Visiting Bristol – A City Guide
Home to street art by Banksy, grand Georgian architecture, major regional businesses and innovative modern museums, Bristol is a vibrant fusion of old and new. Hip galleries rub shoulders with 19th-century maritime attractions at the Harbourside, while quirky clubs all over town are testament to the city’s legendary live music scene.
Bristol: city layout
The River Avon runs through the centre of Bristol’s hilly cityscape. Beside the river in the city centre, the hip Harbourside development occupies the former Floating Harbour, where the SS Great Britain recalls the city’s maritime heyday.
From Bristol Cathedral on neighbouring College Green, a walk up steep, shop-lined Park Street brings you to the refined neighbourhood of Clifton, where grassy Clifton Down overlooks the Avon Gorge and Clifton Suspension Bridge.
North of the river in the centre, you’ll find pedestrianised Broadmead shopping centre and the Georgian townhouses of leafy Queen Square. Further north, Filton is the base for major businesses including Airbus and Rolls-Royce.
To the south, aptly named, cosmopolitan Southville is home to the thriving Tobacco Factory Theatre. Across Clifton Suspension Bridge, the Ashton Court Estate offers a green woodland escape close to the heart of the city.
Top attractions in Bristol
Towering over the limestone cliffs of Avon Gorge, Clifton Suspension Bridge is an iconic landmark designed by Victorian engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel. It connects elegant Clifton Village to Leigh Woods, a peaceful walking spot.
Down by the buzzing Harbourside, the Arnolfini shows contemporary art, dance and film in an airy former tea warehouse. It’s a short walk from another of Brunel’s engineering triumphs, the SS Great Britain, now a floating museum with reconstructed cabins and an authentic-smelling ship’s kitchen.
Across the harbour, M Shed traces the city’s history through photographs and interactive attractions including a double-decker city bus.
The concierge recommends…
Hotels in Bristol
Whether you want to be moments from museums or a stroll from your train, Bristol’s hotel options cater to every budget and style. Take your pick from city centre hotels, business-friendly choices in quiet neighbourhoods and convenient rooms close to the airport.
Staying in a contemporary city centre hotel puts you on the doorstep of Bristol’s dazzling array of galleries, live music venues and theatres. The high-street stores of Cabot Circus are only a short walk from the regenerated Harbourside and Clifton’s Georgian architecture.
Business travellers often base themselves in the quiet commercial area of Filton, close to major regional businesses and the Mall at Cribbs Causeway.
If you’ve got a train to catch, book a room near the stations at Temple Meads and Bristol Parkway. Early morning flight? Pick a comfortable hotel near Bristol Airport (BRS).
Eating Out in Bristol
The Bristol food scene reflects the city’s status as a European Green Capital, with a clutch of eco-conscious eateries serving locally sourced produce. You can sample a melting pot of world cuisines, wander through street-food markets or choose to dine in style.
For picnic supplies or tasty snacks in the heart of the city, you can’t beat the tiny cafés and food stalls at St. Nicholas Market. Enjoy a smoky pulled-pork sandwich at Grillstock or seasonal dishes at Source Food Hall.
The bohemian neighbourhoods of Stokes Croft and Montpelier are home to trendy dining destinations including ethical eatery Poco and a branch of the much-loved Thali Café chain.
Up the hill in Cotham, Bellita serves North African and Middle Eastern-inspired dishes. Casamia, in quiet Westbury-on-Trym, has earned a Michelin star for its creative seasonal and locally sourced menus.