This post was most recently updated on November 1st, 2016
The largest city in South West England is famous for balloons, bridges, bikes, boats, Banksy, and Brunel. The name of the place is derived from the old English word “Brycgstow”, which means “the place at the bridge.”
Even before it became the leading commercial harbour of the country, it was a key port for the Romans. While most of the city’s original wealth was built on the strength of its trade routes, its tourism industry rakes in the most money today, as the city continues to be one of the most visited destinations in the United Kingdom.
Whether you want a day out with your family, an adventure, a romantic break or experience the iconic music scene in the city, there are a host of places to visit. Let us take a look at a few of the places you must not miss out on:
Top 10 Places to See in Bristol, England
1. Brunel’s SS Great Britain
The forerunner of all modern ships, SS Great Britain is also the longest running passenger ship in history, in operation from 1845 to 1854. You get to see a full-scale restoration and take in the expansive views from the deck of the ship once they climb the rigging.
2. M Shed
A wharf turned museum, M Shed explores the entire history of Bristol, from the prehistoric times to the 21st With harbourside exhibits, an immersive collection of art, objects and other archival material, the M Shed is a living museum that lets you explore the war time experiences of the city, its engineering history and industrial heritage.
3. Bristol City Docks
Get onboard a boat and enjoy the bustling sights as you travel around the docks. If you want to enjoy Bristol from the other side, this is the way to do it. The docks are also alive and buzzing with a large number of places to go eat – restaurants, bars, cafes and a great throng of people enjoying the sunshine in the evening. Whether you are on or off the water, there is plenty to see.
4. Bristol Museum and Art Gallery
From dinosaur remains and fossils to Chinese ceramics, Egyptian and Assyrian antiquities, real mummies and a wealth of historical artifacts from Bristol’s glorious past, Bristol Museum and Art Gallery is an excellent place to spend your afternoon, especially if you are visiting with your kids.
5. Bristol Zoo Gardens
An exciting adventure into the animal kingdom, the Zoo Gardens of Bristol are spread over a copious 12 acres and house up to 400 species of exotic and endangered animals from across the globe. From the 180 degree gorilla house, reptile house, monkey jungle and bug world to the Asiatic lions, Meerkat lookout, Twilight world and the aquarium, there is plenty to see in this family friendly attraction.
6. Cabot Circus
This high street mall is the shopping hub of the city. Housing more than 120 designer brands, this place has something for every shopper. Whether you want the latest in urban fashion, enjoy a decadent meal in any of the restaurants in Quaker Friars or catch a movie at the luxurious 13 screen multiplex, this is the place to visit.
7. Oakham Treasures
Who ever thought that a privately owned museum with items from retail and farming history could ever be this fascinating to visit? This award winning attraction is sure to give you an emotionally charged trip down memory lane. No matter what your age is, you will be fascinated with the collection of memorabilia from the 20the century.
8. Bristol Hippodrome
The Bristol Hippodrome is one of the best provincial theatres in the entire country that stages all the major Broadway and West End productions. It caters to theatre connoisseurs of all ages and types, boasting a versatile and successful production record that includes ballets, musicals, opera shows, comedians, concerts and children’s shows.
9. Street Art
Home to the enigmatic Banksy, the walls of Bristol’s streets are home to some of the most mysterious street art you will find anywhere in the world. Rent a bicycle and go on a self-guided tour to see the murals that grace its walls. While you are at it, don’t forget to visit the Stokes Craft area, which houses scores of murals and is the cultural quarter of the city.
10. Balloon Tours
If you are visiting Bristol, the balloon tours are not something you can miss out on. Indulge yourself on a glass of champagne as you enjoy a bird’s eye view of the city and the water.
With a rich, varied history and an active, vibrant culture, Bristol is a city that has so much going on that it is possible to be overwhelmed by all of it if you don’t pace yourself when you visit. You can’t be everywhere at the same time, but there’s so much going on in the city that you will never get bored.