist destinations, despite the devastating legacy of the war.  And with its laidback vibe backed by great music, Bristol is a place you will definitely enjoy staying in.

Here are some of the top things to know about visiting Bristol, so pack your Carlton travel luggage, get your plane, train or bus ticket, and get ready to enjoy one of England’s most interesting cities!

streets of Bristol

Great music scene.  If you’re into music, then Bristol is one of the places you should definitely visit.  Some of the greatest acts in the music scene have their humble beginnings here in Bristol, such as Massive Attack and Portishead.  While it was once the backwater of the British music scene back in the 80’s, it is now considered Britain’s most musical city in 2010.  To date, its music scene is still as vibrant as ever.

Get free maps.  If you’d like to travel around Bristol without joining one of those packaged tours, you can grab a free map from the Visit Bristol website, the city’s official tourism website.  You can also get the distinctive Blue A3 tourist maps from the Tourist Information Centre, the library, shops and the Temple Meads railway station.  These maps cover the city centre, the Harbourside and Clifton.

It’s a year round tourist destination.  One of the top things to know about visiting Bristol is that it’s a year-round tourist destination with something to look forward to the entire year.  There’s a great number of celebrations and festivals spread out the entire year, so you won’t miss out on anything when you visit the city anytime you please.  There is also some beautiful countryside around Bristol to enjoy.

Watch out for drunken brawls.  Friday and Saturday nights may not only mean a vibrant night life in Bristol but also a night for isolated drunken brawls especially during closing time.  But thanks to the heavy police presence in the city centre, this has been significantly reduced.

Scammers and drug peddlers.  While Bristol is generally a safe tourist destination, there are areas that need to be avoided especially during the wee hours of the morning.  Stay out of Baldwin Street at around 11:00 PM to 2:00 AM.

In addition, watch out for people selling you drugs.  Often, these people don’t have drugs with them and will instead give you a bogus parcel and run-off with your money.  They also have knives, so it’s best to avoid them at all costs.


Natural Bristol!

Bristol is a grand city made famous by its rich history as a port and trading hub. It is widely known that in 1837 Bristol born engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel launched the famous Great Western steamship  that was built in the city’s harbour. But as with many other cities, these famous tales often overshadow things that might otherwise take prominence. For example, as well as being a historic and creative city, Bristol has an array of natural attractions including parks, zoos, aquariums, botanical gardens and more. Check out some of these enjoyable nature activities in Bristol!

University of Bristol Botanical Gardens

Deer in Avon Valley Wild Life Park

The University of Bristol’s botanical gardens were opened in 1882 by Adolf Leipner – the Lecturer of Botany at the time – for a mere £15. Since then the gardens have seen many thousands of visitors every year and continue to thrive. With four impressive plant collections and a further four greenhouses filled with tropical and sub-tropical plants, there is no shortage of interesting things to see. Opening times from April – September are from 10:00am – 4:30pm and it costs £3.50 to get in at the time of writing. School age kids go free.

Avon Valley Adventure and Wildlife Park

From Flickr

Avon Valley is the perfect place to take the kids during the summer holiday, as there are plenty of attractions and events to fill a whole day (perhaps even two). Attractions include a huge indoor soft play arena, pet’s corner, quad bikes and boat rides. One of the park’s great selling points is that it gets the kids out in the fresh air and away from the television. The main park is open from the 23rd March (opening times are 10:00am – 6:00pm, Mon – Sun). It costs £8.00 for an adult and £7.50 for concessions and children. Kids under 2 go free.

Bristol Aquarium

From Flickr

The Bristol Aquarium is home to a wide array of sea life including sharks, rays and a multitude of species that are native to the UK. As if the resident giant octopus wasn’t enough, there is also an underwater tunnel constructed with 2 inch thick glass which houses puffer fish, butterfly fish and wrasse among others. The aquarium opens 7 days a week from 10am – 5pm and a one day adult ticket costs £13.00. Child tickets are £9.00, Senior and Student tickets are £12.00 and family tickets are available for £38.50 (2 adults & 2 children)

If you’re looking for a Bristol hotel, consider staying somewhere quite central, as the city itself is quite big and can be difficult to navigate if you don’t have a car. The Bristol Mercure is very conveniently placed and has the added benefit of a spa to rest your weary body after a day of exploration.

If you haven’t yet, check out our Bristol Travel Guide as well for even more great things to do!


Bristol Travel Guide

Churches in Bristol

Banksy, that one name says it all. No one has done more to single headedly raise the profile of a city since Gaudi turned Barcelona into the must see Spanish tourist destination. The surprising thing is that all he needed was a few pieces of cardboard, a knife, cans of spray paint and a willingness to break the law (yes it does sound like a late night Blue Peter exercise). Yet his success has shone a spotlight on this vibrant cultural hub in the South West of England.

Whatever you may think of Banksy, this stencil artist is seen by many as being at the cutting edge of what I’d hesitantly call modern art; the hallowed place where artistic expression meets millionaires. Whether you’d call him a criminal or a genius, the speed with which Bristol has embraced him gives you an idea of what you can expect if you decide to visit this great historical port city.

Bristol Port City

University Life

Bristol is the University City of the South West. It is a place that draws in thousands of students every year from small villages where a happy marriage often means brother marrying sister. With two Universities on offer, the prestigious Bristol University and the bigger University of the South West of England, there is a stimulating mixture of intellectual and art. Add to this a large Afro Caribbean community with strong cultural roots to warm rum-infused islands and a love of reggae music and heavy bass lines, you have a]the recipe for good times and cultural expression.

Nightlife and Festivals

The nightlife in Bristol is one of the best things about the city. Every weekend you will find clubs offering a huge range of different music and headline acts, as well as smaller jazz bars and local haunts. This mix, means that whatever your age, you are bound to find something that interests you here.

Good times however are not just to be had when the sun has set below the horizon. The Bristol city council is highly active in trying to promote this artistic expression within the city. Throughout the year there are exhibitions and festivals both big and small for the residents of the city and tourists who come to visit. For an up to date guide on what’s happening be sure to check out the Council’s website.

Other Attractions

eyes in tree in Bristol

A normal day out in Bristol doesn’t need to be about exhibitions or music. There are some great things to do in the city. From simple activities like strolling along the cities waterways, visiting the local markets to having a guided tour around Brunel’s famed SS Great Britain you’ll be both amazed and entertained.

Best Dining

Food in Bristol, England

Every city guide by a local should include an insider’s tip that only a person from that place would know about, so here’s mine! Knowing that no day in a city would be complete without a great meal, I’d suggest visiting my favourite restaurant, Riverfront, which is…by the river. The reason I like this restaurant so much is the food, which is amazing (see above), the view is the perfect pairing to a great meal!

This Bristol Travel Guide was provided by Nico Prins of A Traveller’s Journey, who grew up there.