Updated on January 28, 2023 by Axel Hernborg

Axel Hernborg

Ask anyone about the best tourist destinations in the UK and you’ll probably get answers such as London, Cornwall, or the Lake District.

And don’t get me wrong, they are all beautiful places very well worth a visit but they’re just such typical answers. 

There are so many hidden gems dotted around the country that people just don’t know enough about. Maybe you’ve never heard of the place, maybe you’ve been told oh, there’s nothing good to do there.

But it’s important not to listen to the naysayers because, in most instances, they just don’t know what they’re looking for. 

When I first started telling people that Bristol was one of my favorite destination spots, I’d be greeted with oh, there’s not much to do. Or why there (?!)

But let me tell you this, there is absolutely tons to do in Bristol, and it’ll be one of the best breaks away that you have. You just need to know what’s there. 

Before the rise of Manchester, Birmingham, and Liverpool, Bristol was once one of the largest cities in the UK.

Unfortunately, it suffered from extensive damage from multiple bombings during the Second World War and subsequently, its manufacturing industry suffered considerably.

Now, it’s a dynamic college town popular amongst students for its prestigious university. If you have an upcoming trip to Bristol, here is a list of some of the best things I have done while visiting. 

My Favourite Things To Do In Bristol 

1. Visit Bristol Cathedral 

Bristol’s cathedral is honestly so beautiful that you can’t not give it a visit. Regardless of whether you are religious, appreciate architecture, or are passionate about history, this cathedral is sure to impress. 

It was constructed way back in 1148 and you’ll notice that it has a very comparable design to that of Notre Dame. Who knew you could be transported to the streets of Paris while still in the UK?

The building itself expands over 300 feet with some of the original building still remaining to this day. Though many parts have been since renovated and rejuvenated. 

If you visit on a Saturday, you’ll even have the chance to experience a guided tour. This is a free service though guests typically donate around £5 per person. As this is a place of worship, please ensure that you are dressed appropriately. 

2. Take A Wander Down King Street

King Street is a wonderful place brimming with history, speak to a local and you’ll be sure to hear some very interesting stories.

This was once where old sailing barges would dock however as the years have passed it has transformed into the very heart of theatre in Bristol. 

Along with some great entertainment, you’ll find tons of great places to dine as restaurants and bars litter the streets.

There is something so quaint about the pubs you’ll see in King Street. Some of the bars have been in business since the 1600’s! Make sure to take a trip to The Hatchet Inn built but only 6 years into the 17th Century. 

3. Get A Pic Of The Clifton Suspension Bridge

Clifton Suspension Bridge is easily the most recognized landmark in Bristol so it would be criminal not to capure a quick picture of it on your cameras or phones.

This bridge dates all the way back to 1864 and is definitely a spectacular sight to see. The bridge suspends hight above both the Avon Gorge and River Avon surrounded by foliage and cliffs. 

It was also the location for one of the very first bungee jumps in the country. And at a huge 412 meters above ground, you can imagine how thrilling that jump would have been.

It is around 1352 feet across and over approximately 10,000 vehicles travel over it every single day. 

If you are particularly taken with this beautiful bridge you can even take a short walk to the nearby visitor center where you’ll learn tons about its rich and vast history. 

4. Go Shopping At St. Nicolas Market

If you love the hustle and bustle of a busy market then you’ll adore St. Nicolas Market. There are so many different stalls.

So browse across some great vintage clothe shops, or pick up an exciting story at the second hand book stores, and treat yourself to some organic local produce sold by residential farmers! 

5. Visit The Bristol Museum & Art Gallery

Things To Do In Bristol On Your Trip

Who doesn’t love a bit of culture and a bargain? Well, that’s exactly what you’ll get at the Bristol Museum And Art Gallery!

Admission is completely free so you don’t have to spend a penny and yet in return you’ll get one of the most interesting activities of your trip! 

There’s a little bit of everything for everyone here. From stunning modern art to unique old archaeology, from rich history to dinosaurs – they have it all.

The variety helps to keep things super interesting and always holds your attention. It’s Bristols biggest museum and yet it is not overwhelming and can be completed within a couple of hours. 

6. Go On A Ghost Walk

If you’re looking for something a little different, and a whole lot spooky then you need to go on one of the local ghost walks.

With Bristol’s rich and vast history, it is unsurprising that there are several tortured souls still lingering around the streets. 

Explore the city and maybe even catch a glimpse of the ghost’s of Bristol’s past with Haunted and Hidden Ghost Walks. You’ll get a 90 minute tour for just £5 pp. 

If spooky and scary isn’t your vibe – don’t despair ghost walks aren’t the only popular tours in the city. In fact, tours that follow the works of Banksy are available which are super fun too.

These take a little longer (around 2 hours) and tend to cost a little more too (around £7.50 pp.)

7. See The S.S. Great Britain 

Calling all boat fans – this one is a must. The worlds very first steam-powered passenger liner finds its home in Bristol harbor. 

At 322 feet long, for close to a decade after its maiden voyage in 1845, the S.S Great Britain also remained the worlds longest ship. 

Taking over 6 years to build, the owners of this great boat sadly declared bankruptcy fairly soon after its very first launch. The fate of this ship would only worsen as not long after the boat ran aground and was sold for salvage. 

Once the ship as repaired it was used to ferry passengers to Australia for close to three decades. It then went on from 1881 to become converted to all-sail until disaster struck again in 1937 where it sunk.

It would then spend a further 3 decades under sea until finally being rescued, brought back to bristol, and transformed  into the famous tourist attraction we’ve come to know today. 

8. Take A Trip To WetheCurious

This is such a fun and interactive experience that you won’t want to miss. This science and art center, is charity run and it’s primary goal is to cultivate curiosity especially in younger children. Though adults will have just as much fun too. 

WetheCurious opened it’s doors back in 2000 and children have been enjoying over 250 interactive and fun exhibits since. Sure, this is a pretty educational activity, but you’ll be having way to much fun to notice.

Not until you leave and realise you have hundreds of cool facts swirling round in your head. 

From a planetarium to 3D printers, exhibits focusing on magnets, human body parts, animation and more the only issue you’ll have is trying to get everyone to leave. 

9. Stroll Through The Downs

There are two downs in Bristol, Clifton Down and Durdham Down, and if you love being at one with nature or going for a scenic stroll, then you won’t want to miss them.

Both are gorgeous protected parklands that you’ll find on the outskirts of the city. 

There are a whopping 400 acres waiting to be explored within walking distance of Clifton Suspension Bridge and the Avon Gorge.

Take a stroll and bask in the picturesque sights and maybe even watch some of the locals playing sports games. 

10. See Cabot Tower

Last but not least, make sure that you check out the Cabot tower which was built back in the 1890s. The tower was constructed to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the Italian explorer John Cabot’s departure from Bristol. 

John Cabot would go on to ‘discover’ North America. At least, he was the very first European to visit North America since the Norse Vikings came in 1,000 CE. And that was a pretty long time ago. 

Made from sandstone, the tower stands rough 32m high. Be sure to climb up the particularly narrow (and kind of scary) staircase to take advantage of the view at the top of the tower. 

Final Thoughts

Bristol is a beautiful destination that boasts tons of rich history and culture. As you can see there are so many great things to do in Bristol. Now is just the hard part – deciding which to do first! 

24 Best Things to do in Bristol, UK